It was a cool October night in New York City, but at Yankee stadium things were heating up. It was game six of the 1977 World Series and the New York Yankees were hosting my favorite childhood team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Yankees were leading the best of seven series, three games to two, when they returned to New York for what would turn out to be an electric night for Yankee fans and a tear soaked pillow night for one little Dodger fan.
Reggie Jackson played right field for the Yankees and had an incredible series with two home runs already to his credit. However, he saved his very best for game six. Jackson connected three times hitting three home runs in one game, leading the Yankees to yet another championship. Cheers sounded throughout Yankee Stadium, “Reggie! Reggie! Reggie,” as number 44 rounded the bases soon-to-be the World Series MVP.
Yesterday, I turned 44 years old. Recently, over the last few years, I have used the days leading up to my birthday to reflect and contemplate on the past year. In addition, I look ahead to the new year that awaits. Most of the time, I feel good about another year under my belt and look forward to what will come as another year rolls over. However, this year I feel introspective and challenged (could be due to Robin William’s death).
For so many years, I felt like number 44 running around the bases enjoying life, celebrating achievements, and planning for the future as a possible MVP. Yet, as I find myself rolling into midlife, I have discovered that my future my be quite different from the one I dream. This doesn’t mean we should not dream for lofty things, for some dreams have changed the world. It does mean however we mustn’t let all of our dreaming get in the way of what needs to be accomplished today.
Over the years, at my birthday, I have come to some sobering realities: (1) I will never hit three home runs in a World Series game, (2) I will not write the next great American novel, (3) I will not own my own private jet, (4) I will not score under 80 in golf, and (5) I will not grow to be six feet tall no matter how many vegetables I eat or how long I hang from a metal bar attached the door of my bedroom. I am me and that is okay.
While these “realities” have been hard to swallow, I have learned some other things about myself that will hopefully ease the pain of middle age: (1) Don’t put off tomorrow what you can accomplish today, (2) What you don’t accomplish today can be accomplished tomorrow or the next day, (3) People are more important than to-do lists, checkmark, (4) Everyone has a story and if you choose to listen they are usually really good, (5) Love is spelled T.I.M.E., (6) Count to ten before you speak or hit “send” and count ten more times just to make sure, and (7) Life is flying by at supersonic speed, so STOP, LOOK AROUND, AND ENJOY.
In conclusion, while I have come to the realization I will never hit three homes runs in a World Series game, I do still dream of running around the bases one last time heading for home. But instead of thousands of fans cheering my name and calling out for 44, there is only one man waiting at home for me. His outstretched hands reveal his scars, but his smile gives me all the hope I could ever want. He is waiting for me, but he has always been with me. He has been my biggest fan. My trainer. My coach. My manager. With him, no matter what the future brings, I have always known things would be okay. As I get closer to home plate, he smiles through his beard and whispers, “Well done, well done.”