Tuesday, October 16, 2012
The Purpose-Driven Life?
“You guys have to want it! You have to want it!” I turned to my sister, Emma, and laughed. We both did. Spread out in front of us was a football field filled with 7th-graders, my nephew included. I’m not sure which one of the players on the field claimed the person sitting above us as his father, but he had to be embarrassed. Or, maybe not. Maybe he used these loud, boisterous exclamations as inspiration. It seemed strange to be at a high school football stadium on a Sunday night, but this was Zachary’s scheduled ‘championship game’, and I wanted to see at least one of his games before the season ended. “Play with intensity!!” As the gentle mentoring continued from the seats above us, I looked out over the crowd. I had never been to GlenOak’s stadium before. But, like most of the people who attend the few St. Thomas games I’ve been to this year, all of them appeared to know each other. These social interactions almost always cause me to wonder whether being away from home for so long was, in the long run, the better decision, as opposed to being here and not moving away. Is it better to have had other experiences, in other places, in other states, than to not have left here at all? Am I further along than most of these people, who have probably never ventured out of Stark County, except, perhaps, for the week they spend at Myrtle Beach? Which of us will look at our lives and feel a sense of purpose: the person who ventures out to experience things away from home, or the person who stays here and maintains the consistency of friendships with those whom you grew up? “Take no prisoners, fellas!” I didn’t know anyone there, on that windy, drizzly evening. I barely know the sister who sat next to me, and I certainly don’t know Zack. Sure, I see him at holiday get-togethers, and he’s always been one of the most gentle, most sincere kids I’ve known. All of Emma’s children are well-mannered. But I don’t know them. And they don’t know me. Is that my fault? Donna and I always say that when we get the man-cave done in the basement that we’re going to have people up. ”We don’t do enough to be a part of peoples’ lives here,” she’s said to me, in the past. I agree, although I think it takes effort on both sides. But this is their life, here, in this part of town, in this city, amongst these people. People who know other people, based on a lifetime of school programs, charity events, job-related activities, and the thing that connects so many people in this town that I grew up in: football. “Let’s go, Southwest! Show ‘em, who’s boss, boys! Show ‘em who’s boss!” I had shorts on, and the wind was picking up. The drizzle had stopped, but I was cold. ”You look like you’re freezing,” Emma remarked. I was, and I told her I was going to go. Southwest had scored, but couldn’t convert the extra points. But I didn’t see it. I had to read about it in the text that Emma sent me later on in the evening. On the drive home, I thought about my former home and the people who inhabit it. And I wondered if I had had a stake in my hometown, and a child on the field, surrounded by people who I know and have known for decades, would I have been screaming, too? Maybe that’s what you do when you’re completely comfortable that you’ve lived your life with the same people, the same co-workers, the same family. A life lived with meaning. With certainty. With purpose. -30-