Leave It On The Field

Let me impart on you the one thing I consistently have the most difficulty with: Introductions. In writing stories, it’s “how do i introduce my audience, the reader, to the world in which I am trying to create?” In speeches, it’s, “How do I draw an audience in, make what I have to say interesting to them?” Even in writing a blog posting, in which I have a broader topic to talk about, it’s “how do i get you to read all of my ____ing thoughts, as eccentric as they are?”

(You can obviously tell which ones are which: The ones that are bad are the ones where I dive head-first into my thoughts only to find that it’s a cement floor.)

Whenever I get an idea or desire to do something, I try to think of both the positive and the negative of what it is that I want to do. I also try to figure out the starting point, so that I dive in with a plan. Naturally, the struggle is coming with what I want to say and how I want to say it for the audition: I have a rough idea, but no clear solution yet.

So imagine the dream I had this afternoon, which borrows itself from the first half of Episode 11 this year. (For those who did not see this, the first half of this two-hour episode was spent at 2 high schools as the trainers and the winner of the second season went back to their high schools to work with 2 groups of 5 students – 1 group from each school – who considered themselves obese and wanted to do something about it.) I’m standing in my old High School Gymnasium, and one of the first things to stand out was something my football coach used to say: leave it all on the field.

He’s explained it, as I am explaining it now: the only reason you should have any regret at all, win or lose, is if you did not leave everything you had on the field. I’m not talking physical stuff such as shoulder and knee pads, of course, I am talking energy, spirit, motivation, the basic actions of what you do.

It’s a regret I’ve had to learn to deal with: The majority of my time on the football team was spent on the bunch. There was only two-three games where, at most, I got 5-10 minutes of playing time, and in none of those situations did my playing time help in preventing the loss we incurred. That is not out out of just my senior year, that is all four years: if I was lucky, I got in on a JV game or a freshman game, but the most I was when I was there was spiritual support for my team mates, if anything.

The regret doesn’t come from what I did in practice: I feel that my time in practice, with a few exceptions, was spent doing as much as I could, and the same thing with the few minutes on the playing field in the game. If anything, that’s one of the few things I don’t have to have regret about, because I know how hard I tried to push myself when I was there, and there is little I could have done differently from that aspect.

Where it comes from, then, is the rest of time I was not on the field. Football usually lasts from the first week of August until the third week of October, with the exceptions of any playoff time – something that did not happen when I was going there. That’s 10 weeks of doing something out of a 52-week year. That’s 42 weeks where I did little to change or improve myself, and those 42 weeks where what put me on the bench.

The people who got the playing time, who got the chance to make the tackles, run the drives, and score the touchdowns and field goals, the majority of them, if not all of them, put the extra effort into the off time. My off-time was spent eating and doing less physical activity – more often than not, most of my physical activity per day came from TV and work, while the food I ate was 2-3 times what I should have ate. Those things kept me at 300 pounds through high school, and kept me as a bench warmer.

I will never know where I could have gone, if I could have made college or pro football, because the way that I handled football was the way I handled most aspects of my life, and as a result, I now have a regret that I can not answer for. As a result, I can never fully say that I left everything on the field, because there wasn’t much to leave from me.

One of the fears I do have is that I will do this, and I may even win the big money, get the big jack pot, but as soon as it’s all over, I go back to my old ways again. It’s a common fear by many fat people who have struggled with weight loss, and for me, it’s happened a few times: My most recent time was a couple of years ago when I had lost 77 pounds, going from my largest point of 435 to 358. Had I stuck with it then, I may be skinny, but after I was laid off, everything just fell apart: I started hanging out at McDonald’s, working out less, doing little. I don’t want to repeat that.

My first 30 years has been spent dealing with regrets like this. If I’m going to have another 30 years, I have to change this. That’s why I have to do this now – I already failed enough times.

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