It’s all about loving the beautiful game.
My momma always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”—Forrest Gump
That’s how Momma Gump summed life up for us, and that’s how we’ve thought of it for the longest time. She was right, in a way – you can’t really tell what’s in your chocolate till you’ve bitten right in. Sometimes the smoothest, richest looking one is filled with orange cream, while just the millimeter thick shell is made of chocolate, and it may be the plain looking one that nobody’s picked up, which gives you the lingering warmth of caramel. But then again, it’s chocolate. And if you’re a chocoholic like I am – be it milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate, filled with nuts, nougat, and whatever else – you’ll have it, and how!
So, you see, you don’t have to completely agree with her take on life. For her’s was a simpler time. Life today is too fast paced with its myriad possibilities for you to equate it to a box of chocolates. There’s so much we all want to accomplish, and so little time. So many people; sometimes they’ll lend a helping hand and sometimes they’ll trip you.
It’s something I’ve thought of for the longest time. I just haven’t been able to put it down in words. And now, as I take my first steps in the advertising world as a copywriter, I’ve finally found the words that eluded me. What’s true for me, I presume and I hope, will ring true for you too.
The hours spent at the office, thinking of ideas that click and getting the job done, they’re all a part of this huge football match you’re constantly playing. Say you’re probably in the tenth minute, still a little jittery but beginning to enjoy yourself. Gathering your strength; you know precisely which goal it is you’re aiming for. It’s a huge field so you’ll have to be careful that you don’t waste your energy running around aimlessly. If you go berserk in the first few minutes, who’s going to play the rest of your ninety minutes for you?
Nor are you going to take it light and easy. No way. If you let the competition settle in, you’re going to get substituted. But if the ball’s at the other end of the field, if that’s where all the action, should you be running there or biding your time in your own half? In the end you choose to wait your turn. You play your role without taking a part out of someone else’s. Of course, if a teammate’s really in trouble, you’re going to go in and help, but some battles are meant to be dealt with alone. And some tackles are best executed one-on-one.
Then there’s the other team. The not-so-nice guys who’re trying to take away what you have and blocking you off from what you want to accomplish. There’s plenty of such people, sometimes they’ll be wearing a jersey that’s completely different from yours, one that clearly tells you that these aren’t the guys you should turn to for help. Some might have a jersey that’s similar to yours and yet seem to be playing a whole different ball game geared towards their own interests, and then that’s when you’ve got to be really careful. But that’s something you’ll learn during the course of the game. No sweat, yet.
What if you make a wrong pass? Say, you were passing to a friend but somehow the opposition got wind of it, and intercepted your best attempt. Or, maybe you just lost control midway and they gladly took what you were gifting them. That’s when you need the extra spurt of energy. It’ll probably seem like the game’s been snatched from you, like you’re never going to reach your goal, but that’s when you’ve got to really fight to get that ball back. You might be able to do it alone, or you might need a friend’s assistance. Just don’t be too scared to ask.
In the end no one’s going to remember it as the time when you needed help to get the ball back. They’re just going to remember you losing it, fighting for it, and getting it back. In the unfortunate event that you just can’t get the ball back, and they score before you do, the best you can do is to learn from your mistake. Don’t get so caught up in the game that you can’t control which way you’re headed.
You need to stay focused if you’re going to score some goals of your own, and even more so if you’re currently on the losing side. Focus translates into better passes, better tackles, better strategy and more opportunities to score goals. A clear thought process makes your path clearer.
There will always be someone telling you what to do: the guys watching the game, the coach, and your teammates. Sometimes they’ll be saying the same thing, and sometimes they’ll all be shouting something different. Always use your head. There will be many instances where you’ll have to make a choice on your own, that too in a matter of seconds. Take a few steps back and look for the bigger picture, until you’re fully confident. If you’re backed by someone strong, pass to them. Create an opening and run to where you’re in a better position to receive and score. Take that helping hand. And be the helping hand when you can. The most spectacular goals are usually backed by equally spectacular and well placed passes. Sometimes those passes are so accurate, that the goal is merely a tap in from close range. That just shows how important it is to have your goal in mind, but to not focus on it so much that you forget the journey. The fight to get that ball in; the one-on-one with the goalkeeper viciously trying to block your way, that’s important too.
There’s no fun in scoring ten goals if the opposition doesn’t give you a fight. The struggle adds punch to the game, so instead of griping about it take it in your stride. Nothing like overcoming an obstacle you thought you’d never be able to climb over. Trust me. It’s absolutely exhilarating.
And then you’re better equipped to tackle the others coming your way. If you could handle that, what’s this in comparison?
So it’s one match; you get several shots at the goal if you create those opportunities for yourself. You fall, you stumble, and you get stepped on. You run into obstacles, you turn to friends for help. But the goal is eternally there, waiting to be breached. It looks small and distant from your end of the field but as the game progresses and you move forward, it gets bigger, more solid, more there for your taking. You have to fall back sometimes in order to move ahead. You have to hop over those sliding tackles; pirouette, feign and use your head. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and get what you want with a long, hard kick from the half line, but mostly, it’s going to be a fight to the other end. It’s all about keeping your cool. There will be some clingers, some shirt-tuggers trying to hold you back. They’ll try to get into your head, to control you. If they succeed, it makes it that much harder, because that’s when you’re starting to lose focus.
I don’t know if you’ll agree with my take on life, but this pretty much sums it up for me. A football match has everything that life’s got to offer. There are goals, obstacles, opportunities to go at on your own, and chances to rely on others. There’s someone more experienced guiding you from a distance without poking his nose into your business. There’s bruises and scrapes on the way. There’s pain, gut-wrenching disappointment and hopefully in the end, joy in redemption.
And whatever you do, never take your eyes off the ticking clock. Ninety minutes to figure out what you’ve got to do and then do it. It doesn’t matter how many minutes of the game you get to play, it’s how much of your game you put into those minutes that truly matters.
So one day my kids are going to remember me with this,
My momma always said, “Life is like a game of Football. You never know who you’ll have to turn to pass to, or who’s going to block your way. You might get hurt, lose possession and stumble every now and then. But the goal – your goal – stands right there, beckoning. Waiting for you.”
- Malini Patnaik