Yes this is a nod to the old great Al Stewart song of the same name. And part of this post is an extension of recent dialogue I have had with old childhood buddies Art Graham, Mike Edelman, Curt Smith, and Eleanor Grant…
I recently ran through the old neighborhood where I grew up. I currently live only 4 miles from the very house where I spent my youth. And while I agree that I haven’t gone very far, I also feel that I have done a hell of a lot of living in that time. As I ran past familiar landmarks I found myself doing voice over commentary in my own head, almost as if I was telling my story – to myself.
The cool thing for me is that I am still in touch with many of the “kids” that were a huge part of my childhood. So part of me wanted to pull out my phone and snap a couple of pictures of the old houses and key points of interest including Elwell playground where we spent countless hours playing or just hanging out. For whatever reason, I vetoed the picture idea. I think part of me felt a little creepy taking pictures where I technically no longer belonged. But a bigger part of me just thought the time wasn’t right for those pictures. There may be a time when I will want to do that… but not yet.
I’ve been through some crap, I’ve been kicked in the gut, I have been tested, and I have laughed, loved, cried, seen true beauty and experienced true glory. And I have told my story in one way or another to countless people. One of the common denominators that resonates through all of the muck and all of the years is that I truly do believe that I live in a fairy tale and I am one of the most fortunate people on this planet.
For whatever reason, I seem to only have vivid recall of the positive experiences and people in my life. And there is no doubt that how I spent my years growing up in Ardmore Pennsylvania, and all of the people who were a part of those years laid that foundation of belief. I lived in a modest house. I didn’t have the newest or the most expensive – anything. But I had everything I needed and everything I wanted. I had family. I had friends. I had a sense of community. I had opportunity. I had safety. I had security. And I feel all of that has contributed to the great sense of perspective and appreciation I have today.
My parents gave me just the right length of leash. I was able to explore. I was able to do my own thing and I knew that they were never far. I remember them parking their lawn chairs at every single baseball game I had from ages 8 – 18. And I remember at least one of them being at every basketball and soccer game all through junior high, high school, and at my college soccer games as well. I was always supported.
And I grew up in the perfect neighborhood with friends on every block all around me. Every day seemed to have its own itinerary that we all seemed to intuitively understand. I don’t remember there being much discussion over what we would do on any given day. Some evenings called for a neighborhood-wide game of “Kick the Can” or ‘Fox and Geese”.
Some days found us playing relentless street hockey in the Hall’s driveway who had the multi car garage with every single window blown out from slap shots that sailed high and wide. Just about every day in the summer was spent at Elwell Playground where we would engage in one activity after another in near rapid fire succession until it was time to come home for dinner. And sometimes on a warm summer day, the agenda simply called for sitting perched in one of the DelBonifro’s huge trees next door as we pondered our next move.
As we got a little older, our exploits took us onto the grounds of Haverford College, a.k.a “The College”, where we would just hang out and “be” or play hoops all day long.
I lived a blessed childhood.
As I reflect back on all of this and then fast forward to my adult life where I not only had the opportunity to play high caliber soccer against some of the best athletes in the country, but have done some pretty cool things in the realm of cancer survivorship and in the world of endurance sports, I like to think that I am proud but more importantly that I am humble.
While I acknowledge that I have accomplished more in my life than many people will ever dream of, I consider all of that to be more of a blessing than anything that I might possibly have co-engineered. I couldn’t have made this stuff up if I tried. And while I do believe in good people attracting good things, and in the laws of karma, I also believe in luck and that the proper perspective will make all the difference in anyone’s life. I do appreciate where I have come from and what I have done, but you won’t see me writing or talking a whole lot about that. You won’t see me advertise my race accomplishments in the social media outlets and measuring my worth in terms of “comments”, “likes”, or “shares”. You will however see me marvel and shake my head in disbelief that one person can be as lucky as I have been.
I know everyone has a different story and a different perspective of how they got where they are today. But the cool thing is that we all went through all of that stuff “together” in one way or another. And we have made it through to the other side and are sitting here talking about it. We all wake up every day and fight the good fight. That fight takes on a different meaning for each and every one of us, but we all fight for or against something or someone every day – even if it’s ourselves.
I take comfort in that I think I am leaving a positive trail of bread crumbs behind me. I do my best to lead by example. Granted, I have a closet full of flaws but I do my best to hide them by offsetting them with something GOOD. And yes, I fully realize that some days are up and some days are down. But at the end of this fine day, we are winning.
So in reality….It’s a good day. They are all good days.