I don’t have a Pat Summitt story. I briefly crossed paths with her at an NCAA regional years ago in Norfolk, Va. I am just sad.
I don’t have a Buddy Ryan story, beyond being the proud owner of a vinyl copy of The Super Bowl Shuffle. The ‘85 Bears were my jam, man. I am just sad.
I am sad kind of a lot, which makes me also feel guilty. But I have come to understand you can appreciate what you have while missing what you don’t. I have given myself permission – Facebook memes be damned – to be both grateful and sad, often at the same time. Should you need it, I give you permission, too.
It has been a grayish day that I am winding down on my gray couch with my gray cat. Last night we had a crash-boom-bang thunderstorm with electric boogaloo lightning. I thought it was cool, but said cat, my 10-year-old adoptee from the shelter where I got my first stand-alone adult cat 20 years ago, did not enjoy it. He slept on my bed for most of the night for the first time since he arrived three weeks ago.
We woke up to sad news – though I didn’t realize Summitt had died until I got to work. News about Ryan soon followed.
In past lives, work would have been spent arranging sadness on a sports front. I thought of friends who were doing just that.
Now, I watch the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, because I am an unabashed and unashamed Olympics geek, while I wait for Coastal Carolina to force a Game 3 in the College World Series final. Michael Phelps just swam. Such sustained excellence for so long amazes me. Me, who sometimes finds sustaining interest in a whole movie challenging.
Some things have been the same for 16 years, in Phelps’ case, or, in Summitt’s, for 40. I have been three different people in the past six months. I do not know who I am becoming. I have no clear sense of direction or destination. For the control freak I think I still am, this is slightly terrifying, but at a distance – like my twisted, turbulent uterus under a blurry layer of painkillers.
I admire those who achieve pinnacles of success in places that become synonymous with who they are. I identify with the more nomadic of the species, who belong in one place for a time before something begins to chafe, or the universe, like a dyspeptic whale, vomits them somewhere else, sleepy-eyed and confused upon landing.
The world is hard to figure out sometimes. Today, a pair of departures has left it diminished.
That is sad, and that is fine.