Hello, Goodbye

September was very good to me. Life handed me a stein full of cold beer, and let me tell you, the eighth swig was just as good as the first: refreshing, crisp, and ever so satisfying. And I lapped it up. Believe me, did I ever. I felt like Steph Curry in Game 4 against the Denver Nuggets back in 2013. It was amazing. Straight fire.  

Then October started. And some annoying work stuff happened. And I started pitying myself, which led to me counting the hours until I could get out of the office and wallow in that pity.  

But then, something unexpected happen. A friend gave me a life update. This person’s life had taken a turn, and they had to go another direction—which meant leaving my life story for the time being. 

The news stunned me. I sat at my desk shaking for several moments. How could this happen? Why? This was so unfair! My emotions ran the gamut several times over and left my head spinning. Only when I got into my car to go home could I begin gathering my thoughts. Here is the main thought I arrived at.

People leave our lives all the time—sometimes expectedly, sometimes not. Either way, you are then forced to say goodbye. A common reaction tends to be, “Why didn’t I spend more time with this person? Why didn’t I grab lunch when they asked? Why didn’t I respond to their message more promptly? Why wasn’t I a better friend?” Now, feeling guilty is natural, but it isn't terribly productive either. You don’t get to rewind and do it differently. Give thanks for that person’s presence, and if you wish, resolve to make time next time.

But there is something you can do, right here, right now. And it’s much easier than you might think.

Think about the people you care about and are with you in your story right now. Then go one step further: Tell them you care about them and that they matter. Do it directly: text message, phone call, email, video chat, whatever. Don’t be afraid of being honest. Tell me, what is the worst thing that can happen when you open up your heart to someone who matters to you and you know feels the same way? You aren’t talking to your middle-school crush. You’re talking to a parent, a sibling, a cousin, a neighborhood friend, a high school teammate, a college roommate. This is someone you already adore, no strings attached. Why not remind them of that adoration? Speak it into existence. The whole world doesn’t need to know. Just that person. 

Here, if you need a little template for inspiration: “Hey (INSERT NAME HERE). Was just thinking of you. Remember (INSERT FUN MEMORY HERE)? Good times. Appreciate you.”

Even if you make that person smile just for a moment, isn’t that worth it? To bring light to someone you care about?

Because let me tell you something. Time is our most precious resource in the world, and we really don’t know how much any of us truly have with each other. Lives are dynamic, not static. That doesn’t mean you should live afraid. Rather, it means there is little time to be afraid. Why hoard positivity? It isn’t a finite commodity. Plus, what happens if that person’s (or your, for that matter) story changes, and their chapter in your story ends? All those positive vibes you thought about but never shared do you little good. So please, open your heart with those that matter to you. I am certain you’ll brighten their spirits. We all could use a little more light in this world. 

What I Will Remember From the 2019 NBA Finals

The Warriors just lost to the Raptors tonight. It has been reported that Klay Thompson has a torn ACL, a few days after Kevin Durant ruptured his Achilles.

I’m writing this now, on this particular day, because I think you learn certain lessons in the heat of the moment. You have to make sure you capture those feelings immediately, though. Time has a way of dulling everything. So let me get my thoughts down now, when the feeling is near its most intense.

As a Warriors fan, I realize most other fanbases aren’t going to feel sorry for us. We just completed one of the most amazing runs in NBA history. Time will tell where we go from there—currently, it’s murky—but objectively speaking, it has been an all-time run since 2015 (and really, since 2012). Three championships, a record-setting regular season, pure dominance, and a lot of great memories.

But we live in a really interesting time in how we understand history. Being in the social media age, where one’s all-time historical value is being assessed in real time, I don’t know if we truly ever appreciated how transcendent the Warriors are. Maybe we won’t know until several years down the road, when we see the NBA’s next great teams take the stage—and they get compared to the Warriors.

My most important point is this: Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kevon Looney, and DeMarcus Cousin (and others, but these were the players who got hurt during the playoffs) sacrificed a lot to try and help the Warriors win a third championship in a row. Consider:

  • They played hurt during contract years—periods in which players are most vulnerable since they haven’t signed their next contract.

  • That theoretical risk became reality for both Durant and Thompson, since they suffered injuries that may cost time a year or more of playing time

Forget, for a second, the monetary component. Yes, some say they will still get paid; others will say nothing is guaranteed. Forget all that and consider: These individuals will have to endure the lonely rehab process just to get themselves right. And it isn’t guaranteed they will get right! Sure, today, in the immediate aftermath of the loss, they will get a lot of attention. Perhaps some pity even (from the generous souls). But where will that understanding and compassion be in September, when fans are starting to get excited for the next season? How will fans react when these players return—and maybe don’t look as good as before. Will they be begrudged? How many talking heads will forget or discard their efforts in the finals and question their abilities a year from now, if things aren’t going well? Perhaps even mock them for looking like a shell of themselves?

You know it will happen. It happens to every professional athlete. You are on top of the world, and then one injury later, fans move on to the next shiny thing—and proceed to build them up, only to tear them down when they fall short in some way.

If you have doubts it will happen that way, I just saw it with my team. What “sin” did any major Warriors player commit over the past several years? The Warriors exemplified the “team” concept American society says it values by putting the team ahead of any one player. And nationally, fans still found a way to dislike and mock it.

It’s cliche but true. You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

I am so, so, so proud of this Warriors team . They did everything we ask of those who have amazing talents and abilities. Some gave everything to the point that their bodies broke and could give no more—even though they have so much to lose in the future.

In a perverse way, I feel prouder of this team than some of the championship teams. I realize that I’m speaking in the heat of the moment. But after winning several championships, you start to realize how precious they are. That these players gave everything they could before falling short shows, I think, how truly precious it really is.

I now understand what Linus meant when he told Charlie Brown, “We learn more from losing than we do from winning.” You learn how fleeting success is, so enjoy it when you have it. Because it will leave one day, and you can’t ever be sure it will come back.