When I was a boy, my family would take a two-week vacation every summer to St. Petersburg, Florida. We would stay in the Sea Breeze Cottages at Madera Beach right on the St. John’s Pass, where the river met the Gulf of Mexico. It wasn’t anything very fancy, but to me it was paradise. I lived for those two weeks of the summer!
Pop was a railroad man, and worked hard for a living, but there wasn’t enough money to finance our extra-curricular activities. He would do roofing or build boats to save the money needed for our summer excursions to Florida. I will always be grateful to Pop for the time of togetherness he provided for us. We were creating memories that still flood our minds even though he has been gone now for six years.
The days before vacation began we would begin our preparations. We would make sure our fishing gear was in good shape, and see to it that we had what we needed for the two weeks. I remember being so stoked with anticipation that I could hardly sleep the night before. Mom always tried to convince us that if we didn’t go to sleep the morning would never arrive.
We got up early before the sun came up, and began our journey to my childhood paradise. I won’t bore you with the details of the trip, but the highlights were eating breakfast in Callahan, and the yearly stop at the Orange Shop in Calhoun. That was it.
Oh yeah, and were we kid’s thrilled whenever Mom would ask Pop to take a potty stop! Pop was so intent on reaching our destination that potty stops were viewed as a necessary evil. Bathroom time was wasted time. To this day, I am certain that I have oversized kidneys from the stretching they took on those trips.
I learned something valuable during those summer adventures: For every destination that we desire, there is a journey that leads us there.
With my own kids during our vacation travels, I have tried to make the journey as enjoyable as possible, but regardless—the journey is still essential to arriving at the destination. You can’t just be there, you have to go there (which is why preseason polls are stupid!).
Everybody wants the destination, but few are willing to take the journey that leads them there. I recently spoke at a large marriage conference and there were many who wanted to arrive at the destination of a happy marriage, but how many are willing to take the journey that leads them there?
As I watch my own children mature into respected adults and assume their place in society, I cannot help but be reminded that there was a long and patient journey that brought them and us to this rewarding destination.
On Jan. 8, in Miami, a football team will be crowned national champions of the college football world. At that moment, those young men, their coaches, their school, and their families will have reached the destination they so longed to realize.
They are not the only ones who have reached their desired destination. Other teams realistically set a goal of winning their conference championship, and they did. Some seniors, like those on Georgia Tech, set a goal of beating their in-state rival for the first time in years—and they did it. For others, this year was about arriving at a winning season and getting back on track.
Whatever the desired destination, don’t think for one minute that those gridiron gladiators don’t remember the journey that got them to where they are. The two-a-days, the early morning runs, the never-ending drills, the pain—the destination they enjoyed made the journey worth enduring.
After the lights go out at Dolphin Stadium on that January night in Miami, the college football season will be over. Does that hit you in the pit of the stomach like it does me?
What happens to this community of friends that meet here on B/R and talk college football? Do we all plan to jump off the roof at the same agreed time? Do we stare at our blank computer screens—not knowing what to write or say? I think not.
On Jan. 9, the journey begins again. Hope revives. The destination becomes a possibility all over again. Everyone is equal in the W-L column. New recruits begin to pick their schools. Fans begin to recover from a disappointing season, and preseason trash-talk begins long before spring camp opens.
So soak up the bowl games—watch as many as you can. Don’t miss the national championship and all of the fanfare that goes with it. But whatever you do, don’t think that college football ends in January. On the contraire! College football 2009 will just be beginning!
Get the car packed, and go to the bathroom now while you can—we don't want to waste time on potty stops. Plan on getting an early start....
Did you hear about the No. 2 quarterback in the nation that has committed to Georgia?