It’s 43-37 and the Sixers are up at half time against the lowly Atlanta Hawks. I’ve got a $5.00 soda, $3.00 hot dog, the local Philadelphia Karate club is doing some wacky dance routine and the mascot is shooting t-shirts from a small cannon. I’m sitting with one of my good friends enjoying the game, eating the over-priced food and having a few laughs. While I don’t get to games too often, it’s a typical run of the mill evening at the local pro sports game with a friend. Not a typical night in my life, but not necessarily the most life-changing event either.
Its 43-37 and the Sixers are up at half time against the lowly Atlanta Hawks. A father has two $5 sodas and two $3.00 hot dogs and the local Philadelphia Karate club is doing some wacky dance routine and the mascot is shooting t-shirts from a small cannon. He is finally spending the evening with his son for the first time in three months. He is the CEO of a large financial firm and has been promising this night for quite a long time. Twice he had to cancel because of a late meeting. Once he had to cancel because he was in another state for a last minute emergency business trip. This night, he was supposed to head to Minnesota for business. However, he decided to take the red-eye and go into his meeting on no sleep so he could finally spend the night with his son. At last, it’s just the two of them. His son will remember this night for the rest of his life. It’s the first time he won out over daddy’s job.
Its 43-37 and the Sixers are up at half time against the lowly Atlanta Hawks. A seven year old black belt in Karate, while waiting to head out onto the floor for the show, just gave Allen Iverson a high-five as he ran off the court as he headed back to the locker room for half-time. He’s never been this close to his idol before and he’ll probably not wash his hand for three weeks. He will remember this night forever.
Its 43-37 and the Sixers are up at half time against the lowly Atlanta Hawks. A seven-year-old black belt in Karate is in the middle of his Karate show. He’s been working in his moves for a long time under the pressure of his father, who is the director of the class. He has a lot to live up to and the last thing he wants to do is ruin his chance to show his father that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Not only is there immense pressure from his father, but he is in front of thousands of people on the floor of the Wachovia Center. Don’t mess up he tells himself. Don’t mess up. On his second round of tricks, he loses his footing, stumbles out of formation, slips and falls. He looks up in time to see his father drop his head in disappointment. The wound of knowing that he let down his father again didn’t live up to his father’s expectations is cut even deeper. Not only does he feel the humiliation in front of his father, but also he feels it in front of thousands of people watching.
The second half is over quickly and the game ends.
Many of us, like me and my friend go home fairly unchanged. Others, like these three kids, leave completely changed.
Some excited. Some scarred. Some hopeful.
We all sat in the same huge room. We all watched the same boring game. Yet, somehow, we were all shaped differently. We all came to the event in the midst of different stories. Each story interpreted the events of the game in dramatically different ways. For some of us, this typical Sixers game turned into a life changing evening.
Its amazing to me how things that I think nothing much of can be life shaping, life-changing events.
I am convinced that every moment, no matter how mundane and normal, holds the opportunity to be amazingly significant to someone’s personal and unique story.
For some reason, sitting there at the game, I was overwhelmed by the awesome importance to be continually aware of life. Aware, that even in the seemingly simplest moments, people are being changed, shaped and formed.
All too often, I am the “Sixers Game.” It could be a conversation or the lack of one. Perhaps it’s a poor-timed joke or a sarcastic stab at a something sensitive. How often do I think of something as an insignificant interaction that is actually amazingly significant? Perhaps, getting less focused on our own stories and reorienting our thoughts on the stories of others would be a good start…