I confess, as excited as I am by my year-long quest, I lost faith this weekend. I did, I completely and utterly lost faith. The cause? I got sick.
I’ve been fighting a bit of residual congestion from a cold a few weeks ago, and since meds that I’m on prevent me from taking anything resembling a decent decongestant, I’ve always had trouble clearing congestion anyway, and it lingers. Annoying, energy-sucking, etc, but manageable. Which doesn’t mean I don’t probably whine about it more than I realize. But just annoying.
Saturday was different. Got up, felt relatively okay, climbed in the car and off I went to the Nissan dealership for service. It’s been on the list for a few weeks, but wasn’t urgent. Small rotational noise in the rear passenger tire area, but not affecting driving or anything, just a noise. Turned out to be bent dust plate, nothing of consequence, easily fixed, no charge, probably bent when I had the winter tires put on. I was thinking about getting the car washed, but I was starting to feel a little queasy, so headed back home instead. Went to the washroom, felt really unsteady about 30 minutes later, had to lie down.
That’s when the fever and chills hit. Temp went up, I went down, and I was out for a few hours. Got up, thought I’d have a shower to clear my head, still congested and cold. So I had a really hot shower. Steam bath time practically. Which knocked me on my butt, almost literally. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, like I just wasn’t getting enough air. Of course, man of my age and weight, with a family history of heart disease, doesn’t take the Amazing Kreskin to figure out where my mind was going. Immediately started looking for other signs. Anxiety? Well, I was feeling it now! (Just kidding) Pain? No. None. Nausea? None. Dizziness? Not really. Cough? Not really either. Weakness? Yes, but the shortness of breath was causing that. Anyway, lots going through my head, and I had Andrea come and guide me to the bedroom. As soon as I left the hot steamy shower, I almost instantly started feeling better. I could breathe again, and the fever was still present (39.4) but I just wanted to sleep. Which I did, and woke up feeling hungry. Since I had basically skipped lunch, not surprising, but was still pretty weak sitting up in the chair so had to ask Andrea to make me some soup.
Back to sleeping. I basically slept almost 30 of 48 hours. By Sunday morning, feeling pretty good. Head and chest had cleared, mostly felt ridiculous that the cause of my freak-out was basically a hot steam room. Which isn’t uncommon, I have the same problem at places like Le Nordik. I can’t breathe in them, my lungs really don’t like it for extended periods of time, and I’d just had a long hot shower.
But the faith part goes to the time when I was awake. When I’m sick, or really tired, I find it really hard to keep squirrels at bay. And they are doubting squirrels. Squirrels that sit on my shoulders and mock me. “Really? PolyWogg 4.0? You can’t even perform at 1.0 right now. Look at you…you’re asking your wife to make you soup, go to the basement and get you stuff from the freezer. Hell, why don’t you turn into a complete Neanderthal and tell her to get you a beer or something.” I hate having to depend on others but, more importantly, I really hate having to impose on someone else and ask them to do something that I can’t. I don’t care about simple things like if you’re going upstairs, can you bring me down a sweater. I mean like asking Andrea to go get something from the basement because I’m feeling too weak to try the stairs by myself. Yet I’m also not stupid enough to do it myself just to be stubborn.
At any rate, I lost faith. I started questioning a bunch of things, not so much the writing goal as I’m doing okay on that one but just about everything else that I’ve committed to. Particularly red goals which are more physical since it was the physical that was kicking my butt. Of course, I completely discounted the fact Andrea had it before me and I should have been potentially expecting it. Some of my lost faith was that I just completely lost two whole days more or less. Certainly wasn’t progressing on much on my list while I was sick.
And yet you know what inspired me? Parts of the Super Bowl. I could say it was Chris Matthews, who was picked up by the Seahawks while working at a Foot Locker, caught his first professional receiving catch on Sunday as practice for his second one which was for a TD in the Super Bowl. He was over 100 yards receiving, might even have been leading receiver for Seahawks for most of the game. Or the rookie Malcolm Butler, who blocked the pass that Krause eventually cradled anyway, and then redeemed himself by stepping in front of Krause to grab the interception that finished the game.
But it wasn’t either of those people. It was Pete Carroll. All over the internet, the blogosphere, the videos, the football pundits, the live game announcers — everyone was calling him an idiot for passing with 1 yard to go rather than having Marshawn Lynch try to punch it in. And yet it was a great call, I don’t care what the Monday morning quarterbacks are saying from their recliners.
He explained it right after the game, exactly as I was expecting him to. NE Pats were expecting them to run it in, so they sent in their maximum running defense. Carroll had 30 seconds to play with and he called the pass with an expectation that if it didn’t work, he still had a play to run with Marshawn, and the defenders would be one play more tired while Marshawn rested, plus the Pats weren’t set up to defend a pass. Add to that the short distance decreases the likelihood of an actual interception — maybe a batted down ball, but not an interception, and you have a pretty good chance at two plays, either of which might get you the win. If that pass had landed, Pete Carroll would be the king of the internet today, blogged about all over the place, didn’t take the safe play, gutsy, visionary, whatever. Celebrated. And if it was not caught, he still had Marshawn, who if successful, would have been pointed to as having been fresher, a good strategic rest before plowing into the endzone.
But what happened? The rookie from a school that nobody at the Super Bowl had ever heard of before (Hinds Community College, via West Alabama), Malcolm Butler, saw the play, abandoned his actual receiver, took a huge risk that an experienced veteran probably wouldn’t have instead trusting in the protection routes they were running, and stepped forward, literally knocking the receiver out of the way of the ball and catching it himself. Make no mistake — that was a game-winning TD that was a split-second from making Pete Carroll that guru of football strategists, and Butler jumped in front of that game-winning train and brought it to a grinding, almost bone-crushing stop. If he had merely knocked it down, or just caused the receiver to drop it, the story would be a minor footnote to the next play when Marshawn would have had his shot at greatness.
But Carroll made the call he did based on what he saw before him. Lots of people are ripping him apart in the media world today and will do so for a long time to come. Diehard Seahawk fans are going to want to crucify him perhaps. But what did Carroll do, minutes after the game? He gave an interview where he said almost exactly what I laid out above — he didn’t like the matchup, tried the pass, figured if it failed he would still have 2 more plays with Marshawn to punch it in, let’s go for the win. And then he did the act that restored my faith in my quest.
He displayed 100% integrity and accountability. He said initially “We made the call” to go with the pass, but when he finished, he said “The decision to go that way was me, it’s all on me.” He took full responsibility and accountability for the loss. Never mind the idiot Bennett working on his defensive line who not only gave Tom Brady a free first down by jumping offside on a 3rd down situation, but he also gave up any hope of a touchback at the goal line by giving t hem another free five yards, after a season where he got dinged 14 times (second only to Browner on NE who had 15 infractions). His teammate was even trying to hold him back from jumping offside on the second last play of the game, and he STILL went offside. Blown plays, missed opportunities, a whole season coming down to it, and Pete Carroll says, “It’s all on me.”
That’s the kind of faith I can get behind. Because whatever weaknesses I have in my personal arsenal to transform myself, the end result is the same. It’s all on me.
Let the quest continue. I’m not 100% ready to win yet, but I’m ready to keep fighting.