When you're a kid, everything seems like it's forever. A trip to buy groceries takes forever. School never ends. Sunday afternoons are an eternity between the purposefully ignorant of responsibilities Sunday mornings and the cold sweat last minute panic of Sunday nights. It's always forever until Christmas, and when it finally comes, it's always another forever until your birthday.
But then you grow up, and you realize that life is transitory, and things end.
Bands you like will eventually suck, you'll eventually cease to be cool, and your goldfish is going to be so dead in about two weeks.
It's a depressing thought, and that's why we look for the constants in our lives, because we need to make sure that we're holding on to something tangible, something that won't eventually slip through our fingers.
The Ohio State football team went 12-0 last season, and for the past few months I've been doing is trying to think of ways that it couldn't possibly happen again.
After all, that 12-0 record was a result of a combination of some luck and great individual performances at critical times, which, to my brain, means that it was an incredibly unlikely occurrence destined to never happen again anywhere ever.
What if Braxton Miller gets hurt? What if there is no second receiver option? What if the defensive line is overrated again this year? What if Tom Herman is distracted in what might be his final year at Ohio State? Who are our second and third linebackers? Really, Curtis Grant? Really? What if the offensive line suffers an injury? What if the safety play doesn't improve? Is Carlos Hyde a one year wonder? What if we lose to Michigan? What's going to happen when the eventual heat death of the universe causes total entropy?
The problem with this thinking isn't just how negative and anxiety-ridden it is, it's also that it doesn't give you time to sit back and enjoy it when things do go well. Of course, Urban Meyer doesn't have the luxury of doing either. The nature of his business dictates that he be a shark, constantly moving forward past both successes and failures with the belief that along the way you're getting things done and winning at the same time.
During the Civil War, Ohio General William Tecumseh Sherman wrote to fellow Ohio General Ulysses S Grant and said that, unlike himself, Grant "manifested a simple faith in success" that was akin to "the faith which a Christian has in his Saviour." That faith in his own ability to win was unshakable, Sherman said, and is what caused him to be great.
Urban Meyer and his fellow coaches across major sports, at all levels have that simple faith in success. I am both amazed and infuriated by this.
I can think of once, once, in the past several years that I was utterly, unbendingly convinced that Ohio State would prevail in a big game that they were not 10 point favorites, and that was at home against Miami in 2010 (where they were 8 point favorites), a game that they won fairly handily.
Which is sad! Buckeye fans share the same curse that fans of the Yankees, Lakers, Manchester United, and the USA in general all have: expectations are so high for winning that we worry more about failure than we hope for success. We have nearly the opposite attitude that the players and the coaches of the teams we root for have, because we've become so attached to the idea of a permanent avoidance of failure.
Is it likely that Ohio State will go undefeated for the second straight season en route to a national title and eternal (read: 3-5 year) glory? No, it isn't, and every one of the concerns that I listed above is valid and could derail the season. Except for the heat death of the universe, that won't be for several billion years after Braxton Miller has exhausted his eligibility.
But with that said, we need to make an effort to enjoy the ride as it comes to us, no matter what our expectations are or how long we think we'll have Urban around to be awesome. The Purdue overtime win was a thrilling, ridiculous game that was a ton of fun in any context, bowl-ban year or not. Hopefully if a similar situation shows up this year when the team is 8-1, we can enjoy it just as much as it deserves.
Last story: last night I was watching the Reds game, all the way up until the bottom of the 7th when the Reds were losing 4-2. Knowing the Braves have an excellent relief corps, one of the best closers in the majors, and the Reds have been in a hitting slump, I said screw it and turned the game off.
Then this happened.
The point is, if you get too worried about all the variables and unlikelihood of things going well, you'll miss the walk off home runs in life. If you're good, you'll win. You just need to have a simple faith in success.
Or, like a poet once wrote, you just gotta believe!