Of Sporting Events and Nostalgia

There's a funny thing about memories. They define us: our likes, our dislikes, our passions, our pains, the how and why we do and say the things we do. Our memories (based on our experiences) make us into the people we become, and good or bad, they shape our world view.

Some of my friends from twitter are at a baseball game today. Because I pop into twitter from time to time throughout the day, I'm seeing the pictures: the parking lot full of cars, the marquis with the Phillies logo & the Phanatic, the excitement & anticipation of the stadium full of people, the over-priced stadium food, and yes, even the game itself. I don't even like baseball, but I want to go.

Why? Because I have happy memories of going to a baseball game with my daddy when I was fairly young. And yes, it was a Phillies game. And yes, they won. And it was a beautiful sunny day, just like today. And all was right with the world.

On the other hand, I have no desire to ever go to a football game of any type. I didn't even go to high school games with my friends. My only memory of a football game, was sitting on the bleachers, alone in the cold wind & the pouring rain. I had to have been in kindergarten or younger, because the only reason I was there was because my daddy was running the lines for Gettysburg College's team while I assume my mom was working.

I enjoy shooting hoops but not watching basketball or playing a "real" game. I enjoy kicking the soccer ball around but not actually playing (and I'm ambivalent about watching). And I call myself a Flyers fan even though I have never seen them live and haven't been to a single hockey game since high school. But none of this has anything to do with the games themselves so much as the people & the experiences associated with them.

Nostalgia is like that. It colors how we remember things in an over-idealized way. It exaggerates the details (good & bad) and makes them bigger than life. The trick is to master the memories and not allow them to master us. Save & grow from the good. Accept & learn from the bad. Shape the glass through which we view our memories and let them reveal the why rather than define the who of the person we become.

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