It happens each year so you’d think I’d get used to it.
You know, it gets colder, rains more and leaves are blown by changing winds. Yes, it’s the Fall. Fall in Michigan is a special time. So, in the middle of COVID, political unease, economic uncertainty and everything else, there is a wonderful ‘known’ that seasons do change, winters do come but with that the hope of spring and summer arrive once more.
As written many times year over the years and in this 10 year retrospective, grief and loss is never forgotten and Chris will never be forgotten, but seasons do change and beauty can be found in the change, just as the fall leaves remind us each year.
Part of this ’10 years later’ thing is that I read a few posts from the past. One I was thinking about this week came to mind as I was watching a little Premier League action last weekend. With no crowds and manufactured crowd noise it was an interesting watch but great to see live sports in any event. The way you face – is an expression I learned from Davie B (you know who you are) on the soccer pitch. The main point is that you may be turned around and facing away from your goal. That’s ok. That’s the direction you should play at the moment. Going backwards is a powerful method to move forward. Kinda sounds like pandemic recovery to me. Many times since 2010, we’ve had to play the way we faced. We needed to make a defensive move so we didn’t lose control. Ten years later, I see the wisdom from those words more than ever. Here’s the original post from 2011.
One of the things I love about Saturday mornings is watching a little Premier League Soccer as the schedule permits. With games as early as 5 and 7am, the timing works well with the newspaper and a good cup of coffee.
I love the skill, the speed, the set-up and I love those British announcers use of the English language. Their phrasing and commentary adds a poetic quality to the experience.
We’ve played a lot of noon hour soccer with my work gang over the years.
It’s not quite at Premier League level…but you wouldn’t know it from the locker room stories told just after the match.
When you play sports and you are in the heat of the moment field-of-play one thing you’ll hear is players shouting to other players. Usually instructions come in bursts of 2 or 3 repeats. Move the ball, move the ball, MOVE THE BALL…all increasing in urgency.
Ok, that last one is what gets yelled at me a lot, so maybe I’m just sensitive. Joking aside, I’ve wondered about this form of communication and liken it to military instruction in the heat of the battle. You want to be clear about your communication and there’s no time to waste with niceties.
One of the most interesting lines I’ve heard a million times on the soccer pitch is, ‘the way you face’.
When you are playing soccer the objective is pretty clear. You need to score on the opponent’s goal. In order to do this you should be moving the ball forward toward the enemy’s net.
However, many times you don’t receive the ball in a position where going forward makes the most sense.
In other words, if you receive the ball and you happen to be turned towards your own goal, your natural instinct may be to make an immediate turn and try to push the ball forward.
That could be the worst move.
When you hear, ‘the way you face’, ‘the way you face’, ‘the way you face’, it’s a reminder from your teammate to gain control of the ball and move the ball in the direction you are facing at the time which may appear counterproductive but ultimately allows your team to go forward.
I’ve thought about that phrase a lot in the game of life.
Sometimes turning too quickly and trying to push forward to the opponent’s goal is not the right move.
Playing the way you face, ie passing the ball ‘backwards’ before your team moves the play forward again protects possession and ultimately provides a greater opportunity to score.
Too heavy on the soccer analogies?
I think I may get another Americano and watch game 2 of the Premier League.
I was sent a link to a letter written by the President of Harvard University. (Thanks Grant!)
Lawrence (Larry) S. Bacow wrote a poignant piece identifying what he believes. This was written May 30, 2020 in light of the recent protests and violence in the US following the death of George Floyd. For me currently living near Detroit, his words (he references Detroit from the 60’s) are profound as we are living through history repeating itself in 2020. If you have 5 min, read through his entire letter. Here are some key statements:
I believe in the goodness of the people of this country—and in their resilience.
I believe that America should be a beacon of light to the rest of the world.
I believe that our strength as a nation is due in no small measure to our tradition of welcoming those who come to our shores in search of freedom and opportunity, individuals who repay us multiple times over through their hard work, creativity, and devotion to their new home.
It is the final paragraph, however, that is extremely important for all of us; Canadian, American or any other citizen of the world. It is a call to action.
What we believe is important. Acting on our beliefs is critical. ESPECIALLY when we must believe that there are many more people in this world who believe in equality, respect and fair treatment for all – regardless of race, gender or political leanings.
As I continue to remember Chris in a more direct and public way throughout this year, I am thinking continually of what Be The Best really means. If I believe that, what are the actions that bring that belief to life? One simple one is to follow through on acts of kindness – not just think about them. Could be a spending time as a mentor, writing a note of support, or simply saying thank-you. Ok – and doing push-ups. That was a big part of the Be The Best thinking that Chris worked on. Those are the simple things that can bring beliefs to life. I’ll leave the closing to President Bacow. He’s stated it perfectly below.
I hope you will pause during these troubled times to ask what you believe. Even more importantly, I hope you will find the strength and determination to act on your beliefs—to repair and perfect this imperfect world.
This tribute video for Chris was put together for the Langley Thunder Lacrosse team and played in Chris’ honor. At about 1 minute 29 seconds you see a few seconds of an interview I did with Chris in prepping for college recruitment activity. If you want to see what he believed, have a view. Have a good week.
For those of you who know me you may be immediately question my mental state. What? This guy is all about planning. Has he had a mid life crisis and reversed his position? Ok, I did look at a massive gold chain and convertible mustang full of Detroit muscle, but I didn’t do either. 😉
And spoiler alert – I haven’t changed my position about planning – but I’m growing more interested in paradoxes and this is a great one.
“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”
How many times have you set a plan and then things change? If I’m honest, a lot or maybe always! However, having the plan in the first place has already forced us to think about WHY we are doing something. The HOW can change, the WHY should remain the same.
I confess. I still watch Family Guy from time to time. Totally inappropriate and outrageous, it was a show that us three boys (Chris, Max and me) would utilize to work on our father/sons bonding while containing our misguided laughter. I hope that passes as enough of an excuse…
There was a scene that became hilarious in our home because it became real life. Remember that bit where Stewie couldn’t get his Mom, Lois’ attention? Here’s the quick clip to remind you. Ok, Ingrid (Max and Chris’ Mom and my long suffering wife!) had developed a unique skill living in a house with just guys. She could tune us out. I mean TOTALLY tune us out. She would be quietly reading a book while the three of us would be watching hockey, munching snacks, exuding bodily noises, laughing and even talking to her – she totally blocked it out. Big skill for sure.
So…Chris started doing the routine. Mom, Mum, ingrid, mommy, mamma, louder and louder – then INGRID! That usually got her attention. That ‘bit’ became comedy gold in the Friesen household multiple times per month. Author’s note: I never encouraged or endorsed this behavior. (mostly)
Just watching the clip again makes me smile as I think of Chris’ routine. The love that Chris and Max and Ingrid have is one that only exists with Moms and sons. Totally special and unique. To Ingrid and all the Moms out there – a very Happy Mother’s Day. May your memories bring you smiles and warmth as only a deep love can create.
One of the most read blog posts over the years was about Charlie Brown and that other Charlie, Charles Dickens. I reread that blog post recently almost 10 years to the day it was written. All of it true in 2020. The massive UPS and DOWNS we are all feeling through COVID are very similar to the feelings of loss. Is grief good? No – it sucks, just to be clear. However grief doesn’t exist if a deep love didn’t exist first. Here’s a reproduction of that post:
I was thinking about Charlie Brown today. Not really about Snoopy or Lucy or that piano dude…remember? Schroeder. I was remembering one of Charlie Brown’s catch phrases….’good grief’. After my extensive (4 minute) search on the history of ‘good grief’ I found….not much. A euphemism for “Good God”, dating back to the 1900’s and of course an ‘Arrested Development’ TV episode from 2004?
I also thought about this quote…ok, you Grade 11 and 12’s…you should know this one.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way..
Got it? Yes, that Charles Dickens from A Tale of Two Cities. Sure, that was written in the 1800’s, but it is a pretty accurate description of grief I think. I’ve seen a lot about stages of grief and I’m sure that is probably true, but right now it is more like a pretty big yo-yo. You go up and down between the extremes of the ‘best of times’ remembering, laughing, joking, smiling and dive down to the ‘worst of times’, missing, aching, dreaming of the missed future etc.
Good Grief? Maybe that Charlie Brown was a lot smarter than I ever thought…but I think Lucy knew that all along.
I told you I was going to throw every pun I could into the 2020 version of the blog and combine with as many Dad jokes as possible.
Snow in April? Snow way! Yup, it’s true. For those of you on the West Coast – yah, you are laughing as you read this, physical distancing your way around Vancouver’s Seawall. I get it. I used to snicker at the weather in the east as well. I’m paying a heavy price now for all those years of jokes. 😉
In all reality, snow is not that uncommon in April – it just doesn’t feel right. That said, it comes and goes and we know that warmer spring and summer weather will follow. In recent weeks, I’ve had a chance to reflect and discuss Jim Collin’s leadership concept of facing the brutal facts, using Winston Churchill as an epic example. If you have 3 minutes, read this excerpt. If we are overly optimistic and have our hearts set on a date or outcome we have a much higher probability of being highly disappointed or worse. From a leadership perspective this can be a bigger concern. Leadership by personality will generally not be as lasting as leadership by facing the facts with the team. If we force ourselves to face the BRUTAL FACTS, we are more likely to be able to address those issues and then find a way to win today and then again tomorrow. It is a strange combination (duality) of having a longer term positive outcome (ie, we’ll get out of COVID, we’ll be happy again after loss) with the immediacy of dealing with the facts of today, ie, my income is dropping by x and I need to do three things per day to push forward and see how I can address that…or, I will not see my son again in this lifetime – how am I going to live the rest of my life? I know that’s blunt, but that is the kind of thing we must do, in my opinion. (Remember, I ain’t a doctor and I don’t even play one on TV).
So, weather (see what I did there?) you are facing sun, cloud, rain or snow today, I trust you can face any brutal facts in your situation and then prepare an action plan for dealing with those things.
Two years ago, on Easter Sunday, I began this blog.
I thought it might go for a month, then two months, then six, then for sure end at 12, then it kept going.
Although these past few months the posts have been more in my head then typed onto the screen, it’s not for lack of topics. Along this pathway/journey/road/highway/trail you have ups and you have downs. You have valleys and you have views. You learn to laugh with a broken heart. You learn to live with a hole in your heart. You even learn to win and conquer with an altered existence.
That’s the REAL secret of Sunday.
It’s not about the razzle dazzle.
It’s about the amazing reality that there is life with tragedy. There is hope with sorrow. There is bitter and there is sweet, mixed and stirred.
Sunday is about hope.
Sunday is about future.
Sunday is about change.
After 21 years at an amazing post secondary school that has become a home not just a job…I am taking a leave.
I’m heading to the private sector working to assist entrepreneurs build their businesses.
A big change.
I’m not sure I would have done it without the Be The Best thinking part of my every waking minute.
Now, I’m not encouraging anyone to quit their jobs or do anything crazy, but I will challenge all of you to Be The Best!
What does that mean to you?
What are your dreams?
What are your goals?
How are you putting those into measurable pieces, sliced up by months and days?
Chris’ passion fuels me. Chris’ passion to Be The Best fuels all of us, even those who never met him.
It’s Sunday…but it’s early Sunday morning.
Hope is on the horizon, but the road ahead is still very unknown.
But one thing I know is that Sunday’s here, and by making one decision at a time we’ll be more ‘Be The Best’ then if we just sit back and let things happen.
So it’s Saturday. The trauma and drama of the cross is behind us, but now what? Historical accounts indicate a lot of second guessing and doubting about what the future would be without the Son of Man around physically. Sort of like living in a suspended state.
We know what Saturday is like. That’s where you live for a long long time.
But Sunday’s coming.
Quite literally as I type this, our dear friends, the Funks, who stood by us like soldiers for weeks and weeks, are in a suspended animation state with their family, specifically, their daughter Jessica (20).
As you read this, please offer a thot and prayer for her as she fights a flu-like infection that has forced her into a stable but critical state in a Vancouver area hospital.
As a group, we didn’t need any more lessons about how precious life was, but we got one anyways.
When it’s Saturday you think…did that thing just happen? to us? really?
Did we just lose Chris? really?
You can’t comprehend for a long time what actually happened.
Saturday is a day where those thoughts can come and topple you over.
I don’t know if you remember the blog post back about a year or so ago how astronauts (and others) are trained to compartmentalize their grief and emotions. That’s the only way they can make it through traumatic situations and still land the plane, save people from burning buildings, deal with trauma etc. You can read that post here.
I was also struck by the psychology professor commenting on the story indicating that compartmentalization makes sense but it can have severe impacts as well. In other words you can’t compartmentalize forever.
So…what does that mean? Saturday is a time when the doubts and questions come…you MUST compartmentalize to keep working, living and moving ahead BUT (and it’s a big BUT – insert your own joke here), if you only compartmentalize, you will pay a HUGE price.
Saturday is also for doubting.
Saturday is also for questioning.
Saturday is for being angry and confused.
Saturday is for letting those thoughts come to the door, you answer, chat a minute or two and then close the door.
That’s why there is a Saturday.
But Sunday’s coming.
To conclude, the blog post I wrote this past Christmas about Bob Ross the painter, has really stuck with me for months. He’s that quirky public television personality with a cult-like-following who always looked like he destroyed his painting about 3/4 of the way through…only to have the final image always blow you away. You can read that post here.
What’s the point you say? Early on in our Saturday, the questions outweighed the answers, the pain outweighed any positive feelings of the future and I couldn’t understand how any pieces fit together.
I still don’t, actually, but I do know this.
I believe very strongly that we ARE part of a larger painting. We don’t understand all the Master Painter does or is doing. PERSPECTIVE is a thing that is not quite available on Saturday, but even as Satur-day turns into Saturday-night, that perspective grows.