Own the moment; enjoy it, too
Much of my life, I've lived by the credo, "Never be content." It's served me very well, more often than not.
In retrospect, it's also cost me an opportunity to savor moments that today I wish I could recapture.
As a musician, I spent a lot of time lamenting small crowds, rather than relish the fact that the venue had just paid us (albeit, not particularly well, more often than not) to share our music.
As a younger man, I would have been hung up on the fact that I didn't hit my goal during my first marathon this past May.
But much older and wiser, I think I've learned at least somewhat to stop and smell the roses. Or in that specific case, stop and celebrate the fact that none of my limbs fell off while I ran 26.2 miles.
While they're about half my age, I hope the the eight young ladies who will take aim at the Class A state golf tournament this weekend in Decatur can apply the lesson that took me way too long to learn: Enjoy the moment before it passes.
Gauging the comments I heard not just in the clubhouse in Genoa on Monday but throughout the season, I don't think that will be a problem.
Before the season even started, Polo senior Alina Llanas made it clear that far and away her biggest goal was to make it to state. After coming through on that goal – one she missed by five total strokes the last two tries – she celebrated with her coach, Don Reece, friends, family and friends of the family like she'd won the state title.
On Monday, she talked about having "let down so many people." It's hard to watch a teenager beat themself up the way she has. But when I asked her what her goal was at state, her answer warmed my heart.
"I want to do well," she said. "Just play my game and have a lot of fun."
Bing! That's the magic word I was hoping I'd hear: fun. That's what we're after, right? Games are meant to be fun. And Llanas can have all the fun she'll allow herself.
I'm going to climb out on a limb and guess that the more fun she has, the higher she'll sit in the standings when all's said and done. Same goes for Eastland-Milledgeville's qualifier Alex Moutrey, who made the cut Monday after missing it by six strokes a year ago.
Isn't that the case for all of us? Look at your work from a day you were in a good mood. Then look at a project you tackled while unhappy or stressed out. Night and day, right?
So often in sports, coaches urge their players to never be content. It's a great message that can prevent youngsters from resting on their laurels.
But when they've spent years working toward a goal, lost sleep over it, and they finally achieve it, let's give them the opportunity to smile and feel good about themselves.
Prophetstown senior Stephanie Emery made it abundantly clear that she can only golf well if she's happy. Smiles turned to tears of joy for Prophet golfers, their parents and coach Kelly Siltman alike in the clubhouse on Monday.
During the sectional, one of those parents asked Siltman if she'd looked into hotels for the girls at state.
"I said absolutely not. I was thinking, 'It's been a nice run and we've had a good time,' " Siltman said. "I never try to look too far ahead.
"I just want to kind of live in the moment."
That approach is contagious. You'd better believe the Prophets are going to relish the feel of the fairway beneath their feet this weekend, not to mention the great eats in Decatur.
After all, at this point, it's not about anyone getting their just desserts.
Having a chance to play among the state's best? Well, that's just dessert.