If you've read, A Most Spectacular Narrative you might be able to guess the significance of this picture. I took part in the Pittsburgh Steelers Fantasy Football Camp earlier this month, and am happy to say I survived it without injury! Sore and limping, yes, but thankfully no torn ACL.
This was a dream of mine for some time, and if there is one regret in my life it's that I wish I played football. Alas, my dream of a career in the NFL was all but a fantasy, but what was real was the hard work this spring, all the hours of training, and the intense mental work of preparing for camp and believing in myself that I could do it. I'm proud I participated and grateful for what I learned about myself in the process.
From a cognitive therapy perspective, the messages we tell ourselves about what we look like, or how smart we are, or if we belong and fit in can play havoc with our lives, and rob us of the joy and serenity of being "good enough," as my Dad always said. I have struggled throughout my life with needing to reframe those messages that would want me to doubt being good enough, of fitting in, and having something worthwhile to say and contribute. Even to go to a Steelers fantasy camp.
So this experience was more than just hard work on the field, and pushing myself to the physical limits. It was as much a metaphor for my life. A mental exercise of daring myself to claim what was important and meaningful without yielding to those inner demons that might otherwise temp me to play it safe.
It was also an experience I wanted to share vicariously with my brother, who first introduced me to the Steelers as our team back in the 1970s, and unlike me, didn't tell himself he wasn't good enough to play football. He went on to play for the St. Boniface Warriors in Winnipeg, whereas some years later I could only serve as the General Manager for the St. Vital Mustangs, and watch the game from the sidelines. My brother Tim has taught me much and I know that we have a bond that will help us face any demon in our lives, and claim any dream worth pursuing. He is still a warrior whom I respect and love deeply.
I will continue to write and give voice to the issues of mental health and hope my readers will find that place within themselves to claim their own dreams. It took me over 40 years, but I did it.