Monday, February 6, 2017

Hail Mary Pass

Every year we watch the Super Bowl, although I'm mostly interested in the snacks and half-time show.

I don't know a thing in the world about the game itself, but I know a metaphor when I see it.

It looked bad for the New England Patriots on Sunday night. Tom Brady threw pass after pass that overshot the mark, when he could even get the ball into the air. Time and again he was knocked down.

As successful as he'd been over the years, nothing worked for most of the game. The camera often showed him slumped on the bench, looking baffled. Who could blame him? But he never looked defeated. He'd get up and run onto the field once more when his team had the ball. And he'd watch his plan slip out from under his fingers yet again.

People said Brady couldn't do it. He couldn't fight the odds as the Falcons' score charged ahead.

He did though.

That's the part about football that takes my breath away.

I know they practice relentlessly. I know a plan requires someone to break loose and run left as
someone else tackles so and so and the quarterback throws a ball. But in the tangled collisions, as the quarterback steps free, every pass looks like a Hail Mary to me. With hope sailing on a wing and a prayer, a teammate rises above his own doubt. He catches the ball and runs. Weaving through those stampeding mountains, he sprints across a thin white line of disbelief.

You can say it's all about muscle and strategy.

To me, it's a matter of faith.

That's what happened at the critical second when Brady threw and James White caught. 

I say this, not because I have any insight into sports, but because I know that slumped-on-a-bench feeling.

Authors famously recount tales of receiving dozens of rejections, searching for that one editor who rises up, contract in hand, to seize the project.

Talent aside, it's a writer's resilience, sometimes spanning decades, that gets a manuscript over the thin white line.

Recently I tacked note cards with colored stars on my bulletin board. They chart my effort. Every time a rejection arrives, I have a choice to stay on the bench or run onto the field. No cameras. No crowds. Just me, a story, and another Hail Mary Pass.

But you don't have to be a writer or a quarterback to understand facing impossible odds.

Someone eating popcorn in the stands will always think you can't do it.

But someone will think you can.

Go on.


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  1. Very nice, Karen! I plan to internalize "Go on. Throw" as my new mantra. Says it all.

  2. Ah the gift of inner strength we so casually call HOPE. You're right, it is faith based, but it's also results oriented. Hope dies if it does not get exercise. Train to hope. The time will come to throw that Hail Mary pass, a time of inner abandon to the scoffers in your life.

    1. Wonderful. Hope with all its feathered wings requires diligent exercise because when the moment is right, it defies those pesky scoffers.