The burden of a championship team maintaining a consistently high standard is very difficult, as witnessed by the Penguins’ loss. It does not lessen the esteem in which they are held, for they won two Stanley Cups in a row. Now think of how impressive it was that the New York Islanders won four in row from 1980-1983. Every armchair coach has the answers as to what went wrong, whether it be the goaltender, defense, offense, referees and/or coaches. Sportscasters and sportswriters will pour over tape and offer their own observations and recommendations for next year. The team owner, general manager, coach and various players will also be answering the same questions.
The Penguins loss reminds us that excellence is very hard to maintain, no matter the field of endeavor. Every athlete cannot be “on” each time she/he plays, no matter how highly ranked. It is just not possible, and that is what makes each of us human – that we cannot be perfect. Is it possible for a normally good person to be “off” by being impolite or worse when we have come to expect only the best from that person? Perhaps in a moment of great emotional stress, when asked, someone might respond with “I’m sorry, but I just didn’t think”.
If we hold the Penguin players up to a very high standard, do we hold ourselves up to that same high standard? Are we polite, thoughtful, loving, caring and generous every minute? The staircase towards being the best possible version of our selves is very steep. Each of us might climb a few steps, take one backwards, exhale and climb a few more, wishing we could see the end of the staircase. By not seeing the end, do we just throw our hands up, utter “I give up” and encamp right where we are?
I see the challenge in life to climb as many stairs as possible, so that on that day of judgment that all of us must face, I would prefer God say to me: Wow, look at all the stairs that you climbed, and look at how many people you encouraged to climb with you! That would be far better than “That’s all you climbed?” We begin each day anew, with the opportunity to affect our standings in the Human League, by deciding how many steps to climb. Unlike an app on your watch that tracks your steps, God keeps track. If yesterday was not very impressive, well there is today. How can I be a better self today and climb even more stairs than yesterday? I may not become a Stair Master, but I surely would prefer a “wow” from God than a “that’s all”. May you, my dear reader, be blessed with a “wow”.