As he climbed, his heart was pounding demandingly in his chest. The beats washed over him like an angry ocean. There wasn't a soul around for miles. The moon cast the only path of light this night. He had to continue on. He had to keep moving. There was no other choice.
Failure was quite simply, not an option.
He thinks of his family. His coaches, his teammates…The fans.
Somewhere in the past month, something had gone terribly wrong. The team came out of the gates with bravado and strength. Riding the intoxicating waves of Superbowl expectations, two back-to-back away games to start the season resulted in two victories. Then a convincing if not dominating opening home game kept the momentum in full swing. The future seemed truly limitless.
Sweat poured from his brow, and his bones ached. He wanted to stop and catch his breath but didn't dare. "You can do this," he thought. As he continued to climb, he unclasped the clip on his pouch that carried some almonds. He popped a few in his mouth, taking the energy wherever he could get it. Rocks were precarious at this level. One false move, one negligent calculation, could prove fatal.
"Not the way I want to make the evening news," he quickly noted in his mind, and then threw that thought out like a bad piece of fruit. It was time to focus. Time to find the heart of the person inside he knew he was.
It was time to rediscover the greatness within.
The season depended on it.
When the Rams came to town, the city that had lied dormant for so many years due to tenacious baseball hypnosis, was now positioned ready to reclaim them. Carry them to victory through the throats of thousands. For most the game, fans were drunk with triumph. The division rivals were pounded into the pavement, nearly unrecognizable.
Then, something horrible happened.
They got back up.
Somewhere in between the cheers and daydreams of the post season, the Rams fought back. A few blind-sided blows later, the bloodied chump became the champ. Fans, gripped in a seductive dance of premature celebration, suddenly sat silent and stunned.
Since then, the team has yet to win, and the city has decided to retire early for Winter, again.
He thought about his heel, and how ridiculous pain could be in that region. Shards of hot glass shot up his leg with every advance upward. Still, he kept a steady pace as the earth moved around him. Rocks and dirt danced downward into the darkness. The moon was turning orange like muted blood in a calm sea thanks to a lunar eclipse.
Soon, there would be no light at all.
Sometimes, fans are like hapless victims in a car crash. The oncoming car crosses over the median so fast that you're helpless to do anything but brace yourself. The injuries you sustain can cause lifelong suffering. However, nothing can harm the resilience of the human spirit, and this is why fans can sustain perpetual injury without losing the desire to get right back into the car again.
Players live with this as well to a degree, but their battle is as much physical as it is mental. Preparation, repetition, study and execution. If these four common goals are met, victory is imminent. Team work is the glue that binds these elements together, for without it, you're just swinging sticks at ghosts.
Somewhere in the past month, we've failed in our four common goals. We're told by the coaches and players to just keep the faith. The ship will be righted, the car will get back on track, and many other useless metaphors that bring as much comfort to fans as sleeping on a bed of rusty razor blades.
Just win. It's all the fans ask as they dodge oncoming cars every Sunday.
As he reaches the top, the moon restores its illumination. His head is pounding, his heel feels like a foreign enemy, he searches for a body part that doesn't ache. As he scans the valley peppered with lights like stars that have decided to settle down to rest for the night, he wonders if the city will give him and his team another chance.
As he begins his journey home, it's the hope that sustains him.
Todd Breda is the Owner and Creative Director of Seahawks.Net. If you would like to e-mail Todd, send any and all love letters, hate mail, whimsical musings or your own mountain climbing stories to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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