How to Cope With a Week Before the Philly Game--Aristotle, Thich Nhat Hanh, & Pearl Jam

Earlier today, TJ Johnson led me to a breakthrough regarding the Raiders game.

He said, essentially, "Forget it.  Do whatever it takes to move on.  Do anything.  But keep moving."

I was already wrapped in a film analysis of everything that went wrong in that debacle.  I was taking notes, pointing my proverbial finger at nearly every player on the roster, and finding errors that could only be laid at the feet of the coaches.  I at once felt I was wasting my time, and wasting a chance.  The way the Broncos seemed to be wasting chance after chance the past couple of weeks.

The frustration was palpable.  I could see it on the film, from players and coaches alike, and  I could feel it in my terse scrawls, and abbreviated notes.  It wasn't what I was missing, but what I was seeing.  Sometimes there is no insightful secret that helps us move forward, there is just the recognition that where we are isn't good enough.

TJ said that forgetting was the first step.

And do you know what is weird about that first step? It isn't a first step.  It's just the next step.  Because unless you give up and stop, there will always be another step.

When You Are Ready, Look Back

But what comes after forgetting?  Once you let go, what do you hold onto?

Aristotle, a contemporary of Plato's, believed in a concept called "Eudaimonia," a word with no literal English translation.  Ethical scholars translate it most often as happiness, but Aristotle himself classified it more specifically:  he saw it as a state of joyful contemplation of one's own life and actions, achievable by those who had done good things.

There are plenty of mistakes for this team to review, to attempt to fix and be accountable for.  But they should take some time, when looking back, to remember what they have done well.  Guru called it looking in the mirror, and it is a process of recognizing your own value, not of taking on needless suffering.  The difference is in what you choose to focus on when you look back, in whether you seek out your worth, or your worthlessness.  Yes, there are mistakes.  But these Broncos have done some amazing things this year.  And THAT is part of a very long tradition, much longer, and much more tangible than the mistakes of the past eight weeks have been.  More than the errors, those flashes of ability and pride are what the Broncos need to take ownership of to move forward.

Aristotle said, "We are what we do consistently; excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."  The inconsistency that has plagued the Broncos, on many levels, was to be expected.  That doesn't make the process any less painful, or frustrating, but our battle against that expectation should be a source of pride and hope.  They have been able to achieve that excellence.  They are capable of it.

They, and we, mustn't forget that.

Mindfulness

You have probably never heard of Thich Nhat Hanh.  He was a poet, monk, and humanitarian, who spoke often on the concept of being "mindful," of giving to everything the attention it deserved.

But the attention came with a caveat, one that has been shamed by the message-board-style activity that has grown on MHR, after being seeded here during the tumultuous offseason, and recently fostered by the spectacle of the Broncos' meager reserves of courage and focus.

Hanh spoke often of the orchards and gardens he toiled in as a monk, being one who saw little difference in the requirements of living things, be they man, beast, or plant.  He once spoke of the struggle to cultivate something that would flourish in difficult conditions, and I am reminded of the Broncos' attempt to overhaul an organization in the midst of one of the worst periods of roster building (re. drafting) in modern memory.

When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look into the reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or our family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and arguments. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.

MHR, in my humble opinion, has provided one of the most significant environments for understanding the Broncos, and of their requirements to flourish.  Whether that understanding is accurate or not is hit and miss, but you can usually find someone who knows or who is willing to at least try to get to the bottom of something.  That is because MHR is consistently an environment where that type of person feels welcome, and where the minds that embrace them are truly capable of showing them how welcome they are.

The heart of the idea, what keeps them, us, you, coming back is the extreme value of the concept of 'growth.'  Like the plants in Hanh's garden, we all need to grow.  We can't help it.  You can't help it.  It is why you are here at MHR, it is part of your posting and commenting DNA.  Its why you watch the Broncos.  A plant strains to reach the light, and that is something else we mustn't forget.

We ALL lean towards the sun, and we will lean that way forever.

Nothing Left....Nothing There

You see, we can all eventually be reduced to our choices.  Are you able to look back, in joy, upon what you did?  Will Knowshon look back at the next two games, and whatever is to come after, with the knowledge that he trusted even the smallest of opportunities that came up in front of him, and in so doing trusted himself?

"All the thoughts,....you never see,...You're always thinking..."

Will these players, to a man, choose the same path, and pay the same, heavy price?  They have yet to commit to an answer, with many opportunities so far to do so.  They are running out of time...

"Feel the path of everyday,....Which road you taking?"

Where will we be when they choose?  What kind of understanding do we bring, what part of our job, as fans, do we or don't we do?

"Swallowed whole, in negatives....Its so sad and sickening..."

We all feel the frustration of the past three years, and it feels like like impending ananke, a form of karmically-earned fate, and maybe it is, but do we really know just what that fate is that has been earned, that is in store for us?

"See the path cut by the moon,....For you to walk on...See the waves on distant shores,....Awaiting your arrival..."

Our destination is out there, and somewhere, the Broncos' is, too.  It is the destination of our dreams, of our imaginations, good or bad.  This isn't 2006.  It isn't 2007.  It isn't 2008.  It's 2009, and these Broncos are dreaming too, mark my words.  It doesn't have to turn out the way it has been.  Who do these Broncos think they are?

"Dream the dreams of other men....You'll be no one's rival,...Dream the dreams of others then,...You will be no one's rival..." 

We forget, and then we remember.  When it has to, that is how it goes.  Round and round.

"So what you giving?" 

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