What An Opportunity

Posts Tagged ‘Akanimo Akpan’

The boy who knew too much

In Sports on February 6, 2015 at 12:14 am

There’s something about being from Buffalo, New York. There’s something about being obsessed with a football team that has not made the playoffs since 1999. There’s something about knowing chicken wings only come from one…er, two places. There’s something about a bar with a wall of televisions that refers to more than just our area code. I think our city has a passion, that can border on obnoxious, but comes from unconditional love. I think our city is proud of our roots and what we can give to others. I think our city is coming back from an economic downturn and striving to be a draw again. There’s something else I know about being from Buffalo, New York: I’m pretty sure we all hate the New England Patriots.

See, the Buffalo Bills have not made the playoffs since 1999 and that streak has shared a majority of its time with the emergence of a certain 6th-round pick turned first-ballot Hall of Famer. The Bills have only beat the Patriots twice since 2005 including once this past season. On the other hand, the Patriots have won 4 Super Bowls in 14 seasons including one last Sunday. Also in the last 14 years, the Patriots have appeared in the Super Bowl 6 times, completed a regular season undefeated, and made the playoffs every season but one year. I can understand why we don’t like the Patriots, they kick our butt. Every year. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out why we hate the players.

I will not repeat the terms and jokes I have heard about Tom Brady and his sexuality, fashion, and night-time regimens. I’m pretty sure every Patriots player takes food from poor, hungry children in soup kitchens. Should I even mention where Bill Belichick can go?

But why do we hate these players? They are paid to play a sport for a franchise. They are men from a variety of backgrounds and stories. There is something…pure about not like players because they play for a certain franchise. It speaks to fanhood, support for your hometown, and camaraderie in disliking other people. For me, it took a certain amount of naivete to just assume people are bad because I don’t like how their football-related decisions affect my football team. But isn’t it harder to hate players nowadays? I mean, I don’t why you would throw the ball, but is there a cooler story than Malcolm Butler right now?

Malcolm Butler is a nickel corner from the Patriots who made the game-winning play in the Super Bowl this past weekend. He played at a small university and his chances of making the NFL were bleak at best. Heck, on the last pass play before his interception, he was the victim of a catch that would make Newton reconsider the tenets of physics. His rags-to-riches story cuts through the tribal B.S. that can sometimes constitute fandom. He isn’t just some player on those awful Patriots. He is Malcolm Butler. We know too much.

Even the most faithful Patriots fan can’t be too happy about this playoff run. The Patriots have been accused of cheating in the AFC Championship; a game they won handily 38-7. This is not the first time the Patriots have been accused of cheating and the NFL has opened an investigation. Some fans will inevitably bunker down and hold up the Lombardi trophy as a testament to “Us Against The World”. However, I think some fans have to consider how many of their wins can be attributed to cheating. We know too much.

This whole “knowing too much” isn’t just with football. Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, recently did a piece for ESPN the Magazine touching on the NBA’s openness to legalizing sports betting in the entire United States. As a naive fan, it blew my mind that a top-tier professional sports league would actually concede to legalizing sports betting. I put this topic to my GoS brethren and Aaron provided a question to my question that was spectacular: Would you rather have $500,000 in cash of $10 million in crack?

The analogy is on point. The amount of money bet on the NBA is double the annual profit of the NBA. If the NBA could tax betting organizations for official NBA Stats & Information, they could make enough money to buy a country.  Further, regulation of sports betting could make betting safer for consumers with more transparency throughout the process. This sports betting story is not even considering the new TV contract set to come to fruition in the upcoming years that will push NBA profits to unprecedented heights. So much for naivete.

Does the little boy in me know too much? Probably. Have I lost that sense of wonder with sports? I don’t know. But I know I lost my voice last Sunday. See for some reason, as I watched the Patriots win another Super Bowl, I couldn’t stop myself from yelling, WHO THROWS THE BALL?!

 

The times

In Life on February 5, 2015 at 8:04 pm

Could have sworn I would do anything to see you smile again

(Still do I suppose, considering I think you smiled at that)

Wandering through the city with eyes of wonder

Hope you haven’t lost that wonder in your eyes

Thought that finding a path would make me whole

Turns out it’s just a part of what makes us fulfilled

Filling our lives with the dreams of our 9 yr. old selves

And we wonder why we aren’t getting any sleep

 

Somebody somewhere said something about being born as an elderly person and living life backwards (chronologically) so we would have the energy to compensate for mistakes we made and chances we missed earlier in life. Makes sense. Life is funny that way.

 

Never know what people are going through though. Nobody has it figured out. We’re all just…living. Somebody somewhere said something about live-laugh-love. Makes sense. I like love-laugh-repeat.

 

I don’t know much outside of that. love. laugh. repeat. love. laugh. repeat.

 

The times…they are a changin…

Shooting star

In Life on July 15, 2014 at 9:16 pm

 

Like to think that, before the books were written, we really thought the sky was falling

Counting each trailing comet as another sign of the end

We know better now

But what if that sky really was coming down? Where would we be?

 

We could be pouring ourselves into others

We could be trading miles for memories

We could be love we never saw in the distance

We could be the beginning of all things new

We could be the regrets that strain the spirit

We could be the tears on the pillow

We could be the gleam in her eyes

We could be the shoulders for him to stand on

We could be the path back to our Father

 

We could be seeing the world: a collection of memories, laughs, and dreams interwoven within borders of time and space to structure a life fulfilled in service,  the warmth of kind words, and quality of purpose.

 

For me, I want to see the world the way I see a world with you

One perfect shooting star after another

 

The space between.

In Life on June 9, 2014 at 7:49 pm

The space between us was the speaker and the receiver

Clockwork, we tried those tired numbers

“4” on my phone is forever embedded in my thumbprint

Guess you’ll always be a part of me that way

 

When rains came, the drops on my head counted innumerous as my arms ran to you

No umbrella or anything useful

But something in the effort was enough

Couldn’t understand that but it made perfect sense somehow

 

The space between us was something like my favorite set of hours

Years were too long but that’s the overprotectiveness

You asked me a question and there was an answer

That answer haunts me to this day

 

9 letters on a Saturday night

Amalgamations about vocabulary and the like

Missing you is missing you

Loving you was first

 

The space between us was one word

Think. repeat. yearn. Think. repeat. yearn.

It danced in my head as you withdrew into yourself

Think. repeat. yearn. Think. repeat. yearn.

 

Doesn’t matter what we do as long as we do it together

Flowed from your lips and lives in my heart

Underlying current to the beating drum

Do those kisses still linger on your forehead?

 

the space between 

the space between what’s found and what is forgotten

the space between what’s been and what’s undone

the space between what was, what is, and what will be

the space between us

What is it all worth?

In Life on May 28, 2014 at 4:37 pm

 

Take them back, love

Return that laughter to the jar upstairs. It’s behind the sugar, my love

Those sweetest memories? Those can go back too. They linger on my lips so.

If you don’t mind, can you also return those embraces? Yes, those that we held onto. I believe we kept them in the pantry.

Also my dear, please return those tears. They are kept in a box in the basement.

 

But before you go, I have one more favor to ask of you. Dance with me one last time. Draw out the best of my abilities in only the way you know how. Tell me this is not the end. The truth only makes sense when it leaves your lips.

 

Feel like we miss so much when we’re dreaming

We give up what we hold dear for what we could have

Snow in April

In Life on May 1, 2014 at 12:13 am

Cool air weaves through the trees

As buds have sought a season new

Surprised they may be,

Persevere they will

 

Stars, enchanted, fell from the heavens

Touching the horizon

Before leaving our eyes to wonder

Surprised as we may be,

Persevere we will

 

 

Somewhere in that subtle upturn of the lip

Somewhere in that embrace where words lose importance

There was all that needed to be known

Surprised as you may be,

Persevere as you will

 

Moving heaven and earth

For snow in April

 

Oceans

In Life on April 7, 2014 at 9:26 pm

oceans.

The waves gently crash on the shore and draw back into themselves

You taught me to love like the tide

Constantly there yet never too much

A tempest, within necessity

Yet, as the tide, gently drawing back into yourself

Spirit lead me

The horizon stands as it always has

You all taught me to endure as the day does

Few moments, in our experiences, capture the extent of our capacity as people

Therefore, there is significance in the mundane and the ordinary

As the horizon approaches everyday, we endure towards our aspirations

Spirit lead me

Now, some say the moon and the torrents are one

Profoundly independent and willingly dependent

The torrent presses as the moon tugs

Held together by the strongest tie

The tie that will steady you and I

Stars may pass but there is only one moon

Spirit lead me

 

In all of this in-between, I pray that we find those people who are the lighthouses in the stormy seas

In all of this, I pray we remember the glorious echoes of Your love and grace as we declare with a resounding chorus:

Spirit lead me

Where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper

Than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

 

 

Trying again

In Life on February 22, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Fights take different forms in different relationships. Some are instantaneous explosions of emotion. Others are the boiling over of slights that have simmered under the surface for some time. I think for them, it was the latter. Something kind of like this:

1) The slight (who ever remembers why they got mad in the first place?)

2) The lying (is everything ok? yea, of course) lies. lies. lies.

3) The boiling point (how could you do that one innocuous thing that secretly bugs me but i’ve never told you it  bugs me because it’s not a big deal?)

4) The fight (few things that are true, but most things are overblown in a moment of forgotten forgiveness and spite. the words we can not take back and the bits of us that we lose in defending who we think we are.)

We catch our protagonists at step #5.

5)  The apology

It is easier than we think to move on from something. The opposite of love isn’t hate but selfishness. All we have to do is become caught up in what matters to me and lose sight of what matters to us. So she was out with her friends. Something to keep her mind off some of the stuff that had been going on. Maybe some space would do them good.

He didn’t leave the house. Had some work to do but he wasn’t concentrating too much. It is interesting to think how much would get accomplished if we ever said how we truly feel about something. Guess that is part of being human.

When she got back, he wasn’t home. The distance between mr. and mrs. was greater than one conjunction could hold. She dropped her bag and took off her shoes. She placed her jacket on the coat hook and walked into their bedroom. She sat down on the bed and her eyes found the picture on the dresser. In that unoccupied stillness, her sadness flowed from her eyes. It graced her cheeks until it fell from her face and landed in her lap.

She rose to find some tissues when she noticed the item on her pillow. A neatly folded note. It read:

“Baby, I am sorry. I don’t care why we’re here but this is not where we should be and I don’t think this is where we should stay. I think the most important phrases in the world are “I love you” and “Thank you”. I don’t mean the first phrase enough. I don’t say the second phrase as much. Beautiful, I will never be the man you deserve. However, I know I will try. Thank you for everything you do. I love you for all you are and everything you will be.”

The front door closed. In her haste, she missed the flowers in his hand. In her haste, she ignored her makeup. In her haste, she neglected the disheveled man in the kitchen. In her haste, they were whole again. I guess that’s step #6.

6) Trying again

To build a home.

In Life on January 19, 2014 at 8:04 pm

The tale is an old one, a simple one

It begins with a young man who bought a plot of land.

He staked the land as his, but he built the home for her.

The days were long but the nights were tender.

The delicate which entrances our hope. The thoughts that surround our dreams.

 

As the leaves changed in color, the strength of the phrases changed.

We only know the truth that is given to us. In the rest, we are tasked to remember to trust above all else. Trust in our purpose. Trust in our loves. Trust in our affections. Trust in our faith. Whichever form the truth took is for our characters to know. As she left, he uttered what he could. The words left his lips and hung in the air as she walked away, “I hope you find what it is you’re looking for.”

 

The house stands along the path today. Those seeking refuge can always find a place there.

Most spend a night and leave in the morn. However, for those that take a walk around, they will find an inscription in the tree behind the home. Time has covered the first portion of the phrase  but the eye can still make it out:

 

And I built a home
for you
for me

Until it disappeared
from me
from you

 

 

Mama, there goes that man

In Life on October 1, 2013 at 10:09 pm

 

“Mama, there goes that man”: Former ABC NBA Commentator Marc Jackson’s confident and poignant analysis of basketball. It’s such a simple statement to highlight a play that simply has no better response. “Mama, there goes that man”. I can’t remember how many times he said that during the Lakers playoff runs from 2008-2010 but to be perfectly honest with you, the phrase doesn’t hearken to back-to-back championships. No, it’s something so much simpler than that. Something that makes more sense to me now.

“Mama, there goes that man” takes me to a little boy sitting next to his mother on a park bench when he sees his favorite ball player walk by. The ball player gives him a smile and the little boy ducks into that safe spot in his mother’s side. She knowingly smiles as the little boy doesn’t have the courage to say hello. Not yet, anyway. Once the ball player rounds the corner, the little boy looks up to his mother and says calmly, “Mama, there goes that man.”

There’s an emphasis on the “Mama”. Something about how what the little boy saw was so important that he needed Mama to know. I like to think that Mama turned to him, expecting to see him really excited, and was surprised how calm he was in that moment. Then the rest of the phrase kind of tumbles out: “there goes that man”.

There’s an antiquated notion in the little boy’s use of “that man”. It’s not just any man, it’s “that man”. The idea that we can emulate those we find significant to our dreams. It’s not an embodiment of perfection, but rather a naive comfort in the assumption that we can aspire to be like those who inspire us. “Mama, there goes that man”.

We’re getting to an age where “I hope”, “I want to be”, and “I pray” are turning into “I’m trying to”, “I’m working towards”, and “I am”.  We have fond memories and deep regrets. The paths we take are more and more our own. The little boy is growing up.

I like to think that some years pass and the smile and endless hope are the clearest measurements in the man visiting his mother. He walks past the home of ‘that man’ and ‘that man’ is sitting on the porch with his grandson; comfort in his rocking chair, peace in a life fulfilled. The grandson looks on with grandpa and wonders what’s so intriguing about this particular person walking by the house. The man walks by on the way to his childhood home as ‘that man’ looks on from his chair.

He turns to his grandson and says, “Sonny, there goes that boy.”

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