The 4 Biggest Lessons I Learned in 2017

2017 was a wild rollercoaster of a year, to say the least.  I achieved a long held goal of pitching again, I moved back to Canada, entered into a relationship with a truly wonderful person, observed my mother endure literal hell as she battled through six rounds of chemotherapy, lived back at home for a while as a twenty-seven year old and worked at GoodLife for next to nothing while coaching through the summer, and opened my own business in November.

My hope is that perhaps someone who reads this may be able to heed some of the lessons  I learned the past year.

1. The Stoics had it right.  Stoicism is defined as, “the endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint.”

While 2017 held some great and long sought after triumphs for me personally, there were greater lows.  My mother’s cancer coming back and sitting up with her at nights in the midst of her treatment needs no further description.

The way the season transpired for our team, and my inability to continue to pitch well and to stay healthy to help us, was the biggest letdown of my life.  Driving back to Canada after things ended up so differently than I had envisioned (literally) and worked for, for both myself, but more importantly for the team was and still is, nearly impossible to swallow.

Dwelling on the past is pointless.  The stoics would tell me what has happened is reality and I may not have been able to control it, but I could certainly control my reaction.  I could wish for the past back or I could get off my ass, establish new goals to strive for, and move on from what happened.  I could either wallow in my own self-misery about the unfairness of what happened to my mother, or I could try my best to make sure, and continue to make sure she knows what she means to me and enjoy all the little moments moving forward.  It really isn’t any different than how we should try to act with everyone we care about, illness or not.  Almost on a daily basis I read this quote from the book ‘The Way of the Peaceful Warrior’ by Dan Millman.

“Wake up! If you knew for certain you had a terminal illness – if you had little time left to live – you’d waste precious little of it! Well, I’m telling you…you do have a terminal illness: it’s called birth.  You don’t have more than a few years left.  No one does.  So be happy now, without reason – or you never will be at all.”

To be clear, I’m not close to perfect at this.  I had, and still have my moments of living in the past or wishing things ended differently, and questioning why this had to happen to my mother.  However, I just try to consistently remind myself that the choice of how to react is mine.

2. Time is fleeting.

I was so painfully aware how quickly the spring was going to go by, but even this heightened awareness and conscious effort to enjoy every little thing about playing college baseball again couldn’t slow it down, and here we are over half a year since the end of it already.  I am constantly trying to get better at being where my feet are and enjoying the present, without yearning for the past or looking too far ahead.

3. Tell those that you care about what they mean to you.  I’ve made a much more conscious effort to both verbalize and put into writing how I feel about those that are close to me.  If you’ve never had a dog this will probably sound silly to you, but the death of Ryder while I was in another country along with my mother’s battle with cancer both impacted me to try and do a much better job of this.  Guys tend to be bad at this with each other but I’m trying to improve in this regard.

4. Lifting is the best medicine.

I truly believe anyone can benefit from the therapy the iron provides.  I’m lucky in that I often get to lift in an empty gym, with whatever music I decide.  Henry Rollins said it best, “The iron is the best anti-depressant I have ever found.  There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength.”