“I am quite pleased with 2nd place, especially when everyone expects me third.”-Brad
Joyful sounds of play and laughter filled that grassy field outside of town. It was a sunny Tuesday afternoon in late June, the event, the end-of-year sports day and school picnic. Held in a large empty field where the local newsprint mill pastured their herd of work horses before the advent of motorized vehicles, the horse farm was abuzz with energetic school kids hyped-up on junk food and soda pop.
I mostly remember that day for the grade four boys foot race. I stood at the starting line with my male classmates and when the word go was shouted I ran as fast as I could. When I crossed the finish line my classmate, Terry, was jumping in the air in celebration of his first-place finish. He was jumping alone, none of the other guys were congratulating him. That was because no one else had yet finished the race. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the remainder of my classmates still behind me and charging fast for the finish line.
I hadn’t won the grade four boy’s foot race but I did come in second place and even though it was disappointing, I knew I would have only been kidding myself to think I could ever outrun the fastest grade four in our class, Terry. He was small and light and fleet of foot when running; he was like the wind. Myself, on the other hand was larger and rounder and seldom in a hurry to get anywhere quickly. Yes, I could run fast when needed: pursued by English Sheepdogs, threatened by cannibalistic hermits, evading bullies several years my senior or waking black bears in mid-hibernation. Yes, I could be fast when survival depended upon it, but without Death licking the backs of my sneakers’ heels I could never be as fast as Terry.
I was happy with my second place finish, but when considered in the bigger scheme of things, what does it truly matter? Besides me, who really remembers my stunning, 2nd place finish nearly four decades ago?
Who really remembers days such as today, January 2nd, the runner up to that big day of New Year’s? Who recalls the romance of February 15th? How green was March 18th? How important was your last Easter Saturday? What Canadian recalls watching the night sky on July 2nd; or American on July 5th? Who remembers the cottage on the Tuesday after Labour day? The meal after thanksgiving? The sugar rush the night of November 1st? Who recalls remembering remembering on November 12th? Is the turkey just as mouth-watering on December 27th? Second place finishes are like that, never really as exciting as the top spots. (Sure, I did win a pencil for my second place victory, but really, like a writing utensil would make a difference in my life?)
No one remembers my second place finish in grade four, and with the possible exception of Terry himself, I doubt anyone really remembers his first place finish either. All our special days tend to blur together the older we get. What Christmas did I get that wide polka-dot tie? What Halloween were we shouted at by some old man without a calendar who couldn’t answer his door? What Easter did my friend’s parent learn never to hide chocolate bunnies in the oven again?
Eventually, all our 1st place days are going to fade and blur and mix with all our 2nd place days as well as our 3rd, 4th and every other day of our past. So truly, it leaves us with no excuse whatsoever not to make each and every day special is some way. There is no need to wait for the next holiday to do something special. Get out there now and celebrate, make this the best January 2nd ever.
You may win a pencil!