A friend and I recently took a trip to New Orleans to support our favorite Football Team; The San Francisco 49ers, as they faced the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl 47. While there, Mardi Gras was just getting started as well… so you can imagine things were pretty crazy.
After a couple of days enjoying the festivities… I became acutely aware of the unreasonable excess I enjoy in my life. Don’t misunderstand… I’m no millionaire… but I rarely find myself wanting for anything. I have an amazing wife, two beautiful and healthy daughters, a great job, incredible friends, a comfortable home… and money to waste on a weekend in New Orleans. I have a blessed life.
Realizing this, I took a moment to pray… and thank God for all of it. While praying, I gained an overwhelming feeling of contentment… and a feeling that I can simply do with LESS in my life.
Specifically, I can worry LESS, watch TV LESS, sit on the couch LESS, be angry LESS, get anxious LESS. I can spend LESS, frown LESS, be closed off LESS, fear LESS and judge LESS. The list goes on and on.
Wow, bad timing to get such a feeling… right? I mean, I’m in New Orleans for the Super Bowl!
Well, my friend and I didn’t actually go to the game. I had money to waste… but not that much money to waste. Instead, we went to a viewing party at a place called Walk On’s.
We had to purchase tickets to get in, and seating was limited. So we ran the risk of being placed next to Ravens fans… and of course… we were. A lady and an older gentleman.
No worries, we can handle this like grown-ups. We exchange cordials… remind each other that it’s just a game… and set some ground rules. It’s OK to yell, scream and get as excited as you want… but no taunting. We all agreed. And we proceeded to have a FANTASTIC time! They were truly remarkable people, both of them!
Until half-time, we talked enough to be comfortable sharing first names and basic life stories. But as the Ravens began to take over the game, I began to shut down.
Sensing my mood change, the older gentleman came over and gave me some perspective. He reminded me that it’s a game, and that I should be having a good time.
At that moment, I get that feeling of contentment again… and I realize… I should probably care LESS about this game. It’s not that I shouldn’t care, I just shouldn’t care so much that it begins to consume the moment and affect the people around me.
By this time the lights had gone out in the Superdome… literally… and when they came back on the 49ers caught fire. It was a complete turnaround!
With moments left in the game… the 49ers are literally yards from winning. Just then, I look at the older guy and he’s completely un-phased. Still as happy as ever, sitting there watching his Ravens in the Super Bowl.
I then realized that the outcome of the game would have no weight on the outcome of his night. It was clear he wanted the Ravens to win, but it was also clear that he would enjoy the game win or lose.
His action spoke to me. I was getting too wrapped up… too consumed.
By now, the game was over… the 49ers lost.
I look at the two Ravens Fans at our table. Foes had become friends. I’m genuinely happy for them. So I offer congratulations and a friendly hug. First, to Renee, who is very sweet lady and a triumphant cancer survivor. Then, that wise old gentleman. He says to me “What a game Ted, what a game!” … and I reply… “Yes Sir, it was a great game… Les.”
It’s very easy to focus on what we don’t have, or what doesn’t go our way. I continue to struggle with this. But I’ll continue to challenge myself… and seek the many ways that LESS can be good for me. Perhaps it can be good for you as well?