Life and Flag Football
It's our Championship game. We're down a couple touchdowns, and it's the second half with enough time to play some ball.
"Let's score on these b*tches!" Our QB says in her loudest huddle whisper, frustrated from the play that failed moments ago. Her words echo what the rest of us are thinking. She flips through her play cards, "Ok, we're doing this one. This is you, Lara." My heart pounds and I nod. She rapidly points her finger to the dots and lines on the laminate card, and everyone is all-in. We disperse from our mint-green huddle, and I run over to the line to my designated spot on the far right, imagining, hoping, it’ll all go down as planned.
My defender lines up in front of me. I take note of her legit dark green football jersey and my bright mint-green t-shirt. It's clear who the underdogs are here.
"You can do this. Just get the ball and run," I say to myself.
Then doubt swoops in. “What if the timing is off? What if I’m not there for the hand-off? What if they read the play?” And I shut it up. "Quiet! Stick to the play. It’ll work.”
“Set,” yells our QB. Oh, crap. “Hike!”
I do a quick fake toward my defender, a tower with a pony tail, and biceps, sporting a mean mug and that dark green of doom. I quickly, and happily, whip around to sprint back into the backfield. Step 1 -- done.
Step 2. I spot Deuce, our star runningback, who, after a smooth hand-off, now has the ball. Sweet. As she zooms towards me, we make eye contact. Oh no, here it comes.
She and I cross paths exactly as planned. She shoves the football into my gut and I tuck it safely into the crook of my right elbow. Step 3: Ball -- done. Now, Step 4: Run like holy hell. Run.
In those seconds, the army of forest green, has crowded to the right side of the field where they've anticipated Deuce, and the ball, to go. They actually fell for it, the classic double reverse, our secret weapon. I kick into high gear. If there is ever a time for me to make use of my high-school varsity sprinter’s legs, the time is now. Go.
A clear path on the left side of the field lay before me, perfectly lit by the flag football gods above. In my peripheral, all I see are forest and mint green flashes as I speed away to the empty side of the field.
By now, our opponents have caught on to our crafty plan and I can feel the stampede closing in on me from the right, the shouts “Get ‘er! Get her!” and their strides getting louder. These women, clearly two-plus feet taller than me with gunz the size of my quads, play for a higher division league, and, I imagine, they simply came today to enjoy a morning of playtime with us children. Now, they mean business. They were not going to let us get away with that one. They were not going to let little unsuspecting me get away.
In the few seconds that pass, I emerge from the back field and stand to cover ten or fifteen yards easy, and more if I can get through fast enough. I spot the out-of-bounds line and the oncoming crushing wall of dark green. It's going to be close.
It's that moment in Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom, where Indy is racing against death and his only escape is through a quickly shrinking opening underneath a descending stone wall. Will he make it? We all know he does.
I turn it up a notch and decide I am not going to stop -- Step 5. Even the referee, who has realized he now stands in my path, feels my trajectory, and with raised brows, mouths an “Oh, sh*t,” and jumps aside.
It is a clear demonstration of the unstoppable force paradox: "What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?" The “immovable object” moves, or the “unstoppable force” stops. Neither of the two can exist or be true at any one time.
Now that path is a narrow corridor and I -- the five-feet, a buck-quarter unstoppable force of mint-green racing for dear life to beat the hordes that want my flags, the football, and also my bones -- put my head down, hug the line, and charge forward anticipating a collision.
In slow motion, I feel the impact of one or two-- though it felt more like five -- of their players, then crash into and slide along the astroturf. I feel the ball come loose, luckily just as I cross out of bounds. "Ouch, but, sweet, I gained some yardage."
Except I am not out of bounds. We were playing on a different field with different markings, and the bright blue 'out-of-bounds' line I was fixated on was a good five to eight yards away from the actual boundary. All of a sudden slow motion returns back to real-time speed and I see a green jersey make off with the ball. The ball I had fumbled. The paradox holds true: in that moment I was not an unstoppable force; I had stopped. And they didn't.
Turns out there was some sort of penalty and we regained possession. In the end we got swept three touchdowns to none. My team and I definitely held our own and played a great game. While I had realized that that fumble didn't cost our team the game, and that it really was not that big of a deal, I replayed that moment in my head. I dropped the ball.
It was the culmination of a fumbly week: my energy was low, creativity dry, workouts lackluster, mind scatter-brained. It made sense. I realized I let an off-week become my attitude. I allowed it to paint the rest of my experiences, skew my vision of reality, let me believe that my boundaries are tighter than they really are. Literally. I set myself up to be the stoppable force.
We all have those moments, when we are off our game. The key is to accept it, embrace it, learn from it, and then let it go. Don't take it on.
Luckily, the Universe, and the flag football gods, gives you another shot at a another play. The game does go on. Yes, you face palmed, ate it, dropped the ball. Now, get up, get back in the huddle and run the next play. And have fun. Be that unstoppable force who sees no immovable objects, and who is so committed that the flag football gods cheer you on and clear everything out of your way, so that you can run on in mint-green glory.