Of Seagulls and Impossibilities

My eight-year-old son began poking me in the side with his pencil last Sunday at church. 
"Hey, Mom. Mom. Mom!!"

I leaned over in the pew and whispered back, "What?"

"How do you score points in football?"

"Uh. I think there are lines on the field and you have to move the ball over them. Or you kick it through this big white thing… I think."
I've attended a football game on two occasions.
Once in high school–it was Canadian football, in the middle of winter and all I can remember was how cold it was.
The next time, as an exchange student in Toronto–it was warmer there, but that game was on a Sunday, and I was terrified that God, in His omniscient wrath, was going to strike me dead for breaking his Sabbath.
He sent a seagull to do his dirty work–as in dirty work–like the entire contents of its intestines dirty, all over me. Out of twenty thousand screaming fans, it picked me–and I was doing my best to be invisible. Don't remember much about that game, either.
Point being: I know nothing about football. 
I never, ever use football metaphors, and when someone else does, my eyes begin to glaze over.
Having said that, I just read a gripping one by Joseph B. Wirthlin. It's kind of long, but I couldn't cut it down any further:

"I’ll never forget one high school football game against a rival school. I played the wingback position, and my assignment was to either block the linebacker or try to get open so the quarterback could throw me the ball. The reason I remember this particular game so well is because the fellow on the other side of the line—the man I was supposed to block—was a giant.

Lucky for me, I was fast. And for the better part of the first half, I managed to avoid him.

Except for one play.

Our quarterback dropped back to pass. I was open. He threw the ball, and it sailed towards me.

The only problem was that I could hear a lumbering gallop behind me. In a moment of clarity, I thought that if I caught the ball there was a distinct possibility I could be eating my meals through a tube. But the ball was heading for me, and my team was depending on me. So I reached out, and—at the last instant—I looked up.

And there he was.

That day, during his half-time speech, Coach Oswald reminded the whole team about the pass I had dropped. Then he pointed right at me and said, “How could you do that?”

He wasn’t speaking with his inside voice.

“I want to know what made you drop that pass.”

I stammered for a moment and then finally decided to tell the truth. “I took my eye off the ball,” I said.

The coach looked at me and said, “That’s right; you took your eye off the ball. Don’t ever do that again. That kind of mistake loses ball games.”

I respected Coach Oswald, and in spite of how terrible I felt, I made up my mind to do what Coach said. I vowed to never take my eye off the ball again, even if it meant getting pounded to Mongolia by the giant on the other side of the line.

We headed back onto the field and started the second half. It was a close game, and even though my team had played well, we were behind by four points late in the fourth quarter.

The quarterback called my number on the next play. I went out again, and again I was open. The ball headed towards me. But this time, the giant was in front of me and in perfect position to intercept the pass.

He reached up, but the ball sailed through his hands. I jumped high, never taking my eye off the ball; stabbed at it; and pulled it down for the game-winning touchdown.

I don’t remember much about the celebration after, but I do remember the look on Coach Oswald’s face.

“Way to keep your eye on the ball,” he said.

I think I smiled for a week.

I have known many great men and women. Although they have different backgrounds, talents, and perspectives, they all have this in common: they work diligently and persistently towards achieving their goals. 

I urge you to examine your life. Determine where you are and what you need to do to be the kind of person you want to be. Create inspiring, noble, and righteous goals that fire your imagination and create excitement in your heart. And then keep your eye on them. Work consistently towards achieving them.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams,” wrote Henry David Thoreau, “and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

In other words, never take your eye off the ball."


To my little brother and to all who are struggling with the choice between muddling through, surviving one more day and one more day of mediocrity, or taking a stab at the impossible dream just beyond your reach, this one's for you. Figure out what that dream is. 

And for heaven's sake–do what it takes to knock it out of the sky and pull it in towards you. 

You can do this.

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8 responses to “Of Seagulls and Impossibilities

  • P.S.

    At the beginning of this I was thinking, "WHAT!!!!???? YOU ARE A MOTHER OF FIVE BOYS AND YOU DON'T KNOW THE BASICS OF FOOTBALL???!!" But, as I read on, I realized that you don't need to know the basics of football, you have taught your boys the basics of life.
    A lesson we can remind ourselves of more often. Find what and who we want to have and be- and go after it with everything you've got. And never take your eye off the ball.

  • Freedom Smith

    What an incredibly inspiring story he tells of his experience in learning to "keep his eye on the ball." What a wonderful thing to remember and aspire to. I am afraid that I forget that more often than not, and get sidetracked with the giants I see at every turn. "Back on the ball," I will say to my eyes, next time I get so distracted. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Alicia

    I can't read the last part, but that's funny about how you tried to explain foot ball. 😛 Probably would be exactly what I'd say.

  • Kimber

    Why can't you read it? Is it displaying oddly?

  • Ladywise

    Alicia, try refreshing your page.

  • Ladywise

    Nice blog Kimber. I didn't know anything about football until I got married. My husband watched all the games all the time. I told him after a couple of years, if I'm going to have to watch this stuff all the time, I need to understand what's going on..like why is that guy in trouble? Why do they keep chasing that guy? Where did the ball go? Who's turn is it? It's a complicated game but he taught it to me pretty well.
    My son played little league football for 8 years so I really learned the game then. I enjoyed those years. Football is one of those "on a need to know basis" things for most women I think. If they "need to know" because of a boyfriend or husband or son, they'll get to know it. Otherwise, it's a definite don't need to know in my book!

  • Kimber

    You know what I actually like least about organized sports is the noise from the crowd–white noise at a loud level really bothers me, always has for some reason. The sound of my fan, for instance, drives me batty!

  • Alicia

    OH!!! Now its working! XD Wow, that's a great story. *new goal* write more everyday. Do more. Thanks Kimber that was really inspirational!!!

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