Carpe diem is Latin for, “Seize the day.” It’s defined as, “To make the most of the present time and give little thought to the future.” I can’t think of a better way to describe how my friend and his son were able to attend the historic Super Bowl LI together.
A few weeks back, my friend was given the opportunity to attend the Super Bowl for the first time. His first instinct was to stay at home and avoid the chaos, but the historical implications of the game got the better of him. Incidentally, his oldest son, whose bedroom is a shrine to Tom Brady, also gave my friend a lot of subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints of how much his son wanted to go. His son had prominently featured a picture of Tom Brady holding the championship trophy on his vision board, which each family member had created for themselves New Year’s Day.
In the weeks leading up to the game, son had numerous dreams about the Super Bowl. Son would share them with dad in the morning and most of them included son being at the game. Something in the back of dad’s mind told him that this was an experience to be shared together, so dad started looking around for a ticket for his son. No luck. Then, a few days before the game, a ticket became available. However, when dad went to check for flights, they were all sold out.
As dad said goodbye to son on his way to the airport Saturday morning, dad gave son a hug and told son that dad was sorry it didn’t work out and that perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be (something an 11-year-old really doesn’t want to hear).
As dad sat in the airport waiting for the flight, something prompted dad to check the Delta app one last time for a return flight (which was sold out early in the week). Suddenly, a low-level award ticket was available –the last seat on the plane. Dad called Delta and they said he could take it and have 24 hours to cancel.
Dad then searched for Sunday morning flights and there was only one direct flight that arrived before the game. Incredibly, the same 24-hour rule applied, so dad quickly purchased both tickets and called mom to tell her the news, although dad still didn’t have a game ticket for son. When dad spoke to son he said, “Bud, it’s a longshot. I can get you to Houston, but we still need to get you a game ticket. And, you’ll need to fly by yourself tomorrow morning on a four-hour flight.” This was something son had not done before. Without hesitation, son said he would do it. Mom, however, was not so sure.
Understandably, mom was not thrilled that dad had blown up everyone’s plans for the weekend and she would have to get son to the airport by 6:45 AM, wait for son to take off and find someone to watch the other kids. It was a lot to ask.
In the meantime, on dad’s flight to Houston, dad contacted everyone he knew and, to his surprise, someone was able to secure dad a very reasonable ticket to the game. Everything was falling in to place. However, as dad sat in the Houston airport ready to make the final call to purchase a game ticket for son, dad thought to myself, “This is nuts. Son’s 11 and this is totally unnecessary. Heck, I am 41 and this is my first Super Bowl. We should wait, there will be other opportunities.” Honestly, dad was seconds from calling the whole thing off.
Suddenly, dad thought back to a quote he had told his son the previous week know regarding regret which consisted of, “We only regret the chances we didn’t take.” If dad threw in the towel now, he’d be a hypocrite to son. So, dad called my mom and said, “I am sorry for the work this puts on you, but let’s do it, I just have a feeling about this.”
Unless you are reading this from Mars, you know the end of the story. Son and dad, along with grandfather, got to witness the greatest Super Bowl game and comeback in history. What’s more is that the entire family had an experience that none would forget. One day, dad has hopes of telling his grandkids about being at the game with their dad where they saw the Edelman “ankle catch” and where Tom Brady and Bill Belichick broke the NFL records. And if that wasn’t enough, dad and son made the evening news as they got off the plane in Boston.
My friend told me with absolute certainty that, had the Patriots lost the game, he would have had no regrets. It would have stung, but the experience itself would have been worth the trip. Dad and son actually talked about that as the game headed into the fourth quarter. But had dad known that he had the opportunity and decided to pass on it, that certainly would have haunted him for years. Regret, really, is rarely about what we do. It’s about what we don’t, should have or didn’t’ do.
In my eyes, the real hero in this story is a very determined 11-year-old who had a vision and was committed to seeing it through. Then, when presented with the opportunity of a lifetime, he got over any fears he must have had, got on that plane and seized the day. That’s a valuable lesson for all of us.
Quote of the Week
“At the end of the day, let there be no excuses, no explanations, no regrets.”
- Steve Maraboli
Have a great week!