FLASHBACK to 2016: My oldest brother replied to me from Toronto after getting my shocked initial post-election reflections.
His kids (my niece, then 8, and nephew, then 10) had been following the American elections with interest. They had asked how I voted, and had had plenty of questions in the weeks leading up to the event.
“Dear Eldest Sibling,
“Chloe and Simon were up early at 6:30 this morning. They wanted to know the results of the election.
“I told them the outcome and they just stood stunned for a moment. Then Chloe said, ‘I guess we will clean up the basement then.’
“This in reference to the idea that you and JJ would be moving in.
“Of course you would be welcome…
“The Leafs [just] lost 7 to nothing [last night] and the comics were printed on the wrong page in the paper this morning.
“On the other hand, the kids are currently practicing piano, filling the house with music, Simon is applying for a paper route and made the Volleyball team and had his first real audition for a TV commercial yesterday.”
In other words, despite upsets large and small, life goes on.
A couple weeks after the 2016 elections, I went back to Canada. No, not for good — I had planned to go up to see my sister and my niece in a play.
Three days later, Simon unwittingly gave me some insight into the options America has over the next four years. He loves hockey. He’s a defenseman, and a good one. That’s sort of surprising: usually defenseman are rougher and physically bigger than the other players, and Simon’s not that big a kid. So I asked him how he did it.
Simon: “There are two ways to be a defenseman: push everyone and fight, or think strategy and get the puck out of there.”
Me: “What do you do when you’re clearing the puck out of your team’s end? Do you just whack it out of the way, or do you actually choose where you’re going to put the puck?”
Simon: “After you get it out of the zone, you have to make sure that you see another forward, and get the puck to them as fast as you can.”
Me: “Now, you’re a defenseman, so your number one job is to keep the other team from scoring, right?”
Simon: “But you have to move the puck along to one of your forwards so you can move your game forward again, yeah.”
Yeah, I thought. Even if your number one job is to keep the other guys from scoring, your team gets ahead if you can give momentum to team mates who can score for your team. Wayne Gretzky, STILL the top-scoring NHL player of all time, also leads the league’s record for assists.
FAST FORWARD TO 2021: Here’s the enduring lesson for everyone on Team USA. Democrats, Republicans, fellow Americans of every belief: Your “team” is the whole United States, not just your party.
President Biden said in his inaugural address, “We will lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example.” We each have the chance, every day, to lead by the power of our example.
I loved the headline image because it also brought together not just Americans, not just Canadians, but players on just those two teams who are citizens of twelve different countries, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity against racism. They delivered that message, that example, to their fellow citizens in twelve different countries.
Whether we play on a large rink or a small one, someone is always watching the example we set as we play our daily game. And there’s often someone we could pass the puck to, if only we noticed… and were willing to trust that we’re on the same team.
Game on, folx.
When I went back through my published and unpublished blog posts from 2016 through 2020, I found this draft. No idea why I didn’t publish it then, but it seemed just right to share now as part of reviving my own blog
2021 Postscript: My nephew Simon, who shared the insight from his own game, just launched his sports blog, “Shoots Left And Writes.” I am SO proud of him! Check it out HERE.