Rule # 63: Life doesn’t have instant reply

Rule # 63: Life doesn’t have instant reply

In 1982 I went to see a Nebraska – Penn State game in Beaver Stadium which ended up being a 3 point win for the Nittany Lions, which eventually lead to a national championship for PSU. In that game the then undefeated Corn-huskers had fought back and taken the lead with only 1:18 left on the clock.

What happen next was one of the worse calls of any football game, a call on a catch that even the receiver admitted years later was out of bounds, was ruled a catch- leading to the go ahead touchdown. Penn State wins the game and goes on to a National Championship because one guy blew a call.

That game was exciting, and I haven’t really thought about it again until last November when I watch Penn State lose a game in the final minutes of the  the 4th quarter on a similar bad call.  It was in a very Karma driven way, against Nebraska.

You know that I have two great loves life, my family and the Nittany Lions. And it would be normal to expect me to take the opportunity to write a blog entry talking about the unfairness of the call and the need for a better instant replay system. But this entry isn’t about the replay, in fact it isn’t about football at all.

What happen in both the games was what happens in life. We go out do our best, work really hard and most time win the game- but sometimes things don’t work out.  Not because the plays weren’t executed well or because someone missed a block ,but because shit happens.

The art of being a good human being, and I believe it is an art, is not succeeding with a level playing field and fair rules, but to thrive when the playing field is tilted against you and the refs. clearly have eye damage. Its finding a way to win when life is unfair.

I think this concept was easier to understand when we all lived on farms.

Living on a farm sort of taught everyone life as going to be unfair at times. Droughts would happen, insect plagues would happen and prize live stock would get sick and die. And this all happened while the farmers were working their butts off.

But we have shifted away from understanding this concept to look for “fairness” in all things, and to expect there to be an instant replay to that would “right” any wrong that occurs in life.

There is this increasing desire of people to find instant replays in their lives. If you get cancer from smoking you sue saying you were not informed of the risk. If you take a mortgage on your house and you can’t afford to pay it, its the bank’s fault because they should have never lent you the money.

In the world filled with instant replays everything seems to be somebodies fault because life itself could not possibly be that unfair to you.

I think this “instant replay” bias has become more a part of our lives because  technological advances make it easier to “fix things”.  The iphone world has given everyone the impression that there is an ordered technological response to everything… there seems always to be an App for That.

We struggle to find perfect round holes for all the round pegs, and technology has taught us to expect that this fairness in life should be the goal. That there is always a “right” in every situation.

But I caution you that no matter how the Apple tries to solve all of our problems, life has a way of turning off the instant reply and doing whatever it wants to do.

In the past months as I write this, the Northeast US  has been battered by  Hurricane Sandy which destroyed 10’s of thousands of homes and disrupted the lives of 10’s of millions of people. It was unfair and no one’s fault.

Yes, people will try to blame the builders for placing the homes where they shouldn’t, and blame the governments for not responding or preventing the damage, but in the end this happened-  because life happens… and at times life can be grossly unfair.

I think we need to be prepared for the certainty that at sometime or another,  life will be very unfair to us. You as my children should know that no matter how hard I want to prevent it, bad things will happen to you, and you will have to suck it up and deal with it.

I think we all have to slowly start moving back to the understanding that sometimes the crops will fail. Things like bringing instant replay into college football games give us the wrong expectations of life. The expectation  should not be to be pain or error free, but to be able to move forward even after a great unfairness has been inflicted on you.

The only thing we are guaranteed in life is the opportunity to live it, everything else is a crap shoot.

Sure I would have loved to had Penn State win that game, and I wish that the call would have been a better one- but it wasn’t. BUT, I’d rather lose games like this than try to take the elements of chance that make life so interesting out of the game. I think taking the replay cameras out of the college stadiums would teach us far more about life than adding them has done.




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