You’re thinking I’m about to talk football, right? And you’re excited to talk about football, since we’re over a month past the Super Bowl and still probably a month away from spring games and the draft. You’re in withdrawal, I can see it. Easy, Slim Shady… this isn’t really that kind of story.
Don’t get me wrong – I live in the Deep South where football rules much of our calendar. My dear friend’s daughter is planning a wedding for this fall, and the first question, almost without fail, from all of our friends… Is State home or away that weekend? I’m totally not kidding. So I get where you’re coming from.
In fact, I often say our garage door clicker seems to also automatically turn on the TV to ESPN. It’s truly magic how quickly it happens when we get home in the evenings. I tried timing it once – I didn’t even get the stopwatch app open on my phone – amazing. My husband just plain loves sports. LOVES sports. Like, REALLLLLLY LOVES SPORTS. Especially football. It’s his happy place.
Me? I speak “the language” well enough to stay up with the conversation, most of the time. I even know some of the jargon, which I like to mic-drop into a conversation every now and then and walk away… just so he doesn’t take a notion to underestimate me.
I like to chime in occasionally with a new context-appropriate trash talking comment or obscure stat I’ve picked up, just to watch the funny look on his face – during the commercials, of course – otherwise he probably wouldn’t hear me. “Oh my gosh – what was THAT guy thinking? No way that play works in a 3rd and long – his YAC is basically zero.” Dah-dah-dah, dah-dah-dah. That’s a SportsCenter reference, for those who need an interpreter.
(By the way, YAC – pronounced like the buffalo-ish creature – stands for yards after contact… as in he gets hit and just falls down… no way he can push through and make the 1st down… impressive for a girl, right?)
Okay, I digress… because that’s not the forward progress I’m talking about, at least not today. Today’s “bit” is called Forward Progress Only as a nod to my towing skills, or lack thereof. As in driving with a trailer attached to my vehicle. Last Saturday, I set out on a solo adventure, hauling our ATV to camp to ride the trails with family. Jimmy was otherwise committed for the day. He normally handles the hauling of things when we need to, so I was a little worried about whether I could actually get down there and back safely, and without having to go in reverse at all in the 160 miles or so roundtrip. Because I am SPECTACULARLY BAD at backing up with a trailer. I can’t even quantify the level to which I stink at it. Here’s the mental image for you… me behind the steering wheel, trailer hooked to the back and 4-wheeler loaded, weaving S-L-O-W-L-Y on our cul de sac, correcting back and forth like an off-balance chicken, because I can’t figure out which way to turn the steering wheel in order to make it go where I want it to go. It’s backwards, you know, especially challenging for a lefty living in a righty world… or at least that’s the theory I’m going with.
True story: Jimmy threw out his back once doing yard work at his parents’ house, the first time I ever HAD to back up our trailer and truck. I made it home fine (forward progress all the way), but then had to get the blasted thing backed into the driveway and around the side of the house. It was excruciating – for him and for me. Two feet back, veering the wrong direction. Put it back in drive and inch back forward. Try it again. Rinse and repeat. Y’all… we BOTH needed a muscle relaxer after that little exercise. I mean… dang.
So the thought of setting out on last weekend’s adventure was enough to have us all a little worried. I almost chickened out. My parents, trying to be supportive, just said to drive very carefully. Notice they threw in the “very.” It wasn’t lost on me, and I wasn’t offended at all.
I did make it, there and back, with no incident, which I considered a win. And no backing up. Whew, extra points. I prayed extra hard on the way, bargaining really, as if I were on a game show or rolling dice at a casino. “Forward progress, no whammies. Straight there and back, no reverse. Come on, work with me now – Meggie needs a new pair of shoes!”
As I was driving home, I was thinking about forward progress. In football, it refers to how far the ball carrier makes it before he’s down or out of bounds. It’s the point where his forward momentum carries him before he’s stopped. What a great metaphor – just as he keeps pushing, with the help of his teammates – so must I. Being content with the results of regular effort gets me exactly wherever I am today – no further forward progress. So if I never back the trailer, how am I ever going to get good at it?
It doesn’t matter whether I’m talking about honing a new skill set at work, mastering reverse with a trailer, or finally figuring out the perfect biscuit recipe at home (Bonus bit for you today – the perfect biscuit recipe. You’re welcome.). It’s always about forward progress. I run into roadblocks, just like an opposing team on the playing field, and it’s up to me to keep working at it, studying the playbook and practicing till the extra effort pays off. Forward progress, pressing on. I like it.
You know what that means for me, don’t you? More towing practice, till I get the hang of it. Watch out, squirrels and anyone else in my path.