On Shabbos morning before the UAlbany Football game against Monmouth (that ended 41-0 and UAlbany as first-time CAA Champions), I asked Jason F. for his prediction about this game. He answered the way he usually does: “We have to win this game, this game is a very important game!”
The thing is that Jason F. always says that! Every game is a must-win, he says every game is pivotal.
It can be hard to live under that kind of constant pressure and relentless expectation. Often we say we should choose our battles, everyone knows you win some and you lose some, and we should focus on the bigger war.
But there’s a lot to learn from Jason’s approach.
Sometimes we can be blinded by the big picture, sometimes thinking too broadly makes us lose focus. As they say, the most important day in history is: Today. Our focus ought to be the here and now, our corner of the world, that which is up to us. And right now that’s all that matters.
There’s a Chassidic expressions about a “Pnimi” – that whatever/wherever he/she is, they are there 100%! Totally immersed, totally in focus. (Read this pre-Shavuot post about the Bridge in Syracuse NY that illustrates this idea). Yes, there are a lot of games, a lot of teams, – but right now, right here, this one game is the one game that matters. And it matters most!
Jason’s response (and the fact that he says that almost every time) reminds me of an old Chassidic question. At each holiday, the Chassidic discourses often point out how important that holiday is, it explains its inner dimension and unique contribution and indeed how it is the most important of the holidays! But then it says the same thing at the next holiday, and the next! The explanation is that each holiday is indeed the most important, but in that specific regard, in terms of its unique theme, message and contribution. And when we are at that holiday, that’s what matters most, that’s the primary lens and focus.
There’s a lot ahead. There’s a lot going on out there. But Jason reminds us: This battle that we face right now? That’s the battle we need to win.