Peaking too Soon

Quote of the Day:     

Wrigley: Who are you looking for? 
Miles Massey: Tenzing Norgay. 
Wrigley: Tenzing Norgay? That’s someone she slept with? 
Miles Massey: I doubt it. Tenzing Norgay was the Sherpa that helped Edmund Hillary climb Mt. Everest. 
Wrigley: And Marilyn knows him? 
Miles Massey: No, you idiot. Not the Tenzing Norgay. Her Tenzing Norgay. 
Wrigley: I’m not sure that I actually follow that. 
Miles Massey: Few great accomplishments are achieved single-handedly, Wrigley. Most have their Norgays. Marilyn Rexroth is even now climbing her Everest. I wanna find her Norgay. 
Wrigley: But how do you determine which of the people on here are… 
Miles Massey: How do you spot a Norgay? 
Wrigley: Yeah. 
Miles Massey: You start with the people with the funny names. 

–dialogue from Intolerable Cruelty 

It’s a common cliche this time of year, often applied to college basketball teams who had great success in February only to come up short in their drive for a national championship. Undoubtedly the Sports Center guys are wearing out the phrase “peaked too soon” in describing teams from the Big East. TB also hears the phrase quite often in everyday life, usually framed as some sort of mild insult towards a person who has not lived up to the expectations of the speaker in some way. I have been home, Pascagoula, for a few days and I’ve seen a lot of friends, old and new, and I’ve had time to surf the Facebook pages of a lot of friends I can rarely see anymore. It occurs to me in these dark days of economic turmoil and uncertainty, that in spite of it all a lot of folks are peaking these days.

The great unspoken logical flaw in the accusation, “He peaked too soon” is that there is only one high point in a life and that everything following the apex must necessarily be a failure since never again can one achieve what once was possible. I think what we fail to realize sometimes is that people can reach the crest of the wave in many ways and at many places. I say this with some small measure of defensiveness, because you see in some ways, I know the phrase can be and probably has been applied to me.

A treasure trove of statistical proof of my glory days appeared unexpectedly this weekend. It was a recap of the 1987 summer league season when my friends and I won the Mississippi Dizzy Dean State Championship and finished tied for third in the World Series held in Pensacola, Florida. I led our team in most hitting categories with a .459 average, 4 doubles, a triple, two home runs and ten RBI’s and only a single strikeout in 35 trips to the plate. Frankly, I was surprised to see these numbers because 1987 was the back end of my athletic life’s peak. I had a much better year in 1986. But after the summer of ’87, weakening eyes and a crumbling shoulder quickly led to the demise of what had been a promising career. I peaked at fifteen and sixteen, there is no doubt. Not much to live for after that, right?

Many of my old friends, the asshole runnin buddies similarly peaked in those years. Some reached their zenith in sports, others in popularity or appearance or a combination of all of those essential high school achievements. A pair of brothers who are new friends had highs in football and the musical scene that are now but sweet memories. Some of the girls have some lofty peaks in their histories as well. World travels, education in the Rockies, the fast life in Jacksonville, stage appearances all part of their respective pasts now. Sad? Hardly.

Those girls I’ve been fortunate to reconnect with through the miracles of Facebook are now living in the capital of the world teaching and constantly smiling, creating art, writing, and reveling in their families. My new friends are raising families, one moving in to a new phase of business life, the other producing beautiful music and finding peace, elusive for many years. The ARB’s are buying houses and losing weight and laughing more. A couple are  brewing excellent beer and brainstorming the perfect names for bottles and the brewery they will one day build. Another is working a job far below education and intelligence level to provide for family, leaving a painful past a little further away with each new day. I’m especially proud of him and I believe in him. And two more generally spending so much time with kids that its difficult to get away for a few hours with TB on a couple days notice. As for old TB, with my two girls as constant companions and modern technology to keep my friends near in heart and mind, I’ve never been happier. Even counting 87, a good year to be sure. It seems like the people I know have finally left the old achievements behind in favor of moving forward to new ones. Everyone seems more interested and supportive of the rest than we used to be. It is making them/us stronger, happier and more successful. Without consciously considering it, we have rejected the idea that we “peaked too soon” and instead have embraced the idea that there is always another peak to reach and so we should get on with the climbing.

About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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12 Responses to Peaking too Soon

  1. Jessie Lou says:

    I believe those thoughts and feelings come with age and mellowing out – realizing that you really do not have to compete with the next person. It is a whole lot easier to be happy with where you are and what you have than to lament and regret all the time. I have always said that being content was the best spot to be in. I’d rather have had the peaks and enjoyed them and look back on them than to never have had them at all.

    When your daughter is a bat girl for the local high school baseball team you can tell her (although it can’t/won’t/shouldn’t be the first time she’s heard it) about how her dad peaked on the mound in 1986.

    Also remember you got to have the valleys to enjoy the peaks. It makes them that much sweeter.

  2. Zeek says:

    TB, don’t feel bad, I peaked at 12,so you had more/better years than I did. I try yo now find something new to peak at,such as golf. But, like JLou said, better to have been successful and peaked early, than to never have peaked at all. If I am correct in assuming that I am one of the friends you are refering to (we both know which one) then I say “Thank You”. I appreciate the compliment and the faith. That means alot considering many gave up long ago. It was good to see you this past weekend, and it was even surprisingly good to finally meet Quail in person. We’ll have to do it again soon, thanks for the martini Quail, I’ll have to pay you back with a hogleg!!!

  3. quail09 says:

    Zeek…surprisingly good?…i’m feelin all warm and fuzzy

  4. quail09 says:

    TB…i truly understand the sentiment…we all can point to times in our younger days when we were on top of the mountain…but “peaking too soon” is almost exclusively a sports world phrase…i’ve always thought that those sports mountians were training grounds for more important mountains to be climbed….you know, character builders..not an end unto themselves

  5. Zeek says:

    That hogleg I have for you will REALLY make you feel all warm and fuzzy!!!

  6. Q, in sports I think there’s a lot to the “peaking too soon” cliche. But I also hear it applied to people a lot. Maybe I just know people who use too many cliches. Interestingly, as I think about it, I believe its girls I’ve heard use the phrase on people more than guys and often directed at other girls, though not always.

  7. quail09 says:

    TB….girls are all about us guys “peaking” at the right time….seewhati’msayin?

  8. Zeek says:

    I think Madd Dawg is an expert at “peaking” too soon, maybe we should ask him.

  9. Madd Dawg says:

    Sorry I couldn’t get with you bro, but there are few things better than coaching your own kids at sports. I am enjoying it while I can as they will be playing for middle school teams in a couple of years.
    My kids still listen to me now. However, as I recall from my youth, when a kid gets about 13, parents are the enemy and don’t know anything—until a few years later when you realize they actually know a lot.

  10. smilyj says:

    Now is your chance

    Now you can peak as a dad and husband. I hope that’s where I can reach mine. I’ve been saving my peak for something. I don’t think I have peaked before. Maybe I peaked as the greatest MD janker of alltime. But that’s not really much.

  11. Stone says:

    Of course with you Madd Dawg, they will be right at 13.

    My son has somehow become a pitcher. Never would have figured that.

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