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?
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.