What the Super Bowl Taught Me About Life

This year, Dave decided not to watch the big game.

Some years he does; usually he’s after the rush of a cutting-edge commercial he’s been promised (yes, he’s a very visual guy). And viewing said commercial on a high definition flat screen TV makes for an even bigger charge.

Of course, he might also be watching for the half-time show, and the chance to commune with one of his musical idols. Like last year, when his mounting excitement about Bruce Springsteen could not be contained.

But the game itself? Not so much. I mean, he’s a fairly evolved guy. And I consider myself a feminist. So all that testosterone-induced pounding and crushing doesn’t really do it for us.

Oh, wait. I forgot about those 15-plus years when we followed the 49ers.

That was mostly out of respect for my mother, though. She was a fervent Niners fan in the 60’s and 70’s, back when the team was pretty bad. So after she was gone, and they got good, what choice did I have but to pick up the torch and follow the home team?

We were never that into it, though.

Oh. Wait. I forgot about Super Bowl XXIII, when the Niners faced the Bengals.

What a nail biter! The game was so close in the final minutes that I couldn’t watch. I got up, opened the door, and started towards the street. Dave gently talked me through it, though: “It’s okay honey. They’re doing well. You can come back.”

But that was just an isolated episode.

Oh…wait. I forgot about that year I tore a small photo of Joe Montana’s head out of a magazine and attached it to a pin cushion.

It sat next to me all season, comforting me through penalties, interceptions, blocked kicks, and incomplete passes. As a matter of fact, it saw me all the way to another Super Bowl win.

I guess I also forgot about my girlish infatuations with Dwight Clark, Roger Craig, Jerry Rice. And the sheer madness of driving around San Francisco after a Super Bowl win, streets packed with honking cars and reveling fans. Or the parade down Market Street. Not to mention our freezing extremities on those rare days that we actually had tickets to the game and sat huddled against the wind in Candlestick park.

Yep, good times. But then again, times do change.

I suppose our lives got busier. We became interested in other things. The team lost a bit of its luster.

Whatever it was, the grip of the 49ers slowly loosened its hold on us, and we found ourselves spending fewer and fewer Sundays in front of the TV.

I know some would say we’re simply fair-weather fans. Perhaps. Although at times I suspect our burning devotion to the team had a lot to do with community, a sense of shared experience. A particular moment in time that felt bigger than each of us individually, and was bound to fade eventually.

In spite of that, however, I like to think there’s something deeper at work here too.

So when Dave reversed his call about watching the Super Bowl last Sunday, and turned the TV on to catch the last five minutes, I didn’t hesitate to join him. And with that now-famous interception that has no doubt been played again and again this week, it all came back so fast. There I was, talking (some might say yelling) to the screen:

Go, go, go! What are you doing? Run!

It reminded me just how complex we human beings are. Because that football-frenzied-female isn’t really me. Or is she?

If you met me, you might not see her. I’m rather calm. Low key, I think. Well behaved. With a tendency towards depth and peacefulness. And yet, I can be quite the opposite: frantic, high strung, rebellious, shallow, rowdy.

Actually, I am all of it.

And that’s the point I’ve been getting to, in a roundabout way.

We all are all of it. Light. Dark. Strong. Weak. Smart. Stupid. Masculine. Feminine.

A study in contrasts.

Like every record, we have a flip side. Like every coin, we’re both heads and tails.

Where we stumble, I think, is in denying it. Pushing it down into the shadow lands of our existence, proclaiming that we are one way and not the other. Until the day it bursts through, stunning us with its unexpected force. Knocking us to the ground.

So I’m always happy for a day like last Sunday, where I learn again to unapologetically embrace the paradox of humanity.

My own and everyone else’s.

Ever had an experience that taught you about your own contradictions and paradoxes?

34 thoughts on “What the Super Bowl Taught Me About Life

  1. Ahh, acceptance and denial. Two things I love/hate to embrace/let go. I’ve also been exploring the topic of contradictions lately as I’ve become more comfortable in my own boatloads of them. I’ll share another factoid about me. In my 20s, I had a job where I had to travel to major cities quite a bit and attend social functions. During that time, I learned my incredibly high tolerance for alcohol. Somehow, I got through college thinking I preferred conversations, cuisine and books. It turns out I had a little partyer in me. I may have been on survival mode the whole time, but it’s good to know that there are surprises lurking in my latent side. Thanks for reminding us of our many sides. I agree with you that we stumble in denying a part of us that may seem uncharacteristic when it’s probably not so hard, maybe even liberating, to accept our multi-facetedness.

    • Hi Belinda – It is good to know, isn’t it, that we can always surprise ourselves with some unexpected inner character? So, a bit of a partyer. Yeah, I’ve got that too. Isn’t it funny how complicated we all are? And yet, how much the same? Love that. Thanks!

  2. Patty — I adored this post. I love this line,

    “So I’m always happy for a day like last Sunday, where I learn again to unapologetically embrace the paradox of humanity. My own and everyone else’s.”

    This is so true. We all have so many different parts of ourselves that pop up to surprise again and again. I love this about people.

    I also like very much that a mild-mannered, gentle woman like yourself can go CRAZY for a little while and scream at the TV. Love it:~)

    In answer to your question, I suppose one of things out of character for me is that I love racing, almost any kind of racing. I watch bike races, car races and even the big horse races…I guess I like things that go fast:~)

    I once watched a car race that was on ice…I couldn’t believe they could go that fast on ice, but it was fun to watch:~)

    Most people find this odd, given my personality. They don’t expect it when I turn on the TV to watch Formula One racing or the Tour de France bike race…but that’s part of me!

    Thanks for this post:~)

    • Oh that’s wonderful, Sara. Fast cars! Who would have thought? But then again, why the heck not? Your comment is making me laugh out loud, imagining you glued to the screen watching all that speed. Thank you!

  3. I just started working with a hypnotherapist yesterday and I was relating one of my contradictions to her. She called it being multi-faceted and I immediately embraced that word to describe some of my paradoxes. Isn’t it wonderful?

    I’m part of a football-loving family and watch it all the time, even though often I don’t have a clue what’s going on. But I love the pageantry and festiveness of it all.

    • Hi Charlotte – Multi-faceted is such a delightful word. Really rolls off the tongue. What a great word to use to turn our contradictions from confusion to acceptance. Love it! Thanks!

  4. Awesome, Patty — how many times have you read a post and thought, “that was written by me!” As you described the laid-back, calm, well-behaved you, I said “that’s me” and as you reminded yourself of how you got caught up in one game or another, I said “that’s me!”

    I’m a fair-weather fan. I’m from New Orleans. I’ve watched fans wear those brown bags on their heads. I’ve done lots of ignoring of the Saints.

    But I left New Orleans years ago, and this year, when I saw the Saints doing fabulous things, I got excited. When they made it to the playoffs I was on fire. When they made it to the Superbowl I was beside myself. When they WON that Superbowl I was completely unstrung with delight! And it was really, truly, fun to let myself be that crazy broad going all kinds of nuts over a football game. It was so much fun that I think now, OK what ELSE can I get nuts over?

    Feels like your post has given a blessing to all this, and I thank you for bringing it up. Maybe we are each a diamond, with an UNKNOWN number of facets, awaiting discovery? I can dig it!

    • Hey Jeanne – Thank you! So great to see you here. I know just what you mean about that internal FIRE. It catches hold and then…it takes over. And it’s often so unexpected. I love this phrase: “unstrung with delight.” Yes, let’s all be diamonds with facets yet to discover. Perfect.

  5. Funny you should mention superboll XXIII that was the game that made me a Bengals fan. What can i say i was contrary and surrounded by 49er fans so i had to jump the other waty. been stuck with the Bengals ever since

    • Aw, Quinn, it’s not too late to come over to the other side! Let me slowly lead you out of the darkness. I promise, it won’t hurt at all. And if you insist on digging in and remaining contrary, then no worries, I will keep a seat warm for you on the bench. (Do they have benches in football????)

  6. Patty, I didn’t watch the super bowl at all this year. I’m not much of a sports fan, and I gave up on the great commercials after the disappointing ads of the last couple of super bowls. I do love a good commercial, but without those, I found no reason to watch. We fired up some Netflix movies instead.

    That’s so awesome that you were yelling at the TV, I never could figure out why people do that. Now I know; they’re just embracing the full them, embracing the wholeness of their beings. 😉

  7. Hi Patty! Interesting post! You know, you don’t get to be my age without seeing that we are all sort of Sybil (multiple personalities – or should I say more politely, multi-dimensional?). Like in your last post when I said I have to honor the kid in me, you betcha – that’s only ONE part of me. I also go thru many “make-overs” “do-overs” and reinvent myself. Not having some element of MOVEMENT in myself would bore me to tears! Between changing things up and trying new things, I’m too busy to have only one me! ha!

    • Hi SuZen – Funny! We’re all walking around with a slight case of Dissociative Identify Disorder. You know, taking it out of the clinical part of that, you’re right. And if we bury them them they do show up very unexpectedly and forcefully and without our noticing, just like Sybil. Sounds like you rejoice in them. Love that. Thanks and hugs!

  8. Haha! I can hear you scream! I see you in front of that TV! Good for you. I see myself as together and quiet. I need a lot of alone time. And then I joined Twitter. It’s the other me out there. I play a vocab. game and have tons of fun. I get upset when I don’t win. I laugh out loud when I write something funny. My kids think I’ve gone mad. Imagine that, mom on Twitter!

    You’re going to smile when you see my post today. Look at the long word I play with. I’m sure you’ll recognize it right away.(post will be up in the pm) 🙂

    • Hi Maryse – I UNAPOLOGETICALLY loved your post today! How wonderful that your kids think you’ve gone mad. That’s when we know we’re truly living life. Thanks!

  9. “What about you? Have you had an experience that taught you about your own contradictions and paradoxes, even though at first glance it might have seemed out of character for you?”

    Who, me?? Nah, I’m totally consistent! 🙂

    Wasn’t there someone who said “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”?

    Anyway, I agree that one of our biggest stumbling blocks as humans is that we have trouble accepting ourselves- and others- as the complex, dynamic beings that we are. We expect ourselves – and each other – to stay the same, to be consistent, and moreover, to be relatively perfect.

    One of my contradictions is that I’m usually very sweet, calm, compassionate, and open to seeing all sides of an issue…until you mess with someone I care about, then Goddess protect you from my wrath! If you mess with ME, I’m usually pretty forgiving, but I can get downright vengeful if you hurt a loved one.

    But accepting and opening to ourselves – and others – as the changing, complicated, people that we all are is something I’ve been working on a lot recently. Thanks so much for another great post!


    • Thank you, Melissa. For sharing your story AND for reminding us of the hobgoblin/little minds quote! So true. Love what you’ve written here.


  11. Football is something I have been away quite often. But something lures me to look at it. Actually, I peep into my TV screen from the other room. Though, I don’t understand most of the rules, I put up an act in front of others convincing enough. I hope it is quite convincing.. lol

    You have a wonderful blog here. Will visit back for sure.

    Have a fantastic day!:)

    • Hi there – Welcome, thanks for the visit! There is a lot I don’t understand about football too, but I don’t let that stop me. It seems like the basic thing is, get the ball and make a touchdown; or, keep the other team from getting the ball!

  12. This post was pure joy to read. I love football — was raised in a football family, with a dad who taught life through his coaching and his teaching.

    He taught English, from writing to reading the classics, to self-expression through poetry and story, to learning about and developing unique creative styles.

    And he coached football. No, more than that… he met young boys where they were, with their emerging manliness and guttural speech and raging energy and suited them up to learn how to play life.

    Team work, memorizing play strategies, learning to think on their feet, creating ways to make it work when all hell threatened, getting up when knocked down, focusing on the goal instead of on the opponents who wanted to trounce them into oblivion. Making decisions for the good of the squad. Believing in the possibilities when the odds said impossible. Running the unexpected. (He wrote the now much-used Run and Shoot Football offense my senior year, when a losing season threatened. We won our last 5 games with high scores against teams who never saw us coming.)

    Yep — the gridiron can be a great learning place. And those who excel in the game of football go on to entertain us for several months a year. This year’s SuperBowl was a beautifully executed game — by both teams. I enjoyed every play. (Well, being a Colts fan, not the interception so much. But both teams were stellar, in my opinion. And, you gotta’ love a good passing game.)

    I loved your summation — we indeed are complex, and unique, and valuable, and it takes us at least a life time to grow into who we are becoming. I like that about us. Helps me know, when I meet someone, I’m meeting someone special.

    Great post! I’m glad I found you! (Through Barbara Swafford’s blog.)

    • Hi Barb – Welcome! I really appreciate your comments. What a history you have with football, and I’m so glad you shared this story about your dad. Just wonderful. Thanks!

  13. I love the way you presented this. “Oh, wait. I forgot about those 15-plus years when we followed the 49ers.”(with the justifications) and so on, throughout the whole post. Contradictions in character, personality, self image are very hard to see. In the Fourth way we call it the “Many I’s” that compose the “Imaginary I”.

    In life we see it on all sides, especially with fallen celebrities.
    Yet we fail to see that we do, and are the same. Recently in Toronto a Mayoral candidate was forced out of a race because of some sexual indiscretions. We all have our little secrets that sometimes, are not so secret. Then the Damage control team goes into operation to rescue the “Imaginary I”.

    To be able to see that we are many sided, some nasty, some nice, some crazy, some playful, is the beginning of the journey to “real I”. Just watch out for that “Damage control team” though.

    On another note

    It’s interesting that all the spiritual and self work blogs, are following the same ideas in the different ways of presentation.
    I found the same ideas expressed here in a different ways on, “Conversations with Chris Bernard” and “Virtual Synapse”. I guess there is something to this “Synergy thing” after all. (playful grin here)

    Job well done Patty! looking forward to the next!


    • Hi Eso – Well said! I agree with you absolutely that by embracing all of it – playful, nasty, etc. – we begin to get to wholeness, the “real I” as you say. And great example of how it leaks out when we don’t embrace it. So much shadow that comes to the forefront with many of these political candidates. Thanks so much for the insight!

  14. Hi Patti,
    Your posts are so fun and honest and I can’t help but relate even though I don’t get football, never did and never will. I do get the different parts of me and allowing each one out to play even when they want to hide and I get we can all identify with Tiger Woods and Mother Teresa if we are willing to have a peek.

    • Hi Tess – I love that! Yes! You bet we all have to be willing to take that peak. There’s a lot in shadow, and much of it is gold. Thanks!

  15. Patty, what it taught me was that I’m glad I’m not in the advertising business. But what you’ve taught me here again is that there’s nothing better for bloggers than just being themselves. You get it and you are pretty freaking magnetic There’s no job description for being yourself, and that means you’re irreplaceable:)

  16. Aw, Josh, you’re making me blush! Thank you for your very affirming words. Love this – “no job description for being yourself.” So true, for all of us, I think. And I’m so glad you stopped by, because it’s kind of serendipitous – I just linked to you in my Monday post, because I finally got the Monkey book you recommended.

  17. Pingback: Do Sports Teach Kids How to Live Life Beyond the Game? | Over Coffee... Let's Talk

  18. Patty,

    You are another of my successful tips from my “let’s discover a lot of new bloggers” challenge! 🙂
    I found you in one of the comments at the blog of a friend of mine, and headed over to see what you’ve got here 🙂

    Well, nice pleasure 🙂 I’m not a football guy (we do soccer here), and apart from some ads at YouTube, I don’t even really get what the Super Bowl is and how is it so popular. 🙂

    What your article reminded me of is that we can never classify ourselves or let others classify us too much. We change, we have several sides (flip coin – nice metaphor!), and we are.. well, we are wonderful 🙂 You, Dave, and me, and everybody else!

    • Hi Zoli – Welcome, and thanks for your kind words. I really appreciate them, and that you can find something here even though you do soccer instead of football. I imagine there are a lot of similarities, though, especially between football and soccer fans. And yes, we are all wonderful!

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