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The Second Half

November 13, 2012

It’s Halftime.  You’re down Bigtime.  It doesn’t look good.  The situation is bleak.  The fire within you from the start has died down leaving nothing but ashes in its place. The game just hasn’t gone your way.  You have a hard time moving, let alone motivating yourself. You feel exhausted; crestfallen; despondent.

But wait.  What’s this?  An ember?  A spark?  Can there be hope?

Knute Rockne is reknown as a coach at Notre Dame University and motivator whose “Win one for the Gipper” phrase has epitomized the halftime speech that galvanizes and motivates men to find renewed hope, spirit and strength in the face of a grim situation, not giving up if only for the sake of another, and fighting the good fight to the very end with a determination to finish in victory.

Do you have a Knute Rockne in your life?   Do you have someone who has motivated you to dig deep in your despair, to find a spark  of hope and rise from the ashes?

I have experienced the despair of a bleak halftime.  I know its emptiness and despondence.

The blue demons are real.  They haunt you from the inside out, hiding the light of hope and robbing you of what little you have left.

But you can’t let them take you down.

My Knute Rockne comes in the form of Phil Campbell.  I hope he’s flattered by the connection.  As a huge Notre Dame fan, Phil well knows the legend of the coach and the spirit within that drives men.

Phil was one of my father’s very best friends, and my father was one of his.  They met as young men working in the insurance business and became golfing partners for many years.  Dad had a good sense for finding good friends and Phil was among the best he found.

Phil taught me as a young ballplayer how to throw a curve ball.

He also gave me a graduation card that I will never forgot because it contained the Rudyard Kipling poem “If” – an inspired work describing the spirit of what it means to be a man.

Phil knows adversity and trials, some of which I know and some which I will never know.  Phil served in the Viet Nam war and is a veteran. He witnessed unspeakable horrors and death.  He experienced divorce with children.  He knows the nightmares from both.  He has experienced medical challenges resulting from strokes including losses of mobility and at times his ability to speak.

Phil has overcome these hardships and challenges to go on to be successful in business, to parent his children, to be a devoted grandparent, and recently to go back to school to become a teacher.

Phil has not only modeled resilience, perseverence and positivity in his actions, by overcoming them to speak, walk and succeed again in his own life, Phil was with me in the locker room of life when I needed it most.  He has talked me off proverbial ledges in some of life’s most trying and desparate moments.  He let me know he understood what I was feeling and thinking having been there himself, and eloquently found the words I needed to hear when I needed to hear them to go on. He let me know he’d be there on the sidelines in the second half, and taught me how to be there for myself by knowing who I am, where I came from, where I need to go and how to get there.

I’m so proud of Phil knowing that he helps others in the halftime of their lives too.  Phil visits veterans in the VA clinic to talk to and help other veteran’s who are struggling with strokes and other medical conditions they need help in overcoming.  I imagine Phil has been influential in helping many others find strength within to go out and be victorious in the second half of their lives.

I am blessed to have Phil to talk with, to learn from, and to serve as a motivator and model for me when I am at the bleak halftime of my life.  Phil has become like a second father to me following the immense loss of my own, and is like a grandfather to my kids.

Yesterday I found myself heart-broken, divorced, unemployed, broke, dream-shattered, yet still found some of that old fashioned human spirit that drives men, and pulled together elements of knowledge, ideas, skill, ingenuity and hope – things the world can’t take away from a man – and in a matter of hours created GiftIdeaSpark.  It is a web site that features some inspired gift ideas with links to where you can buy unique and personalized gifts for others or for yourself.  Check it out and maybe buy something if you see something you like.  It is based on knowledge and ideas that have been brewing within me for years for a way to serve my fellow man and use the gifts that God has given me in the business of raising my children.

Sometimes we all find ourselves down big at halftime.  We can drag ourselves into the locker room for a time, but we can’t hide in there forever.

If you are there now, I hope you find these words, or ones from Knute Rockne or a Phil Campbell in your life, that encourage you to dig deep within for that spark of humanity that inspires you to get back up and to run back out on the field of life…and to “win one for the Gipper”.  Because its not what happened in the first half that matters.  It’s what you do in the second half that will determine whether you are victorious, and what your legacy to others will be.

Ed at Notre Dame Stadium (2011)

Ed at Notre Dame Stadium (2011)

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 13, 2012 11:36 pm

    Great post, Ed. I’ve been there myself. I posted this as my status recently because I thought it’s something we all need to remember: Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.

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