I had a chance to take my son to his first Toronto Maple Leafs game last night. It was an unbelievable evening, filled with a lifetime of memories, and a five – nothing shutout, is nothing to sniff at either.
But the day turned out to be more than a lopsided hockey contest.
When I got to Canada in 1985, I remember vividly, playing road hockey with a handful of some neighbourhood kids, just outside of 10 Grenoble Drive, near the Science Centre. I found my tattered stick, in a garbage bin somewhere, and although I didn’t understand much of what they were saying, they somehow convinced me to become a Leafs fan.
Their welcoming spirit had a profound effect on me, and ever since that day, despite facing down countless remarks and spiteful laughter over the years, I have remained a loyal Toronto Maple Leafs fan, ever since.
But last night was more than just hockey.
Last night was a chance for my son and I to realize what we mean to each other.
I cannot tell you his side of the story. Maybe he will be inspired to write about it one day, but for now, mine will have to be enough.
We arrived somewhat early by the Go Train, and so we walked around for a few hours, exploring downtown Toronto, and all its hidden promises.
We saw some homeless men, who were so cold, they didn’t put much effort into begging strangers for their spare change. We encountered a gray-haired man, grasping for breath, collapsed but conscious, just outside a busy designer boutique, inside a busy shopping centre, while most people ignored him and rushed frantically to their next destination.
We found a place to eat and we also ran into several revolving doors and a dozen escalators to amuse ourselves with. Some of us did the amusing. The rest of us did a lot of cautioning and waiting.
We gave a deaf gentleman while waiting in line to get into the arena, two dollars, for a little Maple Leafs button, that now proudly sits atop my son’s backpack.
All in all, we had a tremendous day, despite the weather, but there is one thing that stands out the most.
During the game, because my son is somewhat obsessed about hockey, I took the time, as a learning experience, to point out some of the strategies both teams were employing to try and win the game.
My son looked at me and gently asked if we could just watch the game.
I instinctively said yes but have been thinking about his request ever since.
Can we just watch the game?
At that moment, I realized that my son was enjoying my company, and didn’t want to sit there with his coach. He wanted to remember the day and flood his mind with memories of his dad.
This got me thinking.
How often do we sit with our coaches?
How often do fail to listen to people when it’s our turn?
We are very efficient playing the role of counselors and dishing out invaluable advice, but our friends are not looking for a psychiatrist or a social worker. They simply desire a friendly, dependable ear, and perhaps a genuine nod or two, once in a little while.
How often do we recognise our own human worth?
How often is that value distorted, mangled, and superficially based on a daily wage, we graciously agreed to, as payment? Is that truly what we do and is that what we are worth?
We sometimes fail to see what provide for others, because we only concern ourselves with the scripts others have written for us.
It wasn’t too difficult to revert back to being a dad, and to ignore the inclination, in a momentary lapse of reason, to become a coach.
There is plenty of time and plenty of people that are willing to do the coaching.
But the landscape is scarce and deficient of good listeners.
The world is starved for genuine companionship.
So, it’s important, to remain and reimagine being a mom and a dad, a son or a daughter, a sister and a brother.