I am never on time for anything, so to be early felt down right strange. I did not know what to do with my self. I knew 7 other people would be joining me to go to the college basketball game I would be attending today. I was meeting the family as part of some networking and outreach, the non-profit I am with, does for interested people. The population I specifically focus on are pre-teens, teens, and young adults. I was excited to be of service and to combine this with something I also enjoy, men’s college basketball. I texted them, they were on their way, but I still had a half hour with little to do.
I walked around the main lobby area, passed the concession stand, talked to the box office to check on ticket prices and make sure we would be able to get in to the game, as I saw a large group of alumni gathering for a reception with free tickets to the game. Well, at least it would be a full house, sometimes a tough feat for a small, college basketball game scheduled for 2PM on a Saturday. I went to the bathroom, checked out the hockey rink. I still had time to kill.
Upon realizing that no one cared whether I entered the hockey rink, I thought, why not step onto the basketball court and watch the shoot-around. I stepped inside. Then all of sudden the strangest thing happened. The hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up. I wasn’t thinking about anything, I don’t think I could have been more relaxed in this particular situation given my boredom. So what was with the hairs standing up on the back of neck? I stood and thought, my brain caught up with my body and I realized that I had not been on that court for a game in 10 years. I was at my alma mater, a school I never thought I would ever get into, and I was standing there at a game, as an almost 11 year alumna of the school. I had never, not even on the day I graduated in 2002, thought about how profound that was until today when I went out to watch the team shoot baskets while listening to Eminem.
I am not a person that stops and smells the roses, but there I was doing it, but not because my mind wanted it, because my body did. It was telling me, “you have done the right things for a while (perhaps, even a long while) now, Kara. You have been working hard on yourself, why don’t you sit back for a second and enjoy what you have accomplished?” Why this moment didn’t happen while I was outside walking by the lawn where the baccalaureate mass took place over 10 years ago, I will never know? Surely, that was a more profound day than any Wednesday night I went to a men’s hoops games. None of this stuff was making sense because none of this was happening on a conscious level. And it was nice to be unconscious of my thoughts for once without any external aid. It was nice to just flow.
I stood there listening to Eminem’s “Not Afraid” which could not have been a better soundtrack for the moment I was in, I felt a sense of pride wash over me. College had not been a perfect time in my life, but I took particular joy in my Senior year in going to these men’s basketball games on Wednesday nights. I stepped out of my well padded comfort zone and went to as many games as possible. I was “not afraid” to go to these games for some reason. It was a nice break, because most Wednesday’s were spent working on homework for the day full of classes I had on Thursdays. I came to learn the game of basketball better, to get to know some of the players, to enjoy the cheerleaders, the pep band, the crowd, and sometimes, if my stomach allowed, a Diet Coke. Filled with the adrenaline after a great game, I would head back to my room, and blast Sevendust or Puddle of Mudd on my Discman, while finishing up some homework. I typically attended the games alone. I can say I was certainly not as sociable as I should have been during those years. I was afraid of so much, but this was something that I could handle. Once in a while I would bump into acquaintances on the bleachers and sit with them. It did not happen often, though, and that was fine. In fact, I sat on the visitor side without even realizing it. That may have been why i did not see many of my fellow classmates.
Those games were defining because I was finally taking part in the culture and spirit of the school. Today, I was going to share that with a group of kids and two women that had never been to a basketball game. I learned how to share these great experiences, information, love and kindness while a student at this school. Serving others and the enjoyment that comes from it, was not something that I practiced as a high school student. I learned to serve others, to give back to my community and communities while in college. I learned to understand what was worth fighting for, that the men and women we encountered each day were significant, because at the end of the day all we have as humans is one another. All of this came full circle in that moment, while I waited for my fellow game-goers to arrive. My body knew how profound it was before I could even wrap my brain around what was happening. I felt like I graduated again, and finally, almost 11 years later I was enjoying it rather than asking the inevitable “What’s next?,” while pushing my accomplishments aside.
My Mom comments that I do not celebrate my accomplishments enough. I have made lists in the back of my journal of all that I have done in my life. I add to it as I remember things, or as things occur. Today was a major day of celebration and gratitude. Grateful to give back to others, especially kids, who were wided-eyed at their first live, basketball game, asking questions galore “Sounds like the band just played “Just Dance?” (“They did!” was my response.) and “What are the big numbers over the hoop for?”, and just completely stoked to be present at the game. The moms were happy, too, clicking pictures of their kids, and just as much in awe of the fun they were having as me.
The greatest gift was the moment I had before they arrived, hairs on the neck standing straight up, aware that I had graduated from a pretty impressive place, filled with impressive people, aware that I was about to share this with some very deserving people. It was an amazing day because I felt the gratitude flow through each moment. I let go of judgement, lived in the moment, and rode the beautiful flow of each moment I spent with the families and in the presence of a game I love to watch. Grateful to be alive. Grateful for these experiences. Grateful for the great education I received and what I have gone on to do with it.
Today was a very special day. I am very grateful to toot my own horn and celebrate myself through service to others. I do not think my college could ask for much more of that from an alumna.