As published in The County Times (countytimes.somd.com)
By Ronald N. Guy Jr.
Podcast-land is a vast landscape of diverse interests
and budding obsessions. Every media
member, former athlete, B-list celebrity or grasping-for-fame influencer has
one. And much like a tour through any
team roster, this massive ocean of multi-media content contains some standouts,
a host of solid contributors and some unfortunate (that they exist) filler,
sans any trace of killer.
Avoiding the regrettable and finding quality topics of
interest takes some effort. I wouldn’t
say it is an exercise that makes me long for the pre-digital days of five
television channels and three radio stations, but there are certainly moments
when the appreciation those far off, simpler times rises. When lacking the opportunity to proactively pod-surf,
say when life suddenly bequeaths you a rare hour to kill, finding an instant
treasure in the podcast hinterland is daunting.
Channeling Dirty Harry, the obvious question is, “Do I feel lucky?”
When faced with such a dilemma last week, the universe
was kind to me. The dumb-luck discovered
podcast was “Plan English”, hosted by Derek Thompson. The selected episode was titled “What Most
People Get Wrong About Wealth, Fame and Happiness” and featured author Morgan
Housel and his new book, “Same as Ever”.
It was fantastic.
The title introduces the content. Housel’s book, which features stories
illustrating historical patterns and habitual human flaws, accentuated the
conversation with proof of our repetitive “wrongs” and the hope that awareness produces
wisdom, which leads to better choices, which leads to greater wealth, and a
better understanding of fame and happiness.
This, curiously, got me thinking about sports and the
holidays. My brain: when you figure out
yours, help me with mine.
Let me try to connect the dots. You may want to grab a beer. Nothing in sports is the “same as ever.” Some things stick for a long time – Andy Reid
coaching winning NFL teams, LeBron James dominating basketball, the Houston
Astros in the MLB playoffs, and the Washington Commanders playing losing
football, for example. But nothing lasts
forever. That counterpoint’s examples: the
Bill Belichick-Tom Brady Patriots dynasty, the Nicklas Backstrom-Alexander
Ovechkin connection, and the Capitals and Wizards leaving D.C. (probably).
For those of adequate vintage, this fluid dynamic
creates a coexistence of nostalgia for the past, appreciation for the present
and excitement for the future. Two good
examples are the Orioles and Nationals.
For the O’s, it’s impossible for anyone over 40 to see the warehouse at
Camden Yards and forget the numbers counting down Cal Ripken Jr.’s march to the
consecutive games played record, while also being jacked about the youngsters
that arrived this season and the promise they offer for the future. Similarly, for Nats fans, the yearning for
Juan Soto, Trea Turner and that magical 2019 team is palatable; but the rebuild
is underway and 2024 should mark the arrival of more future stars.
In my scrambled mind, this seamlessly transitions to
the holiday season. Whatever you
celebrate, this time of year is often – and hopefully - synonymous with family
gatherings and reconnections with good friends and loved ones. It is that rare opportunity to dismount the
hamster wheel, wrestle control over the pace of life and invest in cherished
Of course, for those who have lapped the sun a few
dozen times, the emotions of the holidays, like those of longtime sports fans,
cover the gamut – the togetherness is special and the promise of the years to
come is alluring, but these feeling share headspace with a hint of nostalgia for
yesteryears and an ache for loved ones lost.
The popular saying is life throws a lot of curveballs. But curveballs are predictable. No, life is more like a knuckleball –
fascinating, beautiful and unpredictable.
As Hunter S. Thompson quipped about life’s complexities, “Hope rises and
dreams flicker and die; love plans for tomorrow and loneliness thinks of
yesterday; life is beautiful and living is pain.” Recognizing the
personal emotional complexities of the season, I supposed the holidays are simply a time to seek joy in moments, to find hope in a future waiting to be revealed,
and to feel gratitude for memories now locked in the past.