The anticipation building up in the summer days, the smell of the freshly watered field combined with the sweat on the players brows. The hours of workouts and mental preparation are about to be used by the players and the coaches. The fans gather their game day apparel proudly and start to display a combination of school spirit and banter between opposing teams. The day comes closer and with it comes a sense of anxiety by all.
Anxiety, that comes for the fear of what will happen on the field, or the lack of what will never be again…
With steps closer and closer to the power source, you can almost hear the grass crunching as someone is about to ignite the night with the Friday Night Lights…
It happens. The switch goes up and the lights go on.
This is the night dreamt about.
The crowd cheers. Their hearts racing as they watch the boys’ running through the tunnel. Some sit on the sidelines watching their son run with his hand pointing above. Some sit and watch, what they don’t know yet, will be their first love in the team huddle. Some sit and not understand the way the lights will bring back such memories, moments of greatness, moments of pride, and moments of extreme highs accompanying some difficult lows. Excitement everywhere fills the hearts and minds of those waiting to see what the season holds…
But on the other side… there sit the parents who desperately long to see their boy under those lights. The lights they dreamed of seeing him under his whole life. Every practice, every little league game… every cheer was said and done to prepare him for this night, the night the lights came on. But through the tunnel, their boy never comes. The lights are on… their boy is gone.
There sits the man in the wheelchair remembering the lights he was under the very night he was running to make that play and collided with another player, permanently giving him a new seat in every house. He can still feel the crush of his bones, the weight on his chest and the feel of loss all over again. The loss under the lights…
There also sits the woman whose past runs right through the tunnel and down memory lane. She lived for the moment and now lives with regret. Regret she doesn’t want to see any of these young ones have to go through. Unintentional, unresolved regret. Yet regret that has given her the most valuable lesson in life. Love. Love that waves back at her from the sidelines as she turns her head to cheer for her team dawning a smile that lights up her life.
Anticipation… anxiety… the rush of the memories flooding your veins. The rush of the “what ifs” flooding your mind… the rush of life going on…
When the lights go on, life seems to return in the sound of the whistles blown on the field… but for others, life pauses in pain. Pain of what was, what could have been, what is no more.
What was last season is gone.
Seasons come and go… but what always returns is the longing for the way it was, the way it felt under those lights when all was good… when life was familiar… when life wasn’t so complicated. From the teenager to the mother on the sidelines, nothing is the same. Whether good or bad, it changes, along with the leaves that turn in the fall, and die in the winter. Change.
Friday Night Lights make memories, create dreams, and give opportunity to fulfill lifelong accomplishments. Friday Night Lights take you back to the days of old, the school dances after the games, the dirt road traveled to get there. The smell of the locker room. The travelling of jersey’s from one girl to another on game days. The sound of the band warming up. The cheerleaders at the pep rally. The signs, the face paint. The school spirit… all for The Friday Night Lights.
Friday Night Lights come with no abandon. They also have the opportunity to crush dreams, and come with the piercing sting of emptiness and loss. The moment has come and gone and all that resides is a memory of a moment that will never be again. The day has come when the moment is meant to pass… No holding on, and letting go is necessary. Letting go of what could have been. What is no more. What will never happen under those Friday Night Lights.
With every season, there comes a challenge, a fight to win, a fight to love, a fight to live, and most often a fight to survive. Strength is built with every flick of the switch. Each season that passes, with it will come the will to survive, the ability to overcome and the chance to make it better.
With every win there comes a loss… with every coin toss there comes risk… a risk that one must take under those lights… those life changing Friday Night Lights.
Some wishing for another chance, a redo of a moment that forever changed their destiny, some just simply smiling at the memories of days gone by. But for some just wishing it would all go away for being under the lights is just too painful of a reminder of what has changed forever.
The lights go on, the whistle blows, someone walks away a winner, someone walks away a loser… but not to confuse them with one that walks away a survivor of The Friday Night Lights!
Friday Night Lights have the power to change anything or anyone under them. No doubt, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, whatever your circumstance, when the lights go on, you go back…
Back to where it began… under those Friday Night Lights.
*This piece was written before my blogging days. I originally shared it once on my personal Facebook page in September, 2011. Tis' the season to share it on my blog!