I was going through some things in the basement last weekend and I came across my bowling trophy. (I promise I will spare you any bad bowling puns, well any more bad bowling puns) While I firmly believe that this should be proudly and prominently displayed in my home, my lovely wife does not share this belief. So, this trophy along with the paltry few trophies I have been awarded in my life resides in a box in the basement.
I think everyone should have a bowling trophy or, at least, something similar. We all go through life looking for affirmation of achievement. If we are fortunate we are able to realize an accomplishment and if we are really fortunate, we are allowed the opportunity to look back and reflect on achievements in our past. So I consider myself fortunate that I have a bowling trophy to remind me of success in my youth, in the days before everyone received a “participation” trophy. It was during the winter of 1976 – 1977, the Saturday morning high school bowling league at Bowlero Lanes in Dayton, Ohio. We came in second place.
You may think that a bowling trophy is not the typical mark of achievement that one would relish in, but we then this was not exactly your typical bowling team. While the competition had bowling apropos names like “The Pin Blasters” or “The Five Aces”, I was part of “The Spanish Inquisition” and our rallying cry was “Purge Those Pins.” But what as the most impressive part of that team was not how we bowled, but what those team members went onto achieve. The Spanish Inquisition included young men who would find success in careers in medicine, civil engineering, rocket science, and county government.
While a first place trophy might have been more impressive, coming in second has always spurred me to, like the old Avis commercials would say, just try harder. But it was a fun way to spend Saturday mornings with good friends. So, last weekend as I unwrapped that trophy I was reminded about the little modicum of success we had as a team. But much more importantly, I was reminded that success comes not from the baubles we collect in life but from the relationships we build along the way.
I have not bowled in a league since then. In fact it has been a couple of years since the last time I bowled. But once upon a time long, long ago I bowled on a pretty good team with some even better guys and I still have the trophy to prove it.