Years having lapsed I returned to visit my alma mater. Now having over 20,000 students it has changed dramatically. The house dorm in which the members of the men’s basketball team lived has been torn down along with the cafeteria next door. Now high rise dorms and a glamorous dining facility have replaced them.
Nostalgia reached a zenith when I visited the gym in which we played. It is now used for intramurals. For me it was like entering a sanctuary. The roar of the crowd that cheered our successes and booed our opponents has long since faded.
I arrived at a good time. There was nothing going on so I went in the once pungent locker room. I sat in my normal place and in my imagination listened to the glee of teammates after a victory. I heard again Coach extol us after losses and remembered the men with which I exchanged manly hugs, most long since dead.
I couldn’t resist standing in the shower and remember the laughter and bravado that once rang there. Many a towel was snapped on the way out. The hot water was occasionally made hotter by bitter hot tears shed after a loss. Uninhibited elation also had its moments.
In a reflective moment I recalled an incident from my freshman year. Coach put me in near the end of our first game of my freshman year. I hit a shot as the game ended and we beat Tulane by one point.
The next day with a gang of friends gathered around in the post office I was spouting off about my part in the game saying something like, “I should be the go-to guy from now on, I am the man. When we need a big play I’m ready. Tell Coach I am the best thing he has going. Even though I am a freshman he should start me in every game.”
A friend said, “You just told him, he is standing right behind you.” I ran laps after every practice that week.
I think a primary reason Coach later developed confidence in me was that I was one of the few sober players who would put some of them to bed on weekends.
Louisiana is not known for a shortage of alcohol.
Why am I engaging in such reminiscence now? It is to stress the importance of being in the moment because every moment of life translates into a memory. I am doing it to encourage people to be kind to their tomorrow selves by the memories they make today.
Those moments in the locker room during college were brief, but have been relived hundreds of times. Those college years were the anvil on which my life was in large part forged.
In reflecting on the past don’t let it rob you of the joy of every present moment. Some people are so busy dreaming of what might come tomorrow or what happened in the past they miss the opportunity of the present moment. Enjoy the good of the past, anticipate and plan for the future, but live in the moment.
There is a spiritual dimension to life. Every person would do well to define their life’s objective and guiding principles. Therefore I commend a lifestyle in keeping with my Bible theme for life text as recorded in Colossians 3:23:
“Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church.