“You’re going to miss it” is something you’re always told when it comes to things that you seem to not appreciate the way you should.
It’s heard at the conclusion of sport seasons across high school and college campuses as countless players conclude their competitive careers. It’s told to exhausted parents as they hold their five and two year old children, wishing that their kids were at an age they wouldn’t be so attached yet understanding that they will long for those days in the not-too-distant future.
(OK, that one was personal).
Our society is...was...so focused on the instant gratification what is happening now, and how it makes us feel in the moment, that we don’t spend enough time appreciating the ins and outs of day to day life. We look so forward to the weekend that we miss out at times on special moments on a Tuesday. The next vacation or holiday is circled on calendars and is counted down to, meaning the days, weeks, or months preceding it may not be valued as much as they should be. They’re just one step closer to something grander.
Perhaps when things get back to normal - well, as normal as they can get - that will be one of the many changes that await us.
You don’t need to be told here that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the globe to a crawl in just about every facet of society. As the days become weeks, and eventually become months, the “new normal” of social distancing and distance learning will simply become norms. Our world will only become more touched by the virus, from knowing folks infected, to our line of work becoming more digitized, to the way we greet each other evolving. Nurses, doctors, and other health care professionals alongside grocery store employees will be appreciated for decades to come for their different-but-vital roles in keeping life on this planet spinning. It is unlikely any layer of our lives will go unaffected.
Including our Memphis Grizzlies.
As athletics eventually return, it likely won’t be in the way we expect. Both the NBA and media/fans have floated ideas about how to resume play. Major league baseball has already reached an agreement with its players to not get back on the field until all large gathering restrictions have been lifted, which may not be for some time. Even now, at the start of April, there is concern from the likes of Kirk Herbstreit that the football season could not occur at all, much less with fans in the stands. The NHL, NASCAR, professional golf...as the United States enters perhaps the worst time for the outbreak in the weeks (and perhaps months) ahead, much needed distraction in the form of sport is not readily accessible. It likely won’t be for some time.
As far as Memphis goes, that means no Ja Morant highlights in pursuit of an eventual Rookie of the Year award (at least for now). It means no more enjoyment of the squad being ahead of schedule, but it also means no more debate over losses either. No arguing whether or not Josh Jackson should be in the rotation once Justise Jackson debuts. No report cards to get frustrated over, or Twitter roll calls for late night contests as the Grizzlies travel to the west coast.
Wouldn’t you love to be complaining about staying up late on a weeknight for a game against the Sacramento Kings right now?
There are a lot of very real problems happening for people all around us. Rites of passage essential to our culture like graduations are simply being canceled. Lives are on the line. Temporary morgues are being established next to field hospitals in major cities as if there is a war going on. And make no mistake - we are at war. But in times of conflict, be it against a virus or a living, breathing enemy, you take stock in what you’re fighting for. What you’ve lost, and hope to find again.
In a lot of ways, it’s our way of life. Our days that we once neglected that perhaps now never will again.
As people are urged to “stay home” to flatten the curve and give our most recent version of warriors - doctors, nurses, and other essential personnel in these trying times - their best shot at enduring the upcoming peak, take stock in what is at stake. It’s the ability to simply go to work safely. To see your children embrace your parents and tell them they love them in person. It’s you doing your part to get back to a place where humanity can embrace what makes us most human - each other.
But it’s also OK to say this must be done to be able to walk down Beale Street once again, seeing the bright lights and hearing the sounds of Memphis as you approach FedExForum. To look ahead to that feeling inside you of excited anticipation as you enter the arena, looking forward to seeing your favorite team compete again. To find your seat and fist bump, or elbow bump, those in your section and talk about that night’s opponent whether they’re fellow season ticket holders that have become friends or seat neighbors for the next few hours. The longing for the ability to cheer, laugh, boo, scream, and engage in what has become a civic institution.
All across America, and the entire world, many are physically alone. But we’re together in pursuing what we once didn’t value as much as we should. Be it an embrace or entering a school building, a chance to stay a bit longer at your mom’s house to finish a conversation or a moment with thousands of strangers to either rejoice or despair in person, we all want to have back what we miss so immensely.
What we now, more than ever, appreciate since it has gone.