Tag Archives: relationships

I Was TeamSnap

Youth SoccerIt was around 1988 when I started making the phone calls.  On Friday nights, it was my job to call all of the players/parents from my soccer team. The information that I had to tell them was where the game was and what time the “caravan” was leaving A&P’s parking lot.  It wasn’t a fun job but it was a necessary one to make sure that everyone got to the game.  Today we have TeamSnap and other services to take care of this job.  While I’m sure that my fourteen year old self would have jumped at the chance to have this service available.  I’m glad that I suffered through that weekly chore.

There are so many little inconveniences that have been taken off of our plates.  At a quick glance, it may seem that we’ve gained in time by their removal.  The question that I’m asking at the moment is what was lost at the same time?  If you take that job away from my young self, he loses a sense of responsibility, ownership in the team concept, ability to talk to adults on the phone, a knowledge of our surrounding area and other things that are worth a half hour per week.

I’m definitely not anti-technology.  The thing that I’m trying to maintain in my own life is a sense of being human while utilizing technology.  We can become more human by using technology as a tool to enhance our lives.  Connect with people that are far away.  Learn and grow at times that are more convenient.  Save time in order to spend it with friends and family.  Some of the best things in life are inconvenient.  I would never replace my brother with an app just because it is more reliable and remembers my birthday.

Trauma or Possibility

LHVMarathonI had blood all over me.  I didn’t know where I was.  It was the coldest that I’d ever been in my life.  I couldn’t see a thing.  All that I could do was scream.  Luckily help was nearby and I was able to calm down.  It had been a difficult trial but I was alive and in the hospital.  Just when things seemed as if they would be OK, a complete stranger came along and chopped off a quarter of my penis.  All of that trauma happened in the first twenty four hours of my life.  Despite that very rough beginning, I’ve done quite well for myself.

This story is at least partially true for almost all of us.  We were all thrust into this world naked, afraid and unable to speak, read or write.  It is not something that we give much thought to because it happens to everyone.  However birth (or creation) is a messy and traumatic business by all accounts.  Not just the human producing ones but also the birth of companies, relationships, art or anything else.   There is always that starting point of conception that is magical and exhilarating.  Eventually that moment is replaced by some form of hard labor in order to get the creation out into the world.  Just because it’s painful, doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it.  The narrative of the present day is about safety and comfort.  Our world has had most of its sharp edges taken off.  While I’m all for vaccinating against the next Bubonic Plague, there are some struggles that are important for people to go through.  Not all pain is trauma.

As you conceive the next dream of where you’re going or what you’re doing, do a little pre-trauma planning.  Like a person that is preparing for a marathon, it is important to understand your “quit points”.  Quitting is not shameful if it is done for the right reasons.  A broken leg is a justifiable quit inducing occurrence.  Cramps are a nuisance to be fought through.  The difference between trauma and possibility is perspective and the next few steps that are taken.  Expectation that everything will be easy is a sure fire way to turn every problem into trauma.  Traumatizing yourself with things that should be expected is recipe for disaster.  Imagine freaking out because your newborn child couldn’t walk.  It’s a process not a fully completed miracle.  Take the possibility and run with it.

Quixote’s Box

QuixoteDon Quixote is a fictional character famous for fighting windmills and doing other absurd things.  His basic story is one of taking a fantasy world and trying to imprint it onto the real world.  The results are comedic for the outsider but almost tragic for Quixote himself.  As I was reading his story in college, I always pictured him sitting Indian style in his armor with a child’s toy box trying to hammer the square peg into the round hole.  It is easy to label Don Quixote as a “fool” but personally I identified strongly with the character and his trials.  Around the time that I read the book, I was on my own Quixotic adventure that put my mental image of the world into question.

I am Peter Huryk III, named after both my father and grandfather.  Due to my name, I have always identified very closely with my father.  My parents met when my mother was going through a divorce and leading life as a single parent to my older brother.  My father became the answer to her prayers.  Within a short time, he was a husband to my mother and a father to my brother.  This narrative was inside of my subconscious in college when the world offered me the perfect Quixotic situation.

At the time, I was taking a full course load in college, had a full time job and renting a townhouse with two friends.  It was then that the universe served up a perfectly ridiculous challenge to my self-image.  A young girl with two sons (2 & 1 years old) started working at the sub delivery place where I was employed.  In short order, we ended up in a relationship.  Unfortunately, the script was far more complicated than my father’s.

The custody of her children was being contested because she didn’t have a stable place for them to live.  They had been nomads between different family members’ homes.  So I took it upon myself to pay for an apartment for them.  Every problem that the world and the situation served up, I responded with my knight in shining armor script.  It made no sense but I pressed ahead anyway.  At 21 years old, I was a full time student, full time employee, renting two apartments, caring for two kids and handling it all.  Luckily the ridiculousness of the situation knew no bounds and she broke up with me.  I remember the older boy balling the day that I left.  He’d never done that before.  It was as if he knew I wasn’t coming back.  Getting into this situation was probably the worst decision of my life.  It was foolish on so many levels and could have been long term disastrous.  So it still feels odd to say that it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

In those few months, I figured out exactly who I was and what I was capable of.  The script of my father was not my own.  I needed to follow my own path for my own sake.  It also let me know that I could handle almost anything.  At 21 I had handled more weight from the world than I thought was possible.  Although it was reckless and stupid to heap it upon myself, it didn’t crush me.

The stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves are extremely important.  They, rather than conscious thought, will often make the decisions about what we will or will not do.  So my suggestion is that you get your story straight.  Who are you really?  Or better yet, who are you ideally?  If you are creating yourself (and you are), why not decide what it is that you want, need, value, love, without the interference of the world.  Then when you see your round peg, you’ll put it in the right spot and leave the square ones for someone else.

Go be you today.

Pete

Youth Soccer’s Jekyll & Hyde Dilemma

JekyllHydeIt’s one of my favorite lines from a song by one of my favorite bands “Your actions speak so loud, I can’t hear a word your saying!”  The song is called “I want to conquer the world” and it juxtaposes the idealism and the reality of people.  It’s a punk rock song and due to soccer’s historical underground following in the US, I usually equate the two on a few levels.  At the moment, the youth soccer world is caught in an almost Jekyll and Hyde scenario.  Many of the positives of the sport that is loved by millions are regularly mangled and deranged in the pursuit of momentary glory.  In each paragraph, I will start with the ideal and follow it with the real.

Soccer is fun!  – That’s absolutely right.  The game is or can be fun.  It is played worldwide in streets and fields by kids who truly love to express themselves with a ball.  More than ever though in the United States, we are heaping pressure on younger and younger players to perform.  Not for the joy of the game but for the reward of the result.  The players being indoctrinated into a system where they’re sent a very direct message, “perform well or else!”  The consequences are being benched or being cut.  As young as 8 years old, players are treated like performing fleas.  The actions send a clear message that fun is at best secondary and probably tertiary behind results and development.

Sportsmanship is important! – Of course, treating other people with respect is an important lesson to learn in sports.  Unless it’s the referee that’s missed five hand balls already!  He or she deserves to be told exactly how horrible they are.  It is hilarious to think that kids practice for hours each week but a comment about their actual skills from the sidelines is rare.  A majority of comments are directed at the one person who no one is there to see perform.  Our children are learning a dangerous lesson about their place in society.  Do your best and if anything doesn’t go your way, blame the authority because they are supposed to be perfect.  Those people in charge are not human and deserve to be treated horribly.  Could this be why we have a referee shortage?

We support you! – Youth soccer is a multi million (probably billion) dollar business because parents care enough to give their kids the very best!  The best trainers, the best camps and the best tournaments are all purchased for a premium price.  That financial investment shows exactly how much parents care for their kids.  Or perhaps the lack of their personal time investment says something else as practice becomes a convenient babysitter.  I can hear the justification now, “But the trainer is better than me coaching.”  That might be true but can you line fields, be a club board member or practice with your child.  If a child truly loves to play, then they would probably enjoy playing with their parent from time to time.  Relegating your involvement in your child’s athletics to spectator is a low level of involvement.  Children need their parents.  Outsourcing may be a sign of the times but there are some jobs that are too important to be left to hired hands.

Perhaps it is time to reign in the beast and start walking the talk.  The ideas are all out there in the world.  Generally speaking people know the answers but lack the fortitude to follow through.  Whether it is a “keeping up with the Joneses mentality” or a lack emotional control in the moment.  People need to realize that the macro is made up of the micro.  The small decisions, that we make about how relating to our children through sport, will inform the larger decisions that they make about their lives.  Are we setting our kids up to be the best versions of themselves?  Or are the mixed messages going to create a noticeable disconnect between the sent and received?  “It is what it is” may be a popular statement but it’s not a plan.  Let’s make it what it should be.

Pete

 

 

The Silent H

cropped-hurykunlimitedlogolarge1My last name has a silent “H” in it.  Despite the spelling of Huryk, it is pronounced “Yer-ick”.  I’ve grown accustomed to correcting mispronunciations (or not).  It can be a great separator of the people who know versus those who don’t.  The letter has no function but it has importance.  Running through a box of memories that I have, it became obvious that there were several events and people that have gone silent through the years.  They are the silent letters of life.

As we progress in the modern world, everything seems to be more analytical.  The value of time, interactions and relationships have an almost economic feel to them.  While waste is not particularly something to seek out in earnest, it is often a necessary ingredient to the eventual path that we take.

No matter what is in the past it is only prelude to now and what’s coming.  Those letters can be as silent or as loud as you choose to make them.  Their power is not real.  It is how pronounced you make them.  Choose the ones that move you forward.

 

 

What You Wanted Is Here

SearsBefore Amazon, there was (at least in my world) the Sears Catalog.  It was a huge “magazine” that had just about every product in the Sears store.  It was a place that my brothers and I would peruse some time before Christmas to find things we wanted.  I remember that I always focused in on the guitars.  They weren’t overly expensive at the time and I fancied myself as a future guitarist.  Despite my desire, I never told my parents nor did I save up money to purchase one.  In hindsight, I really didn’t want the guitar.  I liked the idea of the guitar but if I had truly wanted it, I’d have found a way.

That’s the way that life really works.  Look down and look around.  For the most part, the things that you have are the things that you really want.  They are your musts, non-negotiables, have to haves.  People often think that they have wants but most of the time they have dreams or fantasies.  I have a fantasy of weighing 170 lbs again.  Unfortunately I don’t really want it.  If I did, I’d be there.  My weight is a direct reflection of my true wants: taste, dietary freedom, comfort food and convenience.  When I truly start wanting that ideal weight, I’ll take the actions that will get me there.  Until then, it’s not true.  I don’t want it unless it’s easy.

The things worth having are never easy.  Value is usually associated to scarcity or uniqueness.  This is a tough thing to remember in a life of convenience.  There are so many good things that are easily accessible that we bury ourselves in the good, foregoing the truly valuable because it’s inconvenient.  What you wanted is all around you.  If you truly want for more, you’ll find a way.  In five years will you be surrounded by more mediocre trinkets?  Or will you have something better?  In the end you’re going to find the ultimate thing that you’re looking for is that best version of you.  It won’t come easy and it’s not in a catalog or on Amazon.  So get what you want by being who you want to be.

Have a great day!

Pete

Fair’s NOT Coming to Town

CottonCandyWith summer almost here, it almost time cotton candy, hot dogs, games and fun.  Unfortunately fair’s not coming to town.  The trucks, the rides and treats might all show up for a few days but there will be kids and adults alike expecting fair.  Johnny whose cotton candy is smaller than his sister’s cries about fair.  The father who remembers when the ticket for a ride was a quarter, not a dollar will complain about fair.  The Scrambler operator will hear about the pay that his friends get at their jobs and wish for fair.  Fair is not coming to town because it’s usually a one sided proposition.

When dealing in many of life’s currencies, it is smart and possibly necessary to pay attention to equity.  At times this should be pedestrian and others miserly.  Regardless the perception of fair comes from the perceived value exchange.  Time, money, love, gold, loyalty and a slew of other currencies trade at different values for each individual.  There is no standard exchange rate.  Even in monetary terms, there is constant fluctuation in the value of the dollar vs. the yen vs. the pound.  Fair is not coming, it needs to be created.

The world is operating on a deficit in many currencies.  The problem is that many people are miserly with currencies that are infinite.  The ones that we individually create.  So therefore we cannot run out of them.  Love, empathy, friendship, etc. are worth giving away in the hopes of creating more.  Determining a level of fair exchange is individual but why hoard these currencies?  We (the world) benefit from their free exchange.  Hatred, malice, jealousy, etc. are also infinite but should be wielded with great caution.  They tend to injure and despite our great civilizations, we are still animals.  Wounded animals tend to cower or lash out.  Both perpetuate a black market exchange that corrupts the soul.

Fair is not coming to town.  Your exchanges are bound to be imperfect and unbalanced.  The question is; do you feel proud of your balance sheet?  The sum total of your life cannot be measured in dollars and cents.  It can be estimated whether or not your life made sense.  Philanthropist, miser or tyrant is your choice to make and it will be decided by your actions.  Is that fair?

Buying Life Condoms

LifeCondomIn high school in the 90’s, it was difficult not to be bombarded with the safe sex talk of that era.  The positive test of Magic Johnson with HIV gave a famous face to a disease that had not fully hit mainstream awareness.  Many actions were taken to help protect young people from their hormones.  Not least of all the education system’s attempt to prepare us with lessons about condoms.  I remember very plainly Mr. Vellucci, my bio teacher, asking us if we understood how condoms worked.  Or did we need him to demonstrate using a banana as he had been instructed to do.  It was all very well intentioned and I’m sure that it worked to some degree.  Unfortunately with the widespread use of the internet and mass media, our children need to be protected again from a disease that threatens to kill every last one of them: LIFE.

Luckily major efforts have been made around the country and the globe to protect young people from this abomination.  Teachers, parents and coaches have been instructed to protect all children from failure, disappointment and reality at all costs.  Falls, cuts, scrapes, risks, chances, expectations and a slew of LIFE’s other cohorts must be eradicated with extreme prejudice.  Keeping our kids safe is JOB #1.  Allowing them to live and learn fall near the bottom of the list behind getting into a good college, winning many trophies, being perfect and so many other things that are put on their schedules.  What we need now are some Life Condoms!  A protective covering that will keep out all negatives.  Just need to find a new substance because someone is bound to be allergic to latex and sheepskin doesn’t protect anyone from anything.  At this point, I feel the need to stop because I’m afraid that there is a mother someplace who is reading thinking “This sounds like a GREAT idea!”

Life is a messy business.  We come into this world screaming, covered in blood, unable to speak, read, write or walk.  Despite this introduction through chaos, there is an expectation that life is supposed to get cleaner, neater and follow specific guidelines.  The truth is that the human animal was made for the rugged battles of the natural world.  We seem to be more susceptible to the trappings of comfort and fortune rather than hard circumstances.  Adopting a Spartan lifestyle is probably not necessary but a healthy dose of reality is probably in order.  Letting a young person tie their own shoe laces, make their own dinner, fight their own battles is not particularly a bad thing.

The life condom doesn’t exist but based on the complaints I hear regularly, some wish it did.  They want their parents, the government, the president, their teacher or any other official power figure to step up and fix their life for them.  Eventually these desires are going to come up empty.  No one is going to take care of you indefinitely.

So since it will be on you at some point, why not cut the complaining?  Take over the parts of your life that should absolutely belong to you and run with them.  Nothing is going to start out perfect and it never will be if you don’t do your part.  Complaining problems away seems like a bad strategy and a poor way to live.  Life was meant to be messy.  Get over it!  Dust yourself off, clean up your wounds and move on.  Otherwise go looking for a life condom but that truly is like taking a shower with a raincoat on.  Most of the joy in life is found in the things that we never expected to happen.

Don’t protect yourself out of the best parts of life.

Pete

Care Enough to Lose

IMG_2192It was January 2nd 2003.  A clever little trick of mine to always remember the day that I proposed to my wife 1/2/03.  As I waited in her apartment with dinner ready and candles lit, I was extremely nervous.  That feeling was only compounded when she arrived.  Then I started to ask and I could feel my legs shaking.  This was gut-wrenching but necessary.  The fear and the nerves came from risk.  The risk of putting myself out there and the possibility that the answer could be “no”.  It ended up going in my favor but I think that risk is an important factor to the things that really matter.  You need to care enough to be willing to lose.

Perhaps it is part of being American or the popular culture of my youth but the idea of the underdog or long shot is ingrained within me.  The Rocky movies were an unofficial soundtrack to my young life.  The story of a nobody fighter who takes on the undefeated champion.  He knows that he is going to lose before the fight even happens.  That is the risk that the people who truly care must take.  The men who signed the Declaration of Independence knew the risk of the pen strokes but chanced the loss of life for something greater.  Elon Musk risked the wealth he had accrued in order to start a solar energy company, an electric car company and a space company.  Each venture had very long odds.  Those odds are not the ones taken on by a man looking to turn a quick profit.  They are the risk of a man who cares about the change he wanted to make in the world.  These are just three examples of caring enough to risk losing.

I’ve heard it too many times to count “What grade do I need to get on this quiz to bring my grade up to a __________?”  The lack of the math skills from my young students is not the most troubling part.  The most disheartening part of this question is the refusal to put forth any effort until a concrete exchange has been mentally negotiated.  Effort will only be employed if the target seems reasonably attainable.  This is not a statement about educational malaise or the disconnect between schools and our modern society.  It is a reflection on a pervasive attitude toward loss.  No one should fail.  The ref or the coach cost us the game.  The aversion to loss seems to be correlated to risk of losing one’s self.  If I give my all and fail, then I am not worthy and that is too much to bear.

In a world where we are better insulated from death than ever before in history, it is the death of our image of ourselves that we seem to fear most.  Much like the avatars that represent us online, we have created mental pictures of who we are.  Most of us will defend that image regardless of its accuracy or usefulness.  Playing within the boundaries of that existence may comfortable but is the lack of risk truly safe?  More than likely the risks that truly matter are worth taking because they force us to stretch.  Reaching out into the void is not a failure if it is done with true intention.  Failing to reach out is the bigger loss because the possibility of knowing yourself better and having what you actually wanted is left on the table.  Don’t aim to lose but don’t only play if you know you’re going to win.  All of the true joy on the back end lies in the fact that you risked yourself on the front end.

Have a great day!

Pete

“I Am Groot” Being Loud and Clear

GrootLast night I saw Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 with my son. (No spoilers, don’t worry!)  One of the central characters in the Guardians series is Groot.  He is a slightly simple-minded creature who can only say one thing “I am Groot”.  Luckily his partner, Rocket, is extremely adept at understanding and deciphering his message.  While Groot is often the star of the show, Rocket makes him accessible to everyone.

Although we are speaking the same language, the words that are said and the way that they are interpreted are two different things.  Relationships depend heavily on language (both spoken and unspoken).  If you want to be understood in any relationship, seek first to understand.  Most of us are trying so hard to get our message out, that we forget to put the receivers up.  Better listening (and reading of body language) can make you a more effective communicator.

It’s fine to say “I am Groot” if you’re talking to Rocket.  The problem comes when someone else needs to understand.  Then it’s on you to be clear.  No one will be as invested in your message as you are.  So put the effort into becoming a better messenger, rather than turning up the volume on your message.

Pete