I wish Coach Roy Williams called me for advice occasionally.
One of the most important pieces of advice I could have shared was to not start Danny Green. Danny was and is a superstar and certainly deserved a starting spot, but what about me and all the other fans who looked forward to the start of games when he led the dance to House of Pain’s “Jump Around”?
Danny’s tradition of leading the dance on the bench was one of the highlights of the game. His joy in dancing brought joy to all. Couldn’t Coach Williams have kept him on the bench for just that first minute and then put him in the game?
While others have stepped in to fill his shoes, there will only be one Danny Green.
I thought about this pregame tradition when I watched the talking heads discuss Cam Newton’s celebrations. Were his touchdown dances too much? Was it showboating? Apparently, his celebrations bother some people. It has caused me to wonder — is our reaction to another person’s joy a good barometer of our own mood?
If we are in a dark place is it hard to see another person be so happy? Maybe misery loves company because we need to honor our sadness and mark it as much as our happiness.
I am sure someone would tell me this all has something to do with living in the present and feeling our feelings. A few years ago I was shopping for an appropriate dress to wear to the memorial service of a dear friend. Every store I entered had a perky, smiley salesperson greet me with something along the lines of, “Are you looking for something special today?”
I found their pleasant demeanor to be offensive and I so wanted to say, “Why yes I am. I’m looking for a dress to wear to a service for a young mother who died after a year-long, painful, heart-wrenching battle with cancer. What have you got?”
Happiness and joy can feel like an affront sometimes.
What if we gave ourselves permission to be sad, angry, bitter, jealous, but also gave ourselves permission to be happy, to enjoy and honor when life is good? One of the most challenging lines Thornton Wilder gave Emily in his play “Our Town” was “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it – every, every minute?”
Why is it that hindsight shows us our happy times so clearly?
Cam Newton, like any NFL quarterback, knows his career is fleeting. An injury could take him out forever. Even if he avoids injury he knows one day he will be discussed as a possible trade. Does this knowledge lead him to appreciate the good times more?
We have a friend, Tim, who is a celebrator of things. When things are going well in his life he takes time to savor the moment. It might be a night out to a fancy restaurant or just reflecting on his current state over a good glass of wine.
My husband and I are always resolving to be more like Tim — to enjoy the good moments, to honor and mark them. Sometimes we do, more often we don’t. We reflect back on when things were good and then sigh wistfully.
Similarly, Marlo Thomas said there are two types of families: those who know when things are funny and those who can think back upon an event and realize how funny it was. Hers was a family that knew when something was funny the moment it happened.
I wish I knew this when my children were young and watering flowers with WD40 and carving their name in their brand new bed so people would know it was theirs. There were so many times I could have chosen laughter.
In those UNC basketball games, you may have seen Patti Thorp join Danny Green in his pregame tradition. She jumped around from her vantage point just as much as Danny. I always smiled at her exuberance and then thought, “I wonder how badly her calf muscles hurt when she sits down?”
Danny Green was facing tremendous personal challenges within his family while he played at UNC. Cam Newton has certainly experienced his own ups and downs as a player. Patti Thorp went through incredibly trying times as she supported her husband’s leadership through one of the most difficult times in UNC’s history.
But when it was time to dance, they danced. What if we all did?
Mary lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, two sons and two dogs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @maryhelenecarey