Seize the day, or it may seize you


If you listen really closely, you might hear something. Shhh ... yeah, there it is. “WHEW”

That, my friends, is the sound of Ryan Cleady’s agent. For those of you who don’t listen to sports talk regularly, you may not have heard that Cleady, the Denver Broncos All-Pro left tackle, is out for the season after suffering a Lisfranc injury, a somewhat bizarre kind of foot injury.

And the reason for his agent’s big sigh of relief is that Cleady agreed to terms about two months ago on a five-year deal with the Broncos that guarantees him $33 million.

Cleady had the option of playing out this year under a one-year, roughly $10 million contract, and then testing the free agent market next year. If he’d had another great season, he might have made even more money than he will with the Broncos; on the flip side, a bad year (say, one ended early by injury) might have resulted in a big pay cut, and there’s actually some chance that he won’t return to great form from this injury.

In other words, Cleady took a gamble that the wonderful option on the table in front of him was better than the possibilities in the future. “WHEW”

Sort of the exact same sound anybody along the front range who bought flood insurance three weeks ago is making today. Not to be confused with the sound the non-insured people make when they find out that the funds released to Colorado by the feds will not be available to individual homeowners. But that’s a story for another day.

I don’t mean to, in any way, conflate the tragedies that families are dealing with all up and down the front range with the injury suffered by a football player. But it’s odd that there’s a common lesson to be drawn from these events.

How many basement remodels were on hold, waiting for “just the right time” to get started when the flood waters blew through? How many back yard re-soddings and front yard xeriscapings were in the planning stages when Boulder Creek turned yards into wading pools? How many block parties were in the “we should do that” phase when the Big Thompson obliterated any sign of blocks or streets?

We silly humans have this crazy idea that we have a lot of time to accomplish things, both trivial and meaningful. We have this conceit that we have control over the events of our lives and the course of human history.

We are wrong.

Every once in a while, this big world we live in rears up to remind us how puny we are in comparison to the forces at work around us. And, while I’m generally a fan of nature, sometimes these reminders are painful, even tragic. And, frankly, they’re becoming a bit too common of an occurrence for my comfort.

But they also provide us with useful lessons. Instead of a block party, I heard stories of “shovel brigades”—small groups walking neighborhoods with shovels in hand offering to dig trenches and help their neighbors. Instead of remodeling, we heard stories of National Guard pilots flying around in the mountains at night using night-vision goggles to rescue civilians.

And instead of “just the right time,” maybe we’ll all now be a little more cognizant of today. Carpe Diem, friends—you don’t know what tomorrow holds.

Michael Alcorn is a music teacher and fitness instructor who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. He graduated from Alameda High School and the University of Colorado-Boulder. 


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