Never Beyond Imagination – Thoughts To My Sons

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“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Carl Sagan
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“Overachievement” or “Underdiscovery” – Thoughts To My Sons

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(Since I wrote the original version in 2015, Jason has become a sophomore starting infielder at U of Santa Clara and Christian has committed to play at U of Washington once he graduates high school in 2019 – I think they took the message to heart and continue to prove my point.)

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“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

Know that no matter how hard we try and what is gained or left unachieved in our efforts each day, appreciate this.  We learn so much about ourselves and that we can achieve exponentially more during the days ahead by applying that discovery towards our future endeavors.

I came up with this thought while at the beach the other day and it kind of encapsulated a great deal of my transformation.  Walk through this with me if you can see my logic.  I don’t like using the term “failure” because by making the initial effort, you have only been “unsuccessful” so far in your initial attempt(s) and only by learning through those attempts can you see how close you are to success.  Hopefully you wisely use that experience and knowledge to recalculate the next attempts to quicken our approach to our objectives or expansion beyond them.

I do understand the concept of “underachievement” to the extent that one chooses, for whatever reason, not to apply their known ability to a situation that demands it.  More disappointing than the outcome is the knowledge that the preparation was so insufficient that the ability could not be called upon because the resources for its application were unavailable.  Either way, responsibility boils down to personal ownership of all related causes.

With respect to the over applied term “overachievement”, I’ll put it out there that it does not exist and is primarily used for dramatic effect.  It’s certainly debatable but in my opinion, “overachievement” is really a matter of “under-discovery”.  We learn almost every new day that we are capable of more than we expected of ourselves by embracing our existing and newly encountered challenges.  Prime example: the 2014 Redondo High baseball team.  Casual observers would dismiss the success of the team reaching the CIF semi-finals as just a result of “overachievement”.  Maybe there was just a lack of appreciation by the coaches and team of the hurdles that needed to be conquered a month before the Bay League season started and ended (remember the no-hitter against you guys in Irvine).

But then as in life, there was a new discovery of what was always there that introduced itself through the timing, sequence, the circumstances, and opportunities that revealed themselves and were taken advantage of leading to a growing faith and belief in not only that outcome, but doing what had never been done in 100 years by taking the CIF title a year later, and the following year ending in the top 10 national rankings while doing more of what’s never been done in the quest and final culmination of another championship!  “Overachievement”?  Hardly since in my mind, it’s just the expansion of what has either revealed itself or you have unlocked in your hidden vault and is now part of the magical routine of your existence.

I’ll finally leave you with this challenge.  I know it’s fairly impossible to bring your “A” game to every encounter.  However when presented with the greatest obstacles in the path of your most sought after goals, apply and exhaust the best part of you to overcome it.  Do not allow the term “underachievement” to be used to explain the outcome.  You’ll see what you thought was the best you could achieve, regardless of the result, is only a precursor to what is available to you in the future given the proper outer effort and inner discovery.  Then history of YOUR world can be rewritten everyday as a consequence!

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Happy Memorial Day In Honor Of My Dad – Reflections To Jason

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(Marine Sergeant Joe Dicochea, Korean War veteran, and my dad – Original Posted Memorial Day, 2015)

5/25/15

“Just give me tomorrow.” – unidentified Korean War Marine soldier

Jason, I think you’ll like this given your admiration of the Marine Corp.

I was watching a Military Channel documentary “Against the Odds” about a company of Marines who fought in one of more iconic battles in the history of the Corp at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War or “police action” as it was officially referred to.  I guess this was to avoid the stigma of the conflict that ended just years before called “WWII”.  I’m not sure that the soldiers in the field during the later action felt any different than the ones who were part of the earlier one.  However if that description made it more palatable to the politicians and public at the time, so be it but again, I’m sure the consequences and emotions associated with the battles faced by both “boots on the ground” were vastly similar regardless of it’s presentation to the masses.

Now back to the “Frozen Chosin” and the company that eventually was known as “Bloody George” because of it’s casualty rate.  Their role became famous within the grander story that makes every Marine proud to be part of that tradition.  Just a quick breakdown of the story, the George Company of the 1st Division after landing on Inchon (another iconic battle) and fighting in Seoul drew, more by circumstances than choice, the responsibility of having to hold their ground serving as “Spartans” to fend off what seemed to be the inevitable annihilation of the entire division by an unexpected attack by a Chinese forces.  The Chinese army vastly outnumbered them while the division battled unforgiving terrain and the most severe elements of the winter that struck during this engagement.

I was riveted in fascination by the story and interviews with the surviving members of that company.  Since my father (your grandfather) was a Marine veteran of Korea who continually referred to ideals of his beloved Corp as I grew up, I look upon just about every Marine combat veteran with an abundance of respect and personal pride by just having that connection with my father as well as other family members who wore that uniform.  J I know you carry that pride and still hold my father’s Marine emblem in your hand during each pre-game prayers and rituals.  Interestingly, I was informed after my father’s death by a Marine Corp vet who knew my Dad that he was involved in that epic battle while he was still still only a teenager.  I’ve never bothered to verify its accuracy nor do I question its veracity since it wouldn’t affect the “hero” I’ve always viewed him as during my whole life.  Moreover given his character, it doesn’t surprise me that he didn’t share that information because as I’ve learned, it was an awful engagement to be a part of and it was a memory reserved for a different audience than someone who could never understand the basic and personal ferocity of war.

So back to the point (thank goodness).  George Company, who continuously battled for months of fighting culminating in surviving and escaping from a relentless onslaught of attacks by the Chinese (who outnumbered them 10-1) and the environment at Chosin, were nearing the end of their organized march to the deliverance of their home base from this personal “hell”.  At this juncture, a correspondent approached one of the beleaguered company and asked what probably sounded like a ridiculous question at the time considering all the Marine had been through.  However his response gave a profound meaning to not just his or his comrade’s existence but served as a reminder to mine.

Paraphrasing the question to that soldier, he was asked “if I were God and I could give you anything for Christmas, what would you want?”  A picture was taken of his face with the vacant stare often seen on those in combat, fatigued and almost indifferent to the death he’d witnessed, answering with this simple response: “just “give me tomorrow!”

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It would take way too long to share my own history to fully capture how important those words came across to me when I first heard them and all the times I’ve repeated them in my head since then.  I think of all those times when I probably exaggerated the despair over the pseudo and “faux” ordeals that I unnecessarily burdened myself with at the expense of valuable time lost and the damage it caused.  As I sit where I’m at now in my life, I can only say that I’m so ashamed of myself and I apologize to my Creator for all those days I despised and destroyed, along with all those “tomorrows” whose future occurrence I dreaded – how’s that for honesty?

I understand now, and thankfully not too late given my close calls with mortality, that each day was my own personal gift with resources to invest as I saw fit and that the “tomorrows” were only a privilege with no assurance that they would ever begin.  I was such an f’ing fool and I also apologize to those who continually attempted to point out the overwhelmingly numerical reasons why my life was better than the few I chose to focus on and torture myself with – again, how’s that for honesty?

So my point, especially to you Son.  Never under-appreciate the simple, basic elegance of the days afforded to us since they pass out of our vision too quickly and thinking what’s ahead of us to replace it just may never be there.  It shouldn’t take that particular Marine or some old guy who fell on his head leading to a massive brain bleed, with the odds numerically against them more than most others for getting another “tomorrow”, lead you to understand what is right here in front of us is the only time that we are guaranteed to make the best difference for ourselves and everything around us.

J remember what I told you: until the last sun sets on the days we are given, every tomorrow has the potential to be the best day of our lives with the odds dramatically in our favor based on what we do, how we live, and the hope we carry towards the next day and it matters not how it ultimately turns out.

So I dedicate this message to my father, the Marines, and all military veterans given that this is Memorial Day and it’s important to me that I do something even if it’s sharing this particular story and associated message.  Referring to the Marine Corp credo of “semper fidelis”, I think it’s pertinent to the ideal of being “always faithful” to acting for the betterment of ourselves and those especially close to us.

In my case in thinking about the story above, if we try to practice with that faith and tragically are not “given tomorrow”, at least what is left behind for others is a memory and it should reflect the following:  We did the best we could, despite any adversity we had to endure, and capitalized on every internal and external resource available to us to make a joyful difference in the only life that we’ve been given, regardless of whether our own expectations of perfection are met.

I’ll end with this quote because I’ve been waiting so long for the right opportunity and I think it relays such a strong message regardless of the particular religious beliefs that are individually adhered to.

“Live a good life.  If there are gods and they are just, they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by.  If there are gods but unjust, then you should not want to worship them.  If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” – Marcus Aurelius

Not So Ordinary – Message For My Sons

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The ordinary player hopes for a good game.

A good player is confident that he will.

But the truly extraordinary player sees being good as just the “ordinary” and being “great” at any moment is always within his vision, grasp, and control by what he demands of himself.

And when that moment calls, the “great” too, shall become your “ordinary”! – Dad

What’s Behind Your Goals – Message To My Sons

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“No matter how many goals you have achieved, you must set your sights on a higher one.” – Jessica Savitch

Nobody who chased their dreams and goals with all of their determination and focus ever regretted doing so no matter the end result or final destination.  Why? Because generally, they are still better off and often astonished by where they are when looking back on where they started! – Joe Dico