(In looking back to when I first wrote this, it still applies! – Joe Dico)
“Joy and hope are never separate.
I have never met a hopeful person who was depressed or a joyful person who had lost hope…It is important to become aware that at every moment of our life we have the opportunity to choose joy. It is in the choice that our true freedom lies, and that freedom is, in the final analysis, the freedom to love.” – Henri Nouwen
I’m not going to elaborate much on this because it’s self-explanatory or should be. I do want to stress something I talked to your mom about. I’m doing everything in my power to keep you as happy or alternatively, not get in the way of how happy you can and want to be! How you use it is all on you guys. I strive to not lose my temper on the inconsequential, or when you’ve pushed every last one of my buttons. I’d rather laugh and try to make you laugh during those times because generally I’m one happy individual and as the adult and oldest one in the family, I guess I should exercise some maturity and proper perspective! Since I’m no longer as self-absorbed in the first place at the expense of your happiness, I’ve discovered it’s easier to find contentment within my soul through the happiness I create for you.
I’m sure I’m most annoying when I’m “insanely” happy about so many big and little things, most importantly you guys and our dog Dico. Wait! I’m annoying you because I’m happy about, and being with, my family? Something is flawed in that equation but then again, I’m the one with the brain injury. I’m sure I’m a bit much at times, given my penchant for extreme expressions, but maybe you’re not appreciating the source of what’s making me that way! Maybe it’s better not to ask questions and just hitch a ride with me because I’m headed in the right direction now and I’ve got room!
I am truly a shining example of my prior advice. When I think I’ve found a reason to be unhappy or in a bad mood, I easily find 10+ better reasons not to be. You may think its easy to feel this way given the routine of my days but try having the medical community label you as “disabled” and “brain injured”. I refuse to accept it but I have to work hard every day to prove I’m not and I willingly have embraced that challenge! I’m just a guy with a lot of joy and hope, especially since I keep myself surrounded by so many of the expected, and even unexpected, people who keep me that way!
One last thing. I saw a movie with Helen Hunt who is thinking about letting her sarcastic, neurotic boyfriend in her apartment. Before she does, she says “you can come in but please don’t try to spoil everything by being yourself!”
Let’s all try to do the same, huh?
“Imagine how boring life would be if we were all the same…embrace your own uniqueness… you make life that much more exciting.” – Barbara Streisand
It’s funny boys to think that we each have the benefit of age to deflect a certain amount of responsibility for our actions. You guys will sometimes get the benefit of “being too young to know any better” for things you say or do. I on the other hand am expected “to have known better” but given my age, I may have the advantage of being so old that I’m entitled to suffer some lapses in memory to remember all the time. Throw in a brain injury, a few seizures, and there’s a considerable amount of latitude that I can exercise when my words or actions are seemingly conveyed or expressed without the benefit of a filter. If they come across unkind or insensitive, I apologize because that’s not my intent. If they just seem silly or misguided attempts at humor, I won’t apologize because I’m just doing my thing, living in a seemingly unconventional universe that keeps me directly on course towards my own fulfillment, and usually having a good time doing it!
One thing I do appreciate though is when you guys express your individuality when it truly reflects the natural and organic essence of YOU! It’s understandable, given the amount of time we’ve spent together, that your mannerisms can’t help but illustrate the influence Mom and I have had on you, just like my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, had on me. The same goes for you Cole (my “adopted” son), especially since your Mom has had to pull double-duty without your Dad and if you need present-day illustrations of walking miracles, take a silent moment to evaluate the “world” where you and your brother currently exist in and wonder where you’d be had she not done such an amazing job when doing less would have been understandable given her loss. Oh and have I mentioned before that Dee Dee is one of my heroes and a source of inspiration to the extent that I feel so blessed to see her on such a consistent basis to remind me that people like her exist in MY world!
Now as far as your parents’ lasting impact, there are certain basic commitments to the quintessential values, beliefs, morals, and principles you’ve been taught that we truly hope that you emulate and exercise while disregarding various characteristics that aren’t relevant, useful, or desirable for your own purposes. I mean really, I’m not offended as you increasingly demonstrate a conviction to ideals and standards that are illustrations less of rebellion but more the pursuit of “perfection” that will give you the best likelihood at “perfect” outcomes for you, those around you, and the circumstances and situations you navigate through.
If I leave you with anything (and I think I’ve displayed it consistently), it’s that the happiness and contentment you seek is a product of what you’re willing to obtain on the terms you dictate and should not be dependent on what you are waiting to be given! Yes I’m “nuts” in how I express myself and each emotion that is generated in me but I challenge you to point out who is the master of those expressions and most important, whose complaining and if so, why.
Stubborn? Where would I be if I listened to other’s restrictions rather than discover on my own and work within my own limitations.
Challenging? I hope so because what I demand of myself and you guys is not meant for those who think ordinary and average are acceptable aspirations for the quality of our existence.
Optimistic and positive? Absolutely and if you interpret it otherwise, you’re getting lost in distractions that you are more than capable of managing.
Loving, caring, and kind? Do you even have to ask!
You don’t have to figure out why I am “me” (too complex) or how I personally approach things, only that you are on my mind enough that I want to help make some of those 1,440 minutes of each day easier, a jumble of hours and days ahead of you more approachable, and in the end lead you to understand that all the “crap” I predicted for you coupled with your individual make-up is obtainable with no greater proof than the moment you accomplish it!
So be yourself with confidence because there is no one better at it and do it absent unnecessary vanity, ego, and self-absorption. It is so important that you remember the following because what you’ll uncover is usually something you worried way too much about never happening: “Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work, risking, and by not quite knowing what you’re doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful: yourself.” — Alan Alda
And while you’re on the road to that discovery, keep in mind “it is better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” – Marilyn Monroe. I kind of like leaving people scratching their heads with a smile after most encounters because being who I am doesn’t give them much of an option, you know? As Jason has stated before, “don’t hate me because you ain’t me”, and in my view, you’re on the right path!
“I love the winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I love to play.” – Boris Becker
Maximize the simplicity of the strengths and resources within you that can be controlled to structure and generate the basic power that moves you directly to what you see and need for YOU! It’s that simple and by doing that, the complexities of what may seem difficult situations and obstacles will slowly disappear and replaced by achievement, satisfaction, and joyfulness!!!
I expect you boys to be leaders, not followers; and that can only be accomplished once you understand that leadership is on no greater display than when you consistently illustrate the quality and conviction of your character, morality, and principles, even when others find it convenient to sacrifice their own! – Joe Dico
4/6/15 (I wrote this to my sons over 2 years ago when Jason was a junior in high school and Christian was still a year from starting his high school career. It seems somewhat prophetic now that J has begun his college baseball career at U of Santa Clara and C committed to play baseball at U of Washington after he graduates in 2019. Coincidence – I’m fairly certain there’s more to it than that.)
“Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom.” — Friedrich Schiller
This is when life is so liberating. It’s when the exquisite and magnificent inner-structural components are pieced together so that we are momentarily elevated above the normalcy of our routine existence! Wow, that was quite the combination of “big” words and the reason is that I’m not sure I’m able to precisely describe and articulate the moments where the “grace” and “freedom” converge as mentioned above. I just know when it happens because it just seems and it feels that way!
I sometimes feel guilty because it happens so frequently during the most mundane moments when I slow down, take more in that’s around me, and make those moments not just part of me but able to surround them as opposed to letting them surround and overwhelm me.
When I read this quote, I instinctively went back to younger days and the freedom I felt during the buildup before, and the release of the usual daily boundaries right when I crossed onto the baseball field for any reason. This occurred at almost any age starting from little league through high school and up until those ultra-competitive adult leagues I played in where the quality of the players kept alive my personalized and frenzied addiction to the sport. I guess it was during those times that my life truly belonged to me, free of external obligations and responsibilities. It’s funny but even though other players and coaches surrounded me, sometimes they were just voices in the background while I settled into my own individual state of reality.
I know baseball is considered a team sport but for it to have any particular meaning so that players can perform by and through the inner power that’s possessed, it has to be experienced and measured in accordance by individual models for successful attainment of “baseball nirvana”, devoid of external restrictions or limitations. Is thIs that odd or do you guys ever feel that way because it can’t just be me, can it?
There was no one particular moment that baseball generated such an instinctive and personal state of mind but it was no doubt a combination of: the feeling of a ball settling into my glove; that same ball being released traveling stealthily along different horizontal angles and distances; an unbridled pitch that is captured, corralled, and released under the control of a bat; the acceleration around a base where the body is catapulted by the feet and legs towards the next destination that almost certainly belongs to you; and/or the “punch out” pinch or play to end an inning and jogging calmly off the mound or your position knowing that it’s all you can do to control yourself from exalting in the air and fist-pumping all the way back to the dugout (don’t do that or you’ll invite a retaliatory pitch but then again Jason would welcome getting hit by a pitch and then steal second and maybe third).
I got snippets of those days teaching and coaching you boys but living through you guys just doesn’t come close to replacing those feelings that were left behind. J and C, remember that smile on my face you saw in that old high school video I showed you? There’s no way to recall the precise thoughts in my head or during so many times after when art was inter-spliced with actual, living moments, but I’m guessing you have an idea. But the best part about being a fan of you two in the stands is that I don’t have to restrict myself from expressing the excitement you elicit out of me when you the things that seem to come so natural to you knowing that few others are capable of them.
Oh and don’t ask me to calm it down because I can’t, I won’t, and shouldn’t have to, because it’s my connection with not just you guys but a love of a sport that was created well before and evolved well before you were born! Just deal with it and bust your ass on the field because emotionally, so am I on the other side of it.
“Faith is love taking the form of aspiration.” Think of this quote and apply it to why you are still playing baseball and plan to continue to do so at a high(er) level while others couldn’t or won’t be able to forge the same transference.
Obviously you found love and enjoyment in the sport through discovery and/or influence along while growing up with so many others around you. But who’s left among those who you played against and why? I’m guessing it’s because your sport requires maximum elevation allowing maximum mental, spiritual, and physical evolution leading to maximum execution that has to be harnessed and directed towards specific objectives that form the standards of your own personal goals and aspirations. This my friends is where grace equals freedom and feeling anything different means you’re not thinking the right way, not loving the game so that it loves you back, or letting the wrong things enter in your own individual sphere to disturb what is one of the most magical and rewarding relationships that you’ll experience. Eliminate that from happening and just enjoy where the resulting freedom takes you!
Last thing: Remember the outcome will most times take care of itself if the approach is sound. Not always but once you’re in the right place and where you need to be before you cross the write lines, the only surprises in store should work in your favor and against your opponents but then again, there are really few surprises when you put everything out there that continues to form the masterpieces you create!
So get your mind right because “we seek purpose when we are not in touch with who we really are. When an apple tree discovers who it is, the question ‘what must I do?’ disappears. When you discover who you are (at the deepest part of your being) you will find your purpose.” — Colleen-Joy Page
“To be successful you must accept all challenges that come your way. You can’t just accept the ones you like.”
Life would be so less complicated if all that we wished for flowed to us on a simple stream. All we would have to do is sit and wait for their arrivals.
No such luck nor should it be that way! Our greatest accomplishments have to be measured in some manner. Of course that has to be a study that involves a detailed reassessment of the starting point to its eventual outcome. The flawed efforts and disappointing initial results have to be factored in before recognizing the level of accomplishment.
Take this into account in the planning for your most important goals. The ship you charter towards those goals will never sail along the same route you planned. No matter how you foresee the anticipated obstacles, they present themselves differently or are either replaced with other ones.
DON’T BE FRUSTRATED OR DETERRED! This is just part of the journey and don’t just crash ahead blindly and stubbornly without thought when simple adjustments will get you to your destination quicker.
Accept this. Challenges are created by your decisions, failure to make decisions, delay in acting on decisions, or decisions made by others who by necessity (or unfortunately at times your permission) create challenges. Either way the challenges exist and it is vital that you react to them appropriately, promptly, positively, and with the commitment necessary to overcome them.
You may sometimes doubt whether you have it in you to carry on towards certain dreams because of the complexity of a problem, the effort required, and the uncertainty whether the direction you are headed is towards the proper point on the compass. DO NOT STOP other than to rest, breathe, think, get your bearings, and then keep moving.
Don’t worry about whether you have the ability. The creation of the dream was predicated by what was created in you and, fashioned by what was already within you. Where you are at is at the beginning of the discovery of what has been in you all along and what you will find in the future. Remember – “not overachievement”, just a matter of “under-discovery”!
Read the creation of challenges as set forth above again. Use what you already know about yourself to avoid their creation or just overcome them. Be confident that you have within you what has yet to be uncovered to overwhelm the unexpected and associated complications. I am a man of faith when it comes to you boys so don’t let me and more importantly, yourself down.
(Jason after semi-final win last June – days later repeated as CIF division champions)
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller
Boys, you may think it’s the victories that were finally secured that defines the ultimate measure and reward of what has been achieved. However you’d be mistaken if that’s all you base your accomplishments upon.
It must be remembered that it was the strength, determination, and resilience that you had to call upon and generate – even when convenience seemingly begged for succumbing or surrendering under the strain of the fight – that revealed more about who you are and will serve to be the genesis for the magnitude and greatness of what you can achieve throughout the journey ahead of you. It’s the unseen and solitary efforts that conquered any uncertainty that were just as meaningful as the jubilance of the final triumph because they will carry on well after the exultation subsides!
“People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Apple
You know when you two came into the world and I first held you in these humble arms, I had no expectations or visions that you’d eventually conquer the world. But if you want to conquer any part of YOUR world or anything outside of it, know that I’ll always be behind you to support and help you every step of the journey ahead. And you want to know why beyond the basic fact that I’m your father and love you? It’s because I know enough about both of you to believe that you can!