The wait has begun. How long will it be before we know for certain that Phil Jackson won't change his mind about returning as head coach of the Bulls? If he returns, will Michael Jordan be back? What of Scottie Pippen, et al? Time and patience will tell. At least the playoffs and finals had a finite amount of time and number of games before we would know who would be the NBA champs. No one knows how long it will be before we find out whether the Bulls will return intact for next year.
Regardless of who returns or doesn't, we have all been treated to a decade of winning and six championships. Each of us has a repository of images of this decade of excellence. Except for the Utah Jazz, everyone hopes that the Bulls all return. If they don't, we will return to those images and replay them again and again. Who can forget the image of Michael Jordan floating to the basket? He mesmerized opponents and fans alike. Then there was Dennis Rodman and his head of many colors. Karl Malone and many others will vividly remember his guarding and rebounding under the basket. Then there is Scottie Pippen, Ron Harper, Steve Kerr, and Tony Kukoc sinking three-pointers from everywhere and anywhere on the court.
We will remember the exhilaration of years of suspense and excitement-albeit potentially harmful for our collective coronary arteries. This dynasty rivals any other team for excellence and dominance. If this was the last dance, it was a wonderful one. However, we will have to wait to see whether the Bulls will dance again.
The weekend that the Bulls won the championship was also the weekend that my younger daughter graduated from high school. At her commencement, the speaker read Robert Hastings' poem, "The Station". Hastings admonishes us not to focus solely on our life goals and in the process, to miss the journey to those goals. Life isn't just getting to the station: it is enjoying the process of getting there. After that wonderful weekend, I thought about "The Station" in relationship to the Bulls. The station for the Bulls and us was obviously the NBA championship, but what a wonderful landscape we saw on that journey to the sixth championship. All the regular season games, the gut-wrenching playoffs, and the finals provided fans with spectacular scenery that will never be forgotten. However, I confess that I didn't savor every moment like it might be their last-and it might have been. The goal of winning preoccupied me and many others.
If the Bulls return intact next year, I will treasure every moment as if it will be their last. The final station of reality is approaching with the speed of the shot clock for the Bulls. In a handful of years, age will force many to retire. Give us one more journey in which we can cherish the wondrous moments of glory, excellence, and fun.
We live our small lives through the Bulls' great success. They have played out a parable for each of us. We need to see that their station or our stations can't be the sole reason for the journey. The journey itself has purpose and meaning unrelated to the destination. The following are some suggestions for our journey:
We can learn a lot from the Bulls' quest for their sixth championship. Their run will have been even more meaningful if we can learn from their journey. Yes, the goal was a noble one, but the process needed to obtain it was filled with joy and happiness. We may have selected worthy goals in our lives, but we need also to appreciate the journey while attaining our objective.
-Robert J. Hastings
Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are traveling by train. Out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.
But uppermost on our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering-waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
"When we reach the station, that will be it!" we cry.
"When I'm 18."
"When I buy a new 450SL Mercedes Benz!"
"When I put the last kid through college."
"When I have paid of the mortgage."
"When I get a promotion."
"When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after!"
Sooner or later, we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.
"Relish the moment" is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24: "This is the day which the Lord hath made: we will rejoice and be glad in it." It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twins thieves who rob us of today.
So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.