COLUMN: Learn from life's lessons and move on to the next

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By Metz Camfield

It’s not what happens to you that’s important, it’s how you respond to it.

It’s a simple sentence my high school soccer coach told our team one day before practice. Standing around 5-foot-6 at the time, I wasn’t your prototypical goalkeeper. I was just a freshman and I had earned a starting spot on the varsity team at a high school with a rich soccer history.

Needless to say, I was terrified. It didn’t help my older brother was a senior, all-district captain. If there was one person who wasn’t afraid to chew into me, it was him.

But I took my coach’s saying to heart when I played. If a goal was scored on me, whether it was my fault or not, it was over. It no longer was important. What was important was how I responded to it. If I responded poorly, the game was as good as over. If I responded favorably, they weren’t going to score again.

As the year progressed, with that new mantra in mind, I improved and became more confident with every save and every game. It helped that I had a very talented team playing in front of me, but with each game and each shutout, I began to feel like I belonged on this team and was capable of doing anything the other goalkeepers in the district were doing.

The problem was, we all, myself included, only kept the saying in our minds after a defeat. It goes both ways. I quickly learned it not only was most important in how I responded to failure, but also success.

In life, we will all experience many ups and many downs. We’ll stand on the top of the world at times and feel like everything is going right in every way. We’ll also lay in the darkest, coldest and dampest cellars, hoping and praying just one thing will work out in our favor. I’m only 21 years old and I can tell you that. I feel like I’ve already lived both sides in my lifetime a hundred times. But I know I’ll experience them both a thousand times more.

Life’s ebbs and flows are as continuous as the rising and setting of the sun each day, and excuse me for getting so sentimental, but embrace it.

We always talk about how nice it would be to go back to when we were kids and we could go outside without a care in the world. There are no bills, no need to worry about what’s for dinner, how many important dates are coming up on the calendar, or what in the world is making that noise in the car.

Life is good.

But nothing ever stays constant. Life, as I see it, is all about change. If you’re not willing to accept it, you simply fall behind and get tossed around like clothes in a dryer.

What I’m trying to say in this sentimental column which would make Dr. Phil proud, is to take each of life’s lessons with a grain of salt, accept it, learn from it and prepare for the next lesson you’re about to learn.

You won a lot of money? Fantastic. Use it for whatever your heart desires and move on to whatever’s next. But don’t believe it’s going to last forever and your life is set from here forward.

Your car broke down again? It’s a bummer, but maybe it’s for the best. Maybe it’s becoming unsafe, or maybe another car is calling your name. It will all even out in time.

Is something not going well with a loved one? Maybe it’s not supposed to work out, but maybe it’s supposed to remind you how much you actually do care about each other. Either way, a lesson is there to be learned.

In sports – because seemingly anything I do always comes back to sports – our emotions are constantly wavering. Take the Kentucky men’s basketball team for example.

After reaching a low at the end of the Billy Gillispie era, everyone became overjoyed with the recruiting class John Calipari brought in. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and the gang were fast, athletic, goofy and motivated. The season was a blast but ended before the Big Blue Nation wanted. Then five players declared early for the draft and suddenly the prospect of next season seemed as ugly as a Bruce Pearl suit.

But then Calipari came to the rescue once more and brought in another recruiting class that seems unfair it’s so talented.

Embrace it, enjoy it, but don’t suffocate it. Let the new players be themselves. Don’t compare them to Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe and Orton. It’s not fair to them or their predecessors. Every team is different and this one will be too.

In our daily lives, we always experience these ups and downs.

Watch for these opportunities, accept them, and move on to the next lesson life is about to dish your way. After all, what happens to you isn’t what’s important; it’s how you choose to respond to it.

E-mail Metz Camfield at mcamfield@theandersonnews.com.