I think I fell in love with Columbia's autumn in 2004.
I've always loved the fall, and football, but 2004, when I first got Missouri football season tickets as a high school senior, really put it all together. October 23, 2004, Missouri lost to Oklahoma State on Homecoming, and I saw the Columns for the first time that night.
But like I say, the autumn and I go way back, and it goes back generations and centuries for my ancestors: we are farmers, and fall means harvest. It also means cooler, crisp weather. It begins with crops and plants turning golden, then continues with impossibly blue skies and leaves turning into an Artist's palate. It's trips to the apple orchard, football games, pulling out those hoodies you've missed.
In the spirit of my fall optimism, let's make this our greatest autumn. If Great Britain could declare its 2012 Olympic team, "Our Greatest Team," and then make it happen, why not do it with this fall? I'm not saying this out of greed or impatience; I'm saying it as a call to act, to dare greatly, to nudge ourselves a little closer to the dreams in our head.
Really, I'm saying enjoy this autumn. Wherever you're at in your life or your pursuit of goals, enjoy the journey. I love sporting events where you're aware during them that you're seeing something great, something memorable, something you could tell your grandkids about. Appreciate the greatness of autumn as it's happening. I think a good chunk of my blog readers are younger, and in old age you might reflect with nostalgia on the beautiful autumn days of your youth. You might be thinking back on these times for decades; lucky you, you get to enjoy them now.
So sure, enjoy the football. The fall of 2007 was one of the great ones, largely because of all my memories following Missouri's football team around the Heartland, watching the Tigers' 12-win season unfold. This year, I'm three exits past excited for three night games to open the year, including the cataclysm with Georgia. I'm excited for high school football and "Armergeddon II" at venerable Adkins Stadium in Jefferson City. I'm excited to pick every single NFL game against the spread on espn.com as though I'm a hardened gambler.
Enjoy whatever your career or (hopefully and) passion are. For me it's writing. I've got a few different writing plans and projects I want to get done. Autumn is a wind at my back, and hopefully it'll overcome procrastination and the initial wall of getting started when the chasm of blankness stares unblinking back at you. Never a day without a line, my advanced writing professor said in school. Whatever your "writing" is, be good to it this fall, pour some of yourself into it, make a little extra push for excellence.
And most of all, despite the obvious sorrows and daily frustrations out there, enjoy this time, regardless of where you're at in life. Appreciate the road on which God is leading you; don't compare it to others. "Not the victory but the action..." begins one of my favorite quotes. The glory lies not just in the final victory or achievement, but in the journey to get there, in the daily striving for our goals and dreams. The victory is meaningful because of the effort required to achieve it.
With that in mind, savor this autumn. Take advantage of its opportunities, experience its football and its crispness, appreciate where you're at. And who knows, maybe it will be one of the great ones.