My back pops…it’s football season

I won’t get into the details of how that started. But know this. In 2016 my back pops, my knee snaps, and my right shoulder does a weird crunchy thing every now and then. Not in some loud way where someone else can hear, but in a way where I feel it and that faint audible sound reverberates within my body.

It’s annoying more than anything. Perhaps, concerning over the long haul? Yet, in a way each crack my body makes is a source of pride, even triumph.

It has to do with the work I put in to get a shot to be part of the boyhood myth of Texas high school football. On some level I feel naive for playing such a brutal game. A game we all now know is just not safe for one’s long-term (and short-term) health. But we were good. Like one of the best in the entire state good, sending kids to play in college and even sending a kid to the pros who is now cementing his status as an NFL legend.

The cracks and pops force me to think of that time. Snap-crackle-pop! I see flashes of a game and training where I gave it my all. Fondly recall the sensation of how much control my body once had. Or remember how much bounce and little recovery time was needed. Greek god status.

It’s not just how sprite my body was but the brotherhood I was able to share with some kids that loved this brutal game too. It’s strange what happens to people after they’ve put forth the best they can through sweat and tears (literally). You have something that you only share and know it when you look into each others eyes. Tribalism.

Today, these sensations and sounds I experience are like an invisible tattoo only I can see. Forever branding me and that time together. I have to ask, why did I play such a brutal game?

Perhaps it’s because it was a connection to the most authentic aliveness I’d ever have access to.

And I’ll never have access to that type of raw, youthful aliveness again. Perhaps when things are that amazing in life, sacrifices must be made. Human ecstasy always requires a pound of flesh on some level.

Cada-da-da-da-da-pop! That nagging thing I’ll tell my children annoys me, but will make me smile at the same time. Despite that sound and the strange sensations I feel, those moments in of themselves were and are a gift.

It’s football season. My back pops.

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