Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In Memorandum - The Bracelet Tradition

If you've seen me since January you have probably noticed the spiral hemp bracelet hanging from my wrist. It was a good luck charm, one that I traditionally acquired prior to every season of softball, and now my wrist is naked.

The bracelet tradition started in high school, back before Livestrong and Nike Baller bracelets were all the fad. I had multiple bracelets of that type and rotated them frequently, always feeling like they were an accoutrement of luck. The question of luck was confirmed one day when I slid my hand into home plate. The opposing team's catcher landed on my wrist but her metal cleat cut through my layers of bracelets leaving me with only a minor abrasion.

From there on out I needed a bracelet. It couldn't just be any bracelet, but one that I connected with spiritually, something that made me feel like I could center myself. My freshman year it was hemp, and my sophomore year it was part of a material label that was wrapped around a Brooks Brother's shirt. Junior year I connected with a maroon and white watch band, and senior year I returned to the knotted spiral hemp.

Initially I thought that my bracelets gave me luck and the power to succeed in softball. Eventually I learned that the bracelet was more about life. Each bracelet, just like every year of my life, seems to have taught me a lesson.

Freshman year I learned that sometimes ignorance is bliss, because a new, confident and fresh approach can be unstoppable. Sophomore year about the rewards of quietly succeeding under the radar. Junior year I learned about balance, and senior year was another lesson entirely.

At first the spiraled hemp of my final year of softball was tight. Through its journey the lifted seams faded, the bracelet loosened, and I acquired red and chrome accent colors on one chunk where a friend with Alzheimer's thought we could "spiff things up a bit and make it jazzy." Over time even the red and chrome faded.

My most recent bracelet seemed to have taught me to endure struggle, although in so many ways I am too lucky to claim anything but a charmed life. I slumped my softball season in that bracelet, tried to make everyone happy in that bracelet, realized I didn't have everything figured out about my future in that bracelet, and finally learned that no matter what I would get through.

Now that I am for the most part settled in New York though, I decided to shed myself of the bracelet. It just felt like the right moment, the perfect time and place. Stripping the bracelet off my wrist doesn't mean that I am throwing out what happened while it was there though. I'm not trashing everything and starting with a new beginning. Instead I have learned something entirely different.

I learned that struggle is inevitable, and that sometimes all it takes is endurance and the power to grin and bear it. With enough work and the inevitable luck that ensues, everything will sort itself out in its own time. It might take patience but it's well worth the persistence.

With this past season and this past bracelet I was humbled and grounded. It was a lesson I needed to learn, and now I feel like I can take on any situation with a strong and even headed approach.

As I begin graduate school at NYU, assistant coach for Columbia Softball, transform myself into a personal trainer, tutor, and write, I will succeed. There will be waves that crash and try to knock me around but I will get back up and swim into the current.

I will always keep every good luck bracelet stored and safe but more important, I will preserve the lessons I learned in my bracelets as long as I live. Hopefully they will make me a better person. My wrist may be bare at the moment but I am covered with the lessons I have learned. And maybe, just maybe, I will find a new excuse to wrap a bracelet around my wrist.

Most people will dismiss it as yet another sporty superstition, but you, my dear reader, will know otherwise.

Catharsis and Humdrum makes me feel like I just popped in a great rock disc from the late 90s. This band is The Get Up Kids all over again, with a slightly futuristic element. Check out the cover of "Every Breath You Take."