What is Important?

Yesterday was the thirteenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. In 2001, and for several years prior, the Boomer Esiason Foundation headquarters was located on the 101st floor of World Trade Center One inside of donated office space from the financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald. Thankfully, none of the BEF employees were in the office that day. The picture above features a Cincinnati Bengals football helmet that was one of many fresh out of the box on September 10th,2001. It survived the collapse of the towers and was found during the rescue efforts in the days that followed.

I was young, but I vividly remember the days before the attack when I was up on the 101st floor looking out over New York City through WTC1’s enormous windows. It was truly one of the most breathtaking views imaginable.

Every year around this time, I try to think about what is important in my life, and if I’m actually living my life to the fullest, because, quite frankly, there is a lot of s*** going on in the world. There’s also quite a bit going on in my life. Sometimes it isn’t the easiest thing in the whole world to keep my head straight on my shoulders, but I do my best.

There’s never an easy day when it comes to living with CF, but what I am talking about is much bigger than that. The seemingly endless of list of BS that goes on day in and day out is hard to articulate, but it all compounds into one word, stress. A five-minute conversation about politics is enough to wind someone up. Add that to being stuck in traffic, missing a commuter train, dealing with an illness, fighting with a friend, feeling lonely, being cheated on, losing a bet or anything that could bother any one of us. What does that all add up to? Well for one, a headache, but any combination of those things is nightmarish. More times than not, the things we worry about drive us to the brink of going crazy.

I am here to tell you that you can find peace. We can all find peace through the things that are important to us.

Anything that is truly important in my life can take me away from everything else that goes on in the world. The kind of things that have led to some of the best memories I have.

Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind is family time. I have already written about the roles my sister and parents play in my life. Very simply put (and if you don’t want to read those posts), I think there is nothing more important in my life than my family. I think that is only scratching the surface, though. It goes without saying that spending time with my family, friends and my (nonexistent) girlfriend are cherished moments, but we all need something else – something that drives us individually. Or, really, what makes Gunnar get out of bed and go every morning? What do I look forward to? What do I strive for?

I am all about fun. No, that doesn’t mean I love going out to the club “with my boyssss.” Fun, for me, is when I am happy – a few things come to mind. There’s nothing quite like playing pond hockey in the middle of the winter, Friday night high school football or talking about nothing for hours on end with someone.

Pond hockey is one of the most liberating experiences there is. The pond does not have boundaries. The air is crystal clear and there is a rock hard ice surface that allows the puck to slide forever. Only the sunlight dictates how long the day on the pond lasts. It is freedom in every sense of the word for a hockey player.

High school football is probably the purest form of football that exists. I love coaching these games because it is amazing to see the amount of pride all of the high school kids have just to put on their school’s jersey and play underneath the lights. It is a genuine celebration of hope, athleticism and community. Winning makes the night even better.

Finally, human interaction is not obsolete. Texting is one thing, but actually talking to someone and hearing emotion rather than trying to decipher emojis is a whole different ballgame. Last night, a college buddy of mine, Max, called me asking about a fantasy football trade. Before we knew it, it was an hour later and we were talking about our junior year at BC. It’s easy to get lost when you’re actually talking to someone.

Getting lost is a good thing. It separates us from the rest of the world. It allows us to think independently and confidently about anything we want, rather than getting caught up in the inevitable stress the world throws at us. It’s okay to slow down.

Find peace in your life.

When it comes down to it, we are only going to get so many opportunities to do what we love – the kind of moments that draw personal happiness, and that is important. It is always a sad time of the year right around now, but I try to spin it as positively as I can. If being so close to the September 11th tragedy, perhaps one of the most devastating events that’s ever happened, has taught me anything, it is to live, because everything and anything can change in the blink of an eye.

Find out what is important for you. Find out what gives you happiness and draw every little last inch out of it until your heart is full.

***I want to dedicate this post to Timmy O’Brien and Michael Seaman – lost on September 11th, 2001, but always with us.