As I drove down to Cincinnati this past weekend to watch the NCAA Midwest Regional Hockey Tournament, I had an awful lot running through my brain.
"I wonder if the hotel I am staying at is going to be nice?"
"How far away are the bars away from the arena?"
"Wait, when exactly are the games?"
I then began to realize, I am just watching hockey. This doesn't need to be a stressful endeavor, just make sure you keep your eye on Gage Ausmus for Fear the Fin. Easy enough, right?
Naturally as I told the multiple sites that I write for that I was going to be down in Cincinnati for the tournament, various requests came in for me to look at a certain player on a certain team. Tracking all these players, for really just the heck of it, isn't what I consider fun.
Perspective can be a funny thing though.
A couple of weeks before I went down to Cincinnati, I found myself in a peculiar spot in my home in Columbus, Ohio.
Paralyzed from the neck down on my family room couch.
In what was beginning to be one of the scariest days of my life, I screamed for help, eventually it came in the form of my mother who rushed me to a local hospital. They found after days of tests that I had a viral infection in my spine. Not exactly a bed of roses.
The pain was unbearable and the news that I had an infection inhibiting most of my movement in my spine was terrifying. I knew that the cause of this infection was coming from the medication I take from my Crohns Disease and PSC, two chronic conditions that I have been dealing with for going on a decade.
If it isn't one thing then it is always something else, right?
After staying in the hospital for a week, recovering from the aforementioned infection, I left that room in the observation unit with confidence and comfort. It wasn't something I was expecting, it came naturally and it seemed to animate my every thought.
Hockey, for whatever reason was a main part of the recovery process. Whether it was messages from my editor here (Jake) or just catching a game on NBCSN, the escape, even if it was only for an hour or two was immeasurable.
So when heading down to Cincinnati, I needed to take a deep breath and realize that this was nothing to stress out about. You are here to spend a weekend watching Gage Ausmus. The ability to be present and in the moment allowed my trip to be successful from a work perspective but also from a personal perspective as I got to take in everything the city had to offer with my girlfriend. Anything better than grabbing a beer at a brewery?
Do we underrate these type of moments by looking for the next best thing? Of course we do. That is why I enjoyed this silly weekend so much. Ausmus wasn't anything to write home about and that was okay, I was thankful for the opportunity to cover him and watch him play. The captain of the Fighting Hawks didn't need to be impressive for me to appreciate what he does for us as onlookers. We sometimes need to step back as prognosticators and writers, take a look at what we are doing and realize that at the end of the day this game is supposed to be fun.
Hockey doesn't need to be serious to be appreciated. The entertainment of it all is invaluable to so many, why muddy it up with anything that takes away from that.
Who would've thought a fifth round pick from East Grand Forks, Minnesota would bring me so much happiness, eh?