We Choose Our Memories

September 8, 2020

I believe our lives are a series of shared experiences. In the end, we have the memories we make with other people, both good and bad. Which memories of our experiences we let control our thoughts and feelings is a choice.

I will use my desk to help me tell this story. The desk in my office is made from the top of the three-point line from the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 championship court.

In 2003, the Cleveland Cavaliers hit the lottery and got the opportunity to draft a once-in-a-generation talent. My son was 6, and I crisscrossed the state fighting for people injured or killed by medical negligence. I loved what I was doing, but it took a lot of time away from being involved with the kids growing up.

The day the Cavs drafted LeBron James, I hatched a plan to spend time with my son. I bought season tickets.

I imagined my son seeing LeBron James from the age of 6 would be like growing up in Chicago and seeing Michael Jordan every night. I was excited to see the games through his eyes.

By the time we got the 2016 finals, my 6-year-old was heading off to college, and we had made a mountain of memories together.

Plenty of the memories were of bad things that happened. Players came and went. Management changed. All the playoff runs except 1 ended in a loss. The Spurs swept us in the Finals. LeBron left for Miami. We drafted bad players and passed on all-stars. There was plenty to complain about.

It would have been very easy, almost alluring, to look at that time and say, yes, we won one championship, but I did not want to do that.

I believe we get to choose the memories that we let control our thoughts and feelings.

The best person I have ever seen at choosing the good memories over the bad is the greatest golfer ever to play the game, Jack Nicklaus. If you asked Jack about a bad shot, he would tell you that he couldn’t remember that one but would point you to a good one he hit on another hole. He had the greatest selective memory in sports.

My ability to block the bad is not as good as Jack. I must work to remember the good.

After the championship season, I noticed furniture made from the floor of the 2016 championship court in the window of the team shop. I met with the manager, and he put me in touch with the people making the furniture.

I sent them my request, and they delivered. So here it is. The top of the 3-point line from the Cavs 2016 championship court.

For me, the desk is a catalyst to remember the happy memories, even if I’m having a bad day.

LeBron’s decision to go to Miami gave me a chance to teach my son to be grateful for the times we had been given instead of angry about what had been taken away.

Before and after the games, the organization roped off an area along the edge of the club where kids could line up and receive autographs from the players as they came in before and as they left after the game. There, my son got to see Shaq and Kobe and Dirk and Duncan and all the larger-than-life figures created by the NBA. I remember my son asking a player named Boobie Gibson why he signed for everyone after every game. Boobie told him it was because someday people would not ask for his autograph anymore.

Over the years, LeBron and his teammates never disappointed. There was always a moment, win or lose, that we would be talking about all the way home. “Did you see that pass?”, “That dunk?”, “That shot?”, “That steal?”

We got to meet celebrities and players, learning they were just people like the rest of us. I remember the time we sat next to Stipe Miocic. The time we got to share a meal with Larry Nance Sr. and learn about his children and how much he loved watching them play the game. The time we met Travis “Pronk” Hafner from the Indians or Joe Haden or Joe Thomas from the Browns. The time my son met Kid Rock and got his autograph. I’ll never forget the wonderment I saw in my 8-year-old as he stood at mid-court and received a ball from LeBron as the team came out for warmups.

These are the things I remember when I sit at my desk. And it makes me smile every time.

Which memories do you let control your thoughts and feelings? Do you find the raindrops in every sunny day, or do you find the sunshine in every rainy day?

It takes work to stay positive, but if you practice it day in and day out, there will come a time when it becomes second nature. Until that time, I’m going to keep surrounding myself with things like my desk that make me stay positive.

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