When I was a kid, my parents would occasionally take us for a ride someplace scenic. We weren't going anywhere. We weren't in a hurry. We had no real expectations. It was just a chance to get together, chat and enjoy some beautiful scenery. It was all about the journey, not the destination. Then came the first of many oil crunches, and after that trips had to have a purpose.
I tell people when they start Tae Kwon Do, that they better have a good reason for it. Why? Because it gets hard, and when the going gets tough, people quit if they don't have a good reason. Some will say, "I want to get a Black Belt." I ask, "Do you want mine? It's a piece of cloth - you can buy them online - it's worthless. Becoming a Black Belt, though, that's worthwhile." But becoming a Black Belt in itself isn't a good reason either. You see Tae Kwon Do is like a road that you are traveling. The Belts are just mile markers. They tell you were you are going, but more importantly, they tell you where you've been. Black Belt isn't a destination, it's a rest area along the way. Tae Kwon Do isn't about the destination, it's about the journey.
Parenting is similar. When your kids are babies, you certainly hope they'll grow into someone productive, someone who will make the Earth better for having been here, but becoming that person requires a journey. If you focus only on the destination, you'll miss a lot of firsts: First words, first walk, first bike ride, first day of school, first kiss, first heart break, first success, and first failure. Each of those marking a step of growth along the way, a step toward becoming the person they will eventually become. Yet even that, is only a mile-marker.
Where am I going with this? Each fan's fanhood has similarities. You follow a team for a reason. You want them to grow up and reach their destination, a Super Bowl. At times being a fan is very hard (2007 Super Bowl or 2008 Patriots first game, for instance), but if you ask yourself "Why are you a fan?", you may be able to overcome those difficulties. As I look around the interwebz, I see Colts fans in disarray because Peyton has thrown 11 picks. Chiefs fans are shaken because they're team is good again, and they brace for the inevitable letdown. The Dolphins fans are wondering if they'll ever be contenders. The Bills and Lions are wondering if they'll be able to turn the corner and compete. Eagles fans wonder where Vick can take them. Pats fans are wondering if the porous defense is enough to win games. There's a lot happening this season, and a lot of fans are wondering where they'll end up. As for me, I'm just enjoying the ride.
My defense is young, and every week someone seems to make plays. It's a joy, but it doesn't mean we'll win the Super Bowl - or even the next game. Our passing game features different players each week. Our running game is revitalized. Special teams have been special. Is it enough? Will I be disappointed? No way. My guys are learning and they're growing. They're becoming a team. They're not the 2001 Patriots or even the 2009 Pats. They're not even the same Pats from week 2. Every week the scenery is changing, and there's something new to watch. Something new to cheer for. After all, they don't need fans when they're doing well. They need them when they're struggling. Tonight, I'll sit in front of my TV, and cheer my guys on. I'll congratulate them on their triumphs, and console them on their defeats. Win, lose or draw, though, I'll be happy to see them compete. You see it's not about the destination; it's about the journey.