Life is like a bowl of nachos.
Sometimes you get the perfect dollop of melted cheese, creamy sour cream, black olives, guacamole and beans on a crispy tortilla triangle with a crunch so satisfying that it offers a glimpse of heaven.
Other times, you get a limp and soggy mess that gives up halfway between the bowl and your mouth, leaving you wearing your supper and having people point at you and snicker about the fat slob spilling food on himself again.
Sometimes life seems to be inordinately filled with soggy nachos.
I was thinking of that Sunday afternoon as me and my friend Mike were slogging through snowbanks with a heavy stepladder unplugging Christmas lights from poles in the Medford city park.
The day, which had started with the optimistic sunshine that only January’s crystal clear blue skies can bring, had clouded over, and the perpetual wind tunnel along the Riverwalk was making any exposed skin burn from the cold. Taking down Christmas lights is an inherently depressing job. It is the final admission that the bright spot in the winter is past, and we have to count down the days until spring decides to show up again. It was definitely a soggy nacho moment.
I look back fondly on perfect nacho days. I see pictures of my children and remember holding them in the hospital moments after they were born. It helps to remember this when I try to get my teenage son moving in the morning, or when my daughter borrows my car and leaves the driver’s seat pushed all the way forward making me feel like I am trying to get into a clown car.
This past weekend I saw a clip of an interview from Frank Dick, legendary British Athletics Federation’s Director of Coaching about defining “winning.” He gave the example of a young girl who ran her first race and finished dead last in the 100 meter with a time of 18 seconds. She was sad because she came in last, until he pointed out that 18 seconds was her lifetime best performance. He said her next race if she finished in 17.9 seconds she would be celebrating because she would have improved on her personal best.
Dick’s lesson is one to remember: “Winning is being better today than you were yesterday.”
By most objective measures, my curling team is not very good. I could make all sorts of excuses. My teammates (and children), put most of the blame our dismal record on our team’s skip — who just happens to be me. I tend to argue that is like blaming the pitcher when the center fielder drops a fly ball or the runner trips on their way to first base. You would think that given our record, our season would be filled with soggy nacho moments, but it is often the opposite.
While the number of perfect nachos, much like the number of perfect days in a life, are limited, so too are the soggy nachos. It is just easier to remember the soggy ones when you are trying to get cheese stains out later.
Between the two extremes, there are nachos that approach perfection and others that are more soggy. Most are somewhere in between the extremes and whose descriptions would depend on if you were a Pollyanna optimist, a realist, or a Eeyore-channeling pessimist.
When I curl, I do so with the goal of relaxing and having fun with my friends. Yes, it is more fun if we play well and win. Our bigger priority, however, is making a good showing and improving on where we have been. Sometimes a victory is getting a rock in play, after being too short or too heavy all night long.
Chances are you can remember those handful of perfect nacho moments in your life. Fleeting times when you seem invincible and ready to take on the world. More often you can remember walking around trying to hide the cheese smear on your shirt or the times you simply passed on the nachos entirely after having bad luck in the past.
I have found that the best way to deal with a soggy nacho day, is to get up the next day, put on a clean shirt and try again, and again after that. Each sunrise is a personal victory for someone and a cause for celebration for us all.
Every day may not be a perfect nacho day, but it brings with it the chance for that perfect nacho to happen. And that is what really matters.
Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.