This is Pastor Tim’s newspaper article that appeared in the Evening Leader on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
How many of you remember your high school graduation party? I have attended a few parties over the past week or two and all of these parties remind me of the party I had in the summer of 1993. I have two big takeaways from that party.
The first is we carried my RCA TV (which weighed a ton) out to the garage and I hooked up my Super Nintendo on it. My friend, Matt, and I played Street Fighter 2 most of the night after everyone left. To any of you Street Fighter 2 players out there, Guile was my favorite fighter. I was nearly unstoppable with him.
The second memory happened at the very beginning of the party. My Aunt Donna was there, and we had a volleyball court set up in the side yard. The ball was going out of bounds and Aunt Donna was running after it and bumped into the flagpole. In one of the most hilarious things I ever witnessed, that flagpole started to lean and fall over but it went down so slowly that it took a solid 10 seconds for it to hit the ground. The whole time, Aunt Donna tried to hold it up to no avail. It was one of those moments where you were glad to be there.
I sincerely don’t remember any scholarships I got (because there weren’t many). I don’t remember anything the speaker at graduation said. However, I remember these two memories as if they happened yesterday. Why? Because they are the ones that meant the most to me. Neither one of them were planned and neither one of them were a priority that day. Still, those are the memories that stuck with me for the past 30 years.
Most of you are probably the same. Throughout the big events in your life, the moments you remember are the little things. I say this to couples getting married; the only thing about your wedding day that you will remember is the stuff that went wrong. It is the unplanned moments, the chance interactions, the unrestrained conversations that will mean so much more to you than all of the planned events you can shove into your schedule.
You may not think that playing Street Fighter 2 in a garage into the wee hours of the morning seems like a noble endeavor for two young men, but let me tell you what happened to those two young men. Less than a year later, those two found themselves stranded on the side of a dormant volcano in the Philippines doing all they could to lead a group made up mostly of Korean Seminary students to safety. Matt ran ahead and shined his light into the sky so that I could see it and lead the group. It was an arrangement that we did not discuss ahead of time, but because of the friendship we shared, I knew he wouldn’t let me down, and he knew I wouldn’t abandon those poor people on that mountain.
Where do we learn things like that? By playing Street Fighter 2 until the early morning hours. No amount of structured activities would have prepared us for that moment but because of the connection we had, we saved every person in that group, including the ones we could not speak to because of the language barrier.
The point of this article is to help you know that it is important to have a plan, it is important to work out details, and it is important to have your ducks in a row. But that isn’t where life happens. Life happens in the chaos that is beyond what we can control. My family spent all day setting up for this party and not once did anyone, including me, say “I think you and Matt should play Street Fighter 2 out here after we all go to bed.” It just happened and I have carried that moment with me for three decades.
Now, you may wonder what two young guys like us talked about while out in the garage. See, it’s a funny thing. He and I concocted this story about how my neighbor’s cow got out in the middle of the party and knocked over the Benjamin’s flagpole and somehow that story became a rumor that went around Alger for months after that.
Today, I am a minister, and he is a State Highway Patrolman.