Earning a feeling of pure joy
This time of year, we hear a lot about joy.
Holiday spirit is infused with it, whether celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice or the New Year.
Webster’s Dictionary defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; delight; or the expression … of such emotion.”
Joy was evident on the faces of children as they unwrapped much dreamed-about toys during the holiday season; revealing a combination of surprise and glee, smiles a mile wide.
Joy was also evident on the face of Antonio Brown as the Steelers celebrated their division-clinching victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Christmas Day. The hard-fought, come-from-behind win was secured by Brown’s remarkable late-game catch and clutch reach across the goal line while surrounded by a trio of Raven defenders — a great holiday gift for Steelers fans.
While the play may not have offered the same shock-value as that highly-anticipated gift from Santa, the childlike reaction from the Steelers’ all-pro receiver looked almost the same.
But to enjoy that kind of success, and yes, that joy, required a whole lot of work that the average fan never sees.
Brown’s Twitter feed told the story: “Every extra set! Every extra rep! It’s for the extra inch!! AFC North CHAMPS baby!! #boomin.”
Brown’s work ethic is approaching legendary in the Steel City. Admired, and well-documented by coaches and teammates, it’s what makes the tough catches look effortless and the great plays an expectation rather than an anomaly; for Brown, greatness has become the rule rather than the exception.
But those great plays are only the tip of the iceberg. The hard work is the massive, ship-wrecking mountain under the surface.
That work ethic serves as a powerful example to younger athletes as well as Brown’s adult fans. But I would hazard to guess that Brown also finds some joy in the preparation.
Many young athletes start out with a joy to play their games. Watch a T-ball game or a youth wrestling match and the youngest of competitors aren’t really competing at all. They are learning the sport and having fun. The score is secondary. The older we get, the more we learn, and compete, and the more joy is found in success, and conversely, the more disappointment comes with failure.
How great would it be if we all could all end our work day with the kind of joy Brown exhibits on the football field?
But perhaps the size of the celebration, the quantity of joy, the intensity of the feeling of accomplishment is commensurate with the commitment to the preparation.
Considering the extra hours of practice, studying and gym time, as well as the extra laps and catches that Pittsburgh’s leading receiver puts in, Brown most certainly deserves his mile-wide-smile moments of joyous celebration, on holidays and every day.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.