“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.” – Thomas Merton
The “Summer of Ryan” began innocently enough. It was 2004 and I was employed as a teacher’s aide at a small, private school near my home in Illinois. Working at a school meant that I had summers off to do whatever I wanted. When school let out in May, I decided I was going to spend the summer focusing on things that made me happy. I declared that it was going to be the “Summer of Ryan,” which is an idea that I borrowed from Seinfeld. If you have never seen this television show there is a character by the name of George Constanza, who is quite self-centered. In one particular episode of the show, George declares that he is going to have a “Summer of George.” So, being rather self-centered myself, I thought I’d take a page from George’s book and indulge myself in the pleasures of a carefree summer. To this end, I bought tickets to several Cubs games and enjoyed traveling back and forth to Chicago.
I must have gone to at least a dozen games that summer. It was a thrill to be at Wrigley Field, taking in all of the sights, sounds, and smells of this historic ballpark. I had the pleasure of watching some of the greats of the game, such as Greg Maddux, play that summer. I also enjoyed listening to the vendors hawk their wares throughout the stands. It was a chorus of “HOT DOGS, HOT DOGS, I HAVE HOT DOGS HERE,” along with “COLD BEER, COLD BEER, WHO WANTS A COLD BEER?!” Of course, there was the ever-present organ music between innings as well. Finally, there were all kinds of great smells in the air, from cotton candy to warm, soft pretzels. It was truly a feast for the senses.
If only I had known that my “Summer of Ryan” would turn into my winter of discontent. If only I would have remembered the proverb that “pride goeth before a fall.” For you see, my arrogance in thinking that it was all about me led to a disastrous fall. One that would take years from which to recover.
See “The Winter of My Discontent – Part 1” for the next part of the story.