"Taking a Swing at Weight Loss - Update #14"
26 October 2001
Dear Beloved Ones, Fellow Baseball Fans and Sports Geeks,
Greetings and love to each of you. Thank you again for taking the time to read this account of my pilgrimage. As time passes and I am just about to reach seven months that I have been wandering around this country, I realize that I and the world are so different than when this all started on April 1st. I chose April 1st as the launch point of my trip because it is the start of the baseball season but also as a life long reminder since it was April Fool's Day, that I would have been a fool not to do this. Change can be subtle when it happens in our lives. Like looking at yourself in the mirror daily you don't see the tiny incremental changes as you look the same in your own eyes day after day. That is why until very recently, though having lost so much weight, I could not see a difference in myself and wondered what all the fuss was about. Take a look at things in longer chunks of time and it can be sobering to realize how you have changed. I am shocked and horrified to look at pictures of myself from the beginning of the trip and the dramatic physical changes are now so clearly evident even to me. For some, change may be good while for others that change can be something you may not be content with. I rest on the hope that by trusting in the Lord and seeking to acknowledging Him for all things and in all ways, that He is the one directing the changes occurring in my own heart and life. I pray the same for each of you.
When I last wrote I was atop a splendid mountain mesmerized by divine artwork. What a glorious place New England is during the fall season. After getting up to see the sunset and going for a six mile hike which was the longest I've done since 1986, I drove down the coast of Maine intending to spend one more night by the ocean and the next day visit a local church and then horseback ride on the beach. I don't know if the horse I was going to ride was a horse of faith and had prayed to be spared of having a body of my size on its back, but as I was driving south I made an impulsive decision. The horse was blessed and spared without ever knowing it! It was late Saturday night and I thought I heard on the radio that the San Diego Chargers would be playing the New England Patriots the next day just south of Boston in Foxboro Massachusetts. After calling my friend Jon Petersen back in Escondido to confirm that from the local newspaper, I put the petal to the medal and just kept driving south towards Foxboro Stadium. A sports impulse had gotten the best of me and a week of touring splendor was about to give way to crushing gridiron football. The week before I had gone to a Giants game and the following week (this past Monday) I went to a Monday night Giants football game so that would be three weeks in a row that I went to NFL games. Is it time to change the name of my trip from "Taking a Swing at Weight Loss" to "Tackling Obesity" or what? I arrived around 1 am, found the dumpiest of motels right near the stadium and the next morning headed for the game with no ticket in hand. I barely paid for parking, secured my van and started walking when a man came up to me saying he was stuck with a single extra ticket and was willing to sell it to me for face value. "I am here for you baby!" So there I was, sitting on the 45 yard line watching our San Diego Chargers playing ball, feeling so content and blessed. God is so amazing! Through nature or football his blessings are abundant. The Chargers lost in overtime but it was such a great game and I was so glad to be there and as the only San Diego fan around, I took a lot of playful heat throughout the game.
Boston in another city where we have many friends and family. I visited several of them and spent the night with my brother Paul's new in-laws. Had a wonderful but short visit with them and other loved ones before heading to Cape Cod to visit other Greek friends and some relatives from my mothers side of the family. I had been facing somewhat of a dilemma with regard to scheduling my last month here with how the baseball playoffs were unfolding. After spending the whole season at every Major League Baseball Ballpark, it only seemed appropriate that I wind up the adventure with a trip to the League Championship Series and then the World Series. That would be the capstone of the trip, the cherry on top of the whip cream of an amazing 7 month baseball season. The dilemma was that Seattle, Phoenix and Oakland were the cities with the hot teams. Would I have to drive or fly across the country? The Yankees had lost the first two games of their best of five series with Oakland in New York and I had concluded there was no way that they could win three in a row and advance in the playoffs. I had grown up in the NY area and was a passionate Yankee fan as a child. I still have vivid memories of hiding a hand held transistor radio under my pillow late at night making believe to be asleep while waiting for the games to come on at 10pm Eastern Time when they were playing weeknights on the West Coast back in the mid 70's. Based on my childhood affection and also the fact that I wanted to spend as much time in the NY/NJ area for the month with loved ones rather than drive thousands of miles again, I was now really pulling for the Yankees. The night I was with my mom's cousins in Cape Cod we witnessed that improbable comeback on TV as the Yankees shocked the baseball world and pulled off a stunning comeback victory over the Oakland A's. They advanced and would be playing part of the American League Championship Series in New York against the truly impressive Seattle Mariners. The games had been sold out of course and I wondered how I would get tickets. While visiting my cousin Dara at her college in Connecticut, I spent the next night in the hectic and noisy college dorm. I got up at 4 am and could not fall back asleep and decided to sneak out my lap top and just for fun went to ticketmaster.com and went to the site where the Yankee tickets had previously been on sale. Would you believe that they had just done their site maintenance right at 4 am and had released a handful of unsold single seats though it was still posted that the games were sold out! There I was crying like a baby all over my keyboard in disbelief as I was able to get a single seat to games 3 and 4 of the series against Seattle for face value. It may be silly to most of you but I can't describe how with one thing after the other I just get blown away by God's generosity over and over again. I know these are trivial and petty things but to think that I can be so fortunate to be granted so many morsels of blessing just astounds me. I have to give credit to the Lord as He is the source of every good thing in my life both great and small. I do not believe in luck but am convinced of God's vast capacity to influence even the most trivial of issues in our lives.
Back in NY, I totally enjoyed the two championship games immensely. What a sad ending for an unprecedented season for the Seattle Mariners. There was a very classic game 4 where the Yankees were behind, tied the game and won it with a clutch homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. The raw burst of explosive elation was a human earthquake that I really enjoyed being a part of. The next evening which was this past Monday night, I watched the Yankees clinch their the trip to the World Series on a portable TV while enjoying a Monday Night Football game at the Meadowlands with the NY Giants playing the Philadelphia Eagles. It was sensory overload and the ultimate sport moment for me! Tuesday morning, with the help of my cousin Gail, I spent 3 hours trying to get through to ticketmaster by telephone and through the Internet. I was finally able to get a single ticket to games 4 and 5 of the World Series on Wednesday 10/31 and Thursday 11/1. If you watch the games on TV and see a happy guy with baggy clothing dancing around about 15 rows behind home plate wearing a baseball mask, that will be ME! The tickets that I got for face value are now selling for around $2600 through professional scalpers. Though so very tempted to sell at least one, I will end my sail on the seas of baseball at the ultimate baseball experience; the World Series at Yankee Stadium! And so, the blessings continue and the baseball adventure will conclude in classic style. Go Yankees! Ya either love 'em or hate 'em.
All of this while still having the God given strength to forge on with my diet. I have now lost 193 pounds and am only 44 pounds from my goal weight and 24 pounds from starting the transition phase back to some regular food. As timing would have it, I will be consuming veggies and a baked potato for the first time right on Thanksgiving Day just in time to give thanks to God to whom all thanks is due. The last time I ate food other than the liquid supplement was while celebrating the "last supper" on March 31st with my father and my two brothers, John and Phil at a fine San Diego restaurant. The next morning, as I went from regular food to the liquid supplement was the very day my nephew Josiah first had some solid food. I felt honored to be the one to give him his first bite of solid food and the irony of the timing was memorable. Now, timing is such again that the first solid food after almost 8 months of liquid protein will be on Thanksgiving. Its all just too good!
My deepest appreciation for the continued prayers and generous email support. Thank you!
"He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers;"
-- 1 Peter 3:10-12a
Genuinely thankful and close to being half the man I once was,