Monday we crossed a pretty big milestone by being open 5 years. The celebration was just as we wanted it to be. Lots of familiar faces, buzzing conversation and echoing laughter filled our little place for the evening. I couldn’t have asked for a better night.
Amid the well-wishers, this question,“So how does it feel?” was asked several times. Obviously it feels great, and very rewarding, but it goes so much deeper than that. It goes back five years to when we were officially open after our final Health Department inspection. It goes further back to the day in November 2004 when Karen and I decided to risk everything we had financially and set the ball rolling. It includes being unemployed for a season, and enduring less than desirable work just to try and make ends meet until opening day.
But yet it keeps going back even further, to those conversations with close friends about our dreams and taking them seriously. Include in that all those sleepless nights, staring up at the glowing moon during hot damp summer nights, pondering questions too deep for words.
It even reaches back to when I was 14 years old as a ninth grader in junior high.
I grew up in rural Oklahoma where, much like Nebraska, playing high school football was a big deal. And when it came time for the junior high squad to join the high school for a transitional spring practice before fall camp, I decided I wasn’t going to play any longer. I didn’t enjoy it, never got to play, so why spend my time doing something I hated? This was my logic at 14.
When news of my decision reached the coach and administrators, I was summed into the principal’s office for what felt like an interrogation. He wanted to know why I was wasting an opportuinity, and went on to explain how I will regret this decision down the road when I won’t have the chance to play. Instead of being scared and intimidated, I distinctly remember sitting in the chair across from his desk with a resolute position. “No sir, my mind is made up. I don’t want to play football. May I be excused now?”
I had no idea at the time that I would draw on that story years and years later.
We are all a sum of our past experiences. These experiences reveal to us who we are and what makes us unique. Even as a boy of 14 I had within my being a sense of resolve that showed itself in the ability to make a decision that went against the thoughts and opinions of other people. Little did I know that as a man in my 40’s I would have to show similar steadfastness. When faced with the decision concerning the future direction of my life, was I going to determnine that path, or just simply go along with what is expected of me?
Its been five years since we opened, but the road to get here started long, long ago.