An Open Letter to Cody Parkey

Dear Cody Parkey,

What a devastating field goal miss last night. Valleys can be so dark when you are in them.

You don’t know me. My name is Brian Carnesecchi. I live in Detroit. I am 37 years old, married with 4 kids, and I’m a lifelong Bears fan.

I just finished watching the Bears’ loss to the Eagles with my family. I know you must be devastated about missing that field goal to lose the game. Even though the loss can be placed on the whole team, I imagine you are haunted with a lot of regret about that miss.

I am writing to thank you. When I put my 10 year old son to bed tonight, I told him how much I would commend you for being out there and trying. I know you gave it your best. It is no small thing to have accomplished being a professional football player.

And you failed in that moment. But I would rather have a son who was out there trying to be great than a son sitting at home criticizing everyone else for their failures. I pray you see how blessed you are to be in this situation.

This loss will hurt for a while. And I would not be surprised if you have nightmares about it for a while. However, after swallowing this bitter pill, I pray that you use it in your life to become a better person. We all have trials and setbacks. What matters is how we respond to them.

You see Cody, my son Zachary, who is now 10 years old, will never have the chance to be in a position like you were in tonight. When Zachary turned 6 years old, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. The doctors found a tumor in his pelvis. After 12 rounds of chemotherapy, he had a massive surgery to remove about 30% of his pelvis on his left side including his left hip socket. Once his body recovered enough, he then had 27 more rounds of chemo. It has been 3.5 years since his last chemo treatment and Zachary is currently doing great.

However, although he has found a new boyhood love for football and for the Bears, he understands that he will never be able to play the sport. It would be too risky for his body and his athletic abilities have been significantly diminished from his surgery. He now runs with a limp and struggles to keep up with his 8 year old brother.

I don’t feel sorry for him or our family though. We know everything happens for a reason. Going through that trial and now living every day always aware his cancer could return has been the hardest thing my wife and I have ever had to go through so far in our life. But it has been such a blessing. It has given us so many opportunities to be an encouragement to others. And it has taught us to measure life with more gratitude and sobriety. Our priorities have been recalibrated according to what matters most.

So although this loss hurts and that field goal miss leaves you with a pit in your stomach, use it to become great–whether  in football or as a human being. Grow from the struggle.

By the way, you can check out a facebook page we used to chronicle Zachary’s cancer story on facebook @ZacharysStory.

-Rooting for you,

Brian Carnesecchi (bscarn@gmail.com)

 

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Zachary about a week after his surgery.

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Zachary is on the right between his sisters. Right before singing at a Christmas choir concert.

Disconnecting is The First Step to Living with Inspired Resolve

The first step I am taking in my resolve to live an inspired life is to do a little disconnecting. But it is not without good reason. Before I go any further, let me explain what I mean by “disconnecting”. While I would love to be able to completely and totally disconnect (get rid of my home wifi, all digital devices, my mobile phone, all social media accounts) my job requires me to be connected. However, there is one very important area in which I have taken the step to disconnect, and will chronicle how that is going throughout the next 30 days.

As a lifelong Chicago Bears fan, I am very excited my team has finally made the playoffs and have a good chance to make it to the Super Bowl this year. This is due in large part to their new coach, Matt Nagy. The more I learn about this guy, the more I am inspired by him. You see, Matt Nagy’s path is very non-conventional. After playing football in the now-shuttered Arena Football League, he decided to give up his dreams of football and get a regular job in the business world. He started selling new homes. However, when unpaid and low-paid opportunities popped up with the Philadelphia Eagles, he pursued them. Most people would not have taken the risk. (He had to start out with a pay cut of more than 50%). But he did. And now he is on track to possibly become the NFL Coach of the Year, turning around a Bears team with 5 wins, 11 losses last year to 12-4 this year, divisional champions, and a playoff berth. Matt Nagy chose to buck conventional wisdom and take a chance. He lived with inspired resolve.

Nagy’s example caused me to stop and ask the question: Is there some lifelong dream or passion in my life which I have put to death long ago because I believed the lie that I could never do it? As I pondered this question, I came across another interesting man who lives his life with inspired resolve. Daron K Roberts was a student at Harvard Law School. He was set to start a promising and lucrative law career. One day a friend invited him to work at a football camp for a few weeks. He fell in love with coaching football and the opportunity coaching could provide to inspire young men. He abandoned his law career and set out to become an NFL Coach. I couldn’t believe it! He resolved to pursue what inspired him. I had to learn more about this man.

After working long hard hours for little or no pay as an NFL coaching intern, Daron K Roberts eventually landed a position as an assistant NFL coach. After coaching in the NFL for several years, he now lectures at the University of Texas and is the founding director of The Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation and the author of a book called Call an Audible: Let My Pivot from Harvard Law to NFL Coach Inspire Your Transition. As I learned more about Daron K Roberts, I watched a talk he gave to a room of young college students about living with purpose. His first point in that talk was “Script don’t Scroll.” He emphasized the importance of not wasting your days away every day being closely connected to your phone scrolling through all the latest social media platforms to see what interesting thing the platform thinks you need to know next.

This got me thinking about my own social media usage throughout each day. My social media platform of choice is was facebook. I would look at it so often throughout the day that I got to a point where if I was bored, I would check fb. I am not sure but I would guess that I checked facebook probably more than 50 times per day. I would check it everywhere-in the bathroom, at my office, in line at the grocery store, in my living room after dinner when my kids were all around me and longed for my full attention, and everywhere else. The most concerning thing about this as I thought about it was (1) that I often was mindlessly scrolling through my feed while in the presence of others who need and wanted my full attention, and (2) that I was constantly connected to it. I would typically check facebook (for no good reason) within 15-30 minutes of waking up in the morning.

You may have seen this video, which has gone viral on social media, in which Simon Sinek discusses the way social media is damaging us and our whole culture. If you haven’t seen it, it is very much worth 15 minutes to watch. In it he discusses the importance of putting down our phones, not keeping them by our bed as an alarm clock, and keeping our social media usage limited. The video is enlightening and inspiring. I have seen it 3 or 4 times over the past year or two. And every time I see it, I decide I am going to delete my facebook account. And I never do.

However, after learning about Matt Nagy’s and Daron K Roberts’ intentionality, purpose, and resolve to live inspired, and being challenged by Roberts to stop scrolling and instead live a daily life of purpose, I have decided to delete my facebook account. Last night, I went into my fb settings and selected the button to create a temporary file which catalogued all my previous fb usage so that I have a record of my past posts, photos, and videos. Then I downloaded the file and clicked to delete my account. Facebook has it set up to have my information active and visible on facebook for 30 days to give me a chance to change my mind. This time facebook will not be getting me back though. I am choosing to stop scrolling and instead to script my life. I am resolving to live inspired. Facebook, by its very nature, builds into you a mindset of reacting to life instead of scripting your life. You have very little control as fb leaves you addicted to more of the same. The scrolling action invites a hunger for more scrolling. No longer will that be part of my life. I choose to be more present with the people around me and to live intentionally.

The most interesting thing about deleting my fb account is that I have had these urges to pick up my phone and check fb or to post an interesting article I found on it. At least twice in the 12 hours since I have deleted my fb account, I have come across an interesting article and began the steps of copying the url so I could share it on fb. It is amazing how much facebook has built itself its own little cozy place in my head. I have now kicked it out and it has no home with me now.

Tomorrow I will write about what other steps I am taking this month to live with inspired resolve and disconnect more from the chains of technology that occupy too much of my time. I hope you will join me and you too will live your life in 2019 with inspired resolve.

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.