For me, gift giving is about wanting to, not having to. I'd rather know someone spent their time choosing something perfect, than know how much of their paycheck they parted with. When I heard about my friend Maverick celebrating his 6th birthday of sorts, I knew exactly what to get him, my public admiration.
Six years ago, he went through some very trying times and hit a low that many can't recover from. Since that day, he's proclaimed to anyone who'd listen that his life has been saved by his experiences, and the company of meaningful people. Having known Maverick on either end of his rebirth, I can tell you I have always looked up to him, both literally and figuratively. In my hockey fanatic days, when the cameras came to talk to we rowdy few in section 213, Maverick was our de facto choice as our representative. His booming voice and eloquence made us appear slightly less rabid, but passionately energetic. And for people who beat on cow bells, throw crepe paper, and scream till we squeak, that's saying something.
During the games that caused my Monday morning Minnie Mouse impressions, I watched. Our group of fans taught me much more than the game of hockey. I learned about what it is to not engage easily; how to rise above the jackwagons with grace and lack of weakness, how to hover over the send button without pressing it. Within me grew the respect for stepping back from the fray, regardless of whether your argument is more logical, or more "right". I watched, and I learned, and on timid feet, I tried to imitate. Not having a list of heros, it was awkward to feel like I was walking in shoes three sizes too big, and much too fancy for me. It still feels strange to admit that I look to someone, and want to aspire to their heights. Someday.
Maverick, I've watched you and admired your strength, grace, and ability to find the salvation in even the most difficult situation. You're taught me how to be who I am today in ways I'm sure you never realized, and I thank you for that. May you have a fine collection of souvenirs over baggage from all your journeys in this life.
Happy 6th birthday.