I was watching one of my favorite movies this weekend and couldn’t help but weave it into my sunrise post for this morning.
From Dead Poets Society where Mr. Keating is showing the young men of his class pictures of former students:
They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.
The Celtics have a young core of players. We see stats every day about how remarkable Jayson Tatum’s efficiency numbers are. We hear about how good a defender Jaylen Brown is ...for a 21 year old. Even the established Kyrie Irving is brought up as being just 25 years old.
There’s nothing wrong with any of this. It is fun to be excited for the future. In particular when you add in a healthy Gordon Hayward and future draft considerations. I’ll own up to the fact that I’m continually looking forward to ”the next,” perhaps to a fault.
I mean, look at where this team is right now. The Celtics are 20-4 and own the best record in basketball. Tatum and Brown are starters on that best-record team and contributing to the team’s success. They’ve won games in so many different ways. With offense, with defense, coming from behind, leading throughout, in back-and-forth games. They’ve beat good teams and bad teams. They haven’t been perfect, even in the wins. But they’ve been very, very good.
They wouldn’t be here if they simply played the part that they were expected to at the start of the season. If they settled for incremental improvements and playing limited roles. Once Hayward went down, they could have accepted their fate as a 5 seed and played out the season with a “better luck next year” malaise.
That’s not what happened though. All the young players have played with poise beyond their years. Not just Tatum and Brown. Marcus Smart is defying his detractors and ...well, basketball logic, by thriving despite his shooting. Terry Rozier has emerged as a key piece of what the Celtics do. We’ve seen Semi Ojeleye thrive in a 3-and-D role. Orchestrating it all is one of the best coaches in the league (who is still very young himself by the way).
As a collective whole this group has pushed forward beyond the expectations set before them. They are defying the learning curve and forging their own path forward.
I don’t know if they’ll be able to maintain this all year long. Logic would dictate that regression to the mean would be necessary, but where is that mean? What is the new normal for this group? They have 20 wins already and there’s 58 games left on the schedule. With a head start like that, how many wins can they get?
After that, what can they do in the playoffs? You can put a limit on them if you like, but I don’t know if they’ll care.
We can look at the present and dream of what the future will be. There’s no harm in that. But I think there’s a lot to be missed if we don’t appreciate what’s unfolding in front of us today.
Carpe diem. Seize the day.
We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, 'O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?' Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?