The Power Of A High Five
Updated: Mar 17
My son loves Notre Dame football. For his birthday this year we surprised him with tickets to a game and a trip to South Bend. Yes it was a very large present, but my wife and I have both always wanted to see the campus and it was a great opportunity to do so.
We happened to enter the stadium at just the right time, at just the right gate. As we soaked in the wonder of Notre Dame, a stadium worker approached my son and asked him if he "liked getting high fives." I thought to myself, this is a corny way of giving an excited little boy a high five... However, she went on to explain that if we lined up at this silver door that was 20 feet away, in about a half hour the players would be going out to the field to start their warmups, and on their way to the field, some of them will be giving high fives.
My son's face lit up and we excitedly walked over to the silver door and waited. About 45 minutes later, sure enough, some of the special teams players came out and casually started high fiving the awaiting fans on their way to the field. Some of the players walked by without a high five, but the majority of them were offering a hand.
After another 20 minutes, more of the players came out. Some gave a five, some walked by focused on the task at hand and preparing to play in front of millions of fans watching around the world.
My sons favorite player, Kyren Williams, had still not immerged. The stadium attendant assured us that he would be in the next group. My son, at this point was over the moon. He had given a high five to half the Notre Dame football team! But Kyren Williams, now that is a prize all in its own.
As a father I was excited for him, but I also had this enormous knot in my stomach. I knew Beau would still have thought this was the coolest thing he had done all year regardless of what Kyren did, but I also knew he'd be very disappointed if his favorite player walked by without slapping his hand.
The moment of truth came as the attendant opened the door. Michael Mayer emerged, high five (awesome!), Tyler Buchner, another five (score!), Jack Coan, high five (sweet!). Then the moment of truth, the very last player out of the room, Kyren Williams. I held my breath and watched in slow motion as he high fived my son. Beau's face lit up like the fourth of July. It was absolutely priceless. The entire trip was surreal, but a nine year old boy getting a high five from his favorite player on his favorite team, right before the game. That, he will remember for the rest of his life. (The video of this moment is below).
I was so thankful to Kyren Williams and he had no idea. Maybe he has thought about it before, maybe he hasn't, but the implications of simply extending a hand to a nine year old child and what it meant to him were so profound.
After the game, I took a moment to ponder the power of a high five. How many people in my life have been waiting for my hypothetical high five? A small gesture that doesn't take any effort, time, or money. A gesture that just lets another human being know, "I see you, I appreciate you." Gestures so small that they take less than a moment, but can mean the world to someone.
On the way home, this thought stayed with me. Then I began thinking of the small gestures that I walk past everyday, and why I don't take the time to do them. Why is it that I so often walk by those that are waiting for my high five moments. Many reasons I suppose. I think I'm not important enough for anyone to care if I recognize them. I'm often focused on my own tasks at hand, passing by people every single day as I'm lost in my thoughts and what I need to do next. I think the majority of us have no idea how important we truly are to those around us. It's a good thing to be humble, but its also important to recognize our own significance.
Kyren Williams, I am not. Perhaps my high five moments can't be as simple as slapping someone's hand, but they sure aren't much more complicated. Maybe my high five moments are calling my relatives or my wife unexpectedly. Maybe they are bringing donuts to my team on a Friday. Maybe its a quick email or chat to an old friend that's going through a hard time. How many times in my life have I walked by, focused on the task before me, not even realizing how many high fives I missed? How many peoples days could I have made with a simple gesture? The answer is far too many to count.
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