It was like saying goodbye to an old friend.
I know. It’s silly to conflate fandom with friendship. But we were fans of the character long enough to think we knew him.
Afterall, we had been through a lot together.
New job. New country. New sport. Public humiliation. And eventually panic attacks and divorce.
We met him in August of 2020, a time when we were still afraid to see our other friends. You know, the ones who actually know our names. We missed the companionship, comradery, and laughter that had been stolen away by the pandemic.
We all met him on the same airplane, and we were hooked. I know that I was.
He started educating us from the get-go.
“Taking on a new challenge is kinda’ like riding a horse. If you’re comfortable when you’re doing it, you’re probably doing it wrong.”
Of course, the friend we just said goodbye to is Ted Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis, who wrote this brilliant series along with “Coach” Brendan Hunt.
Hayden and I were late additions to the Ted Lasso fan club, but we arrived in memorable fashion.
Hayden had binge-watched the entire first season…starting when I went to bed one Saturday night and awakening me the next morning with “you’ve got to see this…no, you need to see this right now.”
We were still going to church on-line every Sunday, so we were able to stay in our pajamas and crank up Ted Lasso over our breakfast trays. Hayden said that she wanted to watch the whole thing again, which was a further endorsement that I found compelling.
I immediately shared her joy. I felt kinship with Ted from the start.
My goofy Facebook “bathroom videos” and the launch of this blog were both to counterbalance the isolation and depression that we all felt in the face of COVID-19. Ride to the Sunshine could have been Ted Lasso’s tag line as well as mine.
We laughed, we cried, we learned. Any retelling of this TV masterpiece needs the tag, “The Wit and Wisdom of Ted Lasso”.
Here is a rundown of some of my favorites.
“You could fill two internets with what I don’t know about football.”
The shear humility contained in that statement is what I’ll remember about Ted. When things are obvious to you and everyone around you, saying them out loud is honest and therapeutic. How many times in our lives and careers have we “faked it”, when telling the embarrassing truth would have been a better choice all along. Our difficulty in humbly asking for help is the source of a great deal of stress in our lives. Ted’s journey with Coach, Nate, and Roy brought him success by empowering others and sharing the stage.
“You know what the happiest animal on earth is? It’s a goldfish. You know why? It’s got a 10-second memory.”
As I have progressed into my 70’s, the real-time storage capacity of my memory ain’t what it used to be. But that’s not Ted’s point. Whether in sports or life, your errors need to be momentarily instructive, not feature films. A mistake is what you did, not who you are.
Early in my time volunteering at StepUp Ministry, I met a very wise older woman who would tell our clients, “Yesterday’s gone, forget it. Today is here, use it”. Easy for the goldfish. Harder for us. But a goal worth pursuing, every day of our lives.
“What do you say we do what the man says and make today our masterpiece?”
Along the same lines, today can largely be the work of our very own hands. There are many things that we do not control in life, but focusing on those things that we do can change our outlook and our output. The only change that I would make in this particular Tedism, is that I would capitalize Man in the sentence. That would imply for me that for a lot of questions, love is the answer. It seemed to be for Ted Lasso.
But, no matter how “gosh darn” positive we are, love sets us up for the sadness of loss. One of the side-effects of too many birthdays is that we get to go to too many funerals. Saying goodbye to old friends and family becomes an all too frequent part of life. While this next quote is merely triggered by the loss of a game and the tragic end to a season, its wisdom applies to the ritual of gathering together to say goodbye.
“I want you to be grateful that you're going through this sad moment with all these other folks. Because I promise you, there is something worse out there than being sad, and that is being alone and being sad. Ain't nobody in this room alone. Let's be sad now. Let's be sad together.”
The final quote that I took away from the three seasons of Ted Lasso is my philosophy of life. I believe in the inherent goodness of people. In spite of the contrary evidence that bombards us every day, that is still a big part of who I am.
My belief is that we are not surrounded by bad people. It is that some people have been manipulated through the sinister deployment of bad information.
We have a government with a history of self-correction. That is also a central theme in the history of man.
So, my last and favorite Ted Lasso quote is this simple sentence:
“I believe in hope.”