Jay Horne’s False Starts

Do we get penalized?


It’s the excitement that gets you.
Fingers in the moist turf. Ass in the air. A player jogging to change position up the line. Then — 

 — someone flinches.

In your mind, you lived the opening, the cut, the catch.
But instead, a whistle blows and you’re standing out in the open off-balance and disoriented. Sweat running into your eyes from the foam-rubber lining of your helmet. Glare off of the stadium lights comes across your visor and you hear the Ref holler,

“False start! Number 22! Five yard penalty.”


Man, the vision of a starting-line is a beauty!
Red jerseys, green grass, taped knuckles, the fine mist of sweat spraying up from the backs of the players as they’re poised to pounce like razorback hogs in the wild.
A scene so juicy with expectation that you can literally smell it, feel it, hear the silence of a hushed crowd and only the grassy footfalls of a back shifting up the line. The blackness of the stadium night sky out beyond the lights…

But is that enough? To get set-up. To get so close to an experience that you can literally taste it?


We’ve all had false starts, life is so long that you can’t avoid ‘em!

There are so many things in the world to experience in a measly hundred years that if you don’t enjoy a few false starts, then you’ll never get a chance to glimpse some of the stuff you’re going to miss out on by the end.
People make bucket lists based on that idea.

I refuse to make a bucket list.
Instead, I just go easy on myself and enjoy all of my false starts. Because sometimes, man, I really enjoy getting so close to a goal that I can imagine it full-on.

What are we building? What are we striving for?

I really like listening to Bad Guy by Billie Eilish when I face temptations. It always puts me into a good mood when I’m faced with those really naughty decisions.
Also, because I am one of the Bad Guys.

What can I say? I like temptation. God send me a Harley Quinn!

Temptation makes us test our limits and in turn proves to us our strengths.
Unfortunately, it has the adverse effect of exposing our weaknesses as well, but hey, how else can we learn to rise above them?

I’m not saying that everyone should stop running the 5k at mile three and call it an assumed victory. But, I am encouraging you to look back on all of your past endeavors as false starts rather than failures.


What is a real start as opposed to fake anyhow?
I mean, when do we get started for real?

Is it when we finally decide to stop chasing dreams and just settle down? Work a 9–5, raise a family?
I don’t think so. All of that stuff ends eventually, too. That’s just another form of chasing success. Getting stuck in the ‘more’ cycle.

Good job, good house, great furniture, great kids, promotion, own the company, great community, great grand kids.
Plateau, plateau, plateau, plateau…
Now we’re writing your obituary while you’re looking for the next something more that you want.

I think false starts are beautiful.
But I think there is a real start, too.

The most important thing about the real start is that everyone’s in tune with each other. Both sides are jiving.

No one’s over the line of scrimmage. 
No one wants to cheat. Everyone just wants to snap the damn ball and get off of their knuckles.

You see, false starts happen because one guy gets ahead of the team.

Slow down. Learn to breathe and enjoy life. Keep your eyes open, and ears sharp.

Then wait for the whistle.


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but not here.
That would just be weird.


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Jay Horne is an author and publisher out of Bradenton, Florida. He is a husband and father of four.
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