This is one of my favourite messages from Dan Bylsma, and it’s one that sticks with you – I can’t stop thinking about it. Life isn’t fair, and Dan knows it just as much (if not more) than any of us.
Every time one of my brothers or I would complain that something wasn’t fair, my father would say, “You’re right, it wasn’t fair. But life isn’t fair.” I used to hate that answer. I wanted justice. I wanted him to set things right.
Now I know something about life not being fair. At first it was the little things. For example, I remember being called out at the plate when the umpire said I didn’t touch third base when I was rounding the bag. Instead of winning, we lost. The home plate umpire was in no position to see if I touched the base. But he called me out, anyway. It wasn’t fair.
When I was 16 years old, I was selected to attend the Michigan Select Midget Camp. From this camp players would be selected to attend the USA Hockey Select Midget Camp. I led the Camp in scoring, but I wasn’t selected to go to the USA Hockey Select Midget Camp. I was hurt, I was angry, and perhaps even bitter. It wasn’t fair. But by now I knew the answer to “It’s not fair.”
During my sophomore year in college, I was leading the team in goal scoring. I got removed from a scoring line to a checking line. I thought I had proved that I should be on a scoring line and on the power play. I didn’t think it was fair.
On January 15, 1998, our little baby girl died two weeks before she was to be born. I know something about what’s not fair. Life’s not fair.
You have two choices when things happen in life that aren’t fair. You can use it as an excuse to give up on fairness and life. Or you can recognize it as a fact of life and go on about the business of being fair yourself and living your life to the fullest.
I didn’t go to the USA Hockey Select Midget Camp, but I went back to Canada and was one of the leading scorers in the Western Ontario Junior B League. I received something a lot of guys at the Michigan Select Midget Camp didn’t get: a college scholarship.
I didn’t get to be a big scorer in college, but playing on the penalty killing unit and being a defensive forward forced me to develop a skill that got me to the NHL. None of my classmates made it to the NHL even though they played on the power play, were the top scorers, and made the CCHA All-Star teams.
We lost our baby daughter, but now we have a son, Bryan Thomas, who was born January 3, 1999, and is the joy of our life.
Life isn’t fair. But how you react to unfair situations will largely determine how you are affected. Life isn’t fair. But life can be good if you choose to make it that way.
– Dan Bylsma
We have all had to deal with things in life that we perceive to be unfair, and maybe we’ll never be able to make sense of them. Painful things happen that can make us bitter and angry, and it’s okay to be upset, but don’t use it as an excuse to give up on life. There are lots of bad things in the world, but that doesn’t mean we should stop doing our part to make it a better place. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, but I think that God can bring light to those unfair situations and help us to see the good. If Dan had given up after being passed over for the midget camp or being sent to the checking line, he wouldn’t have made it to the NHL. Life isn’t fair, but don’t give up. Make the best out of what you have.
Don’t look back at what isn’t fair, look ahead at the possibilities that remain for you. – Jay Bylsma
Game Plan: When something unfair happens to you, and inevitably it will, remember that the world isn’t out to get you, it is just a fact of life. It isn’t something you can control, but you aren’t left without any agency – you can decide to give up or to keep moving forward.
Quote source: Dan Bylsma, So you want to play in the NHL