EB: Giving ’em the business!

Brain dumps from the original Bonehead.

Astor Crap

I just couldn’t let this one go…

Brooke Astor died today at the age of 105.  That’s right, one-hundred-and-five.  As the heir to the Astor fortune, Brooke had a softspot for charity and gave millions of dollars to the New York Public Library, Bronx Zoo, and numerous other NYC hallmarks.  In her time she was often quoted as saying that “Money is like manure, it should be spread around”, and that’s exactly what she did.

Among the family’s lesser known charities was The Astor Program for Gifted Children – a program that offered a premium education to some of the top academic performers in New York City’s public school system.  I was entered into the program in 1980 which, as far as I can tell, was maybe five or six years after the Astor family had stopped funding the program — but I guess sometimes all you really need is a good foundation.

Despite inheriting many of my era’s top social, psychological, and economic excuses to grow up and become another heartbreaking statistic, I chose a different path.  A path made available to me thanks to good parenting, passionate schoolteachers, and a hellacious drive to persevere; and on that second point it stands to reason that a fair amount of the credit for the happy, healthy, and reasonably successful person I’ve found a way to become is due to the opportunity afforded me as a child… because of the well-intentioned manure that was spread my way.

Thank you, Brooke.  Rest well.

-E

August 14, 2007 Posted by | Personal Revelations | 3 Comments

The Only Reason You Need.

I once mentioned here that I'm likely the slowest eater on the face of the Earth.  Typically when someone makes a statement of such extremity it's instantly assumed to be exaggeration but in this case it's really not – if I'm not the world's slowest I've got to be pretty damn close.  It's never bothered me very much but slow eatin' ain't for everybody; there's occasionally going to be some peer pressure involved.  Even when that pressure is unspoken, there'll be some seriously impatient looks thrown your way when the rest of your group is ready to grab the check and un-ass the table but you're still meandering around the edge of your plate. 

I am eternally grateful that I was born with the sort of mutant genetics that grants me a high resilience to subtle coersion, guilt trips, and various other forms of emotional manipulation.  Don't get me wrong – if we have to keep time I'll pick up the pace a bit so as not be the Single Most Inconsiderate Fucker Ever, but other than that I don't see any point in rushing it. 

I know this is going to sound a little bit nuts so just go with me for a minute, ok?  What if the foods you chose to eat, and the way you chose to eat those foods, were none of anybody's damn business?  Sick, right?  Hey, that's just how I doo's it; but this isn't about privacy, it's about finding those little ways to take your time and do what you damn well please. 

Check the score.  If you have have responsibilities, like a job or bills or anything like that, then somewhere, at some points in your day, you've got a clock hanging there and eyeballing you – just waiting for you to get a move on.  It happens to all of us whether you have a punchcard or if you run your own business and have to be timely for your meetings with clients or investors, we've all got that clock just staring us down from time to time and there's nothing that can be done about that.  That's what makes those rare moments, when the clock isn't looking, that much more special.

That's what those moments are.  They're rare instances when you don't have think about your work or even be considerate of others feelings and you can do, or in this case eat, what you want and how you want and that's all there is to it.  Eating surely isn't the only example of this but it's one of my favorites and therefore the first to come to my mind… and I'd love to hear what yours are too!

I generally try to keep my vices to a minimum and I've accepted that eating is going to be one of them.  My selections are restricted, almost exclusively, to things that taste good to me because THIS thing is going to be MY thing.  Of course, I'm not completely closed-minded about this; I'll at the very least entertain naysayers before rewarding their contrary opinions with complimentary bottles of Shut The Fuck Up.

I try to limit this thing to an area of my life where I can be all about me and still not be a selfish prick and I think I've done a reasonably good job of it but I'm not the only one. There's an entire Slow Down movement building up steam out there preaching the same goodness about recognizing and appreciating the irreplacable value of time, the ultimate commodity. 

Do it, I urge you.   Find something that you can do by yourself that makes you feel good, where you're not infringing upon anyone elses humanity, and just go at it.  Take your sweet time and enjoy every second.  Do it because you can, and because life is too short not to.

-E

May 26, 2006 Posted by | Personal Revelations | 2 Comments

One Day At The Schoolyard.

Do you remember being a kid?  Do you ever wish for those days when you could go out and play and when things didn’t go right you could call ‘Do Over’ and just make it all go away?  This was one of those days.

I once wrote up a post about The Hero Factor and to tell you the truth, that whole thing could have been composed from personal experience.  As proof of that I offer a happy little tale of a day when healthy things like rational judgment, and concern for my own safety somehow just managed to elude my grasp. 

Once upon a time my formula for “friend” selection was far less complicated than the lengthy algebraic equation I use these days.  If you go back far enough I’d consider you friend just for being there; and that’s what Mason was – he was just there.  Now, in his defense, in the years following I found Mason to be a decent, upstanding guy, but on this one afternoon he was a straight up coward. 

Me and Mase were two of the tallest kids in class for many years and back when you had to line up, shut up, and await further instructions, you were ordered to arrange yourselves in size order from shortest to tallest.  We were seated side-by-side at the back of the classroom every year and whenever we’d get split into twos it was always me and Mason, those last two guys, working on class projects together.

You’re dragging this out again.  Let’s GO!

OK!  I’m quite possibly the slowest eater on planet Earth and 25 years ago this was still true – so by the time I finished my lunch everybody was out there already!  So this one day I head out to the schoolyard and see a massive crowd standing around what appears to be some sort of brawl.  As a child I’d always been taught to stay away from that scene because there was nothing good that could come of it but sometimes you can’t just hear it, you have to see it for yourself. 

As I close in on the center of the crowd I see five guys having at it.  One white and four black.  When I get a little close I can make out a face – it’s Mason, and though fighting back vigorously, the four black guys are handing him a proper ass-kicking.  I was absolutely enraged.  Without hesitation and without consideration for consequence or safety, I put my head down and charged straight in there. 

I made my way through the crowd as they were stomping him out and barreled into one of Mase’s assailants.  Though extraordinarily slight of frame, I had very good speed and delivered a solid blow that floored him!  “Back off!!”, I ordered. 

You’re full of shit.  You didn’t say that.

No, I really did.  What can I say, I watched alot of TV when I was a kid!  Anyway, the looks on those four guys faces was priceless.  There I stood, between them and Mason, almost as big as the smallest of them and completely fearless.  The crowd went silent.  And then came the fist across my cheek…

Over what felt like the next three or four hours I got beaten like a drum.  I took it like a champ and stayed on my feet and even got in a few decent punches of my own.  If you’ve ever been rocked on the jaw real good you know how it wickedly time can get distorted afterwards.  Your mind races and everything slows down and minutes can feel like hours.  Amidst this one-sided melee I saw something that froze me. 

Uh yeah.  Just for the record: Freezing up is not a good thing when you’re getting jumped by four guys.

I saw Mason!  Eye-to-eye!  He was on his feet, looking relatively uninjured, and watching excitedly from among the crowd!! 

That sonofabitch!  He was fighting off four guys by himself while the rest of his so-called friends watched!?  And when you came to help him he just walked off?  He didn’t even go for help???  He just stood there!?

Yes he did.  Just after that brief moment of bewilderment came yet another unpleasant wakeup call.

Got rocked upside the head again?

Yeah.  But by then I had already switched gears mentally; I’d gone from running on instinct to actually thinking again.  That’s why things slow down when you’re all amped up like that.  Your brain disconnects and you just do what comes naturally.  Thinking will slow up your reflexes.  The good part was that I remembered I had been practicing karate, then delivered a beautiful kick that doubled over one of my attackers; the bad news is with my mind re-engaged, I got pummelled to the ground when I stopped to admire the results of that kick. 

It didn’t take much longer after that for the school aides to arrive and break it up and though I took a few lumps there was no real harm done.  It was literally a painful lesson to learn, but one that we all learn and I’m glad I got it out of the way early in life.  In retrospect I regretted putting myself at risk to try and help Mason, but if that same kind of thing were to happen to one of my friends today I’d still charge right in there.  I’ve just been far more selective since then about who gets to bear the title of “Friend”.

-E

May 20, 2006 Posted by | Personal Revelations | 4 Comments

By Request: Playing A Bad Hand.

A while back I was talking with a close friend about playing Spades.  Spades is a card game involving four players divided into two teams of two.  He and I played as partners for years and we took our show on the road – for a good while not only did we play within our circle of friends but we traveled all over our metro area looking for new opponents.

Mind you, we're not talking about chess or Stratego or even checkers for that matter, we're talking about a game where cards are shuffled and dealt and therefore the luck element cannot be ignored.  Since he and I were somehow born gifted with reliably bad luck at card games, we often played the role of that one-legged man in the ass kicking contest… it wasn't easy but we still kicked alot of ass! 

Ok – here he comes with this D.H. Lawrence thing again…

I don't know where I first heard the expression adversity builds character but whoever said that was a damn genius.  I know that problems are problems are problems, and that one man's famine could be another man's feast, but have you ever met someone that never had to wonder where they would live or how they would feed their family?  Someone that never had to make decisions that would ultimately determine survival?  I have.  I've met this person as he bore different faces, time and time again.  He can be just as good-hearted of a person as the one standing to his left but in some deep, dark corner of his spirit he knows that his mettle has not yet been tested. 

When you draw the connections inside your head and see each thing as being more than a thing but as an interconnected cog in a microcosm of all things, your view of the events unfolding around you changes.  You become less likely to throw your hands up and say "Oh lordy why me???" and instead you tuck your chin down and apply the talents and gifts that you have.  You take the hand you're dealt and you play it; you take that one lonely trump card and you play it; you count and you scheme and you pimp a 10-of-hearts all the way around the table if you have to because it's all you've got.  You just find a way.

Damn, I miss that game.

-E

April 26, 2006 Posted by | Personal Revelations | 3 Comments

Wait… what did you call me?

It's amazing how something can be right in front of your face for so long and you just never realize it until someone comes along and points it out to you.  I had that kind of experience a few months ago and although it probably shouldn't have, it did bother me.

Here we go again…  To the Bat-Time Machine, Robin!!

Damn right.  It's unfortunate that I don't remember where the beacon of enlightenment came from but if I had to take a guess it was the premier episode of The Boondocks; where one of the main characters was angered by being repeatedly referred to as "well-spoken".   I can identify with the little crumb snatcher from the tv show because I too often received that compliment as a child.

And that's exactly how I took it – in my eternal quest to simplify all that I encounter, when someone used these words to describe me I took it as a compliment.  Well.  Spoken.  A simple two-word phrase used to describe someone who possesses impressive verbal skills, right?  Of course!  How else could you possibly interpret it? 

That's where the cartoon comes in.  It's an edgy satire that specifically takes shots at today's African-American culture and race relations.  During the first episode a young Black boy was making comments deliberately intended to anger some wealthy White adults at a garden party; "Jesus was Black."  "Ronald Reagan was the devil." stuff like that…  Instead of being even the slightest bit annoyed they applauded him for being so well-spoken; which, of course, infuriated him to no end.

Here comes the boom.

Yeah.  That's when it hit me.  It became such commonplace that I truly have no idea how many times I was called well-spoken as a child but the one thing I do know is that from the second grade to the ninth, when I attended accelerated classes in predominantly White schools I've never in my life heard a smart White kid referred to as well-spoken!

Am I reading too much into it?  If the intention was purely complimentary, shouldn't knowing that be enough?  You don't compliment people for breathing, you expect it of them…  what if the unspoken implication is "you speak well for a Black kid"?  Despite harmless surface intentions or should any kind of deep-seeded, subconscious racism lurking behind the "compliment" be justification enough to set a motherfucker's shoes on fire and watch them burn?

 -E

April 5, 2006 Posted by | Personal Revelations | 4 Comments

Just win, baby.

Awhile back I took some kind of online, professional personality test and, among other things, it said that I "do not suffer fools well", meaning, more or less, that if you're in charge and I have to take orders from you you'd damn well better know what you're doing. All that reminds me of an interesting event from a few years back.

In 2000 I was working a .com, which by itself was pretty hot – you could open up a company called "We Sell Shit.com" and you were practically guaranteed to make millions!  It was fast-paced and spontaneous and the company was young both in age and in personnel demographic.  In retrospect, I like to refer to that environment as being very 'Free Willy', and of course I mean that in more ways that one…

So, anyway, that's the background.  A local announcement comes out that my entire department is going to participate in some sort of all day team building exercise.  There were 18 of us in total so we were broken out into three teams of six members each, let's call them A, B and C for the sake so simplicity; all pretty standard stuff so far, and there was a tangible sense of anticipation in the air as none of us have any idea what we're about to get ourselves into.  I stroll in that morning just as the event is about to begin and I'm the last person to be announced onto Team C.

Too much build up… get to it already…

Patience!  It's getting good!  Team C so far had a pretty impressive cast of characters including my boss' boss, the VP of the whole damn dept.  Just as I'm assigned onto Team C, a friend of mine, hearing that I was her teammate, shouts out: "We got Barber??", then waging her pointed finger at our opposition, followed with "We're going to win!!"

Oh, how very League of their Own.  Did anybody whack her with a baseball glove?

Uhm… no.  Apparently, once again, my reputation for being fiercely competitive had preceeded me and just my presence on the team was enough to generate excitement!  Then as we exit our office on 33rd street we're given the mission: Each team is handed an instant camera and a list of 12 scavenger hunt locations.  Our mission is to take photographs of each location on our list and meet back at a pub on Amsterdam and Seventy-Something street by 5pm.  The first team back with as many photos as possible wins.  And to make sure our photos aren't pulled out off the internet or something like that, members of our team have to appear in the photos!  Furthermore, each team's list was slightly different from the others so you couldn't follow another team around Manhattan and just outrun them back to the pub.  Cute, huh?

Scavenger_Hunt_2000

Teams A and B took one look at their respective lists and took of sprinting towards the nearest subway station.  Just as my team was about to do the same I stopped everyone in their tracks.  Now, as far as not suffering fools well, this VP guy wasn't a fool at all… not hardly, but he was new to the team and caught up in the spirit of fun so he was probably just wrapped up in the excitement of the game.  Me?  I play to win at all times, period.  Our list involved going as far north as Yankee Stadium and as far south as The Statue of Liberty and ten more stops in between!  We've got to cover over 11 miles of the busiest streets in the country with approximately eight million people in the way, and we've only got 6 hours to do it. 

I took one look at the list and said to myself, 'It can't be done'.  I re-read the rules again and the wording about "the team with the most pictures wins" indicated to me that the challenge was meant to be impossible.  I leaned over to Mister VP and told him I needed his credit card.  He gave me a funny look.  I told him I had an idea and I just needed him to trust me.  Now, I'm aware that I took a gamble there – at that point in our relationship all he knew about me is whatever he heard about me when he took over the team because we really hadn't interacted directly very much yet.  Relying on The Rep twice in one morning?!  Anyway – he tried to look as trusting as possible and handed me his corporate card, then me and my boy Wolf walked across the street to the camera store…

The losers of the event were amazed when we showed up at 5pm with all 12 photographs.  They took turns inspecting our list to make sure we had to cover as much ground as they did, and inspecting out pictures to make sure they weren't Photoshop'd.  When I finally told them how we beat them they were really pissed.  They say we cheated; I have somewhat of a militaristic mindset so I said we were faced with an impossible challenge and had no choice but to adapt and overcome.  They didn't care for that answer too much so I replied with another of my favorite sayings:  Fuck 'em.

 -E

March 28, 2006 Posted by | Personal Revelations, Work | 2 Comments

The Right Hand of My Father.

There was this thing my dad used to do when I was a kid and I thought it was as cool as it comes.  Here’s the program – I’d go out and do something: Get an ‘A’ in a tough class, figure out the answer to something that was clearly beyond my years, beat The Old Man at a game of chess or Stratego…  take your pick. 

What about hitting homeruns or scoring touchdowns?? 

Sorry, I wasn’t that kid.  Back then, if I did anything impressive it probably involved a classroom.  I was always pretty sharp in my karate classes but when that’s the only sport you’re any good at but you’re still too timid to compete in tournaments it’s gonna be hard for people to hear about it, y’know?  What was I saying?  Chess and Stratego! 

My parents were no dummies… they both knew what a money-grubbing little snot I was back then.  Occasionally my reward for performance would be The Gift of Andrew Jackson (we’re talking about the 80s here people!)  But my favorite would be when my dad would be so impressed with whatever I just pulled off that he’d just give me this beaming grin, extend his right hand and say to me, “Son, shake my hand!”

You’re wasting my time reading this whole thing about a fucking handshake?

No!  Not just any handshake.  It was my reward for a job well done.  My uncle once told me this story about ‘how men shake hands’.  He educated me on it because I was carrying something in my right hand and greeted his outstretched right arm with my left; which prompted him to immediately withdraw his hand!  He said you never ever, ever shake a man’s hand with your left.  He said that back when men fought with swords they fought right-handed.  Even if the swordsman was left-handed he learned to duel with his right because his teacher was right handed and that’s just how it was done… it was a close-minded world back then.  If two warriors shook hands with their left they’d both still have their sword arm still available to wield a weapon, but if they offered their sword arm to shake with the other it was a sign of trust and respect. 

Overly simplistic?  Yeah, probably.  True story?  You know what, I honestly have no idea.  It sounds feasible but I’ve never looked it up – all that sword arm stuff could be total bullshit but none of that ever mattered to me.  It was a simple story about a simple time when honorable men knew how to show respect to one another and that, to me, was more important than nitpicking at it. 

I miss those days, before I had bills, when all it took was a firm handshake to make me feel like I really did something.

 -E

March 14, 2006 Posted by | Personal Revelations | 3 Comments

‘Fraidy Cat.

I suck at New Year’s Resolutions.  I really do.  Not for a lack of ideas – I can think of plenty of improvements I’d like to make in my life or on myself or whatever; it’s just… something… terrifying…  Ok, look at it like this: We’re almost halfway through January and I still haven’t made a New Year’s Resolution yet!  I just find some kind of inescapable attraction to The Incomplete Idea.  Undone, it’s still perfectly well intentioned but still has plenty of potential and flexibility.  It hasn’t yet faced the cold harshness that completion can sometimes bring. 

Damn you’re one pessimistic sumbitch!

Hold up!  This isn’t pessimism at all.  In fact, just a few weeks ago I completed a personal goal that I’d been chasing down every day for the past two years!  I guess it’s just an exaggerated fear of failure?  It’s not like I’m some loser that can’t get anything done either it just – sometimes seeing the mountain is much harder than climbing it.  Have you ever really wanted to do something that you just weren’t sure you could pull off – so you manage to find one excuse after another for why you shouldn’t do it or why you should wait awhile or whatever?  I do it.  I do it all the time and… now that I think about it… that should be my New Year’s Resolution. 

To stop getting in your own way?  That won’t be easy!

True, but they have a saying in the gym: If it was easy everybody would do it.  The real trick is going to be learning to become an impartial judge when gauging my current self versus my ideal self; once I can do that the rest should be easy!  Sometimes I just don’t understand me.  I once saw a friend getting beat up by four guys and, without a moment’s hesitation, I charged in to help him.  Is it unusual for me to be able to face potential injury and occasionally even death, with total composure but the potential for committing myself to a goal and failing absolutely scares me silly?

-E

January 15, 2006 Posted by | Personal Revelations | 1 Comment

The Time Machine.

Last night while watching last week’s re-run of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” I saw something I never would have expected – I saw two familiar faces.  Season four’s Final Two received their assignments and one of them was to promote an event for Yahoo!  During the show I was on the phone with my girlfriend and saw the apprentices hosting a meeting with Yahoo-folk and noticed that one of them looked eerily familiar but I wouldn’t put a name to the face.  Later on in the show I saw a second familiar face and suddenly locked it in – Wenda and Beth Ann! 

We all used to work together at an internet startup back in the late 90s where everything moved fast.  Although I didn’t spend alot of time working with Beth Ann (affectionately known as BAM back in those days), I did report to an amazing woman that reported directly to Wenda back when I first started there.  I vividly remember my entire 4-person support department being called into Wenda’s office to get chewed on specifically because *I* was underperforming and my boss, Priscilla, wouldn’t throw me under the bus. 

I’ve always been a team-oriented person.  I can think of few things more impressive than watching a group of individuals come together to complent and sacrifice for one another in pursuit of a larger goal.  I was overwhelmed with guilt for my poor performance and with appreciation for the team I worked with; they could’ve hung me out there on a limb but they didn’t.  Wenda’s been bigtime since long before I met her – there were so many co-workers there that were deathly afraid of her that I’ll admit even I was intimidated sitting in her office that day! 

I waited around after she was done with us and closed the door after everyone left.  Alone in her office I took, what I felt at the time, was a huge risk: I felt that the truth had gotten me pretty far in life and I was going to stick with it so I told her that every item she brought us in to address was not the fault of my team – it was exclusively my fault.  I told her I didn’t want to waste her time making excuses for what happened but I understood what needed to be done and I promised it would never, ever happen again.  Truthfully, I half-expected her to pull a Trump on me and give me the old “You’re Fired!!”, but she didn’t.  She smiled.  She seemed a bit surprised or impressed (or both) by my admission, but then thanked me… she said that she believed I could fix the problem and that I would fix the problem. 

That was all I needed to hear so, with my neck still intact, I got right back to it.  Working longer and harder and most importanly smarter than before.  A year later, around the time my dept was praised at a company meeting for transforming from a weakness into a strength, word got around that I was about to transfer into one of the sales divisions.  One of Wenda’s divisions.  While passing by she stopped at my desk to chat for a bit and reminded me of the promise I made to her in her office that day.  Smiling again, she said “You kept your promise.  You did a really great job here.  We’re very excited that you’re coming over.”

Do you ever wonder if the people you remember still remember you?

-E

December 14, 2005 Posted by | Personal Revelations | 3 Comments

That which did not kill me.

Once upon a time I had one of those “that which does not kill me” kind of experiences that taught me alot; not about the world in general but about myself in particular:

Ok, now I was diagnosed as being asthmatic back when I was two-years-old.  If you think having asthma sucks, try having it back before emergency inhalers were invented!  The only treatment for it back then was bed rest and some really, really nasty cherry flavored Robitussin-wannabe – so basically you were lying around in bed for days wondering if you’d live or die.  Other kids would run and play and do all sorts of stuff and if I tried to do any of that with them I’d likely end up laid out for the rest of the week. 

Over the years I began to work on it and better meds were invented so I was eventually able to do alot more stuff.  During high school I was taking a Tae Kwon Do class under a former Army drill sergeant named Alonzo.  He didn’t believe in allowing his students to wear pads when we sparred because he felt it was unrealistic… he said if we got hit on the street there wouldn’t be any pads to protect us so we’d better get used to it.  As sadistic as it may sound, I think it was reasonable. 

One Friday night me and a couple other rookies were in class and he wanted us to get some sparring time in at the end so he called up another student that lived near by to come work us out.  The guy that came in was our senior by many ranks; also, he was bigger, stronger and unfortunately faster too…  basically, I was in for a rough night!  Between the sheer panic that engulfed me and the exertion of the match, I caught a full blown asthma attack while fighting. 

Damn.  Can’t win for losing, huh?  What happened next?

My opponent had already boxed me into a corner and, upon realizing I was having an asthma attack, appeared to be shaken.  He then looked to Alonzo for direction and was told “keep hitting him”.

Say word!!!!

I’m not making this up.  He was told “keep beating him”.  All my life, my asthma was like a Get Out Of Jail Free card – no matter what happened I could get myself out of it by faking sick.  This time I wasn’t faking AND I was getting my ass whipped and I couldn’t get out of it.  Alonzo walked in to look me over and said I’ve got a special condition that I have to learn how to deal with.  He said nobody gives a damn if I can’t take care of myself, I’ll just get run over and life will move on without me.  He then instructed my opponent to keep pounding me or risk getting pounded on… and so my beating continued. 

Next, Alonzo gave me a goal.  He said if you want this to end all you’ve got to do is fight your way out of this corner.  Punch, kick, elbow, shove, whatever you have to do but make that man back off you and I’ll let the fight stop.  It felt like two or three years went by while I sucked up as much wind as possible while doing what little I was still able to do to try and defend myself.  I then reached into a reserve that I never knew existed.  I fought back.  I dodged, blocked and fired my own strikes back until my opponent had to reposition himself to get clear.  I lunged forward and fell on the floor and Alonzo ended the match. 

I’ve never been so grateful to fall face first onto a hardwood floor.  My opponent patted me on the back and congratulated me.  My classmates were on their feet applauding, as were the bodybuilders we shared the gym space with – they’d gotten caught up in the unfolding drama and were watching and cheering for me while I took the worst beating of my life. 

Once my breathing had returned to normal and the class had ended, I stood alone at a bus stop on a cold winter night utterly convinced that I was forever done with all this karate crap.  I’m an intellectual!!  I don’t need this shit!!  I tried like hell to talk myself out of ever going back and I did a damn good job of it.  Alonzo called me the following morning to see if I was coming back to class.  His call was unexpected and I didn’t have any excuses prepared.  A healthy amount of stuttering followed. 

“You’re not going to quit on me, are you?  You’re not going to quit on yourself, right?”

“Uh.  I… um.  I wasn’t planning to come today… I, uh… have alot of chores to do around the house.”

“You can do those after class”, very matter-of-factly, “Listen.  What you went through last night was rough, but you did it.  You dug deeper than you probably ever have before.  It was a breakthrough.  It will only get better from here on in and if you quit now you’ll never find out how good you can be in the face of adversity.”

I accepted and within minutes he was at my house to pick me up.  Every inch of my body hurt but somehow I’d become some kind of hero in my class.  I didn’t beat a superior fighter that night but I did beat my asthma for the first time in my life.  I fought against a condition that I’d been taught since early childhood would kill me outright if I pushed myself too hard. 

 I’ve been pushing myself as hard as I can ever since that Friday night because I didn’t die, I became stronger.

-E

September 29, 2005 Posted by | Personal Revelations | 6 Comments