What a day! I have nothing left. This is the way I like it. Pouring out the last drop of oomph I have left in me. Everyone has their own version of fun. I have mine. I enjoy the sweat dripping from my brow. My muscles burning as I tax their limits. Deep, life saving breaths, keep me feeling alive.
I remember the first time I witnessed camaraderie. Sports introduced me to shared goals. I took notice of how connection formed around a hoop, a home plate, or a goal post. Funny how so many things begin in an end zone. Even individual sports like tennis required a team of coaches, trainers, and practice partners.
I caught the distinctions among players. It was like a dividing line. A mark of demarcation. Some participants were only there to have fun. Pushing themselves to discover their limits, to explore potential, or to become great was not of interest to them. The minute it becomes too competitive they look for the exit.
The warrior mentality is evident in the other group. Win at all cost. Take no prisoners. Besting an opponent, for them, is like blood to a mosquito. They crave the adrenaline rush of high-octane challenges. They want to know. They have to know if they’re good enough to become great. When they walk off the battlefield, of competitive play, they ask themselves one question; is that the best I have in me?
I was good, but, not good enough. I made it to the minor leagues and that is where my aspirations ended. I would not play professional baseball. I had made my decision. Many thought I was wrong. I was an accomplished tight end receiver. Fast, agile, with good hands. I liked football, just not as much as I liked baseball. Could I have made it in football? We’ll never know.
Accepting, my fate in life, I moved into the workforce. I had taken the summer to settle my disappointment. I knew I would still have to deal with all the comments meant to encourage me. Some would share their thoughts about my choice of sports. People who believed in me have a right to their own disappoint. I knew it would pass, for each of us, in time.
I will follow my dad and two older brothers into the oil fields. It’s hard work, but, it pays well. There’s a future in it. Possibilities for promotion are there for the taking. I will ask my girl to marry me. We’ve known each other our whole lives. Dated since the ninth grade. Everyone expects us to wed. I’ve never considered another girl. Sally Jane is the only woman I’ve ever wanted.
I can see us with a beautiful home. At least three kids. Maybe a couple of dogs. I know we’ll be happy together. We’ll find our bliss. Raise our family. Reach our goals. We’ll find a way to live the dream. I’m determined to not let my failure, to turn pro, make me a loser. It’s over. The faster I move on the better my life will be.
I didn’t see it coming. It was my first day on the job. Nobody warned me until it was too late. The last thing I remember, before I woke up in the hospital, were the voices screaming, watch out! When a pipe is about to burst there’s a sound that regulars recognize. They know to run. There was a loud explosion that sent a piece of steel straight at me. The force was incredible. I lost both of my legs.
Sally Jane takes me to see the boys play football on Friday nights. She has never left my side. Our twin sons are great athletes. As my wife wheels me to my favorite spot on the sideline, I go to work. I can’t get out of this chair but I don’t let that stop me. I don’t even let it hinder me.
I yell and scream. Flay my arms around. Jump up and down inside. I give myself a thorough workout cheering for my sons. I’m so proud of them. Sometimes our side wins and sometime we don’t. They leave it all on the field and I leave it all in the stands.
We arrive back home. I recharge, so I can do it all again!