it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.
You, me, or nobody, is gonna hit as hard as life.But it ainâ€™t about how hard ya hit. Itâ€™s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward.
How much you can take and keep moving forward.
Thatâ€™s how winning is done! Now if you know what youâ€™re worth, then go out and get what youâ€™re worth. (emphasis mine)
But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers,
saying you ainâ€™t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that, and that ainâ€™t you!â€.
Cowards do that, and that ainâ€™t you!â€.
That line in bold is the most important part of the entire quote. That doesn’t diminish the importance or significance of the rest of it because the rest of is applicable too, but right now that line in bold is what really catches my eye. It resonates because a bunch of the fellas and I have found ourselves walking through unfamiliar territory.
We are aÂ motley bunch of boys who are all somewhere in our forties. Some are married, some are divorced and some are somewhere in between. We are all highly educated college graduates who have been working in the so called professional world for longer than we care to admit. Twenty years or so ago we would get together to play poker, hit a bar or watch a ball game. The conversations would range from the very mundane to things that were more serious. We looked at the future and saw nothing but potential. There were endless opportunities and all we had to do was work hard to reach them.
No one questioned their value or ability. If anything we thought about how long it would take to get wherever it was we wanted to be. The attorneys talked about becoming partners and the doctors talked about whether they would start their own practices. The rest of us had our thoughts and ideas about what we wanted. Girlfriends started to be more rigorously evaluated than in the past. Now we started listening more carefully to what sort of values they had and how many kids they said they wanted. I remember a few conversations where guys laughed about birth control and said that it didn’t matter because if their girls got pregnant they would just get married sooner.
It wasn’t as shallow as it might sound. It was a tacit acknowledgement that they had found someone that they thought was special. And sure enough not all that long afterwards the marriages came followed the arrival of children. Conversations evolved and we laughed about how we were turning into our fathers and prayed that the wives didn’t turn into their mothers. Retirement was still a long way off but not so far away that we ignored it. Apartments morphed into condos/townhouses and houses. For some of us extra cash began to dry up- private school tuition drained those funds as did silly things like kitchen/bathroom renovations.
More time passed and we bore witness to major changes. The Oklahoma City Bombing, Columbine and 9/11 are just some of the things that helped open our eyes to possibilities that we had never considered. And of course wars in Iraq and Afghanistan played a role too. We were the generation that came of age during the end of the Cold War. We were in our early twenties when the first Gulf War started. We remember going away parties for guys in the service who set out to remove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Some of the guys weren’t retired and consequently got to go back to Iraq a decade later.
But it was different because they weren’t so young anymore. They weren’t old but the shine of youth had been wiped off of their faces.
And now when we gather we see bodies and faces that look different than they once did. Hairlines have changed, waist sizes adjusted and lines have begun to crease our faces. Those were expected, albeit not always wanted. But what wasn’t expected was how very different our forties would be. No one expected that there would be so many battles to fight. No one expected to see jobs outsourced and layoffs announced. No one expected to find out that they weren’t being hired because some twenty something-year-old kid would work for less.
So we banded together and talked about ways to overcome these things. We looked at each other and spoke about the foolishness of companies ignoring our wealth of experience. We stared each other in the eye and promised that it would get better because it had to. But that didn’t necessarily happen. The divorces and foreclosures still came. The fight to earn a buck became more serious than ever and we wondered how we came to be in this place.
Realized that much of our self-worth and masculinity is tied up in our ability to provide for our families. And when that was removed we found ourselves bereft of something that was more important than we had realized. We laugh about our twenties and talk about wanting to go back but no one wants to go back to tiny apartments, Ramen noodles and Spaghetti O’s. No one wants to stress out over how to pay for a new set of brakes. Twenty years ago we did a lot of that work ourselves but cars have changed and it is not always so easy to do what we once did even though we are physically able.
So we try to lean upon each other and lend what support we can because there are no other options worth considering. And through it all we remind ourselves that many are fighting the same battles. We stare in the mirror and promise to be our own advocates for change and recognize that part of our knowing our own self worth is taking the time to tell others.