I am listening to Leonard Bernstein conduct Rodeo (Four Dance Episodes): Hoe-Down. Allegro with my eyes closed and my head tilted back. Won’t be long before Bernstein and company move into Fanfare For The Common Man and I let the music drive my thoughts.
Sometimes the best way for me to write is to shut off active thought and let the feelings that come with these moments wash over me and then take quill and pen to place them upon the page.
Today we are focused upon becoming a Man of Faith.
That is not a religious reference nor am I inclined to dedicate any space today to that line of thought. Maybe it is because I am mentally exhausted and emotionally drained or maybe it is just because I don’t see anything that interests me there…today.
Instead I am focused on reminding myself that sometimes I need to be a bigger believer in myself. It is sort of funny because those who know me are unlikely to describe me as anything less than confident and some might even say arrogant.
But we all have moments where we feel like we have fallen short of the mark we have set for ourselves.
A Man Of Faith
That picture above reminds me of days past when I was on the swim team and felt like I could swim forever. Hours of training combined with a desire to prove myself to me pushed me to test my limits.
There were days when I would hit the beach and swim through the waves straight out into the sea and not stop until the land looked far away.
Moments in the gym when I would look at stacks of weight and wonder if today was the day when I would curl and bench my weight. Wonder if today was the day when I could lift the side of the building up and create my own exit.
The silly thing is I always believed I could, all I needed was to find an appropriate grip for my hands.
But it wasn’t just the physical world that I looked at. I looked at school projects, class assignments and philosophy and believed there was nothing beyond my ability.
All I needed was time to focus upon whatever it was and I would figure it out.
Somewhere along the line life, circumstances and experiences took some of the fire out of my belly. Somewhere along the way I began to question whether I was overreaching and thought perhaps youthful naivete made me think more was possible than reality could provide.
Friends and family died from terminal illnesses. People divorced. Hearts were broken more than once and a harder edge than had ever existed became a part of me.
The Shiva Call
Last night I made a Shiva call. I went to visit a friend who buried his father last week and after the service was done we sat down and talked about life.
He and I had been very close in college but life intervened and he moved far away and so we lost touch. But last night as we sat there talking we shared memories and laughed.
I listened as he told me stories about his father and when he asked what was going on in my life I gave him an abridged but very honest answer. I told him about the challenges of middle school and said I wondered if I was giving my son good advice.
When I said it was easier when we were kids he laughed and said it was because we didn’t fear making mistakes the way parents do and something clicked inside my head.
Suddenly the forges inside my belly fired back up and I started thinking about who I was, who I am and who I intend on becoming.
I felt a mix of gratitude and embarrassment because in the midst of his grief he gave me a bigger gift than he knew. Maybe it was intentional, maybe it was coincidence but it gave me a momentary lift and that was enough.
Enough to remind me that sometimes we need to be people of faith in ourselves and our abilities.
I have a perfect record of overcoming every bad day I have had and while I can’t say I have never failed or fallen I have always gotten back up.
Look hard at the picture and you’ll see me swimming in the distance. Might even see me wrestling with a squid or fighting a great white shark. Feel sorry for those creatures, because Old Jack Steiner doesn’t ever quit.