Saturday, March 14, 2009
"Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even."
Yesterday morning I met a man, Jason, who had this quote from Muhammad Ali tattooed on his forearm. Jason is a friend of a friend and is also an accomplished boxer, though with the scars, bruised knuckles, and broken nose of someone who suffered for his art. I readily admit that I don’t watch boxing, unless it’s the Olympics, though I did enjoy the movies Rocky (the first one) and Ali. I had noticed the tattoo on Jason’s arm and asked to take a closer look to be able to read it. Jason said the quote can apply to many things, not just boxing. Wise words, both Ali’s and Jason’s.
In the 15 minutes I spent with Jason I could tell a number of things about him. He’s not an academic, by any stretch, but he knows the importance of an education, as evidenced by his concern about his 12 year old son’s school performance and “teenage” attitude. He told us what he told his son: school work is the priority and if it’s not, the son can’t box. Whether or not Jason finished school, I don’t know, but I do know that it’s extremely important to him that his son be educated. Oh, yeah, and enough with the back talk - respect others.
During the conversation, the subject of caffeine in tea was brought up. Caffeine in tea was news to Jason. He also asked my name a couple of times, like he was trying to commit it to memory, and when told by my friend where I worked and what I did, he asked the frequency of the station a couple of times as well. I gave him one of my cards to help him out.
When I was leaving, Jason again confirmed my name, station name and frequency, and when I’d be on so he could listen while he was training at the gym. He also said he was glad he had learned something new (about tea).
My heart broke as I left. He is a sweet sweet man who loves his child and is worried that he can’t help him with homework. Academically he’s not very smart, but he appears to have some street sense. And he knows what he doesn't know. I really felt like I was watching a real life Rocky struggling outside the ring. And the tattoo and his comment about it told me that this man has had a number of defeats in his life.
MS knocks us down from time to time with those one-two punches, leaving us bloody and broken. We struggle with the symptoms, the worry, and the fear. We will suffer defeat many times, but we continue on. If we go the whole 15 rounds like Rocky, we can come out on top, but it may not be pretty.
My encounter with Jason stayed with me all day. He has no idea how much he impressed me with his attitude and his openness. I know that I sometimes appear arrogant. Hell, I am arrogant sometimes. Maybe my spring resolution will be to be less arrogant, be more open and honest, admit what I don't know. No need to wait for the new year.