Ernest Henley was right

Still on the road at the annual college media convention. Sorry for the lateness of the post. -Doc

Being on the road and in full-crisis mode over various personal and professional issues makes it really hard to sleep. It’s incredible that you get to see people you only see once a year and yet you slip right back into hugs and conversations you’ve been having for years. It’s an incredible feeling that makes you realize you’re never really alone; you’re just a little farther away from what you remember and the people you love. And you also realize those people love you.

A good friend of mine had a stroke a few months back and another had a massive heart ailment that had a very real probability of killing him. To date, Pat managed to recover from the stroke to get back to his usually sarcastic self and Scott, through a force stronger than man, got his heart. I often ponder this as I slip between semi-sleep and restless dreams.

It is true that there’s a certain brevity to life. You never really know whose light will endure and who will be extinguished at any given moment. My mother, God love her, prays that I’ll find a way to slow down a bit and perhaps “extend the game,” to borrow a phrase from the legendary Dean Smith. What she doesn’t understand is the same thing my father doesn’t understand when it comes to his classic Corvette: If you don’t keep the engine pumping, the seals go dry, the tubes crack up and things really start atrophying.

She also doesn’t understand that sometimes, in the dark of the night, the concept of mortality crawls heavily across my brow and I imagine the conversation at the end of my time. As a person of faith, I honestly believe I will have to meet my maker at some point and make a just accounting of myself.

When God asks me if I did everything I could to improve those situations that I knew needed my special brand of assistance, I have to tell Him something. He might ask, “Did you give your best, all of it, when it mattered most, or did you bow because you thought what was asked of you was too hard or that you didn’t have enough in you to endure?”

If I say, “Lord, I was bloodied, so I bowed. I was tired, so I stopped. I was weak, so I gave up,” that probably won’t be a satisfactory answer.

Everyone, at one point or another, gets pinned into the corner of the ring and takes a beating. The punches come hard and fast, varying in speed and placement, until you feel entirely like a human bruise. It’s what you do in that moment that tells you what is possible. You can stagger. You can fall. You can refuse to get back up.

The past few weeks have been like that for me but for some reason, each time, I go back to those movie clips in my mind:

“We never lost an American in space and we sure as hell aren’t going to lose one on my watch.”

“There is a way to stay with this team. You don’t defend them. You attack them.”

“If it’s my will against yours, you will lose.”

“Move your ass, Cookie. I want my 12.”

And, for some reason, the immortal Todd Parker line of “Do NOT reach for your GUN!” (That one makes no sense in this context, I’ll give you that…)

I tried explaining this to other people outside of student media, and they all think I’m nuts. Maybe I am. I mean, what grown man with a doctorate spends his time inspired by cheesy movie quotes and the Miracle on Ice? H

Still, there’s one thing I’ve always seemed to notice about “the other guy” in the equation: He’s punching himself tired, rope-a-dope style.

And that’s when I’m warmin’ up, Sheriff.

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