This week I want to share one of my old football stories. I do so not as an opportunity to boast, because my high school football days are nothing to brag about. Instead, I share the tale because it is one I think about a lot; one that has become symbolic in my lifelong educational experience.
While in high school, I followed my older brother, Craig, into the sport because he was really good at it. He was big, fast, strong and talented. I figured that because I was of the same gene pool I would be good as well. It was not until much later, however, that I learned the first rule of genetics, "What should be rarely is!"
Just to remain in Craig's wake I had to work extra hard. It was a good learning experience though, and I gained a better understanding of pride, greed, jealousy, self-pity and anger management. By the time I became a senior, I had come to terms with my lack of talent. By putting in the extra effort I become a decent football player. I was a 167 pound lineman, #66. In those days there were not enough "tackling dummies" for individual offensive and defensive squads, so most of us played both ways and nursed our bruises the next day.
On this memorable occasion we were practicing short yardage plays near the end zone; the team came up to the line and the quarterback barked out the call. From the huddle we knew it was a pass. A slant in for the wide receiver, slant out for the tight end and a curl in from the tail back. Bruce, our wideout, was the primary receiver. Our quarterback called out, "Down!", the line went down and braced for impact; "Set", we set ourselves for action; and then "HUT!" The entire team sprang into motion. The line tightened up to protect the passer. The ends sprinted off the line of scrimmage on their routes and the tailback hustled around the line towards the end zone. It was poetry in motion, a thing of beauty; mostly because we were not practicing against a live defense.
Bruce flew off the line, found his mark and slanted toward the end zone. The quarterback drew back, figured the trajectory and let fly. Bruce eyed the ball over his shoulder and put forth a burst of speed to catch the football and score. As Bruce and the ball sped to their appointed point of contact, we realized something terrible was about to occur. We watched in amazed wonder as Bruce sprinted blindly toward the goal post. We stood in silent fortitude, wishing to somehow impede our teammate's forward motion. Just short of where our wide receiver and the ball were supposed to meet, Bruce met the goal post.
There was a horrific banging, thudding sound, whereupon Bruce came to fully embrace the metal upright; was repelled and collapsed in a motionless heap. A collective groan rumbled through the team as we felt his pain. Everyone had seen it coming, but we could do nothing to prevent it. The coaches were the first to react, they sprinted to our hapless cohort and checked his pulse . . . He was still alive! They revived Bruce with smelling salts and drove him to the clinic for a check-up. It turned out Bruce was okay; mostly. His pads and helmet had saved his life. Bruce incurred a slight concussion, a loose front tooth and a new found respect for immovable objects.
Over the years we have often given Bruce a hard time about that event. Slapstick humor is actually really funny if no one gets hurt. Otherwise why would cartoons regularly feature Roadrunner dropping an anvil on Coyote's head, crushing his cranium; Jerry tripping Tom into a slamming door, thereby collapsing his nasal cavity; or Tweety Bird slapping Sylvester in the butt with a 2x4, forcing him into the Bull Dog's house. The Three Stooges made a living by poking each other in the eye and slapping one another other upside the head. Metaphorically speaking; there have been several times in my life where I have been running full-out, looking over my shoulder at a prize zipping my way, knowing full well I was going to score big and then, BANG!, hitting the goal post in full stride. I do not remember it ever being funny until healing had taken place and time had numbed the pain.
Surely many of us feel this way concerning our current economic woes. Way too many people have run into their own personal goalpost and dislodged a few teeth. Not necessarily because they were not paying attention, but because those we trust stood by and watched it happen. Many of the artists we deal with at the trading post have hit the wall. They are accustomed to asking us for advice on the subject. When they do, I often feel as I did watching Bruce racing towards that imminent impact and being unable to warn him. After much concerned concentration, Steve and I now tell the artists it is time to do their best work; to slow down and create art with passion and great attention to detail.
To effectively evade this economic goalpost and come out with a game winning catch we have to be even more aware of our surroundings; we have to work harder and sacrifice more. We must forgive the fact that we are not as big, fast, strong or talented as others. We can, however, accomplish great things if we put our minds to it. The artists of Twin Rocks Trading Post have really stepped up. They have shaken off the anchor of pride, greed, jealousy and self-pity, and discovered anger-management. Our customers have reacted favorably to this new and exciting thought process as well; they love that they are seeing better art and have been incredibly supportive.
With Warm Regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.