The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when nobody else is looking.
Life is hard enough as it is, but to face it with no one around who cares about you, especially if you have stacked up some decades on yourself, is difficult indeed. Aloneness is a preferable condition under some circumstances, but when the tasks are done, the challenges met and the fears overcome it's so good to have someone with you who can share your victory.
The real heroics are never seen on the ball field, the stage or the orchestra pit. We see only the results: a scoreless game, an inspiring performance, the reaching into the higher levels of feeling and human experience by the musicians. The real heroics are invisible things, mental things. We cannot see them going on.
The nurse closes the curtain and leaves the room. Now the patient is alone facing fear, dealing with pain, desperate and unsure of what will happen, but fighting to stay alive, to get healthy, to survive. And there is no one there to see it.
I did a very difficult, vigorous and demanding solo dance in a musical. When it was over, panting for breath and sweating, I had to climb,a flight of stairs to my dressing room. I was so bowed over with exhaustion that it was all I could do to look at myself in the mirror to see if I was still all right. No one was there.
I spent one winter living in a farm house down a long dirt road in the north country. One freezing cold day while cutting some fire wood from downed branches the saw slipped and cut into my finger right down to the bone. I quickly shut down the saw and went inside. There were no bandages or anything of that sort in the house that I knew of, but there was a roll of paper towel. I wrapped my finger in it and held it as tightly as I could. The pain was horrible and the blood was flowing, I had no phone to call for help. I had no transportation to take me to a doctor. The nearest neighbor was 6 miles away and they usually were locked up and gone for the winter. I was alone and frightened.
Somehow I managed to feed myself and my cat and get a fire going in the wood stove, my only source of heat. I had to keep replacing the paper towel because of the blood. When I looked at the cleaned and open wound I could see the bone glistening in the light. I was afraid I was going to lose my finger, or worse. I was alone. There was no one there to whom I could explain my tears, show my panic or cry my pain.
The weeks went by. Slowly the wound healed, the bone strengthened, the flesh grew back, the skin grew over and now there's nothing left but a scar. And all that time, except for my friendly cat, I was alone.
If you have ever been bent over with fear and sorrow, drenched in sweat and tears, at the point of exhaustion, finality and surrender when no one was looking and you survived it, congratulate yourself, You're a champion.
DB Vagabond Journeys
The glass is half empty? Well, fill it up.