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Three Meter Zone | JD's Bunker | Poetry | Chapel | American Journal



Personal Courage

J. D. Pendry

If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it. - John Irving

Last night I rediscovered the center of the universe - a high school football field on game night. Maybe one hundred players stand on opposing sides of the field. Most of them will never play a down after high school. Many will spend their high school careers hoping to get into the game while watching one or two star athletes dominate play. Of all of the athletes on the field maybe one has a slight chance of some day being a professional athlete - a very slight chance. The stands are filled with parents holding high expectations. All of them know that if their son will just get the chance to play he'll be the one that makes the winning play. Many have encouraged their sons to play the game because that's what young men do and too many of those parents are trying to live their own fantasies through their son's life.

Sitting there watching, I started to focus on people other than those on the playing field. I looked over at the band. A mixture of young men and women all shapes and sizes. No sidelines for them, they were all in the game. Even the young man in his motorized wheel chair. I thought about my high school days. Being on the football team got you some respect, even if you never once looked across the line of scrimmage in a real game. Being in the band, if you were a young man, often caused your masculinity to be questioned - nothing any self-respecting teenage boy wants to happen. Looking on around the field, I zeroed in on the Cheerleading squad. Then something caught my eye. Standing there midst twenty or so young women cheerleaders was a solitary young man - also a cheerleader. A lot of things started running through my mind. I had all of the thoughts you'd expect a man to have about such a thing. Then from nowhere I was literally floored by another thought. In this environment where peer (and too often parent pressure) pressure to be like us is extreme, here stood a young man doing what he wanted to do - and apparently having a good time at it. It dawned on me that his choice required a tremendous amount of personal courage.

After pondering that thought for awhile, I began to wonder about some other things. I wondered about how many young people simply didn't participate in anything because what they really wanted to do wasn't accepted as the normal way. Then I started thinking, how often in my life had I made choices because they were acceptable to my peers and associates, but not what I wanted to do personally. Plenty of times - too many frankly.

It all comes down to what Mr. Irving said. We need to choose a path because it's the path we want. We all need to find the courage to assess where we are and then decide if that's where we really want to be. One has to live in harmony with oneself I think.

© 1999 J. D. Pendry