Apparently, if I’m ever going to write a memoir, I need to start skiing.
I’m currently reading Emily Rapp’s Poster Child and it’s the third memoir in a row wherein the limb-different author was some sort of champion skier. First it was Josh Sundquist, then Kevin Michael Connolly and now Emily Rapp. Now, to be fair, they are all missing one or both legs, so I could probably get by without skiing. But, still…
Reading these memoirs has made me try to remember all the things I did as I was growing-up. And the fact of the matter is…I was pretty dang normal. I never aspired to be a champion athlete, though I played every sport imaginable. Except soccer, which is what everyone assumes I played. “Because you don’t need hands, ya know?” they say. I played little league baseball and was a pitcher like my hero, Jim Abbott, but I stopped before high school. I ran track my freshman year, but then I focused on music starting my sophomore year. I was in choir and wind ensemble and orchestra and jazz…whatever was offered, I did it. I played trumpet, euphonium, and the valve trombone. Junior year I went through my drama phase, gracing the stage for a musical and a play my senior year.
I’ve been to Europe and I’ve been to Haiti. I got married and I have three kids. I’ve been a youth pastor and I’m currently our church’s associate pastor. I’ve held all sorts of jobs and have lived in a few different places.
As my friend Desi said recently, “You’re just a normal guy.”
Here’s the thing I’m realizing, though: most of us are normal. There’s a reason they’re making a movie of Kevin’s life and not mine. He did something creative and unique! His story should be told. And that’s awesome. But, I’ll admit, sometimes I get down on myself for not being more ambitious. Like, why wasn’t I more determined to conquer everything when I was younger? I believe I could have been a star athlete. Or an actor. Anything, really. And I don’t mean for that to sound arrogant, I just really believe that when I put my mind to something I can accomplish it. So, why didn’t I do that more when I was a kid?
I’ll tell you why I think it was. It was because I didn’t have anything to prove. At least I didn’t think I did. That and I had a short attention span. Honestly, though, you’d think I’d want to prove to everyone that I could not only do everything you two-handers could do, but I could do it better. If I was going to Jump-Rope-For-Heart, I’d win it. If you could win that. I’d become a star baseball pitcher. I’d become an actor who elicits howls of laughter or stifled sobs every time I took the stage. Whatever it was, I’d be the best.
But it was never like that. I did something I liked and then I moved on. And I think that’s what most of us do. We try things and if we like them, we keep doing them. Most of us aren’t the best at whatever it is we like to do. I mean, logically, only one person can be the best, so the rest of us aren’t. And that’s fine. We all have our own stories. And your story is just as valid as mine or as Josh’s or as anybody’s. Maybe our stories won’t ever be told within the pages of a book, but they will be told. Your family, your friends, the people in your community…they’ll come to know your story.
I dare us to live a good one.
And then, to not be afraid to tell it.
Whenever the word ‘pastor’ enters the conversation, I feel that was your calling, that WAS your purpose. And perhaps participating in everyday ways thru so many avenues in your own youth and high school days, has lead you to a place where you can interact on so many levels with the youth that you now come in contact with. Maybe you weren’t called to master one thing in this life, but to concentrate more on the future for the future of others? Just a thought 🙂 Thanks for sharing.
Hi, like you I only have one arm and when I saw this post I just had to reply. I am now thirteen and have been skiing for close to 10 years. And the question I get asked and asked is ‘How can you ski with one hand?’ my answer is always you ski with your legs. Now there are many different types of skiing mainly freestyle and racing. Freestyle is jumps and stuff like that(you don’t use hands) or racing which is just going through a slalom. (Using your hand to block poles) Even though it takes a lot of time I figured out how to ski race. I would strongly recomend you give it a try because
1. You’ll love it!
2. There isn’t any other one armed skiers out there that I know of.
So true, Ryan .. we do all try various things in our lives; some interests last longer than others; but in due course we move on to something new/else .. I believe that it is innnate within us to be like this .. to discover ourselves and our world (and in our case, Jesus and God too)
I have to say, reading this was a huge encouragement to me as a parent! Although I encourage ALL of my kids to do their best in whatever they do, I’ve struggled with the notion that my youngest, (only 2 yrs old now & was born without her lower left arm) may always be made to feel she continually has something to prove. Seeing your reflections on your childhood was kind of uplifting considering that’s how I think back on my own extremely “normal” years. It’s nice, also, to be able to put into perspective that truly only one person is the best, so we’ll all be pretty discouraged by constantly comparing ourselves to others! Thanks for your blog, love your posts!