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.