But I Wasn’t Always That Way


Today, I would struggle to jump over the Amboy phone book… if there is such a thing anymore. But I wasn’t always that way.

Today, I can throw together a few words and create a seemingly halfway coherent piece of content. But I wasn’t always that way.

I’m flashing back to May, 1979, when both these issues came into play. Ninth grade, I’m barely 15 and built with all the thickness of a number 2 pencil. I’m also not much into the ‘school’ part of school. But to be able to play sports, I have to pass classes. Didn’t seem fair, but “rules” – whatevs.

That means I need to pass this class that required me writing something into a book. If you’re a girl, I think they call it a Diary. Guys don’t dare have a diary, so it was called journaling, or something like that. But Mr. Petty (9th grade teacher, more importantly my Varsity hoops coach) made it cool. I still didn’t necessarily want to do it, and I wasn’t very good at it. But it was forced on me (no pass, no play) so I needed to make the best of it.

Recently, as I was reading back through this “required homework” (yes, I kept it) 🙂 it was obvious that I had a singular unwavering focus that Spring of 1979 (well, aside from this girl I liked, hi KJ)… and that was the school High Jump record. I wrote about it endlessly. Petty probably got tired of reading about it (although he did give me 10/10 on most of them). Even back then I guess I subscribed to the mantra I often share with my kids… “a goal is just a wish until it’s written down.”

Meet day. It was unseasonably warm and the coaches had told us to stay out of the direct sun. Of course, I got busy socializing between events (I know, surprise, right?) and just hung out in the sun. Sorry, not sorry, Coach Brunaugh, it all worked out though. 🙂 I think it loosened me up. I felt great (saying that in the Tony the Tiger voice!).

(You just now said that in the Tony the Tiger voice, didn’t you?) 🙂

And, boy, I seemed to have an extra bounce in my step. I jumped great, smashing the school record by over two inches and surpassing the best jump of the year in the entire District. Well, at least according the Diary… uh, I mean the required journaling homework assignment. They also wrote about it in the school newspaper (yeah, I keep that too, sue me).

Side note: I guess it was “Excellent” (based on a reading of these journals, I used that word a lot back then. I also said “Ace” a lot. Man, Jr. High kids are weird…).

But as I was living it, I didn’t feel weird. I felt alive. 15 years old. I was the school record holder. My entire life was ahead of me, the world was mine for the taking. Whatever I wanted. All I need to do is be able to dream it, write it down, and then never give up until I brought it into existence.

I may never soar like that again, but I will always have the words that I wrote… sharing the dreams of doing it, telling myself that I could, and proving to myself that I had.


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