May I Die “Trying”

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I’m sure that if I stick with it, rugby will offer me many lessons. After Saturday’s “boot camp,” I’m a little sore and I’m still finding scrapes and bruises that I don’t remember getting– and of course there are the voice that say, “Are you frickin’ crazy? Some of those men are twenty-five years younger than you!” That’s only one of the things the voices say–they say a lot–and they say it often.  But take a look at my life and you can see that, even though the internal “tribal council” who offer up every reason in the world why what I want can’t be done or shouldn’t be done seems ever-present, I’m usually just too damn stubborn to listen.

I got a lot of negative messages from the world I grew up in. But there were some very positive ones too. Some of the most positive ones came from my mom. One of those was, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” I believed her– and in so doing I’ve accomplished (often with a lot of help) some of the things I’m most proud of in life. For example, no matter what I’ve come to believe about the futility of war and the misuse of our military, I’m still extremely proud to be a Marine– and that I did when I was thirty-four years old, much past the age when you’re “supposed” to go through Marine Corps boot camp. Oftentimes keeping The Eyes of Babylon up and running felt like we were trying to roll an anvil uphill– but somehow, mostly through my sheer bullheadedness, I was determined to keep that sucker moving. Today is my 5,818th day of continuous sobriety. Let me tell you that often throughout that almost sixteen years, the voices in my head have given me wonderful reasons why I just “have a drink and relax a little bit”– but thank God so far my feet have been smarter than those voices and have walked me to places where there were other people hanging out and doing things other than drinking instead of heading for the bar or the liquor store.

In rugby, you have to keep your eye on the prize and demolish whatever obstacle comes in between you and your goal or die trying. Or perhaps I should say and die trying. Because in rugby a score is called a “try,” which is to me another one of those spiritual lessons tucked away inside the game.

As long as I can continue to ignore the voices cheering and jeering from the side of the opposing team, as long as I can keep my smart feet moving toward that goal, and as long as I can continue to make rubble out of whatever stands in my way, I’m going to continue to prove my mother right.

Because in life, as in rugby– to “try” is to succeed.  


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