Its always easy to assume that my situation is intolerable, especially when I have a less than stellar day. I get lost in my own “pity party” and find excuses for my sub-par attitude. I often blame everything and everyone else for my string of bad luck. I forget that 99.9% of my problems are caused by my own dumbassery. I forget about how amazing my life is and how lucky I am to have the things that I do. Sometimes I need a little shock therapy to give me some perspective on how privileged I truly am.
I had the opportunity to enjoy a day at a trampoline park with my brother, girlfriend, and friends. The entire floor was made of trampolines. There was a foam diving pit and a jumping dodge ball arena. It was a child’s dream. Yet, here we were, a group of grown adults, waiting in line behind an endless sea of 10 year olds for a chance to run, jump, and flip into a bottomless foam pool. It was amazing. We found ourselves in the dodge ball course slinging bullets at a string of adolescents. This was even better.
Eventually, a middle aged black man walked into the arena with his children. He took his position across from us and prepared for battle. There was one issue. This man had no arms. We looked at each other, rather dumbfounded by the situation. How were we supposed to proceed? Do we aim for him? Of course not! This dude was missing both of his arms. No decent human would conceive of throwing a dodge ball at a man missing the key components to actually participate! I glanced over at the employee supervising this shindig. He seemed unfazed by this insane scenario unfolding before us. In the midst of this confusion, the whistle blew. Game on.
It was truly something out of a movie, or a whacky dream.
Balls began whizzing by as we jumped to avoid the onslaught from the children on the other side. I jumped closer to my friends to try and figure out this ridiculous scenario. As I ducked under another foam projectile, I noticed something. The man without arms was bouncing lightly across from me with his right foot clenching a dodgeball. I paused for a few seconds for my very slow brain to process the image before me. SMACK! I was out in an instant. A ball had crash landed onto the side of my face with some pretty significant force. As I jumped to the exit of the arena, I realized that the man without arms had kick/thrown his dodgeball directly at my head. He had used some sort of Randy Johnson side pitch form with his leg that propelled the ball violently towards his victims. It was truly something out of a movie, or a whacky dream.
The armless agent’s team won the round and we all piled in to take our places at the restart. The whistle blew and one of my friends immediately launched his ball at the two limbed warrior across from us. The ball landed and the guy seemed shocked that the first ball was thrown his way. I don’t think too many people throw dodge balls at people missing limbs all too often. My buddy’s excuse was simple: the guy was good and the guy had gotten him out last time. #revenge. With the other teams ace on the sidelines, we easily took the win.
We ended up playing for many more rounds. Sometimes we won, other times the fingerless destroyer’s team triumphed. After our bouts concluded, we got a chance to meet the zero ten toed gladiator that had kicked multiple balls into all of our faces. He was a truly remarkable human. This man gets dressed, works, makes phone calls, drives, takes care of his children, and brings these kids to the trampoline arena on a weekly basis. The guy literally didn’t stop smiling the whole time he was playing with us. I have never seen such a display of positivity, determination, and happiness from someone who had every reason to be miserable and depressed. He was making the most of the life he was given and the cards he was dealt. One of my friends even went for a fist bump, out of pure habit, and the guy reached his foot up and gave a strong “foot bump”. This guy was the epitome of what the word “man” stands for and a true testament to the capacity for a human being to overcome any obstacle life throws in the way.
My worst days are still days that I was able to breathe oxygen, eat food, run a mile, or use my hands.
Whenever I get into a slump, I think back to that dodgeball arena and the armless man that had pegged me on multiple occasions. I think about his children and the example he shows them every day of how to work through life’s difficulties. I realize that my life is one of joy, wonder, blessing, and bliss. My worst days are still days that I was able to breathe oxygen, eat food, run a mile, or use my hands. Selfishness is own of my major character defects. My natural tendency is to worry about myself and only myself no matter what is going on around me. I have to work on a constant basis to train my brain to think of others and put my situation in perspective. What ever I am dealing with is irrelevant, because there is always someone out there in the world that is doing a lot more with much less than me. If this no armed man can bring his kids to a trampoline dodgeball arena every week, then there is nothing I, or YOU, can’t do.