Jerry L. Burrell DAY 18 of my 21 day writing challenge
“Do it again, do it again!” I remember us chanting.
When we were young, my dad would entertain and play with us by standing and walking on his hands and in mid step lower to his forearms and take a few steps and then raise onto his hands again to the cheers of our amazement.
Because of him I learned how to do it too.
Later, I found out that he taught himself when he was a boy.
The story goes that as a result of polio, it was painful/difficult for him to walk, so walking on his hands was one of his solutions.
I cannot remember when I consciously came to understand that my Dad walked with a pronounced polio inflicted limp. I’m sure It occurred to me at some point but there is no specific moment that I can recollect.
After my Dad died, I found myself wondering about how his “walk” may have affected him throughout his life. He loved sports - did classmates avoid picking him when teams were formed? Did the other kids tease him? Did girls he was interested in turn him down? Did hiring managers pass over him? Did he ever doubt that he had what it took?
As I was wondering these things about my Dad, I realized that in my life I’d been picked last, I’d been teased, I’d been turned down, I’d been passed over and I’ve doubted myself, and I walk “normally”.
It finally dawned on me that this mystery about how his “walk” may have affected him was no mystery at all because “his walk” was not defined by his “walk”. In other words, how he carried himself was not defined by how his legs carried him. With natural imperfection, he carried himself with strength, with confidence, with purpose and with hope.
Because of him, I learned how to do that too.
In a world that promotes physical beauty and perfection, it is easy to get hung up on “imperfections.” We are so much more than any perceived “limp”.
Each and every one of us occupies unique positions in the time and space continuum and while we are all made up of the same star stuff that connects us, it is our dreams, our experiences, our imaginings, our talents, our vision, our purpose and more that sets us apart and allows us to fill the void that no one else can.
We speak to students around the country about the perfectly imperfect position they hold in the world and the power that is packed into their 1OAK LIFE. I am on a mission to convey this same message to freesTYle dunkers around the country. We fill a void that no one else can and there is freedom in that rarity. There is power in that rarity. There is value in that rarity.
As I envision a unified effort by amateur, professional and retired American freesTYle dunkers to dream bigger than they've ever dreamed, I get excited because I know that when that much power is combined in pursuit of a common mission it will surely come to pass, it’s just a matter of time.
Thanks Dad for not only teaching me how to stand and walk on my hands but more importantly how to stand and walk on my purpose - “limps” and all.
See United States Freestyle Dunk Federation Mission here: https://usadunk.wixsite.com/uncleslam/mission
https://youtu.be/fiWUUEH7p_0 "Limp" by Jonathan McReynolds
I remain grateful.