Today while myself and six of my students were dying on our sleds’ (Bear crawls as heavy as possible for 400m) a verbal argument was growing more and more heated at the end of the block. It was weird and I couldn't ignore the situation. The aggressor, one man wearing ragged clothes and smelling like alcohol and piss began to shout louder. The group of men started to turn away and he continually kept shouting, rattling off incoherent thoughts. If I had to guess he looked like my other patients from the ambulance tweaked out, up all night from meth.
In between his shouting I asked him, “Hey man you want to join us?”
Without hesitation he removed his shirt and came over to me. I strapped him up, told him "take this sled and go all the way over there.”
I loaded it immediately very heavy. I told him to get down, to put his hands on the ground.
Walk! I shouted. Yelling at him, provoking him with things like, “are you going to quit now? That isn’t who you are. You aren’t a quitter. Keep walking. Do. Not. Stop."
I kept loading weight as he was crawling, he made it 98% and gave up. Collapsed to the floor on his back panting and saying he was done. In less than five minutes he went from standing tall, yelling racist slurs, to crawling on the ground falling to his back.
There on his back, he looked at me in-between pants he said, “I love you.”
Does he actually love me? Hell No. It’s not about the words but about the change that happened. In his brain, he experienced the same change that we all have the freedom to do. To humble ourselves to our hands and knees and crawl until our very soul tells us that we have had enough.
This man, is at the bottom of the world. The scum of the earth. The dredged and disregarded. The shunned of society.
Although it may have looked like I was punishing him, it was anything but that. I took him into my world and showed him great love, how beautiful death can be. I showed him his potential. He had the opportunity to look at his own life and his own ability to choose death. Eventually he lost, he raised the white flag and gave up, death was too much. I don’t care that he gave up, but he does. I hope that he can choose to be more of himself after this. However he wants to.
It is extremely easy to turn the other direction. To let bygones be bygones. To let people “Do as they please.” I don’t believe he is happy, doing what he wants to. I think he is trapped by fear, loneliness. He is scared.
I can’t watch the world burn.
I Embrace the chaos within myself. I Embrace the grit that reigns down blood, sweat, and tears. I Embrace everything that is my most repulsive self. Because of that, I see myself in him. I cannot judge him, I can only offer a helping hand and show him another way. A way out, a glimmer of hope. I hope I see him again, and I hope I get to die with him. I hope he will let himself die, I hope he won’t raise that white flag. I hope he will do this again and push himself. Only for the hope and possibility that maybe, as he pushes he will hear a whisper, “I can do this.” He will take one more step than he did last time.
Maybe in the future he may be faced with another challenge in life. The same whisper will return, “I can to do this.”
The whispers over time become louder, they continue to say, "I can do this.”
Soon they will call down upon him and with a booming voice yell, “I can do this!”
He will turn around, search for, wondering where the words came from. He will realize they came from himself, and he will then whisper to his own heart, “Who then, am.. I?"
This man, will look at himself, with new eyes never before seen, and see the man he has become. A whisper may escape from the small space between his lips, "I am who I am. I am who I choose to be."
And maybe, just maybe, the chains he carries, and the load he bears will release itself and he may go on to enjoy a life worth living.
There are a million and one valid reasons I should not have done what I did. Safety, legal, etc… But I have to do this. I have to because I believe in him. I believe that this outcome is a possibility even if it is .00001%. I believe In all of us. I believe that we can overcome our own demons and faults. That we can die a million times over again and be reborn anew into the person we were meant to be. I believe we can all bask in the glory of our most holy light. But I do know that first we have to trudge through our deepest, darkest, and thickest blackness until we can come on the other side and bask in that light.
I choose to take action, I will not sit idly by. I choose to be a defender. To believe in the person next to me.