Pain is part of growing
Everything in life is temporary
Worrying and complaining changes nothing
Your scars are symbols of your strength
Every little struggle is a step forward
Other people’s negativity is not your problem
What’s meant to be will eventually, BE
The best thing you can do is to keep going
A champion is someone who defeats all competition. As a society, we limit ourselves to this definition. We often focus only on the champions in sports. Joe Flacco, the Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback, was the 2012 MVP for the Super Bowl. He’s a champion. LeBron James, starting small forward for the Miami Heat, was the 2012 MVP for the NBA Finals. He’s a champion. They are champions, according to the definition. They are champions by hard work and god-given talent. They come to work, put on their jersey and people remember their name and number.
I know a champion, but he doesn’t wear a jersey. He doesn’t wear his last name or a number on the back of his shirt. He doesn’t play a professional sport, nor has he won an MVP award.
His name is Kyle Weafer and he has Autism. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Autism as a “developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others.” Weafer isn’t limited to this definition or disability. He isn’t defined by Autism; he’s a champion of Autism. Unlike sports, Autism doesn’t end after four quarters. There is no halftime, no timeouts and it doesn’t last for a season. It’s a permanent game. Weafer didn’t ask for Autism, he was born with it. But he never quits. He never slows down. He makes every day count. He knows each day is an opportunity for something great and he uses this as motivation. He’s a fighter and fighters never give up.
Six years ago was the first time I met Weafer. Within 30 minutes, he gave me the most valuable piece of advice that I still cherish today, “smile, Bryenn. Life is good.” This might seem minute to some of you, but these five words are what propel me to champion my own life. If Weafer, a man who has faced unfair adversity in human biology, can preach about life being good and face each day with a smile, then I can listen.
I start to understand that my “big problems” aren’t as big in the grand scheme of things. Worrying about getting the latest Apple product or getting upset about people not texting me back quickly aren’t real problems in comparison. I compartmentalize my insecurities and start to focus more on what mattered most to me, my family, friends and my future. Weafer’s five words still resonate with me as much as they did six years ago. He gave me something that I can’t ever repay. I’m eternally in debt to him. He’s my role model. I look up to him and appreciate his love for life and how he conquers each day. To me, that’s a champion. Every day is a championship game for Weafer.
He has taken on the role of a champion, much like LeBron James and Joe Flacco and, like James and Flacco, he is an MVP — at least in my eyes. He wakes up every morning embracing life, not complaining about what day of the week it is. He doesn’t complain about what he doesn’t have or what he was given. He takes what he has and makes the best of it.
Weafer also likes working out, a lot. His unsullied smile every time he approaches the gym is profound. It’s a smile that grabs the attention of bystanders. Why is he smiling? It’s a simple question with a simple answer; he can’t get enough of the gym. To him, this is another challenge. You can’t go to the gym and sit there and expect to get fit. Weafer knows there is much dedication and hard work that is needed to become strong. But he’s a champion. He knows what it takes and he’s ready. Nobody can tell him no. He’s a fighter. He has been his entire life.
Much like Weafer’s satisfaction for the gym, I find satisfaction in blogging. People ask me why I like blogging. It’s a simple answer; I can’t get enough of it. This is where I feel like a champion. I challenge myself everyday to become a better writer. But I do more than just challenge my writing abilities. I challenge myself to become a better person in life. A champion of life by doing what is right and living each day as if it were a championship game. Weafer taught me how to become this champion. I think it’s time we all become a champion in our lives and find out what we can’t get enough of and do it. Don’t let a definition, label, or disability limit you. Be an MVP in your life and make the most of each day.
The clock reads 2 a.m. when my cell phone’s ringer violently awakens me. As the sluggishness of my body starts to wear off like a bad hangover, I grab my phone. 10 missed calls from the same number. Horrific thoughts start to fill my head. My phone alerts me there’s a new voicemail. I’m hesitant to listen to it, but curiosity and fear consume my body like an addiction. I hit the voicemail button. After I listen to the message, I can’t get it to stop playing in my head. I’m paralyzed by it. I was told there was an “accident” and now someone I love is dead. My memory is hyperactive, remembering the memories we shared and denying what is. A strong sense of guilt brings me back to the harsh reality. The guilt is waiting until later (in this case, never) to tell this person how much they meant to me and for being too self-absorbed with my life to reach out. I’m sobbing, cold and alone. My life is in a million pieces. And then I wake up.
It’s a nightmare that happens too often, but brings clarity to my life. It reminds me how important each day is; every day is a blessing. Life doesn’t come with a guarantee, neither does tomorrow. Sometimes later never comes. I think it’s important we think about that when we tell ourselves that we’ll do something later – there is nothing you are doing right now that is more valuable than never doing something.
This is ironic, because we live in a digitally advanced society that offers sites, apps and services that interconnect people at the touch of their finger tips or at a click of a button. How is there no time right now when this generation has championed the term “multitasker”? Why are we waiting until later when we can do multiple things at once?
Maybe I’m being too idealistic here. It’s ideal that people get the most out of life. It’s ideal to be reminded that you are loved. It’s ideal to see the beauty in life and to have an optimistic attitude towards life. Maybe people do want these things, but right now they are too busy to focus on what’s really important in their life. Maybe it’s society telling us what’s important and setting cockamamie expectations to fulfill a spurious void that we created. Maybe people need to be more realistic and understand life is happening now, not later.
I’m not concerned with who is to blame for why we procrastinate living our life. I’m more concerned with having you realize this and doing something about it. I don’t write for myself. I write for people who have the power to make a difference and will.
I’m trying to enable people like you to make the world a better pace right now, not later. I do this because there is something we can all offer the world. For me, at least right now, it’s writing motivational columns to tell people to make a difference. It might not sound like much, but at least I’m making an impact. What kind of impact do you want to have? Whatever it is you just thought of, go and do it now, not later. Never let the “L” word affect you, again