I hope everyone is looking forward to the new year and the bright beginnings it represents. In the spirit of new beginnings I thought I’d tell you a short story about myself.
In June of 1969, I was told by the famous George “Papa Bear” Halas that that my knee would never heal enough for me to play football again, and in his words, “It was time for me to go home.” At the time, I thought he only meant it was time for me to leave training camp and find a way back to Arkansas. I now understand his words had a greater meaning, but at the time I hadn’t learned to listen. It would take a random event later that day for me to fully comprehend what he meant and what they meant for my future.
While waiting for the plane to take me back to Arkansas, I wandered into the bookstore and purchased a copy of a novel I knew nothing about, The Chosen, by Chaim Potok. I had finished it before my plane touched ground in Little Rock. It is the story of two young Jewish boys growing up in New York. It has many beautiful themes and if you haven’t read it I commend it to you without reservation, but one theme stood out at the time. The brilliant son, Danny, is being raised by his father, A Hasidic Rabbi, in “silence.” Father and son do not talk except when they study the Torah. You learn in the end that the father made this difficult choice in how to raise his brilliant son, because he feared that his son’s brilliance would keep him from having a soul, a soul that cared for the Hasidic families his father believed his son would ultimately inherit as their Rabbi. He hoped that “in the silence” his son would learn to “listen” and care.
The book is one I have reread several times, it helped me adjust from being a “football player” to ultimately being a “counselor at law.” It helped me learn to listen and understand what Papa Bear meant when he said “It was time for me to go home.” Each year I prepare a list of resolutions and at the very top is to “listen better.” I have a long way to go in that category.
There are words, and then there are the words behind the words. When a young boy says he wants to become stronger does he mean physically strong, or maybe stronger in spirit and courage to withstand bullying? When a young girls says she “just wants to be loved” does she mean she needs a boyfriend, or does it mean she doesn’t feel worthy of being loved. Words behind the words – may we all resolve that for 2014 we listen carefully to what is being said and more importantly to what is not said.
Happy New Year! W.