Next Door, Where the Winners Are.
February 26, 2014
They were there again.
This time in a place called Sochi.
Next stop: Rio de Janeiro.
We saw winners.
There were no losers.
No place for them there.
Their competitive spirits, their goals of high attainment made them winners.
And there is no extinguishing of the torch – Olympian or otherwise — on that.
It comes at extracting, demanding price.
We see it in the Olympics, yes.
Those we know.
Those we don’t know.
Maybe only hear or read about.
They set goals.
They struggle and overcome those struggles.
They keep on keeping on.
Dig deep, deep down into that sometimes forgotten place – that place where gumption dwells.
They summon it.
They reach finish lines.
And then they keep on going.
As if there is – for them – no final finish line.
Read just now about a man who ran a marathon – one of many that will be run this year throughout our nation.
Been running them for years.
Plans to run more.
He’s 30. So he has time to run dozens more.
And he will.
Although he’s blind.
Doesn’t slow him down.
He has a running buddy.
Twice his age.
But not a thought of dropping out of the race.
Know of another legally blind person. She’s a journalist. Holds her own and then some at a daily newspaper. Has for decades. Competes with the best of them.
Know of another journalist. He’s retired. He is not blind. But for three years health problems had him bed-ridden. But he was determined not to go on prone. He worked to get out of that bed. I talked to him by phone the day he took that first step after those more than 1,000 days flat of his back. Joy – sheer joy – was his that day. In time, he sent it along to others. His next goal was getting outside the house. With added steps and a wheelchair he managed that. Has been doing it for more than two years. Without missing a day. Despite the weather.
Those near, those far who know his story go along with him, encouraged. Even those who are figuratively bed-ridden in their own ways.
Know of a young woman who was a single mom. Worked full time as a drug store cashier. Desired an education. Wanted to be a teacher. Got her GED. Went to a community college. Then went to a four-year college. One of her goals was to graduate from college the same year her daughter graduated high school. Last time I saw her, she was in her final days working at the drug store. Like the bed-ridden friend when he took that first, single, winning step after three years in bed, joy was hers that last time I spoke with her. She was to graduate college one day; her daughter was to graduate high school the next. The daughter would start college the next fall. The single mom had just gotten word she had a teaching job.
There are the places called Sochi.
There are the places just down the street.
The places across town.
Places the next town over.
Places of people such as these.
Places where the winners are.
Roger Summers is a journalist and essayist who spends time in Texas, New Mexico and England and in a world of curiosity and creativity. He is the author of The Day Camelot Came to Town and Heart Songs From a Washboard Road. He can be reached at [email protected]
Please click the book cover image to read more about the short story collection of Roger Summers: Heart Songs from a Washboard Road.