Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chasing Louden Swain

There is an old adage about nothing worth having ever coming to you too easy - or words to that effect. There are a million practical applications for the aforementioned adage in the lives of each of us. Today, it rings particuarly true for Frank.

Mother Nature has spent the month of February playing the part of a woman scorned all over the State of Concrete Gardens. Her wrath has had far-flung and disparate consequences. She has prompted the closing of so many schools so often that the possibility exists for kids in certain areas of my beloved home state that their Memorial Day long weekend might be longer than their summer vacation. And she has necessitated the cancellation, postponement and rescheduling of so many activities and events that 'round these parts these days you get a pass if you cannot figure out where it is you are going and are indeed having difficulty distinguishing your ass from your elbow. Lately every day has been one of those days.

In a particularly cruel twist of fate the flex of Mother Nature's mighty muscles has wreaked havoc on the high school wrestlers who are competing this weekend in one of eight Regions for the right to wrestle in the State Championship tournament in Atlantic City next weekend. Frank, his two surviving Blue Jays teammates, the son and namesake of one of a man I have known my entire life (a man my parents wished and hoped I would be be like when I grew up) and 108 other wrestlers were to have gathered last night at Union High School for the commencement of this weekend's hostilities in Region 3. However, with more time being devoted the past two days to the throwing of snow than to the throwing of one's opponent a tournament usually contested over two days is now a one-day marathon. All of the kids competing in it will wrestle this morning. Thereafter a wrestler could have to wrestle as many as three more matches by day's end.

Wrestling is a sport that relentlessly taxes the kids who compete in it. The toll it takes upon them is both physical and emotional. It is a sport in which there is no hiding place and in which the competitor walks alone. Today the majority of the kids in action at Union High School and at the seven other sites across the state at which Region tournaments are being contested will go home disappointed. Eight combatants will begin the day in each of the fourteen weight classes fueled by the same dream: Atlantic City. When the dust settles today, only three kids from each weight class will have realized his dream. For the other five per weight class the season ends today. And for a certain of their number who are high school seniors, the sound resonating in their ears as day's end is that of a chapter in the book of life closing with a thud.

For the kids competing today, today is not a "day" at all. It is a series of six-minute vignettes composed extemporaneously. Six minutes. A lifetime or perhaps no time at all. It depends what one makes of it.

It is always that way with time; is it not? It is never how much we have but what we do with the time we have that defines us - all of us. Not only the young.


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