Monday, May 11, 2015

Potential (A Parable)

Once, there was a boy whose father took no crap. "Spare the rod and spoil the child" was his favorite Bible quotation.

Father forbade Son to waste his time with video games and with television and with other empty boyish pursuits. The boy, at that young age, hated his father.

Father knew: "Someday, he will understand and appreciate what I have done."

Father "pushed" Son to achieve, and Son hated that and Son hated Father more with each post-game critique and with each drill and re-drill of sports skills.

Son hated that Father would force him to lift weights and to run. The boy had to run in grade school. He had to run in middle school. In high school, Father made the boy run before school and after practice -- even on game day; even after games.

In the car, Son never spoke. He just wore his earbuds and sent phone messages to his friends. But Father knew: "Some day, my son will understand."

Father "wanted more" for Son than Father had had as a child. One only achieves greatness through hard work;  you miss one-hundred percent of the shots you don't take; character is what you do when no one is watching; winners never quit and quitters never win. Son was simply too immature to see his father's wisdom.

For years, the boy hated Father for being so hard on him... For years, there were endless trips to "travel games" with not a word spoken -- until after the game, when they would argue about an at-bat or about a play or about a missed opportunity to pin an apponent.

"Some day," thought Father. "Some day he will realize and someday I will be proud."

Then, high school ended and, soon after, the boy graduated college.

Son was in great condition, but he had blown knees; he had no professional sports contract and he had earned a degree in business with no promise of a job, not to mention piles of student debt because he had gotten no significant sports scholarship. (Father knew this was because Son just didn't work hard enough -- neither of them had. This made Father feel ashamed.)

Then, one day, years later Son son thought about it as they say together at Thanksgiving dinner. He looked at Father, the wrinkled face still hard and determined-looking. Still the face of a competitor as Father stared down at the fork poking peas, one to each tine; four peas to a bite behind the leathery lips. Son thought of all those mornings running in the fog, Father pushing him to reach his full potential; all those days on the field and in the gym....

...and Son's expression changed; Father saw this and he looked at Son.  "Today," thought Father, anticipating, hopeful... "Today is the day... Thanksgiving."

And all these years later, Son finally realized it: He still hated his father. Son's face went dark.

Father looked down at his peas, halfo of them spilling their lighter green guts onto the plate.

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