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During a time long ago when dinosaurs still walked the Earth and I was a ninth grader, I had the good fortune to play right wing on my school's soccer team during the first year of that institution's soccer program. It was truly a learning experience, as teams with years of training and games under their belts thumped us with discouraging regularity.
One of my most valued teammates was named Peter. Peter was deaf from birth and struggled mightily to articulate and pronounce words. In spite of what we perceived to be Peter's disability, he would accept no limits on his activities and he would place no boundaries on his successes. Peter played soccer with a zeal that was well beyond remarkable.
Due to his hearing disability, Peter had to compensate for the lack of heard sound by becoming extra aggressive and vigilant with respect to his vision and his movement. His head was constantly turning as he raced up and down the field. He was unstoppable. He was undefeatable. He was a machine. In fact, he was a "terminator" in action well before Hollywood coined that word and attached it to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Because Peter knew that we, his teammates, sometimes struggled to understand him as he attempted to express himself, he chose to "keep it simple" on the soccer field. He had a wonderful sense of humor, and he delighted in letting us know that because we could not understand the English language as he spoke it, he was going to voluntarily limit himself to using one exclamation while on the field. That exclamatory phrase was: "Come on! Come on!"
During each game, when our spirits were low and our bodies were run down, Peter would run at top speed all around us, shouting, "Come on! Come on!", over and over, just to make sure that we got the message. Our coach loved the stark simplicity of Peter's "KITA" (kick in the - - - ) approach to giving encouragement to his peers. So did we.
Peter proved to us that anything was possible if one combined courage with persistence and resilience. The beauty of Peter's approach was that he combined constant activity and motion with a clear, simple reinforcing message, and he did it consistently, at every practice session, during every game.
Adversaries who had initially (and foolishly) mocked Peter due to his "difference" grew to fear his relentless focus on crushing them on the field. There was no malice involved, of course. Peter was also the consummate good sport who loved to introduce himself to members of the opposing team while engaging in the traditional post-competition "good game" hand slapfest.
What is the lesson for all of us in Peter's example? Well, all I know is that I still say to myself, sometimes stridently, "Come on! Come on!", whenever I feel as if I want to start to unfurl a white flag of surrender to be run up a post. The no-nonsense, repeated command "Come on, Come on!" exhorts any person sensing momentary defeat to take a deep breath, open his eyes, get his bearings, reassess his position, focus on his goal, and get moving to achieve it!
Stressed out by today's crisis? Worried about tomorrow's problem? Anxious because the future is uncertain? Come on! Come on! The best times, for all of us, are just down the road. Look, just beyond the trees. Sunshine. A blue sky. No clouds. No rain. There's no doubt about it. Serious good times are coming. Soon. Just ask Peter.
Christopher Ferris c 603.233.8759 firstname.lastname@example.org