Monday, January 29, 2007

men in a square

The sun was just beginning to hide behind the trees, and the grass beneath us was cool and inviting. It was a beautiful summer evening. About ten of us had gathered up blankets and chairs to sit at a concert in the park. We brought cheese, crackers, fruit and wine and enjoyed the music, but more than that the company. That was the summer following my second year of grad school. It was a rich year full of fun and fellowship, laughing and learning, progress and pleasure. That particular summer was a treasured time. The summers are usually quiet on campus, and a small group of us had begun enjoying much of life together as we shared meals, played, and studied.

The concert had ended. We still sat on our blankets, talking and telling stories when one of my friends full of energy and always thinking science spoke up. He suggested that the guys do this experiment where they each rest their feet on another’s back forming a square and then try to do a pushup. He said it was incredibly difficult and required strength. Four of them did it, and to be honest, it looked easy. They asked if anyone else wanted to try (I think they meant boys). I said I did. There was something in me that believed I could do whatever I set my mind to. And, that day I wanted to be strong. I wanted to prove that I could do this. I believe they warned me that I wouldn’t be strong enough, but none-the-less they humored me. I laid down in the square of guys with my face in the cold green grass and waited. One…Two…Three. Everyone pushed as if doing a pushup. Half of the square went up. I worked my muscles straining to push with my arms. Every bit of strength that I had gained by working out in the weight room that summer was pushing to accomplish the task before me. I couldn’t do it. Without much being said, the boys relaxed their strong arms falling back into the grass.

I wonder what happened to that little girl. Though her physical strength was weak, there was something about her emotional strength that was impressive. There was a fight and a drive that made her want to tackle the world.

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