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When the eyes have it

When the eyes have it

This week’s inspiration comes through the lens of a camera. Of the 257 photos I took of my son’s five wrestling matches, this one struck home.

Peter’s eyes say it all. Intense. Determined. Focused. He’s waiting for the ref to blow the whistle so he can try to escape the other wrestler’s grasp. Although you cannot see the other wrestler, I am sure his eyes are in the same zone—steady, alert, and just as determined not to let Peter get away.

Both young men are coached to “explode” at the sound of the whistle—one to get up and out so he can score; the other to hold tight and not let go to prevent it.

In competitions, often a whistle or shot or flag signals the start. It is time to cut loose from rehearsals, “go live,” and do what your training has prepared you to do whatever the challenge may be.

It’s a time to test yourself.

Becky Pete wheelchair kissThe eyes of my son showed me so many things. Those soft brown eyes were once those of my little boy who used to run and jump in my lap and squeeze my neck so hard that I would almost fall out of my wheelchair. He was only three when I was paralyzed, but he never let my wheels get between us. He was fast and exuberant; when he saw me wheel into a room I knew I better lock my brakes if his eyes lit up.

As he grew, I watched those eyes light up with learning at school, with his friends and their mischief, and in sport after sport until he settled on wrestling. That’s where he learned the most about focus, intensity, and preparation.

I know what’s behind the eyes in that photo—the years of training and competitions and wins and losses and good refs and bad calls and 6 a.m. lifting and three-a-day practices and reading labels and measuring food to the ounce and injuries and casts and splints and bandages and trophies and medals and awards and a room wallpapered with brackets and oh my goodness the smelly laundry.

All those moments prepared him for this one–waiting for the whistle.

As my favorite Quiet Time poet and philosopher Mark Nepo says so beautifully, “Seeking things only brings us to the edge of knowing ourselves.”

When the whistle blows, Peter will learn about himself—was his preparation enough?

I wonder how often we find ourselves on the edge of knowing ourselves. More than we think, I believe—even with the smallest actions. I know I feel that way every time I hit send for these Thoughtful Thursday newsletters or submit other columns for a publication. Am I going to hit the mark? Will it be deleted before it’s opened? Never opened at all? Have I used all that I’ve learned? Is it a winner?

Despite the doubts, at some point I decide I’m ready for the whistle.

What about you? Are you perched on an edge of a self-discovery? What have you—or life—prepared you to do? Are you ready for the whistle?

I’d love to know.

As for the rest of the story, Pete escaped from his opponent, won that match and two more. He also lost two. All five will become part of his preparation for the next time when his eyes will have that look once more.

And he’ll be ready for that whistle to blow.

pete mom hokie tournament 2

My best—always,


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