There is no doubt that it was a foul. He had never even attempted to get the ball. His body barreled through mine with such great force that we were both lying off the field by about a yard. He got up first and as he did, stepped on my knee with one foot, then my balls with the second and the first foot returned on my chest. Since Neymar was only one year old when this happened, I did not know that I was supposed to roll around on the ground like I’d been shot twelve times. So I did the only thing that made sense to me at the time. I got up! We were leading in the game against our biggest rival. Although we couldn’t be certain that a win would lead to a Conference Championship, a loss would make it impossible. There was no choice. I had to get up because that’s exactly what team needed me to do.
Wrapped within that decision was a lot of programming that came from my parents, brothers, coaches, teachers, friends and generation overall. Yes! I had been fouled horrendously. Yes! I had also been stomped on. Yes! I was in pain. And YES! I did not want to get up!
There is nothing special about my actions of that day. It was a moment in time similar to those of many people. The trifecta of the knee, balls and chest did strike a chord with me recently when I was thinking about how many people tend to deal with set backs.
In my mind, I’m equating the KNEES with faith. Many religions use the kneeling position in a variety of ways. Faith that things are going to live up to our expectations is a pretty usual pain point. As soon as something is “out of whack”, it stings a little. Our faith is shaken, even if it just for that event. While faith is a necessary ingredient to many endeavors, it is not an inexhaustible resource. Also the amount needed varies greatly.
Sorry that this is a semi-exclusionary descriptor. Although female readers have never gotten hit in the BALLS, I’m sure that there must be an equivalent. The soft spot where the pain is greater than a normal hit and it lingers. While the shot to the knee hurts our faith, the shot to balls leaves an ache that possibly we are less than we were before. Even though it’s not always intended to be, a shot to the balls feels personal.
The final shot was to the chest which represents the HEART. It is the place that our literal lifeblood is pumped throughout our body. A shot to the heart (and you’re to blame, you give love a bad name…. sorry Bon Jovi flashback) can be deadly if it happens at the wrong angle on the wrong day. That’s why our heart is housed in a literal cage of bone. It must be protected at all costs. Although it’s possible to recover, the heart is necessary to move forward.
So now that I’ve taken a minuscule moment and broadened it out to almost any emotional pain that we might feel as humans, what is the point? The point is that we must get up. We’ve become far too comfortable with Neymaring the fouls that we encounter in life. Turning a mere tap on the knee into a 12 gauge shot to the chest. Rolling around on the figurative ground as if life had dealt us a bad hand by putting any impediments between us and our goals. It would be one thing if we were simply that fragile. If our metaphorical bones were as brittle as “Mr. Glass” from the M. Night Shyamalan movies, it would make sense. The thing is that they are not. Our bones are the same stone-like implements that our ancestors had. We’ve just made some poor assumptions about what we can handle or been sold on the idea that struggle isn’t necessary.
My hope is that you don’t get hit at all but when you do, don’t Neymar it. Get up! Or even better, don’t fall down in the first place. More than likely, you can handle what has been thrown at you. You’re a descendent of the people that helped to make humans the apex predators on the planet. The tools that you have at your disposal are all that you need.
Don’t flop! You’re better than that!