I was in Tennessee at a wedding over the weekend and met a dude named Gary that was the hit of the party…
Gary was a quick witted fashionista and had everybody laughing the entire weekend.
After the wedding was the after party & after the party was the hotel lobby, where Gary opened up about some of the struggles that he deals with in his life.
He talked about how he hurt and worried everyday because he felt threatened by the environment in which he lived.
I wanted to dig deeper.
I wanted to know exactly why he worried…
“Because I am a gay black man living in the south, and I wear tighter clothes than everybody here.”
“I am a straight white dude from California, but there is no way you wear tighter pants than I do.”
Gary proceeded to say that he has been harassed and bullied and there is no way I could ever understand what that is like….
Again, not true…
I told Gary to read the article written by the Philly sportswriter after I called a Phil’s game earlier this season or told him he could scroll through my Twitter mentions after I do a 10pm-1am shift on MLB Network.
Of course, I can’t relate to being a gay black man in the south, but I can relate to the constant ridicule and judgements of outsiders.
I then told Gary not to care what everybody thinks and asked him what exactly it is that he worries about?
Gary proceeded to explain that he worries about being shamed, and he worries about being physically attacked. He also said that he is always wary of people that “don’t care what anybody else thinks” because he perceives them as narcissists with no other cares in the world beyond themselves.
Gary has a fair point, but I told him I didn’t say not to care about what ANYBODY thinks; I said not to care about what EVERYBODY thinks…
BIG F*CKING DIFFERENCE.
The thoughts and cares of your loved ones, as well as the most influential people in your life, are greatly important in the overall structure of your character. To completely dismiss these people would be irresponsible, and as Gary said, narcissistic.
On the surface, Gary’s worries of possibly being shamed or attacked would seem both logical and justifiable, but is it?
Worry is a self imposed reaction to outside factors that are outside of your immediate control. Worry is also the #1 cause of anxiety and stress which has direct negative effects on the biological makeup of your physical body by damaging cellular functions, which in turn, breaks down your immune system, leaving you incredibly vulnerable to sickness and disease…
Gary is a beautiful human with an incredible heart and a lot of humor, love and happiness to give to the world. Why should he let his worries of the potential threat of complete outsiders ever compromise his health and the magnificent gifts he has to offer?
Gary and I, along with my friends Brian, Scott and Jill had an incredibly compelling conversation that undoubtedly deserves more…
Gary had a tough time comprehending that WORRY was self induced. He was adamant that his life experiences, which included the hurtful words & actions of others, were the sole cause of his worry.
When I responded that it wasn’t the hurtful words & actions of others that were causing his worry, but instead his inability to appropriately react to those words & actions outside of his control…
Gary wasn’t happy.
As a matter of fact, my dude Gary finally lashed out and questioned if I have ever suffered any great hardships or real loss in my life.
Good point… Let me think about that for a minute…
Well, my best friend was hit by a car while riding a bicycle and was killed when I was 11. My first love was killed by a drunk driver when she was 18 and my Dad died a few years back when the doctors f*cked up the care after a pretty basic surgery.
When I was a senior in high school, I watched one of my best friends get attacked by 7 dudes, and when I was able to jump in and lay on top of him, the cheap shottin’ mother f*ckers continued to whale away on us. Other than a possible cracked rib, I was fine. My boy on the other hand went into complete facial reconstruction surgery hours later.
He still doesn’t look right (Oh Shit! Sorry O’Shea, forgot you might might read this)…
Despite being told I was pretty close to a sure thing as far as acceptance, I didn’t get into the school I had dreamed of going to since I was 9… When I went to UCLA instead, my girlfriend, that I thought would become my wife one day, decided to dump me.
After getting drafted by the Astros, the scouting director more or less said they made a mistake, and pulled their original half price offer off the table. After getting drafted by the A’s I signed for a bus ticket to Medford Oregon and a box of sh*t wood pro-stock M110 Louisville Sluggers. I fought my way through the minor leagues and eventually reached my lifelong dream of playing in the Big Leagues, then was sent back down 2 days later. I went up and down 9 times, battled through a historic 9-95 slump, got traded twice and released 2 times (3 if you count Los Mochis in the Mexican Pacific League).
Oh yeah, I also potentially cost the A’s winning the World Series by not touching home plate in a playoff game after I was clipped at home plate, tore my hamstring off the bone and was repeatedly boo’d by Arizona home fans on my way out of town…
In the endurance sports world, I have had to face & overcome the incredible fear of open water swimming while dealing with several panic attacks along the way. To say I feel like I have stared death in the face several times is an understatement. I have actually practiced giving my own eulogy…
“Here lies Byrnes. He sure tried hard.”
I have dealt with multiple nasty bike crashes while learning to ride a road/tri bike & have gotten my ass beat down by the depths of the 100+ degree canyons at Western States which had me hallucinating to the point where I was positive I was being stalked by a mountain lion and an orangutan swinging from a tree branch was going to rip my off my head.
Dehydration, nutritional issues and emotional breakdowns are all too common during longer events and test my physical and mental fortitude just about every time I set out on a new training adventure or compete in any ultra endurance race.
I watched a good friend beat leukemia, only to watch it come back, which at that point we started a massive search for a bone marrow match and found one, but he passed just before the transplant was going to take place. I spent two years watching my mother in law slowly die while living in my house and a local vet accidentally killed my skateboarding bulldog puppy (Can I get a double skypoint for Porkchop, please? Thanks!).
So Gary, you asked if I have ever suffered or dealt with any hardships in my life…
I can’t say I have.
But I have definitely experienced an incredible amount of BULLSH*T that has challenged the core of my soul and has led to opportunities for immense spiritual growth & development…
And I am very grateful for that.