Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pep Talk: "Pulverize The Blind Spots"

It’s become a treasured time for septuagenarian mother and Baby Boomer son. Friday mornings, on the way to an important weekly meeting, a phone call to the Midwest. Patsy Perry and second-youngest child, the scribe of this Pep Talk, chatting.

On this particular occasion, while this aging jock headed directly into the rising Centennial State sun on a spectacular May day, the conversation was about blind spots. We each have them. Don’t we all? Physically and mentally?

In this case, at least physically, cataracts are to blame for the blind spots shared by mother and son. I can’t see out of my left eye anymore. A big blow to the head, while a teenager, has led to premature cataracts. The one in the right eye was fixed about a decade ago. It’s time to repair the left eye. It’s impairing my ability to operate machinery effectively. While driving, when turning to check, literally, the blind spot over the left shoulder, this simple dude from Missouri must rotate the noggin’ far enough so the right eye assists in the process. The head’s on a swivel.

Meanwhile, Patsy Sue Perry’s just getting old. Cataracts happen to folks nearing their eighth decade of dwelling on this planet. It’s just the way it is.

Blind spots. From a physical standpoint, at least for cataract sufferers, modern-day science and technology assists tremendously in eliminating the problem. But what about emotional blind spots? Spiritual ones too? Is there any surgical technique available to eradicate them? What follows, perhaps, affirmatively answers that question.

After concluding the conversation, an overactive cranium was grinding on that thought while wandering into the weekly gathering of knuckleheads who joke, cajole and verbally abuse one another, in a loving way, while studying the Bible.

It’s a fascinating group of guys cherished for vulnerability, faith and unity. In a world too often characterized with uncertainty and betrayal, I know these dudes have my back. They’re the kind of guys a buddy, Billy Mac from Hackensack, would salute for “charging out of the foxhole together. Shoulder to shoulder. One heart beat.”

I like hanging with those types of folks. Like-minded in spirit. Men and women, like you, who respond to these musing. Thanks. I love your thoughts and feedback!

Anyway, one of the regulars, shared a story that, for whatever reason, took my thoughts back to the earlier conversation with mother about blind spots. It’s a story about boxing. Born at the University of Notre Dame under legendary football coach Knute Rockne.

Rockne formed the school’s boxing club in 1920‘s. About a decade later, Coach Dominic “Nappy” Napolitano took over and shot the program to new heights by thinking of others and their suffering. He pulverized a blind spot.

Bangladesh is one of the world’s poorest countries. Located in South Asia, at the apex of the Bay of Bengal, it’s the size of Wisconsin but contains half the population of the entire United States. It’s crowded. The country is characterized by desperate poverty. 80 percent of its citizens live on less than $2 a day. 

Coach “Nappy” turned the school’s boxing program, and the competition that culminates with the annual Bengal Bouts championship, into a fundraising event for Holy Cross Missions. It has locations scattered throughout Bangladesh. Through these missions, priests, brothers and sisters attempt to battle poverty with education and health care.

This passage has been pulled directly from the Notre Dame website: “The funds raised by the Bengal Bouts have built primary and technical schools as well as health care clinics. They have paid for the education of impoverished high school and college students providing young men and women with the skills to support their families now and into the future. Everyday, Bengal Bouts is changing the lives of the boxers in the program and their Bengali friends on the other side of the world.”

More than eight decades ago, a coach did not have a blind spot to the plight of others. Bengal Bouts has grown. for its sportsmanship and mission, into one of the most respected amateur competitions in the country. Each year the student/athletes who compete also travel to Bangladesh to serve the poorest of the poor.

The man had everybody’s attention around the table. His son is a Notre Dame student, bout warrior and headed for the impoverished country. It’s a volatile situation considering the presence of militants who oppose, often with violence, the presence of Holy Cross missionaries. A concerned parent was asking buddies to pray for safe passage for beloved son and others in the traveling party.

The room had grown quiet as the financial advisor muttered the motto of those, including his son, who compete and care: “Strong bodies fight, that weak bodies may be nourished.”

Where might there be blind spots in our lives? Where might it be time to fix the cataract that prevents us to see how our talents, when utilized in healthy and productive fashion, might benefit others?

This week, let’s pulverize those blind spots!


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