Sunday, June 6, 2010

Leverage and Laughter

     It’s called a sock fight. You take a tube sock and stuff the foot portion with more socks, tie a knot in the calf part of the sock and you have a pretty good weapon. To use the weapon, you wrap the tube portion around your hand and begin hacking at your opponent. Simple. Fun. A typical pre-teen boy’s kind of fun. Enter my brother, a true entrepreneur. My brother realized that because my hands were much smaller than his friends, I had more “sock” with which to strike. When they wrapped the sock around their hands, they lost a good deal of the sock “handle.” Not having as much “handle” meant they had to come in closer to their opponent to strike. Come in too close and you lost leverage and force. Me? Not a problem. My hands took very little of the “handle” and I had the added advantage of being shorter, not to mention a serious competitive chip on my shoulder. I never lost. I will confess, that it took me several fights to realize that the allowance money or other bets were transferred between my brother and his vanquished foes, never me. Hmmm.    
      I do not think my brother has a blood pressure. He epitomizes going with the flow of life. Too small to play football in junior high he was allowed to sit on the bench. Once he came home from a game with a dirty uniform. I was so excited thinking he finally got to play. He just chuckled and confessed he rubbed dirt on the uniform so he wouldn’t look so clean. When he got his first paycheck, from a summer job, he cashed the check in one dollar bills, stripped down to his boxers, threw the dollars on his bed, and rolled around laughing. Perhaps because he has no blood pressure he is also the epitome of forgetfulness. He is constantly losing his car keys and would go off to high school band concerts and forget his instrument. Today, on his 58th birthday, having raised his own two sons, he has now become the legal father of his own nine month old grandchild. And he still laughs and embraces the moment.
     No, we are not close. My brother and I have a few Kodak moments such as these but not a close bond. Our paths in life parallel each other but it seems at times in different universes. No, we are not close, but on this day, his birthday, I just wanted to say thank you big brother.
You taught me about leverage and keeping my balance.
You taught me that small does not mean disadvantage.
You taught me how to duck and roll.
You taught me to look life in the eye, take its best punch and never flinch.
You taught me to be silly and just wrap yourself in the moment and laugh.
You taught me that car keys will eventually be found, so why get excited.
You taught me that sitting on a bench is ok because there is more than one way to play.
You taught me that in the midst of heartbreaking disappointment, to keep your eyes on what is important, and what is not.

     Thank you big brother for these Kodak moments. Yes, they are few but each one is precious. With one last look at this mental photo album, I find myself chuckling again. No, we are not close. Maybe you knew we never would be, and so you made sure I knew how to fight through anything and always had the best sock in life – the one stuffed with laughter.