When I was in the seventh grade I entered National City’s annual fourth of July talent contest. Tap dancing to “Swing Swing Swing”, I made it through the first round but then lost out to some guy who somersaulted around the stage in a full body, red sequined unitard to Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U.” The shame melted my guts. I was embarassed in front of my friends, my entire family … hell, the whole damn city!
But my dad made me sit down in the bleachers to watch the fireworks show when I really wanted to go home and cry. He knew that I prided myself on never letting anyone see me cry. I cried in school only once when a kid named Jesus ran over my fingers in kindergarten.
My dad and I had that kind of dynamic from the very start. When I was six months old and refused to sit up, he spent an entire morning propping me up again and again while I screamed at him. Mom said it was the clash of the titans in her kitchen. Whenever I veered down the path of least resistance, Dad was there to turn me in the other direction.
But when I look back on that night, I also remember thinking that there was no better refuge than my dad’s arms. And with the eyes of a 32-year old woman who has had her share of failures on the road of life, I now see what dad had been trying to teach me and this quote from Million Dollar Baby (courtesy of the International Movie Database), sums it better than I could:
“If there’s magic in boxing, it’s the magic of fighting battles beyond endurance, beyond cracked ribs, ruptured kidneys and detached retinas. It’s the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you.”