Who doesn’t remember that distinct feeling every time our eyes well up with tears. How the heart pauses and overflows. I especially remember it when I was younger, whether it was because I came second in the race, fell off the bicycle, got bullied or didn’t get those straight A’s I so deeply wanted. My father would just look at me and hold his fist up so tight and say “champ, you’ve got to keep on punching”. His voice never trembled, always with a hint of an Australian accent muffled up in all the other places his life took him. To my great fortune, he never stopped saying that to me.
I think this occasion is as important as any, not only because of its inherent worth, but because it requires us to pause and reflect on the road we paved, blood, sweat and tears, to get there. It allows us to remember the hard work with appreciation - it allows us to to finally realize that hardships alone can teach us the ability to overcome.
My mother always seemed to know - in her extraordinary heart - that I would make it this far. What’s better is that she never missed an opportunity to remind me, just in case I forgot. Of course, If it weren’t for my parents, I wouldn’t be here today. Not only because of the different forms of support that they offered me, and continue to offer me, but because I always knew that no matter what, and even when others don’t, they would still - truly and honestly - believe in me.
I’ve been told that growth ought to be a painful process.. that the time in which our souls develop protective shells ought to be the most tormenting, and nowhere near easy. As Dick Brogden says, “The process of being conformed into the image of God is brutal… Beautification is agonizing.”
While what I’m trying to say here does not have the monotheistic undertones of this particular statement, it still holds true. To become a phoenix, one must be prepared to burn. To achieve greatness, one must inevitably keep on punching.