Push and Push (Story by Risa Peris)

Jamie was petite for a boy of five. He was sickly too. Every month he seemed to come down with some kind of illness that forced him to miss school. His mother collected his homework so he was able to stay in step with the class, but the assignments confused him. Letters and words swirled in his head like confetti and he could barely write his name without a seizure of panic; luckily his mother could soothe him and assist him in setting the letters down in the notebook that now seemed like an enemy. 

At seven he was diagnosed as Dyslexic and he remained petite, which brought shame to him since his three older brothers were so tall and strong. Jamie was pulled out of class for special instruction to help with dyslexia. He barely paid attention. He saw kids through the window chasing, kicking, bouncing and dribbling balls. He saw his big brothers leaping and jumping. Jamie wanted to do all that. Words were a mess. Sports was clear. 

When Jamie turned ten he began lifting weights, running every day (usually sprints), shooting baskets, stretching, and running up the bleacher stairs at the local high school. He got a growth spurt and his muscles were developing. 

Jamie didn’t give up on words. He still worked with a special education teacher. He realized that words and athleticism were equally powerful. 

Jamie didn’t score very high on his SAT even though he spent so much time studying. However, his loyalties were conflicted. He played football and baseball. A scout recruited him to play football at the University of Carolina. Jamie chose English as his major and became a football star. Jamie never once stopped learning, struggling, and practicing. 

Jamie told his girlfriend all of this. She wanted to be a doctor but was struggling in chemistry. She was considering switching her major to English. 

“Things come so easy for you, Jamie.” She twisted her ponytail. 

“Things have never come easy. I guess I always just thought I could improve if I put the sweat in.”

“So you struggle?”

“Every day.”

She shook her head. “No way. Some things are inborn.”

“Nothing is Katie. You just have to sweat.”

She chucked her chemistry book and walked away. Jamie thought that might be a good thing. He was seeking a partner he could grow with. Katie was just stuck. Her mind wouldn’t grow. 

Jamie got recruited by the NFL when he graduated from college. 

A reporter asked him about his natural ability. “I have no natural ability. It took me years of physical conditioning and four years to finish Moby Dick.”

Jamie shrugged. “A fruitful career and maybe learning Chinese. I’m still working on the dyslexia. I will my whole life. But that’s why I win. I push and push. I think Descartes said that.”




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