Painting ©2018 John Clark III
Jim Kelly is on my mind again today.
I read another story on him this morning, this time via the Sports Illustrated website. It was a lot like the Rick Reilly piece for ESPN, talking about the recurrence of his jaw cancer, and the litany of painful and heartbreaking events that have occurred during his otherwise magical life. Let's face it, becoming a star quarterback in the NFL and being immortalized in the pro football Hall of Fame is a pretty magical life. I think it is, anyway. He achieved greatness. He reached the top.
Now, he's apparently fighting for his life, and things don't really sound so good. There are touching photographs of Kelly in his hospital bed, with his daughter lying in bed next to him, her head resting on his shoulder and her arms wrapped around his. The emotion is palpable. You can feel it.
And everything Kelly is quoted as saying about his situation is pretty darn positive. He is said to be in constant, extreme pain, but he doesn't complain. According to the stories, he told his wife at one time that he wasn't sure how much more physical pain he could take, but he also says he is "blessed," and he wouldn't change a thing in his life. He hasn't said, "Why me?" or any of that. He wouldn't change a thing.
To me, that is the epitome of courage.
Kelly was never one of my heroes when he played football. My team was the Houston Oilers. Earl Campbell, Dan Pastorini,
Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, Bum Phillips. The Oilers are gone now, so I don't really have an NFL team any more, but that's another story. I remember well watching Kelly play pro ball, but he wasn't someone I rooted for.
He has become one of my heroes as a human being. Because of his courage. Courage is something I admire very much. I wonder if I would have the same courage, faced with the same issues Kelly has faced in his life. I hope I never have to find out, but I wonder.
Courage is something I went looking for when I went to Spain in 2011 to walk the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage that stretches from one side of the country to the other. In the end, I did not find courage as I walked for four weeks across the countryside with nothing more than a backpack, but I did learn the meaning of courage, and I found out that I already had plenty of it. It turns out that courage is not the absence of fear. Instead, courage is being scared of something, but doing it anyway.
I was scared to death to not only travel overseas for the first time -- by myself -- but then to walk across a foreign country. Strap on a backpack and walk across the damn country. But I did it anyway. In fact, that's a big reason I did it in the first place. To try and get over my "homebodiness." I've always had this fear of getting too far away from home, for some reason. I'm not sure where that comes from, but anytime I went anywhere, I'd want to turn around and come home. I could go to Dallas for the weekend, for heaven's sakes, and get homesick.
But I went to Spain, and I walked across the country, not once but twice. And I learned that I already had courage. I was terrified, but I did it anyway. Courage.
Of course, my little trips to Spain are nothing compared to the courage being showed by Jim Kelly. And that's why he is now one of my heroes.
Ciao, y'all ...
A few reviews of John's books
The 30-Day Optimism Solution:
“Part memoir, part informative text. You get both when reading 'Depression Blues' by John H. Clark III. Mr. Clark shares his struggles with depression in an honest and real way, and as the book progresses, so does his hope. Woven into the story as jumping off points are bits of information about depression and ways to "conquer" the sadness, loneliness, and despair that comes with it.
Mr. Clark becomes more than an author in this book; he becomes a friend who understands the pain of depression and provides light. I recommend this book to anyone looking for light or to anyone who knows someone with depression and wants to learn more.”
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