• Thomas A. Wilson

Going For It

Updated: May 6, 2019

My son disobeyed. We don’t put up with that, right? Well, maybe we do—if he made the right call on his way into manhood.

During my child-rearing years, I tended to be a little overly protective. I wouldn’t describe myself as smothering, but I would definitely hold the pillow close enough for my kids to smell the feathers. (That’s my love language.) Chalk it up to my own story of childhood instability, or maybe it was my natural bent, or it might have been due to my son’s rough first few weeks of life.

And his first few weeks were traumatic. He developed pneumonia at eight days old (they thought he probably breathed in amniotic fluid), spent two weeks in intensive care, almost died, and left his young first-time parents with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We weren’t diagnosed (it was the early 80’s), but I would bet we deserved some kind of billable code related to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. I still twitch thinking about it.

Prayer, medicine, and love prevailed. He is now raising two fine boys who are a lot like him (tee hee). I’m delighted to be friends with this accomplished professional. He’s gone farther, faster, than his old man, and he’s not done yet. He’s pretty incredible—I knew he was going to be okay on one winter day when he was about twelve years old.

On that day, the family was at Pioneer Park in Billings, Montana, enjoying a day of sledding. A little creek runs through the park, bordered by a steep hillside. One spot along the creek provides just enough plateau at the base of the hill where adventurous sled-jockeys can bail out before splashing into the running water. Of course, dad stood at the foot of the hill anyway, just in case.D

Thirty yards from the well-used play area, another sled trail marked the hillside. This spot, much steeper, with no plateau, ended with a ramp that abutted the creek. My son asked to try that hill. I said, “No,” it was too steep. He asked again. I said, “No,” again. Then, he asked again. I relented with stipulations. “Okay, you can go down the steep hill, but don’t hit the ramp. Steer left and bail out before the creek. “Okay, Dad,” he lied.

I anxiously watched as he careened down the summit—and then, my jaw went slack as he lined up his sled with the ramp. What is that kid doing? I had a ringside seat for direct insubordination and there would be consequences! He intended to jump the creek all along.

Then something amazing happened. I started to root for him. He hit the ramp and went airborne. I stopped breathing, time slowed, and then… he stuck the landing! I found myself giving a primal scream, fists upraised, celebrating the feat. Later, I felt obligated to briefly mention the importance of listening to Dad, but what I really wanted to talk about was how incredible his jump was.

That’s when I knew he was going to be okay as he started his ascent into manhood. He had the, um, wherewithal, to go for it.

Authentic men always do.

MANerism: Risk is the ability to put oneself out there. Catalytic men, men who realize their potential, don’t play it safe. That doesn’t mean they are foolish or impetuous, but it does mean that they can leave their drink and ask somebody to dance.

Affirmation of the Week: I steadfastly anticipate and embrace appropriate risk in support of my goals, enjoying the sensation of being fully alive.

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