Monday #1-100 Mondays
|"I shall be telling this with a sigh|
|Somewhere ages and ages hence:|
|Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—|
|I took the one less traveled by,|
|And that has made all the difference." -|
"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost
July 25, 2016. Exactly 100 Mondays from today, September 1, 2014. About one year and 10 months in the future from this moment. At that point my goal is to be 100 pounds lighter than I am today. Healthy, active, happy, and 100 pounds less. How much do I weigh now? At approximately 8:37 p.m. on Monday, September 1, 2014 I am 329.4 pounds. It is not the heaviest I have ever been in my life, but it is much heavier than I should ever be. How do you get here? How does someone who was 220 pounds and athletic when he graduated high school become someone who is closer to 350 pounds than 300 pounds? Let’s rewind for a little bit to figure it out.
My dream was to go to Duke. Ever since I was in middle school and watched Grant Hill play basketball, I knew I wanted to be like him and go to Duke University. I was also spurred on by the fact that everywhere I looked in my school and my city of Greensboro, N.C. all the other kids and adults were wearing these horribly ugly light blue “Carolina” hats and shirts. I did not like the concept of going with the crowd on this choice and there was a sense of freedom in rooting for a school that excelled academically and athletically that was led by a classy brother. It became my singular focus to do two things:
1) Get into Duke University.
2) Get a scholarship to Duke University so my mother would not have to pay for it.
My parents were divorced and in our house in North Carolina was just my mother, my younger sister and I. My father was still very much in my life, but I did not want to be a financial burden on my mother throughout college. I was blessed enough to have the chance to learn Karate from a young age into my teenage years, participate in Debate competitions throughout high school, and play on my Varsity high school basketball team all four years of high school. I was blessed, focused, and I truly believed that I could achieve my dream. And then it happened….
I was invited to attend a “scholarship weekend” in which different successful students who had applied to Duke from around North Carolina were invited to come to the University for a weekend of interviews (and fun). It was a wonderful weekend; I don’t remember anything about my interviews. I only remember two things distinctly:
1) We got to meet Coach K, which at first was amazing. All of us were shocked that he was actually in front of us in the flesh and we were so quiet waiting to hear his words of wisdom. Wellllll, I only remember a few words. Most of them had four letters; I think he might have even thrown in a word with twelve letters in total for good measure. The gist of his speech was to not be too disappointed if you do not get into the University. “Don’t cut your f*cking wrist.”, was what really hit home for me. That moment was a beautiful moment. There is no look as profound as the look of horror in the eyes of adults around you who can not do one solitary thing to stop someone acting a true fool who has the most power in the room. He was Coach K and they were “administrators”. So at such a young tender age we were allowed to hear what it probably sounds like to be “coached” by perhaps the greatest coach of all time, because everyone was terrified to tell this man to shut up.
2) I blew off the last day’s events, which included parents coming to the auditorium to mingle with the administrators and gush over their successful children, so I could sneak into a Duke Men’s basketball game. Here was the plan: I met another guy up for a scholarship who I became cool with that weekend and we would take the campus ID’s of the students who hosted us. My friend happened to be white and have a white host and I was black and happened to have a black host.
(I see what you did there Duke.)
We would get in line to get into the game and simply BE COOL and present “our ID’s”. I was going first and my comrade was behind me. The guy checking ID’s was a young looking white kid, who politely took my ID and looked at it—then handed it right back to me and let me go towards the door. SUCCESS! Now it was my friend’s turn. The ID checker took his ID, looked at it, looked at my pal, formed a scowl on his face and sternly said, “YOU'RE NOT JOHN!” As cool as the other side of the pillow I said, “Hey why aren’t you letting John through?” The ID checker looked at me and said, “He’s not John, I KNOW JOHN!!” I was faced with a dilemma, the ID gestapo obviously knew my partner “WAS NOT JOHN!!”, but for some reason (I’m black) did not put together (I’m black) that I too was not the person on the ID (maybe because I’m black)? Should I get out of line and not go to the game in solidarity with “NOT JOHN!” or should I be a bastard and go inside and fulfill a lifelong dream as only a high schooler? What I did next the kids today would call a “Kanye shrug”, but at this point Kanye West was still on Mars so I thought in my head “oh well, bye NOT JOHN” and I walked inside. I got to watch Shane Battier, Elton Brand, Will Avery and Chris Carrawell and other Duke stars massacre some team I don’t even remember. It was worth being a dick and ditching “NOT JOHN” and getting yelled at by my mother later that night by not showing up for “an important event that may have cost me a scholarship”.
As a result of that weekend I was an “alternate” for a B.N. Duke Scholarship. That meant that if someone decided not to come to Duke who was eligible for the scholarship I would get it. I received some other good news a few weeks later—I was accepted to Harvard University and they wanted to give me a scholarship. I have to say this up front, I did not ever have any intention to attend Harvard. I was a momma’s boy and I could not imagine being that far from my mother, my sister and North Carolina. But, Duke did not know that. So I politely let Duke know I was accepted to Harvard—with money—and they politely let me know, “Well will you look at that, we must have forgotten to carry the 1, because you actually are accepted as a B.N. Duke Scholar!” And that was it; I achieved my dream of attending Duke University with a scholarship.
Now what I just laid out was a fairy tale that happened to be totally true and my real life. The problem with fairy tales is they never talk about what happens after. Sometimes the worst thing that can happen to you is not failing, but instead succeeding too quickly. I had worked hard to get into Duke, but after I got in I did not take the necessary steps to find another star to shoot for. I became lazy, I discovered “food points” (which I am convinced are of the devil), I discovered the gym—which I utilized mostly Freshman and Sophomore year and then rarely if ever my last two years. I set up a pattern of not challenging myself, taking the easy way out of things, and not being diligent about healthy routines.
It is a long jump from that point to here, but I will fill in the blanks through the rest of my blogs. I realize that what goes on between my ears explains what goes into my mouth and why I take the actions I do. I have a lot to live for and be proud of. A beautiful and successful wife, two amazing children, and a great family all around. I have lots of support and luckily I am healthy enough to do this of my own volition and not because I am forced to physically. Achieving this goal will benefit my life in every way I can think of, and this is solely for me. I want this as bad as I have wanted anything else. This is my next star…..see you next Monday.