When you are used to touching death, you need to touch life. If you had asked me when I was eighteen would I have become a person that works with people in pain, some dying. I would have said emphatically, ‘No Way!’ Not because I didn’t want to help people. Oh. I did. It was that my thought process of thinking of a way to helping people was saving them from abuse. Saving them from war. Saving them from crime. Or fixing them after crime or war. Basically, being there for them. Not in any medical format. Yet, with a fist, a technique, a bayonet or a format of a firing arm or perhaps even a shovel.
Every night as a young child I went to bed and played a type of movie film in my head. I’d see the bad guys. They would try to wreck me; I’d fight back. They were always bigger, stronger and had the capacity to kill me. Yet, I’d envisioned I would fight to my last drop of blood, my last breath. I’d somehow survive while helping others. I started doing this at age seven. I continued to do this every night for the next fourteen years, till I finished my obligated time in the Marines and got married.
However, before I played the movie in my mind’s eye, I would pray. “Dear God, make me like King David. Strong, Courageous, Brave, a Poet and always close to You. As well as, being an underdog. To overcome everything and being able to save people. Yet, never committing adultery or anything like that, please God. Amen.” Then I would proceed to say Psalm 23. Then I would bless myself and say the sleep prayer, that God would take my soul if I were to not wake up the next morning. I’ve been there, maybe not waking up to live the next morning. It happened soon after I started that whole movie film playing in my head thing. I survived a house fire at around age eight.
As a matter of fact, I have survived much. Bad Medical personnel, Criminals, a bear, vicious dogs, snakes, wolves, insect bites and stings that should have taken me down, as well as diseases. Pretty much every single time in my life it turned out to be a miraculous event. I have witnessed so many miraculous events in my life. I wonder often, does anyone understand that there are miracles? Miracles may not always happen when we want them, but when we need them the most. There are so many factors in living, in survival. One I truly believe is the mind-set of the individual, the community, etc… You can exist or you can live. That is how I see life. Everyone’s brass ring is of a different desire. Mine is living life. Existence is easier than actually living a life.
So, here I am as if I were to say good-bye to people, not because I think I’m leaving any time soon. It’s that in knowing I’ve been on this earth in this vessel for quite a long time. I’m nearing the mountain top. As I pull away from the bottom, the beginning of the birth of others, I witness events on a broader scale. Not everyone does that with age. Yet, it is not with age. It is with time, experiences, mostly being aware and observant. Being sensitive in ways at times I despise. Yet I know others don’t feel what I feel on the depth that I feel it. It is the gift. The advantage is that I feel death, then life, then death, then life, etc… And it goes on, like it should. I feel it all in my body whether it is walking into a room, driving into a city, clinching in a ring or cage, wrestling with a training partner. I feel it as well in holding a hand, a foot, a body. I feel the sadness, the joy, the empty and the fullness in a life and in lives.
Decades ago, my mom would ask me about this gift. She had it a bit. Yet I have a bus load of it, and as well blessed with other forms of health she did not have. My Mom always wondered about me. I have a coach friend down south, he saw this too. A few friends/coaches as well, have asked. My Dad asked me about it in 2004. He was afraid to ask me. I saw his hesitation. Then he asked “Why…?” I gave him the most gut, soul honest answer I could. The answer is also ‘How?’.
The Brass Ring that people don’t want, I reach for. I have done that, because I knew biologically, I was different. Not better, just different. I would love sports like a guy, yet I am a girl. I would not see or feel the difference in my gender, because I so wanted equality, I would remain neuter in my thinking. This way I figured I could show equality for all. I have had no talent that was noticeable. I seemed poor in school grades, for most of my younger years. My physical capacities seemed limited, for I lack and have lacked coordination, agility and the like. I knew all this. I knew it, seemingly from the beginning. I know my defects from birth. I’m fine with that. Nor was I ever going to win a beauty contest. I was fine with that too. My Brass Ring was to aid in fixing people, problems, to never be a burden and to always know to pray. The Brass Ring for me, is my private talks throughout the day, every day with my Maker. Then to leave quietly, so I would not pain anyone. I know perhaps the latter thought is not in my control. It’s just a matter of equality of accepting that some will pain regardless of who they perceive me to be.
In the end, we should be different, yet equal. What the Brass Ring in life is for me is different. I know what I want for others, yet I know that many will not accept my ideology of it, especially if they have wealth. The monetarily poor understand where I’m at for the most part. I’ve learned this a bunch of times. The time most profound for me was doing volunteer work in Newark with pediatric AIDS patients. I saw the children and mostly their grandparents had what I had; the ability to want quality in life. To believe in a Supreme Being, having Faith. Because we understand that there are times when people put their faith in a flawed system. A system that could maim them and discard the quality of life. Not for the better, but for the ego of the system(s) they have pushed for decades, and some for over a century. The benefit of knowing what it’s like to not have, is also what I have. Remembering that, helps me to achieve the Brass Ring every day.---Jody-Lynn Reicher