Fatherhood and Courage

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

This morning I heard Pastor Steve Berger talk about “courage” as Christians and the power that we have as believers to summon courage in our lives. Steve said that just when we’re fearful and trembling – THAT’s when we should act with boldness.

CS Lewis said:

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.

I did my best to stay engaged in Steve’s talk, it was good, but my mind kept drifting to thoughts of fatherhood – as usual.

The path I’m on right now all started when I began wondering what you kids would think of me one day when you’re grown. I wondered if you will think I was brave as a man and your dad. I wish I were sure of it, but the truth is I’m still walking that path everyday, looking for opportunities to live a life outside of the safety of our softened and convenient culture.

I read an Outside Magazine article by Michael Roberts about Jack Johnson and his dad back in 2010 that has stuck with me since. I think about young Jack watching his dad’s every move and his realization that he’d be a man one day too. And then I think about my dad. And then I think about you kids watching me. Here’s part of the article where Jack Johnson talks about his dad and his own coming of age:

 “My whole life I’ve thought about it: As a young man, he hopped on a boat and sailed across the ocean. That’s a pretty strong image to have of your father.”

“My dad led me to the water and said, ‘Here you go. Be careful,'” Johnson says. “You have to sit there and decide when you’re ready.”

“I would look out and see what he was doing on these big waves,” he says. “As a kid I’d think, Holy cow, do I have to do that one day? And, slowly, I would go out when it was knee-high. Then you start surfing waist-high. Next thing you know, you’re surfing waves as tall as you. One day you break a leash a quarter-mile offshore in 20-foot surf and you’re not scared at all. You realize you’ve gone through that rite of passage. You’ve become powerful in an intensely powerful situation.”

Reading this today I think about Jack’s father Jeff. It was his courage that led to Jack’s. I can’t get the line “Holy cow, do I have to do that one day?” out of my head. In alot of ways I’ve felt that way about my dad – your papaw – my whole life. I wasn’t even born yet, but he spent two tours in Vietnam – including a 6 month stay in Walter Reed hospital, and a stint with the uber-special forces unit MACV-SOG. After Vietnam he ran bomb disposal units in the South Pacific and then finished off  a career in the military.

That stuff stuck with me. I wanted to do those things. But I just never got started for one reason or another. I think those things are what lead me to wrestling though…and ultimately, when my body broke down, to endurance sports. I’m still trying to surf that big wave that I heard about Papaw surfing. And I know that you kids are watching me now, and yes, you do “have to do that one day (life).”

I want to be courageous enough in life and in Faith to inspire you kids. You guys are too young to be reading this as I write it, but on this day that you’re reading it – having grown up enough to wonder about who I was – I want you to know that I tried to show you courage through my life – like Jack Johnson’s dad did for him, and like  your Papaw did for me.

I love you kids,

– Daddy


Sunday: rode 88 mile Cheaha Challenge – tallest peak in Alabama

Monday: REST

Tuesday: Swam 2100 yards. Time Trial in 29:57 (new PR)

Wednesday: Ran 25 minutes (taper has started)