Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pressure

In the summer of 1998, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire made history as they chased after Roger Maris’ heralded home run record. The great home run chase of ’98 was one of the most followed stories in the entire history of the sport. In September, when things were getting really interesting, espn would interrupt any program they had running in order to show McGwire or Sosa whenever they came up to bat. The stress from all the pressure became visibly clear in the way McGwire looked and acted. It was widely known that the summer Maris beat Babe Ruth’s home run record, his hair was falling out in clumps from all the stress. But when Sammy Sosa was asked by a reporter about how he was handling all this extreme pressure, he just smiled and said, “Pressure is washing cars and shining shoes to support my family in the Dominican Republic.”

For the last 10 years I have often remembered that quote in order to keep things in perspective and to realize that other people have much greater problems than myself. Recently however, I am starting to relate to the thin, young Sosa whose mother would send him out working in order feed his siblings. In a situation like that it’s not hunger that causes stress. It’s knowing that if you fail, your siblings go hungry. If you don’t make any money, you’ve let your family down. Now that’s pressure.

As I try more and more to free myself from the vice of money, I keep learning how difficult this really can be. It seems like everybody needs it. If you have a dream to change society, there is probably a charity out there waiting for some money in order to make that dream happen.

So what’s stressing me out? At the moment it’s a boy by the name of Nyero Francis.

Francis is a 21 year old Ugandan who wants to be a doctor. He did not qualify for a government scholarship, but was accepted into a medical university in Gulu. Francis needs to pay about $450 to cover his semester costs before they will admit him into school. The semester begins in a little more than a week. I told Francis' brother that my club at school was going to support him, but it didn’t take long before I realized that Francis had put his entire faith in his future on me. If I didn’t send him $450 within a week, his aspirations for a meaningful future, for the time being at least, were going to get squashed.

I have a plan to get the money, so everything will be fine. But as I meet more and more poor people, their financial woes are starting to get to me. It seems like everybody has a need, and everybody has a dream that they just can’t seem to achieve on their own. And the more you get to know these people, the more you feel their struggle and the more pressure you feel to be their solution. It’s not a 10 year old boy shining shoes to feed his family, but it can still be enough to make your hair fall out.

3 comments:

Josh said...

I'm cheering for you from the other side of the world in your quest to improve so many lives! Keep on writing about it!

leah k said...

Thanks for being a reminder of what it's like to keep things in perspective, it's always needed to hear, and do.

Consider this one more "profile view"

:)

Sam Ed. said...

I love the burden I hear on your heart. How can I help??