There is a lot of press given to football injuries these days, Rightly so, it is a dangerous sport and kids, especially youngsters whose bodies have not completely developed, are vulnerable to suffer concussions.
My admittedly cockeyed theory is that the cause of many football injuries lies in the very armor players wear to protect themselves. Concussions come about almost exclusively from getting a helmet or a cleat to the head. So, if everyone stripped down to shorts and t-shirts and played barefoot, there would not be nearly as many injuries.
The thought occurred to me that even if the NFL turns down my suggestion, maybe in the larger world beyond football, in the way we live our lives, the idea has some merit. Know what I’m saying? We are so afraid to get hurt that we don the armor of pretense and fake it through life. The guy puts on his stud mask and the women portrays herself as Ms Perfect.
I have been reading a book by Glennon Doyle Melton who has written on this subject. In “Carry On Warrior, Thoughts on Life Unarmed” she says “Maybe the battles of life are best fought without armor and without weapons.” What she is saying is suppose we shuck off our emotional defenses and were “real” to one another?
Sounds like a “chick book.” Maybe it is. But listen up guys. We wear even more equipment than women. We are so damn competitive with one another that we don’t dare let down our guard. “Big boys don’t cry” is our mantra, a stupid mantra but we let ourselves be hobbled by the armor we wear.
Someone said “The more together we look, the more needy we really are.” Remember the poem Richard Cory? The man who seemingly had everything, mesmerized people by the way he strode down the street, handsome and smooth and oh so cool. Then, one day, this cool man put a bullet through his head. On shit! How could that be? We thought we knew him.
We kid ourselves and (sometimes) we fool others by the way we handle things. No fuss. We are in command. “Hey, I’m good.” We say. But we are not good; not all the time. By pretending we are in control we not only hurt ourselves (because we know better, deep down) but we deprive others of the gift of our own weakness and vulnerability.
People think that we are in command. We stride through life unafraid. But no one does that, not really. We are all afraid that we don’t belong or that we are not the moms or dads or bosses that we would like to be.
It’s okay. We all share the same human condition. Maybe it’s time for all of us to doff that heavy protective gear; put on the shorts and t-shirts of our vulnerability and just be who we are.