Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson 

The End of the Rainbow

     How do we get there?  To the end of the rainbow I mean.  And is it even possible? If we could get there, what would we find - gold?  A whole pot?  And would it really be valid currency?  I don’t know, but I do know one thing.  If we did find a pot of gold, you can bet the IRS would be around there somewhere.

     I believe in rainbows and have even actually found my way to the end of a few.  For years I couldn’t see the path but some special people and some special horses helped me find my way.  And at the end, there was something far more precious than mere gold.  Had I found gold, the money would be long spent by now, but what I found at the end of my rainbows is still with me.  Moments of triumph, of memories, and moments of joy.  Along the way, I discovered one trait we all have that is the key to finding our own personal magic.  And that thing is “doggedness.”

     Lord, I love the word.  Doggedness, I mean.  It’s the only talent God gave me - and it’s without question, the single best gift the heavens have to offer.  With mediocre talent, you can climb Everest if you have doggedness.  If you have doggedness, you can toil in the minor leagues for eight years, and finally make it to the majors.  Then - if you have doggedness - you can break Ty Cobb’s record for stealing bases.  That’s what Maury Wills did…’cause he had one of the Lord’s greatest gifts…doggedness.  And I’m not the only one who loves the word.

     Best selling author, Frank McCourt, is a “doggedness” lover.  “Doggedness,” he says, “is not as glamorous as ambition or talent or intellect or charm, but still the one thing that got me through the days and nights.”  And we all have trouble doing that sometimes, now don’t we?

     Most of us don’t have the ability to throw a baseball one hundred miles an hour.  We can’t sing like a bird or stripe the golf ball three hundred yards down the middle.  We can’t rope like the champs do, and even the slightest idea of setting a world record for anything is completely beyond our grasp.  Thus, we severely limit our future chances for success by concluding the world of real success is reserved for those gifted and talented people…and not for us.  But that thinking is flawed.

     I spent most of my life believing that lie - and it took me forever to see it - but thinking the stars just had a shine inside that we somehow lacked is completely untrue.  I was unaware that for us to do well at any task requires our time.  Time must pass, errors must be made, mistakes must occur, and all the while, effort must be exerted before victory comes.  When we begin to think in terms of possibilities – and we are willing to pay the price - the world changes.  And that’s true for us all.  If we could pick our gift in heaven, doggedness would be the perfect choice.  But few of us would.  How lucky for us the Master in His wisdom gives everyone a double dose of that precious elixir anyway.  And it takes “life experiences” to help us remember that we have doggedness.

     When I was in high school, my girlfriend’s father called me aside.  He explained in no uncertain terms that I was not really what he had in mind for his daughter.  He talked about his family and mine, explaining in detail that we were not the same – that we didn’t come from the same place - and how he didn’t “prefer my people.”  And for the first time in my life, the “dog” inside me opened his sleepy eyes.  I vowed on that day that “By God, because of God, and through God, I will show this person he is wrong about me.”  While the rebuke was sharp and painful, I later learned I could never repay this man for the great and wonderful thing he stirred in me.  He woke up my “dog.”

     So, while great physical ability, stunning good looks, and being born with a spoon in your mouth might be nice…those gifts might not be the best gifts.  Maybe difficult life experiences are…’cause those experiences wake up your “dog.”  Like little Shane.  Shane’s dog woke up.

     Dr. Ben Cranor is a friend of mine.  He’s a brilliant man – a university professor – and a good man.  Imagine his pain when he and his family learned his grandson, Shane, was born prematurely.  At birth, Shane weighed two pounds!  “If he had been a bass,” said his granddad, “we would have thrown him back.”  On the way to the hospital, Dr. Ben bought little Shane a small toy teddy bear.  Later, the nurses would remove the sweater from the teddy and place it on Shane.  It fit perfectly.  But things didn’t look good.

     The doctors informed the family that premature births required oxygen, and oxygen babies were in for a rough time.  Procedures required to keep such infants alive greatly increased the risk of cerebral palsy and learning deficiencies later in life.  Further the doctors stated, Shane would only progress to the second grade level in his lifetime.  Sure enough, Shane had many problems, and sure enough, he failed the second grade.

     His granddad was given the task of asking Shane if he would mind terribly repeating the second grade at a new school.  Shane replied, “Well, since the kids at the new school won’t know that I failed, I can do it.”  At the new school, since Shane had spent a whole year hearing the information before, this second time around he knew all the answers.  After a short time when the teacher asked the other children a question, they all said, “Ask Shane.  He’s the smart one.”  And Shane’s dog woke up.  In spite of his limitations, Shane began to work in earnest.

     Today, the Shane Man is in the eighth grade making straight A’s.  He recently told his grandfather he plans to attend medical school.  Shane took Grandaddy Ben to the end of the rainbow, and there they stand - with something far more precious than gold.    

      “God did not give us spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and self-discipline.”                                                                              

2 Timothy 1:7


Michael's latest release, Reflections Of A Cowboy, is currently available in audio book form. The two volume set consists of articles, essays and excerpts from radio performances about good people and good horses in the life of an Oklahoma cowboy. Approximately 8 hours in length. Reflections Of A Cowboy in printed form is scheduled for release in the summer of 2005. Order from Michael's website.

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