Recently, as I returned to my car in the parking lot, I noticed two young adolescent boys arguing with one another on the sidewalk. As I approached, it became apparent that this was just friendly banter and play as they pushed each other and bragged. Then from a distance, I heard a voice say, “On your mark-ready-set!” I don’t believe they waited for go, as they took off sprinting down the sidewalk towards the bottom of the hill. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched them shove each other as they approached the finish line. I never saw who ultimately won, but it didn’t matter; let the winner enjoy the moment. It will be one of many competitions to come.

How many times had I seen this play out as a youth? It seems silly now as I look back at all the times we tried to settle disagreements with a competition. My parents, fearing expensive medical costs, warned me about the risks of foolish competition. My grandfather as a youth had seriously injured his back in a competition to see who could cradle more wheat. Therefore, I moderated my competitive nature as a youth and escaped with only a fractured bone. Nevertheless, I still competed and lost often. Gradually, I improved and learned to choose competitions I knew I had a chance of winning.

Eventually, my last public competition was an arm wrestling match. I did not want to compete while on a public job, but after listening to hours of bragging, I just wanted the fellow to hush. I assured him he was making a mistake. My upper forearm was double the size of his, so I could say this with assurance. Still, he couldn’t back out; he had bragged to his friends and put his pride on the line. While the shift took a lunch break, we settled the matter. I have no idea where that fellow is today, but I wish him well. Additionally, I hope he was careful with bragging in the future because I won that day without breaking a sweat.

More from Kevin F. Wishon.