Updated: Sep 10
... and they all cheered as he exited the vertical wind tunnel. I couldn't help but cry. I know, I know. I'm Charmin soft. At least I own it - LOL!
Earlier this year, my wife and I celebrated eleven years of marriage. We've been together for 18 years - nearly most of my adult life. To commemorate our anniversary, we decided to visit Seattle, WA. We make our anniversary trip decision by choosing a major league ballpark to visit each year on our anniversary. My wife and I have cheered on the Brewers, Yankees, and Marlins in recent years. This time around, though, we wanted to go somewhere far, far away. Geographically, there was nothing further from us than T-Mobile Stadium - the house Griffey built (my favorite baseball player of all time).
While in Seattle, we visited the gum wall. It still baffles me as to how this became a thing. Regardless, I joined in on the fun by leaving a sizeable lug of Eclipse mint gum near the edge of an old windowsill. That way, if we ever visited again, I could find it. We also spent a good bit of time at Pike's Market Place, taking in the sounds and feeling the people's energy. The state of Seattle had only recently relaxed its Covid restrictions. People were just happy to be out and about. It was a beautiful scene.
We spent another day walking the town, another at the ballpark, and another lazily lounging around in our spacious hotel room. One of my favorite touristy things was whale watching. Outside of celebrating our anniversary day, of course, this was one of the trip's highlights. We saw a gray whale cruising calmly through the water. Only a few minutes later, a pod of 6 orca whales engaged in haunting a seal. How these majestic creatures were able to coordinate themselves, at times being 100 yards apart, through sonar alone, still blows my mind. I won't go into detail on how it ended for the seal. Let's say she didn't make it easy for the pod of orcas.
After having experienced all of this, there was no way our trip could have gotten better. But it did.
The day we made it back to Atlanta, my wife and I decided to catch a Brave's game and go indoor skydiving. Our hotel was less than two blocks away from both locations. It made sense to do both. I was a little nervous on the day we went indoor skydiving. I wasn't afraid of the indoor wind tunnel. I was fearful of doing something that my wife could use to roast me for the next 100 years of marriage. She has no chill - LOL!
Once you get checked in, you go through a training session with other people. Our group was a good mix of young and old, experts and novices. In the short time we spent together, we learned small tidbits about each other's stories. It helped ease the tension we all shared. Nobody wanted to be the one who messed up.
After suiting up and waiting patiently for our turns, I was seated next to an 11 or 12-year old young man. His name was King. He and his mother were taking a short vacation from Tennessee. King was nervous. It had gotten so bad that he asked to be skipped when it was his time to enter the wind tunnel. His mother did not force him. She went instead.
While his mother was in the wind tunnel, I took it upon myself to let King know that it was okay if he did not want to do it. I reinforced that we are all proud that he had made it this far and that I was nervous too. I told him that if he did decide to go in, he would need to pay careful attention to the instructor's commands. We took a few moments to go over them to make the most out of his experience. I told him that I was proud of him and that we were all here to support him, regardless of what he chose to do.
Mind you. I don't know this kid. We just happened to connect during our training. But I wanted to be a part of his tribe - his story. I didn't know if his father was present in his life or not or if another man had ever validated him. I just knew that this was what I would have wanted for someone to have done for one of my boys.
To make a long story short, King built up the courage to enter the wind tunnel this time around. Not only did he enter it, the instructor saw it fit for him to do a high flight. After King's turn, everyone gave him a standing ovation and fist bumps as he worked his way to his seat. All I could see was this huge grin on his face through his helmet. When he made it to his seat, he looked over to his mother and excitedly exclaimed, "I did it!"
Y'all, I burst into tears. I was so emotional that snot was coming out of my nose. It was such a touching moment - one of those sticky moments that shape us for the rest of our lives. The types of moments you can only have when faced with adversity. This, by far, was THE highlight of my anniversary trip (don't tell my wife).
I want to take a moment to celebrate how far you've come in your financial journey without the immediate pressure that comes with thinking about how far you have left to go or what's next. You deserve it. I also want you to give yourself an opportunity to revisit all of your "I did it!!!" moments and recognize that you, like King, are an overcomer, too!
You have more power than you give yourself credit for. I know you know it. It's time to own it!