I have to admit I’ve been quite inspired as of late by a few of my friends embarking on their own spiritual journeys. In many ways I feel as if my own life has been completely transformed in one way or another throughout this past year. Time and time again, I look back upon my life and have a deep appreciation for bearing witness to events that forced me to take a step back and recognize God’s presence in my life… As an aside, I think the first time in which I really started to view my life differently was upon reading John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany in HS… one of the few books I actually read that year. Earlier this year I had posted on Facebook an excerpt of something I wrote a few years back detailing one of the very first times God shown himself to me in a way I just could not dismiss. It would be about two years later that God came to me yet again, holding me high and tight like a football in a near fatal car accident…
For whatever reason, I was thinking about this one quote. It reads “I get the most wonderful high when I know that I’ve just affected a person’s life in a seriously positive way. To me, this is much better than any high and it NEVER goes away. I can always look back fondly on these memories and feel the satisfaction and pride just like it happened at that moment…it’s overwhelming to me. So I’m always seeking it out.” These words came from my friend Steve and are very meaningful to me for a whole host of different reasons. In fact it’s how I try and live my life day by day. There will always be times where you find yourself doing things you just don’t want to do, or living life at such a pace where you are constantly trying to get ‘ahead’. These are times where you say to yourself “Man, I can’t wait for the weekend”. Yet you fail to realize it’s 5 days away. So instead of wishing your life away, or bitching about tomorrow I’ve always tried to heed Steve’s advice and live in the now and for my sake keep it in perspective. Because in the end, that’s all you have… memories and if you take the time to smell, feel, taste and see you could be able to recall it as if it were yesterday. This is one of those stories.
A few years ago when I first started lifting at Bloomsburg, there was a guy there named Brian Keenan. He worked at the Student Rec Center and often his shift would coincide with Kelby’s and I ‘s lifting time which was right around 9-10 at night. Brian was one of those guys who people looked up too. Even if you thought it was uncool to look up to someone or admire someone of the same sex in college, you could just tell by the people he associated with that many thought similarly. He was of different caliber all together. The girls knew this too and it was fun to sit back at times and watch them swoon, but he had a girl and a lot of times because of this he had tons of clout in playing matchmaker for friends. You can imagine how Brian was an ideal Wingman, but that’s not where I’m going with this… I think I first met Brian that first semester as a freshman and we chatted here and there on occasion like most gym-goers do. At that time I could tell he seemed like a cool person but what was usually overlooked by him was names. He kept getting my name wrong. Every time he saw me it was always something different…. Jared, Jason, Johnathon etc. I guess there was a time where he saw me across campus, yelled out my name and rushed to catch up with me just to say “Hi” but I had already boarded the shuttle bus and never even gave him the time of day because I didn’t know the fool screaming “Jason” really meant “Jordan”.
As time went on, so did our friendship. Because Kelby had a different schedule than I, there were times where I had to lift on my own and it was always nice to have Brian greet me at the door. One day, after my workout, we were standing around bullshitting and I asked him if there was anyway I could get a T-Shirt like the one they wore for work. I’m not quite sure why I asked since I knew it would be next to impossible but I liked how they had STAFF on the back and it was the only Student Rec shirts available. “Sorry buddy, you gotta work here” he replied. I figured as much and left it as that. Over the next few semesters, if I’d see him and there wasn’t anything to talk about, I’d tease him about those shirts. I’d come up with humorous ways in which I could possibly get one, just for a laugh. For example, asking him if he could hook me up with one of his female co-workers just so I could “sleep” with her, but instead of actually sleeping with her, I just wanted to take off her clothes. Then I’d hi-tail it out the back door with shirt in hand. Brian would always end our conversation with “For you Jordan, I’ll do what I can to get you one”.
I never realized how much those words meant to me until his last semester at Bloom. Like me, he graduated in December instead of your typical spring graduation. This would have been my Junior year, and for me personally this was one of those ‘hit you like a ton of bricks’ moments where God revealed Himself to me. It was about a week or two before finals. Once again I was doing my usual routine, hitting the gym up late at night. Brian asked me something like how late I was going to be here (in Bloom) and when my last final was. I told him I was going to stay til Friday, the last day possible. He kinda shook his head; I laughed and thought nothing more of it. Before you knew it that THURSDAY came in a blink of an eye. I really felt bad driving to the gym that night. I knew it would probably be the last time I saw Brian. You try to find the right words to say yet somehow no matter how many times you play it out in your head, it never comes out the way in which you want it too. After my workout we said our goodbyes. I thanked him for his friendship and as always, like I tell everyone, I told him it’s been real. We shook hands and then I made my way towards the door as the rest of the staff including Brian turned off the lights and shut everything down. I was just about ready to open the door when Brian yelled “Jordan, wait man, I have something for you”. I turned around and gave a smile as I saw him and the three other girls rushing towards me. It was then that it happened. He said “It might not be the best Christmas present to get this year but at least I hope it means something”, and with those words, in front of everyone, he took off his shirt and gave it to me… I really didn’t know what to say and to be honest the next few seconds are nothing but a blur. I just remember the four of us getting into cars and Brian without a shirt on, and it snowing outside. I thank God I made it home safe that night because I cried like a child all the way to my apartment. I was dumb struck, and it was then that I knew God had his plans for me. Brian touched me as much as I touched him. “I get the most wonderful high when I know that I’ve just affected a person’s life in a seriously positive way. To me, this is much better than any high and it NEVER goes away. I can always look back fondly on these memories and feel the satisfaction and pride just like it happened at that moment…it’s overwhelming to me.” It is something I will never forget.
You want more irony? Fast forward a few years… I began working at the same gym where I train – and now have my very own personalized staff shirt.