This President's Day weekend began Friday (what would have been Abraham Lincoln's 207th birthday) with successful weigh-ins for the US National Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championships - Orlando and then catching an IMAX Deadpool showing at the Cineplex at Universal with my wife.
Saturday, incredibly tough tournament. I fought through a 6-6 tie losing on advantages, then a very narrow win in the Bronze medal match with a ref's decision after scoring late to tie. In the 1st rd of the Absolute I would recover from mount to outscore another tough opponent. Next in the semi-finals I found myself dominating a 325+lber, only to be forced to tap seconds later...and missing the Abu Dhabi ticket one more time. Then in a match of just pride, the Absolute Bronze match, the medal would slip from my grasp in the closing seconds with a late score. So, just a 94kg Brown Belt Bronze medal and no ticket...yet.
Yesterday my wife and I, for over 12hrs, dominated the rides and crowds at Universal, creating an amazing, unforgettable Valentine's Day 6 Month Anniversary with Terminator 2 3D, Spider-Man, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where she would be outright questioned by an eight year old on the authenticity of her wand compared to his, and the grown adult at the Jurassic Park River Adventure who asked, very seriously, "Is it a real dinosaur?"...unforgettable.
Today, we woke up in the Florida country, Sorrento, to the sweetest, kindest, most loving 5 kids and dog you could ever meet. Spending the morning with them and our good friends, their parents, was priceless. At the airport earlier we were told a delay would force us to miss our connection, hurried to the gate to find out they would hold the takeoff for us, took the flight, boarding the next we were halted, found out our boarding passes were not valid and our seats were indeed given away, but our luggage had made it...a mess. A 10hr layover and delay home. Given only small food and flight vouchers, we just shrugged, laughed and joked, recounting my "Black Cloud Traveler" stories, again.
Making our way through airport security Laura eyeballs a single Wendy's 2016 Free Frosty Keychain Coupon card underneath the conveyor belt and grabs it, stoked...not to be outdone, I spot a quarter on the floor as I step through, bending down I exclaim in pure excitement, "Hey a quarter!" to an immediate, dull "Keep it" response from TSA man. His unhappiness and desire to be somewhere else at the moment was evident. Feeling a hot streak, I just glanced around briefly and saw another quarter, bent down, picked it up, "Hey, another one!" I vocalized with even more enthusiasm..."Keep it" I heard instantly again as I look to see TSA Man unfazed, completely void of any emotion, acknowledgement, let alone any sharing of my discovery excitement. In another split second I'm on top of yet one more quarter! Ecstatic, I run it over to TSA Man holding it upright in my fingers to visibly show him this time, "Look there's one more!" ..."Keep it" he still rings just as he did the previous two times, but this time I would not be denied, and this third and final time I would finally see a small smile crack across his face. He couldn't help it, even outwardly trying.
Although petty and meaningless (besides becoming 75 cents richer!) the quarters unfolded a challenge to me, they served as props to make an unhappy man laugh or smile, if only for an instant. I took the challenge on the fly, having encountered that same demeanor countless times before, it was very gratifying. His mood and situation seemed bleak, and my wife and I, our situation, what ended up being a grueling 10hr layover delay, very well could have been too; tired, sore, miserable, frustrated, losing time and money...but I prefer to think of these as more as challenges or opportunities. This time, an opportunity just to make another man smile. As I sit in this airport and reflect on this President's Day (one of my favorite holidays) and the previous couple days, I'm reminded of a, none other than, Abraham Lincoln quote:
"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or we can rejoice that thorn bushes have roses."