The last 3 years of my life had shaken me up and the people, one man in particular, had impacted me greatly. This blog isn’t about him. But as I sat in agony and bitterness for days, even months due to the betrayal of one person and the lies he had told to fulfill selfish needs, I began to lose any trust or faith in humanity altogether.
I will definitely write a long, explanatory, analytic and hopefully inspiring blog about this encounter one day. When I am completely healed from the negative encounter, perhaps. But today I want to tell you about something, or rather someone, more positive and contrasting in many ways to that person.
It has been a sulk of a week, a slump of a month, and a slouch of a year. I finally picked up the phone and texted a friend from my new number to check in on her and to let off the last bit of steam. (Yes, the end of a tragic encounter lead me to behaviours as drastic as changing my number.) If I went into details I’d probably take up a hudreds of pages and months to write it all down. But the effect it had on me was so destructive that I had gone from the sweetheart, to hating people -men especially- in moments. I deemed everyone untrustworthy and I wrote off every family member and friend under the bitterly sworn oath of “I’ll never allow anyone to mistreat me again. I’ll never trust anyone again.”
I had myself convinced that it is afterall a fallen world, and that not one soul could be redeemed. Let’s face it we’ve all been there, rock bottom and nowhere to turn, feeling cornered and dealt a bad hand one too many times, by one too many persons in too short of a season. Well, this was my version of that season. When I woke up this morning, I was regretful of a hundred encounters, a thousand choices and a million mistakes. I gave up on the belief that people could ever be any good, and if they had any kindness in them it was masking some kind of ulterior motive.
Thank God I contacted my friend. She simply brought up a name that resounded heavily and I came to a sudden hault when remembering this person. She told me that my high school track coach had or was retiring and it struck a very tear jerking reaction in me. I remembered everything this great coach had done for my teammates and I. I mean we were a handful bunch, and everyday with us was like a mad sitcom of angry, outrageous teenagers who took everything out on the track, but this man not only put up with us but also taught us everything we ever needed to know in order to survive the bad, push through the hard and speed past the finish line.
He was more than just a coach. He was a mentor, a teacher, and encourager, and at times a father figure. When a teammate’s family couldn’t afford to fly south to visit a university, he flew down with her. When I first moved out he actually brought me my first furniture. I remember him dragging the other team members along all the way to my new place with boxes of kitchenware and functional, necessary furniture. He taught us that giving up was not an option and he always – every single time – went out of his way to support us and to make sure we were on track somehow.
I automatically began to compare the differences between the two types of people. My coach who gave his life to create incredible athletes and instill discipline, winning habits, mindsets and strategies in them,.versus the man who admitted to me recently that he was selfish and that all he wants is money, power and control over people (including me).
I realized that there will always be the good alongside the bad. That is will “it will rain on the just and the unjust”. That’s beauty and irony of life. Good and evil will always be balanced out, not always evenly, but always coexisting. It’s up to us to decide what we allow to move us, and what we must surpass with indifference.
I had to make a choice tonight to either allow the dogs of this world to dictate my character, define my happiness and determine my perspectives of the world or to allow the gems of the world to become the kind of person I want to portray to the world. The kind of person who creates other gems. There will be Hitlers and Mandelas all around us, but whom will we follow and whom will we imitate?
I was certainly blessed to have been coached by the most praised and celebrated coach in the history of High School track and field. Definitely a man worthy of it, who made a great difference to all of us under his mentorship. And I know today, as I write this post that I want to be able to touch peoples lives and leave imprints of goodness, kindness and encouragement in those I come across just as he did. That’s the kind of personality I’d like to model.
I sat here for awhile reminiscing about one of the most bittersweet memories of track practice. It was a pretty consistent one since I so very much loved the burgers and fries at our school cafe. We would be training at York U and right after my first set of mega twos or endurance work outs (and I mean those 400s and 600s were killer), every so often, I would end up puking. Why? Like I said, I loved my deep fried, extra fatty lunches. But no sooner than I washed my mouth and took a sip of water, Dagger would ask, “Douglas you ok man?”
And I would nod hesitantly, hoping I wouldn’t have to finish that work out. (I still very much loathe the mega twos). But Dagger would ever so casually state,”on the track. You’re next.”
So cheers to Dagger, aka Anthony D’Agostino, for making a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of young athletes. For molding them from children into indredible, talented and aunthentic young men and women who never give up simply because he NEVER LET US GIVE UP.
Thank you Dagger for everything and I wish you an awesome retirement.
R. A. Newton
(Previously known as R. A. Douglas)
August 15, 2015.