When the Timer Buzzed
Many of us in LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) have had the chance to box and train together at a local gym in Hamilton. The first time I went into the boxing ring, I had the opportunity to watch a couple of spars ahead of me. I remember as I was putting on my gloves and trying to calm myself down, out of the corner of my eye I would watch the two opponents in the ring about 12 feet away from me. As the one guy was getting backed into the corner, he began to turtle and from where I stood, it was so clear to see the problem. He was giving up and was allowing his opponent to overwhelm him and bully him into submission. I kept thinking in my mind, “just do this” or “just take one more jab” but he didn’t. And then the timer buzzed and now it was my turn.I stepped through the ropes and tried to plan out what I was going to do. It was so set in my mind. But when the timer buzzed, my opponent went postal. She came at me like an animal and just started wildly throwing punches and hooks. My mind went numb and all I could think of was survival. All my grandiose and well-thought plans went out the window and I just focused on keeping my kidneys intact. So much for being who I thought I would be when the timer buzzed!It was so easy to assume that I would know what to do when it was my turn, but theory and practice can be worlds apart.Ryan has been on tour with LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) this past semester. He plays in the band, Hearts in Stereo and he also shares his story on many days, with many students across Canada. His story is about Kevin.Kevin was the type of guy that is inevitably in every school we go into. Never quite fitting in, never quite in sync with what is going on, and in need of a friend and some understanding. Ryan wanted to be that for Kevin. Although they didn’t really talk at school, they would chat on MSN and Ryan began to gain an appreciation for who Kevin really was. But then something happened. Kevin began to withdraw and stopped returning Ryan’s messages. Soon Kevin was doing a dive bomb into drugs and messing with the law. Ryan was at a loss. Discouraged and convinced he had nothing to offer Kevin, Ryan pulled back and focused on finishing up high school.Soon Ryan graduated and moved on to Ottawa to go to university. Shortly after getting to Ottawa, Ryan heard some news from back home and it was not what he had ever wanted to hear. Kevin had taken his own life. No one knew why and there were more questions than answers. Ryan took the news really hard, continually questioning what he could have done differently, angered with himself for giving up on Kevin. That’s when the timer buzzed for Ryan.He couldn’t always stand outside of everything and not take a risk in getting to know someone. He couldn’t change what happened with Kevin, but he could begin to try to understand how to help others who may find themselves in similar trouble. He might never know exactly what to say or do, but he wasn’t going to take the easy way out anymore. He was going to stick it out and reach out and continue to believe in someone – even when they couldn’t believe in themselves.Each day when Ryan has stood on the stage and shared about his friendship with Kevin, he speaks to two different types of guys in the crowd: the ‘Kevins’ and the ‘Ryans’. The ‘Kevins’ need to know that they are never alone and that there are people around them who are genuinely looking for an opportunity to get to know them and reach out to them. And the ‘Ryans’ need to be reminded that there is a lot of power in their lives to make a difference for others. In the end, they both need each other.To find out more about LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) and our high school assemblies and programs, check out www.livedifferent.com.