My first varsity wrestling match was against one of the strongest wrestlers I ever knew.
I actually remember saying those exact words as I walked off the mat in Commack South after wrestling Adam Pitt in 1979.
Now, 38 years later I am convinced that was one of the truest statements I ever made in my life.
If the disciplines of wrestling are designed to convert high school wrestlers to men, to teach them how to fight whatever life will throw at them, then wrestling worked its wonders on Adam Pitt.
After a long struggle and fight against an opponent much bigger than he, Adam passed away this past week.
Over the last few months, I have had the pleasure of reconnecting with Adam after 38 years.
He contacted me after reading my book, “6 Minutes Wrestling with Life.”
We messaged back and forth a few times.
At the time I had no idea he was sick.
Until, I did what everyone in this generation does – check out one’s Facebook page.
And there I saw post after post how Adam, through the way he lived his life, especially through his fight, had touched so many lives.
One post instantly struck me when he was asked how he dealt with his sickness each day, he said, “You put your toe on the line and you fight like hell.”
Towards the end, our messages turned into phone calls, as Adam would call me every once in a while.
During those phone calls, not many words were said, as talking was a struggle for him at this time, but that wasn’t to say nothing was communicated – it was if he was transferring spirit to me instead.
It’s amazing, but the silence on the phone had an immediate and amazing impact on me.
It wasn’t awkward, it was the type of time you know is important when it’s happening.
After every phone call with Adam, I felt renewed, energized.
And virtually nothing was said.
Nothing had to be said.
At the time Adam and I were both fighting a battle against an opponent much bigger and stronger than both of us – and we both knew it.
The days after talking with Adam when I felt I had had enough and the fight in me started to erode, I always referred back to the silent phone calls we shared and the message he conveyed – “You put your toe on the line and you fight like hell.”
That’s all you can do.
And in the process, no matter what the outcome may be, people will see the fight and struggle and their spirits will be lifted, their approach will be changed and their lives will be improved.
Just like when you wrestle an opponent much bigger than you, you win even in other ways other than scoring more points than them.
There is something about giving all you got and fighting no matter what, for as long as you can.
Even if the struggle ends in sorrow, sorrow transfers to spirit.
And spirit lasts forever.
The poem by Robert Browning Hamilton is appropriate:
I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser.
For all, she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow;
And never a word said she;
The things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.
Oh! the spirit of Adam will live on with everyone he touched, forever.