“Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat, his lungs breathe their final breath and if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something larger than life, then his essence, his spirit will be immortalized. “
– The Ultimate Warrior
Ok, I’m the guy who grew up in the 80’s and early 90’s so of course I watched professional wrestling. We didn’t have cable at our house, so my brother and I would stay up late on Friday nights and watch these absolute awful personalities wrestle in hopes that one of the popular wrestlers would show up. When we’d travel somewhere, it was always a possibility we’d force for the remote away from our parents and find a “a little better” wrestling on. Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddey Pipper, Andre the Giant and a score of others were the heroes and villains of those matches. And then there was the Ultimate Warrior. This guy was ripped, huge, and this mass of craziness that you either loved him or hated him, but the man knew how to make an entrance and lived life like her wrestled, full steam ahead.
Saturday night, this wrestler, James Hellwig, was inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame and Monday night, he appeared on one of their main wrestling events. He made the above comments during that event on Monday. Tuesday afternoon, he collapsed and was pronounced dead Tuesday evening at age 54. As the world found out about late Tuesday into Wednesday, it’s amazing the different memories of childhood and youth that were shared. I thought very much the same thing, as silly as it sounds, he’s a part of my growing up.
However, I’m not writing about the Ultimate Warrior as the wrestler so much as I am about what transpired over the last few weeks and months. He left the ring and was not part of the industry for 17 years, but somehow, things were made right. Understanding and forgiveness allowed for him to be seen again by a new generation of fans, and the speech he gave Monday night was pretty darn cool.
As I’ve read and reread that above quote, it just gives me chills. I want this as a teacher, to be that person who inspires someone to bigger, better, greater things. I want to be someone who gives even one student that chance to dream deeper, to find it in themselves to push towards what they truly. Our classrooms should be that place, a place where dreams can be incubated and grown, a place where students are given that chance to ask “what if” and see what they can achieve. And why not? What do we have to lose by giving helping get that shot? What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t reach it? True, that’s not good, but at least we’ve given them that shot.
This has been another in a series of things that just exposes to me how fragile our own lives are. As we are educators, as we are shaping, guiding, counseling so many different personalities, what will our legacy be? Will we be just a teacher or do we strive for more? If today were your last day in the classroom, how would you want to be remembered?
As for the Ulitmate Warrior, on the door to my closet here at school, I post different quotes that are important to me. That one will be there. I love what I do and I do what I love. Being a teacher is in my blood and I cannot imagine doing anything else. Hopefully, I can inspire that one child and find someday that what I’ve done has made a difference. As I think about our profession, if each of us could inspire that one student to push greater than they thought possible, what an impact that would make in our world.
Pretty cool, huh, coming from a professional wrestling fan? 🙂
RIP Ulitmate Warrior – your spirit will live on in all those around you who do believe in something larger than life.