Muscles and dreams

His spray tan hasn’t worn off yet. The competition was this past week.

I watched him strike poses and stand for pictures with his trophy all afternoon.  He looked to be in his early twenties, but it’s hard to tell with body builders. These are the things I know about him. He has sandy blond hair and a stocky build and a smile that lights up a gymnasium. He has friends of all ages and races, a mother who is quite proud of him,and an athletic trainer who pushes him hard. He also has Down Syndrome. Did I mention that his trophy has “Most Inspirational” engraved on it?

When his trainer, Gabe, isn’t pushing people like Mr. Inspirational to be their very best, he is traveling back and forth to Ghana, the country where he was born. They say it rains daily there. Until a month ago, the children in his late grandmother’s village attended a school with a dirt floor and leaky roof not so very different from the school Gabe attended as a child before coming to the United States with his parents. He graduated from high school and played college football. Then, he graduated from college and became a business owner and father. Along the way, he won more than a few body building trophies of his own. He had big muscles and even bigger dreams. Thanks to him, today there is a new two room schoolhouse in his grandmother’s village. He built it. And when I say he “built” it, I do not mean that he hired other people to build a school. He literally built it. From the ground up. Cement block by cement block.

There aren’t a lot of inspirational stories when you turn on the TV these days. Everybody is either mad about something or mad at someone, it seems. I’m sick of the noise.There are days I want to toss the TV on the fire circle in the woods, pour a little gasoline on it, and strike a big old match. We are sorely in need of a few heroes. At least I know I am.

Today, I was in the presence of two.

One has a shiny new trophy.

The other one built a school.

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