As I was waiting in line to board my plane to Haiti a woman asked me “so what do you do for a living?” I excitedly responded, “Well I just graduated from college!” She then asked, “So you mean your unemployed?” I thought about it for a little bit, and then it sunk in.
Crap! I am currently unemployed, and since I moved out of my house I am homeless as well. Good thing I strained my calf in the bowl game, at least I might be able to get disability (I am joking for those of you that just took me serious).
Real world here I come!
Insanity wouldn’t begin to describe my last 2 weeks. The day after my last college game I was on a plane to Haiti with a group from Lubbock, and I’m actually writing this entry from Haiti now. I’m heading back to the States tomorrow morning.
Since I haven’t written in a week I’m sure this piece of literature will be an interesting one. Gees where do I start?
Umm, well lets just start from my last college game. Here we go.
Two days before I played my last college football game the agent whom which I was going to sign with after the game calls and says that a running back higher up on the draft board was wanting to sign with their agency and they wouldn’t be able to sign me because they no longer had enough room. Yeah that actually happened. This was my first introduction into how cutthroat the NFL is. I was pretty stressed simply because all of my flight plans and living arrangements immediately fell through and changed. Not only did I not know who my new agent would be, I knew I was leaving to Haiti the day after the game and wouldn’t have any time to meet new agents or make new plans. To make matters worse I had ceased contact with many other agents prior to my new agent search. So I was frantically scrambling to completely re-arrange my plans, and on top of all of this I still had a football game to play. As hard as I tried not to let it, the stress consumed me all week, and I even began to doubt if I should actually go on the trip to Haiti.
I started to think that my future was way more important than some mission trip to a third world country. I thought that the extra week in the states would be good to start a new agent search and begin training, being that all-star games are right around the corner. I thought, “well, there were enough people going and they really didn’t need me to go.” All I did was try and rationalize all the reasons why I should stay in the states and not go to Haiti.
Finally I realized that I was being a punk. My thinking was uncharacteristic of me. I realized that I was worrying about life and not living it. I always tell myself this one thing “never NOT do something that is good because you are afraid or worried about what might happen”
Ok, I decided then and there. I was going to Haiti. Lets go!
My last game didn’t go as I would have imagined, or liked. I wanted to go out with a bang and that wasn’t the case at all. I ended up with a handful of yards and a strained calf muscle that kept me from playing in the second half.
This made me question the Haiti trip even more. Knowing that NFL training was starting immediately and I should probably rehab my calf. This is what I thought to myself “baron come on man, you really shouldn’t go, your homeless, jobless, injured, and don’t have an agent. You should stay here and look out for yourself. You have a right to be selfish about your future.” Or do I really?
It was hard for me to be disappointed about the outcome of my last game knowing that in less that 24 hours I would be in a third world country where people worry about what their next meal will be, a place where people die because there simply isn’t safe water to drink, a place where people would be happy to drink the water that comes off my body after a post game shower, because the water I think is filthy is still cleaner than anything most of them will ever drink. It definitely put being disappointed about a calf strain, not having an agent, being homeless and not playing a half of a football game into perspective. However, It was definitely strange when the game was over and the realization hit that my time at Texas Tech had finally finished. It was strange saying “see ya later” to people I had known for 5 years, and knowing that I wouldn’t “see them later” it was goodbye. It’s strange to lose relationships in a matter of minutes. It was definitely bitter sweet taking off my jersey for the last time, and saying goodbye to my group of running backs I had been so close with. Everything comes to an end at some point though, however every end is the beginning of something new, just like every sunset is a sunrise somewhere else. Chapter closed.
-Turn page here-
New chapter starts now.
I step off the plane and I am in another world. There were murmurs going around about kidnappings, riots, burning cars and Americans being thrown in Haitian jail. I definitely wasn’t in Texas anymore, and I would be a liar if I told you I wasn’t scared and regretted my decision immediately. I was out of my comfort zone and thrown into a very dangerous and very real situation unlike anything I could have ever imagined or had seen on T.V.
We worked closely with a family who owned an orphanage with over a dozen kids, most whom had been left orphaned and homeless by the earthquake in Port Au Prince. The thing that astounded about this family was that they were very ordinary and very WHITE Americans that had decided to simply step out of their comfort zone and do something that was extraordinary. The reason I made a fact to say that they are white is because I felt very out of place being in Haiti and I looked just like the Haitians, I could only imagine how a white family that stuck out would feel. Dr Kerry Reeves was an optometrist and his wife Joy was a typical southern housewife with an unmistakable southern twang. They packed up and are now running a Haitian orphanage full time, while I almost chickened out of the whole trip because I had a strained calf and a few things that had me worried back in the States. How much faith did I actually have? I quickly learned that it wasn’t as much as I previously thought.
Haiti made me realize that many of things I worry about are actually things that I should be excited about. For example, I worried about not having an agent, while I should be excited about the fact that I even need one. I worried that my calf was strained and I’d walk with a slight limp for 2 weeks, when I should be excited that I have both my legs. I worried that I didn’t have a permanent address, while I should be happy that I don’t need one because I have people that would let me use theirs in a heartbeat. Ok, I’m not wasting anymore time worrying. I’m diving all in, even though I’m out of my comfort zone because that’s where we grow as people. We grow as people when we are terrified out of our minds and don’t want to go any further, when we tremble at the thought of taking another step but we decide to do it anyway.
The rest of the trip was amazing but very difficult and sad in many different ways. The more I got out of my comfort zone, the more I was able to connect with the people even though I couldn’t speak their language. I never realized the magnitude of holding a child’s hand until I walked into a refugee tent village of about 30 orphans that all ran to me to simply hold my hand and hug me. I never realized the magnitude of having clean water until I saw someone actually dying because they didn’t have it. It’s the everyday basic necessities that I am now thankful for.
Think about this before you start worrying about things this week. Are you living life or just worrying about it? Are the things you worry about, things that you should actually be thankful for? Are you living inside your comfort zone, and are you brave enough to step out? God bless.
For more of Baron’s thoughts, click Here.