Full Speed had a respectable seventh place finish out of thirty-seven at his school’s bee. The difference between him participating as a fifth grader and now is unbelievable. He used to be the smallest, now he is among the tallest. His voice, the depth of which I found unsettling, held steady as he spouted off each letter.
I no longer saw a boy on that stage. In his place stood a confident young man.
Leading up to the competition, T.Puzzle and I continued a lively debate. He believes a person is awesome only if they are winning. I still hold that awesomeness is static. Sometimes that expresses as external achievement, but mostly it is comprised of intangibles. I do not fault T.Puzzle for his perspective. Our culture exalts individual, external success. Winning makes sense to him. I get that.
Maybe Full Speed did not technically win the spelling bee, but from my view he demonstrated what it means to succeed. He had the nerve to get up on that stage and compete with all eyes of the auditorium zeroed in on him.
I couldn’t do that.
I probably wouldn’t even be able to spell my name right in that situation.
When it was all said and done, he bounced back quickly. He did not entertain the notion that misspelling a word defines him a person.
That feels like winning to me.