There might have been a tornado warning in the area - some small farming town nearby, but we practiced anyway.
My roommate had convinced me at the beginning of the school year to join the Civil Air Patrol. It was a voluntary auxiliary of the US Air Force that primarily dealt with Search and Rescue. As a cadet, we participated in yearly competitions:
Running a mile
Here we were, the middle of nowhere, and we had a dream team.
I wasn’t much of a marcher, and there were people way smarter than me in science, but I ran the second fastest mile—thanks to growing up 6000 feet above sea level and moving to a place much more oxygen-rich—and had experience playing competitive volleyball.
I’m also 6’4”.
We had the blended synergy and expertise of a team that could cover each other's weaknesses, look out for each other, and most importantly, we all were friends that held on to one goal.
We could be the best squad in the country. Several rounds of competition took place over the months ahead. We won and won again. With every round, we gained the confidence and swagger of a champion. These were my friends, my comrades, my teammates. Nothing would stop us.
Except for me.
The national competition was in Washington DC over Christmas break. Everyone was leaving over Christmas together—flying out of the Air Force Base in Omaha. Except for me. I went home to Colorado first and the plan was for me to fly out of Denver and meet the team there.
Alone without my team in Colorado, the confidence suddenly had escaped me. My swagger turned to fear. I didn’t tell my family because that would make me responsible to get me to go.
So I alone sat in my fear.
My mind raced with one terrible story leading to another. Instead of an excited champion, I made myself so worried and anxious I got sick. I threw up. And suddenly this great peace came over me. I was sick! I couldn’t go now! I was in no shape to travel.
I stayed home for Christmas but missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When I got back to school, I discovered that due to the penalties of missing a member, the team placed 7th.
As it turned out, I wouldn’t have had to be the star volleyball player or run my fastest mile, all I had to do was show up and we would have been the champions. The number one squad the whole of the US of A.
Instead of being top banana, I slipped on one. My regret isn’t for me, I regret the pain and hurt and feeling of defeat I gave to my friends. I heard they tried to scrounge money to buy me a plane ticket. They forgave me.
I still struggle with forgiving myself. It’s silly thinking about it now. Why was I so afraid? But I did learn, that whatever it is, even if it scares us sick - well, you know and I know the lessons we can learn from our past regrets so we don’t relieve them.