A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to combine two
of my geekiest pursuits: road trips and book signings. The one and only, Michael “Mick” Foley was holding a reading/signing at the Oakbrook Center Barnes & Noble
in Chicago and I jumped at the chance to attend. Why?
1. It’s Mick Foley
2. Road trips, albeit stressful at times, are mini-
vacations for someone who rarely makes the time to take vacations
3. It’s Mick Foley
… Are you done? No?
… How about now? It’s a long Wiki entry, I know.
Okay. Now, I imagine you’re wondering why is someone like moi a fan of a 25-year veteran of the professional wrestling circuit? I write about medical research, musical theater and R&B bands, for Pete’s sake. Why is Mick Foley even on my radar?
Well, in addition to being gifted with a passion for the written word – author of 4 autobiographies, 3 children’s books and 2 fiction novels – Mr. Foley is a teacher. I don’t know if he’s ever held that position professionally, but he is, indeed, a teacher. I’m not talking about teaching only in the conventional sense. Yes, his books are full of more esoteric adventures than a 17-year-old’s daydream Rock ‘n Roll-fantasy camp. Yes, he can captivate you with stories that always carry the beautiful nugget of a lesson learned or a deed worth remembering. But that’s not how he became my teacher.
No. Mick Foley taught me by making me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Let me explain. No. Too long. Let me sum up.* While he graciously signed my copy of Countdown to Lockdown and my DVD of his most infamous matches, I nervously shared how I had driven 3 hours to see him that day and how I planned to return home that evening to rise at 6 am for work on Monday. Although it’s nothing like his hitchhiking 5 hours to Madison Square Garden in the early ’80s, I wanted him to know. /fangirl drivel
It was then, Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy taught me a lesson. He invited me to come out and watch the TNA Wrestling match in the nearby Sears Arena Center that night for my trouble. He knew I had to be at work the next day, but he gave me the option to experience an event like no other. So, naturally, I said yes. And in that moment, I learned something I hope to never forget.
The greedy kid in me saw the offer to attend the TNA show — and witness Mick Foley work his magic in the ring — as a wonderful opportunity to feed my appreciation for the “beating up arts”. But the savvy writer in me immediately thought about how many pitch ideas, colorful details and inspired storylines the event will feed my imagination the next time I sit down at a keyboard and work my magic.
I’d hoped to shake up my status quo by attending the book signing in Chicago in the first place. You know, a break in the routine is good for the mind and all that. But Mick Foley taught me that when you set yourself up to move beyond what you know, appreciate or expect, life presents you with even greater food to feast.
I know it sounds simplistic and hokey, but I’m not the careless type. I didn’t consider calling in sick or showing up late for work. In my mind, that’s not an option. But I was presented an opportunity and I leapt. Foley taught me how to truly leap. Sure, I’ve taken “leaps” in the past, but they’re always planned, calculated and laminated before being set in motion. The “Yes, I will” often came after hesitation and a good night’s rest. But not this time.
As I headed back to Indianapolis in the late night hour, I knew I was different somehow. Not because it was the greatest show on earth or because I got a personal invite from the Commissioner himself (I wasn’t the only one he invited), but because my heart in that moment when I said “Yes” was like nothing I’d known before. I left home that day for a bit of fun and adoration. But I returned home with an invaluable life lesson.
* If you don’t catch this movie reference, your life is very sad.