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My ten-year-old son makes flicking a frisbee with precision and joy appear effortless.

 
’twas not always so.
 
Frisbee doesn’t come naturally to three-year-olds, eager to learn but averse to pain and sustained effort. When the disc scraped Zachary’s knuckles or his throws flew perpendicular to his aim, he’d scowl at me like Al Pacino in Godfather Part II. When he calmed down, I told him pain was part of life, like the sting of salt water in your eyes during a gorgeous day at the beach. We don’t leave when that happens, right?  Like an excited high five with friends. You laugh when it hurts a little.  

Pain is not the worst thing in the world, especially when it serves a purpose. 

Imagine the art that would not be, accomplishments we’d still be waiting on, 

the degrees of Justice that would elude us, 

if feeling some pain dissuaded people from pursuing their aspirations?

Childbirth is super painful, too, but Mom pushed through that because she wanted you to be with us here in the world. So, you want to learn how to do this or not?  He grasped this well enough and opted to try again. 

Everyone who does anything worth something knows there will be costs— some are obvious, like scrapes and soreness from playing any competitive sport, others less so, like opportunity costs, such as time spent on studies or work instead of with family and friends. Aristotle is firm on this—just as we can’t be in two places at once, we can’t achieve without effort. Life abounds with choices, and the through line is this—when you choose to accomplish something, you’re choosing to endure some discomfort, an inconvenience, an expenditure of time and thought and energy that precludes immediate gratification, and yes, possibly some pain. 

Zachary didn’t expect that pain would be part of learning to throw a frisbee when he asked me to teach him, so that became part of what he learned, as well, and arguably that’s the more valuable lesson. 

There’s such a thing as grit— a willingness, even eagerness, to accept the costs of having purposes you care about. It’s a kind of energy, and also a sort of perspective. Grit leads to a courageous life, to an outlook grounded in patience, resilience, and perseverance. Every time his frisbee went sideways and Zachary’s emotions erupted, we talked… eventually… about it being okay to have strong feelings, but not okay to let them be a reason to quit.

My son wiped away many tears as I taught him the secrets of frisbee throwing. He didn’t want to use the smaller discs made for little kids, so plenty of booboos were kissed, bandaids applied. At four-years-old, as he gained more control of the frisbee, even when catching stung his hand, he laughed the way he would at high-fives. When I advanced him from backhands to forehand flicks, some tantrums sprung up, but they were less frequent, less severe. 

I watched approvingly and howled encouragement as he failed over and over and resumed trying, again and again. 

 

 When I had fantasized about teaching Zachary everything I knew about frisbee, there was something wonderful I hadn’t accounted for— learning from him.  

Zachary developed a unique grip which, when I tried it myself, led me to throw flicks with greater accuracy. The student had become the teacher. 

By the time he was five-years-old, Zachary’s frisbee game was formidable. He shrugged off the odd jolt of pain. There were complex throws and many tricks still to learn, and he had also begun experimenting playfully all on his own.

We’ve played for years, knee-deep in waves at Long Beach and Cape Cod, at Gantry Park in front of the midtown Manhattan skyline, dozens of other places. Eventually it becomes possible to consistently throw a frisbee exactly where you intend to, as my son does in the video on this page, shot at dusk on Roosevelt Island. He’s about forty yards away from me and casually throws an arcing flick directly into my hand.  

As difficult as it once was to encourage Zachary to persevere through his frustration, now he doesn’t recall those emotional hurdles. What felt insurmountable to him isn’t even a memory. Those memories add to my pleasure when I  watch him throw and catch, natural as can be, like a dolphin leaping waves or a squirrel running across a power line. But there’s nothing as thrilling as observing him teach other children his techniques.

Throwing a frisbee with pinpoint accuracy has the aura of a magic trick, so we draw attention when we play. Children often approach us when we throw, and when they want to learn how we do it, he happily steps forward. Step by step, he walks each child through how he holds the frisbee, how he stands, and the fluidity of motion they should practice. Then the kids make their first attempts and, of course, success isn’t instantaneous.

Parents inevitably apologize for their child’s errant throws and my son always replies, even though he doesn’t remember not knowing how, “no worries, that’s how I started.”

I engage with the world through my passion for storytelling, 

and the source of that passion is my empathetic and optimistic nature.

I believe in sharp messaging with a soft touch, branding with integrity, creative volunteering, and I sprint all-out towards collaborations and partnerships with people who are genuinely passionate —from families with newborns  to couples in love, nonprofits to corporate powerhouses.

I’m happy working in any of the following roles, but most gratified on projects where I get to exercise all of my talents as a writer, an editor, a photographer, a video producer, an audio specialist, a branding and communications strategist, a marketer, a consultant, and a comedian.  

Though I’m twenty years into feeling at home in New York City, and it is the most inspiring place on the planet, I’m a Boston sports fan for life. If you’re able to accept this about me, then there’s hope for us, yet! 

Thank you for staying until the end. If you’re passionate about something and would like to start a conversation about teaming up as professionals or volunteers, text me at nine one seven, eight three four, eight one six nine.

Best,

Adam

 

Post Scripts 

1. The most delicious and delightful brunch in New York City may well be Café Henri in Long Island City. Order a three egg omelette with leeks, goat cheese and mushrooms with a side of bacon. If upon completing the meal you disagree with me, make a case for your preferred brunch destination and I’ll try it out. In NYC, restaurant polyamory is just smart. But seriously, check out Cafe Henri!

2. That kid over there on the right (or below on your portable device) looks like he’s having the time of his life, right? Yeah, that’s one of our favorite things about New York City (Rockaway Beach). 

3. In late April, early May, cherry blossoms bloom all over New York City, and they’re especially beautiful on the upper west side (take your Claritin and bring your camera to the Riverside Park entrance at 100th Street). 

3. In case you’re wondering why I’m writing postscripts about some of my favorite places in New York City, I suppose it’s because I love it here

5. And in the name of non sequiturs, one last thought…

The truth at the heart of every comedy or drama or history there is this ancient and eternal truth—equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of whatever people choose to pursue, so long as they do so peacefully, belong naturally and morally to each and every person. Even, I daresay, to fans of professional New York sports teams.