A Little Story About Balls and Perseverance

I stood there, holding the warm organ in my hand, absolutely furious. I had spent the better part of my summer trying to find a way to ride along with the only equine veterinarian in a three county radius to no avail. The calls which were so difficult for a super shy sixteen-year-old to make were not returned. I wasn’t really above stalking him, but that didn’t seem like the most effective way to meet my goal. Then, the owner of the farm on which I worked – a man who knew exactly how badly I wanted to breath the same air as this particular veterinarian – called to tell me that Dr. Booth was coming to geld one of their colts and I had better be there. I dropped everything and raced to the farm, practically desperate to meet him in person and hoping that he would invite me to spend what little time I had left before school started tagging along in his truck, learning a little bit more about the only job I had ever wanted since I was six years old. And this man had just thrown a testicle at me. He had barely uttered a word to me since arriving on the farm, despite the fact that I had done my best to stay out of the way, stay out of the light, and not ask too many questions. Yet I still found myself holding the warm and bloody testicle I caught as it came hurling towards my head. My jaw clenched and I could feel hot anger and heavy disappointment rising within me.

Dr. Booth’s eyes met mine and he laughed. He said, “Most people would have ducked”, which I honestly couldn’t tell if he meant as a compliment or an insult.  Then he started asking me questions – where did I go to school? How long had I worked at the farm? Why in the world would I want to be a veterinarian?

After that day, he called me every once in a while to accompany him on various calls throughout our rural area. I really got a taste for the type of life I was choosing – one could never plan a day or stick to a schedule as something was bound to come up and throw everything off. Dr. Booth was a man of few words, so most of the time driving between calls was spent in silence. Still he made a point of speaking about the important things – never turn a horse out to pasture if he was facing away from the gate, never stand next to the legs of a horse who was under general anesthesia, and always try to schedule your calls so you can stop at the best flea markets.

I had passed some sort of grotesque litmus test that was only appropriate (albeit marginally so) within the confines of veterinary medicine when I caught that testicle, and apparently my lack of squeamishness more than my burning desire to be a veterinarian had secured my spot in the passenger seat of Dr. Booth’s truck.

I first wrote about that story when I was a high school student applying for a college scholarship. I got the scholarship and writing bug too. I distinctly remember this essay as being the first piece of writing that felt inspired and I still remember the novelty and power of that feeling.  After having had that experience, I would go long stretches of time without writing because I was focused on school and work and achieving my dream of being a veterinarian, but I never forgot that feeling of inspiration. Now I strive for it every day.

That particular story came crashing back into my thoughts the other day as I was really struggling to refine another post for this blog, the subject of which I genuinely want to do justice. But the post is messy and I can’t get the structure right despite the fact that I’ve been tweaking it for weeks. It’s frustrating. And then, out of the blue, I remembered another messy and frustrating experience in my past and how persevering through it lead to several moments of true inspiration. So now I’m just hoping that history repeats itself, maybe with a little less shock and blood this time…

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