Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Bittersweet

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Perhaps you know that I read, and do so widely.

Yesterday, I read something that I found utterly BRILLIANT!

This is but one thought from it.

“To avoid being mistaken for gay, these days many self-proclaimed straight people—men especially—settle for superficial associations with their comrades and reserve the sort of costly intimacy that once characterized such chaste same-sex relationships for their romantic partners alone. Their ostensibly normal sexual orientation cheats them out of an essential aspect of human flourishing: deep friendship.”

As I am now writing these words, another thought came to mind, and it was that I learned a new word recently.

The word is “alexithymia,” and refers to the inability to describe emotions.

The word it self is a fairly new one having emerged circa 1970’s, and examining its component parts, tells us something about its meaning. The prefix “a” means the negation or absence of something, “lexi” means speech, and by extension communication, and “thymia” refers to a noun form meaning a condition being related to the mind and will.

I learned that word after viewing a brief TEDx presentation given by a gent who was presenting the case against the social, colloquial phrase “be a man” – and most all ideas associated with it, which also flow from it – and which as he shared, has significantly contributed to the alienation and isolation of emotions from boys, and the social retardation of the full development of personality and character which otherwise might be more fully developed were they “in tune with” their emotions, and able to describe them.

He made a much better case for emotional support than I’m able to explain here in a few words, but suffice it to say, that the impetus of his idea was that boys’ emotional development is largely (or, at least has been historically, most notably in modernity) socially squelched, and they have not been encouraged to express their emotions, save perhaps, except in sports, which itself is a very narrow expression.

But it was the story and motion picture “Brian’s Song,” about the loving friendship between two football players – Gale Sayers, and Brian Piccolo – about which I am now thinking. And even now, recollecting how that story affected me positively, I become somewhat weepy. It was memorable to me not only because it was the first movie during which I ever wept, but because I felt the emotions being portrayed in the story, and because I felt the loving relationship between the two men, which story was so beautifully told.

Based upon the autobiography “I Am Third,” by Gale Sayers, it became a 1971 ABC Movie of the Week which shared the beautiful relationship of the two men, propelled by the tragedy of Brian Piccolo’s abbreviated life after graduating from Wake Forest University to become a Chicago Bears footballer, and his diagnosis of terminal cancer soon thereafter.

Brian Piccolo, 1967

Piccolo’s role was played by James Caan, while Billy Dee Williams played Sayers’ character. So perhaps by that mention you see also, that the two men were different ethnicity.

To put some of that in context and historical perspective, Brian Piccolo was a 10th-ranked candidate for the 1964 Heisman Trophy, just ahead of Joe Namath of the U of AL, and Gale Sayers of the U of KS, in that order.

Piccolo was also renown for his anti-racist views when, during a 1963 Wake Forest home game, he walked over to the U of MD team’s bench, in front of the student seating section, and placed his arm over the shoulder of Darryl Hill – then the only African-American football player in the Atlantic Coast Conference – and by so doing, silenced the jeering crowd.

Gale Sayers, Chicago Bears

Just weeks before Brian Piccolo’s death at age 26, Gale Sayers was in New York City being awarded the George S. Halas Award for Most Courageous Player, and upon accepting the award, said in part that, “You flatter me by giving me this award. But I tell you here and now, that I accept it for Brian Piccolo; Brian Piccolo is the man of courage who should receive the award. It is mine tonight; it is Brian Piccolo’s tomorrow. I love Brian Piccolo, and I’d like all of you to love him, too. Tonight, when you hit your knees to pray, please ask God to love him, too. Compare his courage with that which I am supposed to possess. Think of Brian and his courage and fortitude shown in the months since last November, in and out of hospitals, hoping to play football again, but not too sure at anytime what the score was, or might be. Brian Piccolo has never given up. He has the heart of a giant, and that rare form of courage that allows him to kid himself and his opponent – cancer. He has the mental attitude that makes me proud to have a friend who spells out the word courage 24 hours a day, every day of his life.

Former Chicago Bears teammates Dick Butkus, left, and Gale Sayers, right.

At Brian Piccolo’s June 19, 1970 funeral, Chicago Bears teammates Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus were among his pallbearers.

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