For two weeks now Tucker had noticed her. Every evening she would jog past his house on the corner, and about half an hour later, she would return down the adjoining street on her way back. She was not only beautiful with her blonde hair bouncing with each step and long lean legs, but she had a determination and self-discipline in her stride that he truly admired.
Running was not his favorite thing, but it definitely came with the territory. After retiring from the military, he opened the doors to his dream business and was now the proud owner of a boxing club. He trained young men in the art, but he spent too much of his time getting his students to exert even a fraction of her self-discipline and dedication that she showed each evening when she jetted by.
He wanted to get to know her, to find out what drove her. He started the first couple of evenings with a wave as she passed, but she clearly ignored him. He then walked to the fence surrounding his front lawn when he saw her coming, and said hello as she passed, but she was not to be deterred. So he had spent the past few evenings grilling out, just as an excuse to be out there on the off chance she wanted to return his greeting. So far it had not worked. Well, not really. She definitely noticed and at least looked his way, but there was no warm welcome.
Maybe he’d quit being so bashful. There wasn’t much that made him nervous anymore. Years in the military will do that to you. Make you realize that so many of your insecurities are just a total waste of time. His new life motto seemed to be to own the insecurity. Make it yours. That’s how he went about the boxing business, and that had worked out very well for him. Boxing was his passion, the thing that excited him to wake each morning before the sun. Boxing was more than just fighting; it was about determination, self-discipline, paying attention, noticing the slightest reactions and movements in your opponent before they had a chance to be fully committed, so that your reaction could be better, faster, and wiser. Noticing the flex of a muscle, the look in your opponent’s eye, the tell of his breathing to keep yourself one step ahead. It had worked well for him, kept him alive on the battle field, kept him a sharp boxer, and kept him in fine shape now that he was retired from the military and running his gym, barely into his thirties.
He knew his body could tell a story. Some parts of the story were intentional reminders, such as the tattoos, but other parts were not intended to share such intimate details. Scars smattered his body – his shoulder, back, and chest – and they all begged people to ask questions. Questions he didn’t want to answer. Memories he wished he could erase. Decisions he wish he would have made wiser.
But they reminded him daily to constantly strive for better. To purposefully learn, no matter where you were in your craft, and bring it to another level. Each day presented a new opportunity to figure things out, to get them right.
Sometimes he practiced this determination in mundane tasks, such as grilling. His father had taught him how to pay attention to the heat, the placement of the flame, and adjust it for each item placed on the wirey bars that held it delicately above the coals. When he was younger, he would become bored with the details. He now knew that the perception of those details could hone skills and mean the difference between life and death in the real world.
He took the meat off the grill, taking the rejection of her skirting past without a hello with a grain of salt. She noticed him. He noticed her. He just had to figure out that detail that would help convince her he was worth her time.