As the midway point of what has been a truly rough winter (and one that I particularly enjoy), there's an undeniable excitement that has invaded the New York metropolitan area, as well as all over the country. Spring training is coming, the time when we all eagerly await another season of the boys of summer, hot dogs, and the program hawkers who make this game what it is. Yet we also take time to reflect on what has changed.
I remember reading a few days ago that one of my favorite pitchers for the New York Yankees, Andy Pettitte, decided to call it a career. At the farewell press conference, he succinctly said all he needed to. "My heart just isn't in the game anymore," he stated, as he was looking forward to returning to Texas and spending time with his wife and family. In the days that followed, I intently listened to WFAN, which is one of the biggest all-sports radio stations, as the lines lit up with callers expressing admiration for what he accomplished. Even those he played against grudgingly had to admit what he meant to the game, and the words that were often tossed out frequently included "heart" and "competitor."
I never used to know what having a heart was all about. People mention the word "heart" and the first thing that comes to mind is what keeps you alive. Sure, that's true. But what does having heart mean? Is it character? Is it empathy? Is it a desire to see what you're really made of?
For me, when I think of having a heart, the first thing that comes to mind is a realization. I wake up every day and thank the world that someone up there recognizes I can contribute so many things to make the world better for people who stutter. I think that having a heart makes you care a great deal for others, but you see that caring reflected in different ways.
As someone who stutters, but also one who does recognize that stuttering is a disability and presents me with a unique set of challenges, my heart has shown me that caring is more than saying words of encouragement. It's about knowing how to conduct yourself around other people and knowing that others deserve basic respect. Having heart is about learning to share with yourself, and even more than that, knowing that we all owe it to everyone who stutters to set the best example we can.
You gotta have heart......and I hope you do.
My name is Steven Kaufman, and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.