I was so scared on that December evening at the Barnes & Noble in South Bend, Indiana. I did not think I belonged at my dream school. I thought that my classmates were SO much smarter than me. They had all of these amazing insights into the law and government, and I was just trying to get by, learning the difference between state and federal court. I was so scared that I would disappoint my parents. As I buried myself in my books for finals, I was terrified that I would not do well and I would fail. My biggest fear – failure. Fail myself, fail my family. That is why I was grinding away studying all day every day in the preparation week before finals. I just wanted to know I belonged.
That’s when I came face to face with greatness.
I looked up from my tort, contracts, or whatever big book I had open in front of me and saw an older gentleman shaking, slowly doing magic tricks for kids in the store while his wife was looking around the aisles for books. The kids were smiling ear to ear. Their parents stood back in awe. I looked a little closer. It was Muhammad Ali. Yes. It was. It was the greatest fighter to ever live. He was 10 feet from me, just passing the time while his wife shopped, entertaining random kids at the bookstore.
I had to acknowledge it. I had to meet the icon. I just needed to know things would be okay. I timidly walked over to him, and he reached out his quaking hand. I grasped it. I looked into his eyes. I saw the fight. I saw the justice. I saw the fire. Because, Parkinson’s can’t take that. All I could say and his trembling hand was in mine was… “Thank you.” He looked at me and nodded his head up and down. It wasn’t the Parkinson’s. It was a slow and steady. The man who rumbled in the jungle, the man who made Sonny Liston quit then ran to the ringside and screamed “I am the greatest! I shook up the world. I’m the prettiest thing that ever lived!” Here was the champion of the world giving me, John Torgenson from St. George, Utah, a knowing nod of approval. I touched greatness that day. Without one word said, it made me realize that I belonged. That with hard work, I could do it. I did.
Upon his death, I realize that I am blessed to have been personally inspired in such a way before my first law school finals. One of the most inspirational people who ever lived. That was a man who talked the talk and walked the walk. Stung the sting, floated the float. Rumble, young man, rumble.
John Torgenson is the Managing Partner of Torgenson Law – Arizona Personal Injury lawyers. Fighting for good people who have been injured every day. 602-759-0012.