Violnist Kept Playing With Passion
World-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman was stricken with polio as a child.
As a result, he wears braces on both legs and walks with the aid of crutches. At
concerts, getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He slowly crosses
the stage until he reaches his chair. He lays his crutches on the floor, slowly
undoes the clasps on his legs, tucks one foot back and extends the other foot
forward. Then he bends down and picks up the violin, puts it under his chin,
nods to the conductor, and proceeds to play.
One fall evening in 1995, while performing at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln
Center in New York City, Perlman had to deal with one additional handicap. Jack
Reimer, a columnist with the Houston Chronicle, described the scene.
"Just as he finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin
broke. You could hear it snap—it went off like gunfire across the room. There
was no mistaking what that sound meant."
There was no mistaking what he had to do. People who were there said,
"We figured he would have to get up…to either find another violin or find
another string for this one."
But he didn't. Instead he waited a moment, closed his eyes, and then signaled
the conductor to begin again. The orchestra and he played from where he had left
off. He played with passion and power.
Of course, it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings.
But that night Itzhak Perlman refused to know that. You could see him modulate,
change, recompose the piece in his head. At one point, it sounded like he was
detuning the strings to get new sounds they had never made before.
On a commuter flight from Portland, Maine, to
Boston, Henry Dempsey, the pilot, heard an unusual noise near the rear of the small
aircraft. He turned the controls over to his co-pilot and went back to check it out.
As he reached the tail section, the plane hit an
air pocket, and Dempsey was tossed against the rear door. He quickly discovered the source
of the mysterious noise. The rear door had not been properly latched prior to takeoff, and
it flew open. He was instantly sucked out of the jet.
The co-pilot, seeing the red light that indicated
an open door, radioed the nearest airport, requesting permission to make an emergency
landing. He reported that the pilot had fallen out of the plane, and he requested a
helicopter search of that area of the ocean.
After the plane landed, they found Henry Dempsey
holding onto the outdoor ladder of the aircraft. Somehow he had caught the ladder, held on
for ten minutes as the plane flew 200 mph at an altitude of 4,000 feet, and then, at
landing, kept his head from hitting the runway, which was a mere twelve inches away. It
took airport personnel several minutes to pry Dempsey's fingers from the ladder.
Things in life may be turbulent, and you may not
feel like holding on. But have you considered the alternative?
Illustrations For Preaching & Teaching
Editor Craig Brian Larson, Baker, p. 114.
Keep Getting Up
During a Monday night football game between the
Chicago Bears and the New York Giants, one of the announcers observed that Walter Payton,
the Bears' running back, had accumulated over nine miles in career rushing yardage. The
other announcer remarked, "Yeah, and that's with someone knocking him down every 4.6
Walter Payton, the most successful running back
ever, knows that everyone-even the best-gets knocked down. The key to success is to get up
and run again just as hard.
Illustrations For Preaching & Teaching
Editor Craig Brian Larson, Baker, p. 176.
Although We May Stumble... We Must Never Give Up
Probably the greatest example of persistence is
Abraham Lincoln. If you want to learn about somebody who didn't quit, look no further.
Born into poverty, Lincoln was faced with defeat
throughout his life. He lost eight elections, twice failed in business and suffered a
He could have quit many times - but he didn't and
because he didn't quit, he became one of the greatest presidents in the history of our
Lincoln was a champion and he never gave up. Here
is a sketch of Lincoln's road to the White House:
1816 His family was forced out of their home. He
had to work to support them.
1818 His mother died.
1831 Failed in business.
1832 Ran for state legislature - lost.
1832 Also lost his job - wanted to go to law school
but couldn't get in.
1833 Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a
business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his
life paying off this debt.
1834 Ran for state legislature again - won.
1835 Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and
his heart was broken.
1836 Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed
for six months.
1838 Sought to become speaker of the state
legislature - defeated.
1840 Sought to become elector - defeated.
1843 Ran for Congress - lost.
1846 Ran for Congress again - this time he won went
to Washington and did a good job.
1848 Ran for re-election to Congress - lost.
1849 Sought the job of land officer in his home
state - rejected.
1854 Ran for Senate of the United States - lost.
1856 Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his
party's national convention - got less than 100 votes.
1858 Ran for U.S. Senate again - again he lost.
1860 Elected president of the United States.
Me path was worn and slippery. My foot slipped from
under me, knocking the other out of the way, but I recovered and said to myself 'It's a
slip and not a fall. "
After losing a senate race
Although at times we may stumble and fall, we must
get back on our feet and continue working hard to achieve our goals.
Chicken Soup For the Soul
Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, HCI, pp. 236-237.
Continue Running The Race
Hours behind the runner in front of him, the
last marathoner finally entered the Olympic stadium. By that time, the drama of the day's
events was almost over and most of the spectators had gone home. This athlete's story,
however, was still being played out.
Limping into the arena, the Tanzanian runner
grimaced with every step, his knee bleeding and bandaged from an earlier fall. His ragged
appearance immediately caught the attention of the remaining crowd, who cheered him on to
the finish line.
Why did he stay in the race? What made him
endure his injuries to the end? When asked these questions later, he replied, "My
country did not send me 7,000 miles away to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to
Likewise, we as Christians are to finish the
race of life. Although we will stumble and endure many hardships, we must get back on our
feet and continue running the race. We must make it to the finish line so that we may
receive the crown of life.
The Tale Of The Tardy Oxcart
Charles R. Swindoll, Word, p. 210.
Running For His Life
A true event happened in the football season in
the Southeast Conference between that great rivalry of Alabama and Auburn back in the days
when Bear Bryant was still living and Pat Dye was the coach for the Auburn team.
The first-string quarterback for the Alabama
team had been injured, so they were left with the second-string quarterback. They were on
the opposing team's twenty-yard line. They were ahead by five points, leading Auburn.
There were two minutes left in the game and it was first down for Alabama. Bear Bryant
yelled into the ear hole in the helmet of the second-string quarterback, "Whatever
you do, do not pass! Run the ball all four plays. And then if we have to hold them, our
defense will get us through and we will win."
Second-string quarterback ran in full of zeal,
and determination. First down, they were smeared. Second down, Auburn held 'em. Third
down, they gained a yard. Fourth down came. The hand-off was somehow muffled and the
quarterback wound up with the ball. Running around the backfield, he looked in the end
zone and he saw his split end ready to catch the ball, and he passed it. What he failed to
see was the fastest man on the field, the safety for the Auburn team, also saw the pass
coming. He came in front of the receiver, intercepted the ball, and started racing down
the field. The quarterback, not very fast himself normally, raced down the field, caught
the man, tackled him, and Alabama won the game.
Coach Dye said later to Bear Bryant, "I
read the scouting reports, and that second-string quarterback is supposed to be slow. How
is it he caught up with the fastest man on the field?" Bear Bryant replied,
"It's very simple. Your man was running for the goal line and a touchdown. My man was
running for his life!"
The Tale Of The Tardy Oxcart
Charles R. Swindoll, Word, p. 400.
Let What Happened Happen
Sometimes it is very hard to keep on when we do
not seem to be getting anywhere. When Thomas Carlyle had finished the first volume of his
book, The French Revolution, he gave the finished manuscript to his friend John
Stuart Mill and asked him to read it. It took Mr. Mill several days to read it and as he
read, he realized that it was truly a great literary achievement.
Late one night as he finished the last page he
laid the manuscript aside by his chair in the den of his home. The next morning the maid
came; seeing those papers on the floor, she thought they were simply discarded. She threw
them into the fire, and they were burned.
On March 6, 1835--he never forgot the date--Mill
called on Carlyle in deep agony and told him that his work has been destroyed. Carlyle
replied, "It's all right. I'm sure I can start over in the morning and do it
Finally, after great apologies, John Mill left
and started back home. Carlyle watched his friend walking away and said to his wife,
"Poor Mill. I feel so sorry for him. I did not want him to see how crushed I really
Then heaving a sigh, he said, "Well, the
manuscript is gone, so I had better start writing again."
It was a long, hard process especially because
the inspiration was gone. It is always hard to recapture the verve and the vigor if a man
has to do a thing like that twice. But he set out to do it again and finally completed the
Thomas Carlyle walked away from disappointment.
He could do nothing about a manuscript that was burned up. So it is with us: There are
times to get up and get going and let what happened happen.
The Tale Of The Tardy Oxcart
Charles R. Swindoll, Word, p. 441.