Anthony’s Lesson: Onward, We Go.

“If I’ve gotta make it, I’ll make it.” — Anthony Tryba

I called Anthony last night. I first met him two years ago in Biloxi. He said he had a Katrina story to tell me.

Did he ever.

Anthony rode out Katrina on his roof, a few hundred yards from the Gulf of Mexico, clutching the branches of a tree. There is no logical reason why Anthony survived. One of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history passed through his town, and he rode it out on his roof.

His home flooded. Everything he had was taken from him.

Everything but his life.

So with Hurricane Isaac passing over the Gulf Coast last night, I called Anthony to say hello. I was worried about him. He picked up on the fourth ring. No, he told me, he wasn’t evacuating. If there was a worry on his mind, it was that the power would go out and all the TV dinners in his freezer would go bad.

He reminded me not to worry. I asked him if he was scared. Nah, he told me. “If I’ve gotta make it, I’ll make it.”

I think about Anthony’s story sometimes. I think about it on my worst days, the days when I’m frustrated. I think about Biloxi, and I think about Joplin. I think about a story I wrote many years back on Herman Boone, the “Remember the Titans” coach.

I think about the things that have happened to these men and women on their worst days.

They have seen things, felt things, heard things that I hope to never feel. They have felt pain that I hope to never feel.

My worst day doesn’t come close.

Neither does yours, I hope.

I know this: We all struggle with work. We all have bad days.

But we all need stories like Anthony’s. We need reminders of just how bad things are elsewhere, and how lucky we are to have the opportunity to live these lives and do this work. We need reminders that all of this can be taken from us at any moment. We need perspective. Our chaos and struggle is almost always minor. In a few hours, the anger or the frustration often fades.

Right now, Anthony Tryba is riding out another hurricane in Biloxi, Miss. I do not know how he finds the courage to go on. But he does.

We must too.

Onward, we go. For Anthony. For the Anthonys in your life.

For all of us.