My friends know I’m a huge fan of The West Wing. Yes, the show is twenty years old now and it’s a romanticized view of how a presidency should work. I’m aware of the flaws of the show, but I enjoy it, regardless.
As we near the presidential election of 2020, the cast of The West Wing gathered again for a reunion of sorts to promote voting. Odd, since most fans of The West Wing who would enjoy a reunion already vote.
The cast performed a staged reading of one of my favorite episodes of the show, Hartsfield’s Landing. The episode portrays the events in the few hours before the first primary votes are cast in Hartsfield’s Landing, a very small community where only 43 registered voters cast their ballots at 12:01 AM, always choosing the winning presidential candidate.
The lead-up to the vote includes a crisis between China and Taiwan an President Josiah Bartlett playing some chess with two of his staff members, Toby Ziegler and Sam Seaborn. Of course, he’s also playing chess with the Chinese.
As the President and Toby square off, they discuss Bartlett’s re-election campaign. The presumptive Republican nominee is a man who is, let’s say a little less brilliant than our esteemed Bartlett.
Toby insists that the President make this election about smart and not. Engaged and not. Heavyweight and not. He tells Bartlett, “you’re a heavyweight.”
This moment sticks with me. Every time I watch it, it hits me in the gut.
I am often confronted by a feeling that I have not done enough in my life. That I am meant to achieve something great and have not. That I have failed in any number of areas.
I am haunted by this phrase. “You’re a heavyweight.”
So many others have told me that they see greatness in me. This is hard to accept when you don’t feel greatness. Harder still when you don’t see any evidence.
I struggle daily with a burden I have placed on my own shoulders to be a “heavyweight” because I don’t really know what it means to be a “heavyweight” in any sense.
You may feel the same way. Perhaps you’ve felt like there was something you were supposed to do or even wanted to do and didn’t.
Trust me, I’m right there with you. I don’t know what I need to do to be a heavyweight, but I can’t escape from the feeling that I am one.
Likely, so are you. In our own ways, we are all heavyweights. There is something we have in us that is ours to fulfill. To be the best at. To command. To make happen.
It’s our purpose. And for each of us, it’s different and doesn’t look like anyone else’s. It’s our story to tell and we get to be the hero of that story.
We get to be the heavyweight. We get to tell our story in our way. And no one but us can tell us how to write it.
You’re a heavyweight.
Long live the heavyweights.