The Come-Back

A come-back is defined as a return.

Set during the Great Depression, the film “Seabiscuit” is a tale of three lost men–Johnny “Red” Pollard, a young man whose spirit has been broken; Charles Howard, a millionaire who lost everything; and Tom Smith, a cowboy whose world was vanishing–who found each other and discovered hope in a down-and-out racehorse named Seabiscuit, who took them and the nation on the ride of a lifetime. – (Film synopsis)

Each character, in his own unique way, was a come-back story in the making once they collectively came together to train Seabiscuit. The experience of Seabiscuit revealed their commonality in that each was a broken man needing repair. That little horse, in comparison to his competitors, not only brought those men together, but, in the end, put each back together.

The clearest example of the come-back occurs when Red and Seabiscuit were recovering from leg injuries. Neither were expected to race again. However, as their rehabilitation progressed it became evident that Seabiscuit would be able to do just that. Seabiscut would be ready for the Santa Anita Handicap, which, a year before, was lost by Seabiscuit and Red by a nose. Red, in that race, was not able to see Rosemont, the eventual winner, come up along his right side at the wire because he, Red, was blind in that particular eye.

Red wanted to ride Seabiscuit in this Santa Anita Handicap to make up for the earlier loss. Red’s injury would prevent him from riding in the historic match race which was won by Seabiscuit over War Admiral. Red’s good friend George Woolf, who rode Seabiscuit in the match race, was scheduled to ride him at Santa Anita. Red, meanwhile, fashions a brace to support his still healing leg with hopes to convince all that he could make the ride.

Red got his chance. He and Seabiscuit were now in the starting gate at Santa Anita. To his surprise, George was riding another mount in the same race. George told Red that his- George’s mount-didn’t have a chance and wished Red good luck. Knowing that his good friend was in that race eased Red’s doubts. As they break from the gate Seabiscuit fades to the back of the pack despite the urging of his most trusted Red. George meanwhile remembers a secret conversation that he had with Red before the race against War Admiral. Red told George then that, “no matter what the pre-race strategy is, to hold back if you are leading on the back stretch, so Seabiscuit can see War Admiral. Then let him go. Because Seabiscuit’s power is not in his feet but in his heart.” So now George drops back to run with Red knowing that all Seabiscuit needed was some motivation. Once Seabiscuit looked George’s horse in the eye, George simply said to Red: “Have a good ride.” Seabiscuit immediately takes off like he was fast forward while the rest of the field, that was previously before him, are soon in the rear. Both Red and Seabiscuit would complete their most unlikely come-backs, along with avenging the previous loss at Santa Anita, as they stand in the winner’s circle. Standing along with them are all, including a struggling nation, who shared in that journey. Come-backs, as we have observed in the story of Seabiscuit, are never solitary achievements.

Why is the come-back story inspiring for the vast majority?

Each of us has a come-back story to tell. At a point in life, in one form and at some level, everyone has the opportunity for at least one inspiring shining moment. And with it life has been well served. We who believe that come-backs are possible are that vast majority who find themselves inspired by another’s triumph. We, although under trials as any, manage to resist falling into despair because of this inspiration. Rather than wallowing in despair we decide to plow ahead moving ever forward no matter the pace powered by hope. And that image alone is inspiring regardless of the outcome. Each of us is instilled, as child of God, with the gift of aspiration. That is why we are impelled toward inspiration. In the above question I mention the vast majority and not the totality of people. The reason being that some, although aspiring, give in to the daunting road blocks inherent in any come-back. Instead of clinging to hope, which is the main motivation in the come-back, they choose to turn from the challenge when resistance persists, and in so doing, take to the road of despair. Despair extinguishes aspiration, thereby, making come-backs impossible for the totality.

The prodigal son’s father, who knowingly exposes his son to the dangers that abound beyond the safety of his home by giving his son what he wants, still, with hope, anticipates his son’s eventual return. The father who once stood upon the road, in misery, from which he bid his son farewell, now stands on that same road, as his returning son approaches. This father’s hope for his wayward son’s return has been justified as he welcomes him joyfully with open arms. And with that reunion the come-back is complete.

God, through His love, also sends each of us out into the world which is fraught with impending strife. Yet, we can be confident that He will not forget us, nor will He cast us adrift in our failings. For we have recourse; in that etched on our hearts is found a Paternal Divine hope-filled plea: “Come Back.”





About Alan A. Malizia: Contagious Optimism! Co-Author

Retired mathematics teacher and high school athletics coach. Honors: 1988 Ct. Coach of the Year for H.S. Girls Voleyball and 2007 Inducted into the Ct. Women's Volleyball Hall of Fame. Since retiring have written two books; "The Little Red Chair," an autobiography about my life experience as a polio survivor and "A View From The Quiet Corner," a selection of poems and reflections. Presently I am a contributing author for the "Life Carrots" series primarily authored by Dave Mezzapelle of
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2 Responses to The Come-Back

  1. Pilgrim says:

    I did not see the movie but I always enjoy the story of the parable sone. Parents just have to let the children in the hope they will learn what life is all about. Parents know that the children will always come back. Blessings – P

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The prodigal son is a beautiful story of the comeback. I had never considered it from that perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

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