“Place is nothing... My giant goes with me wherever I go.”
In Self Reliance, transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson deftly took down traveling as escapism.
Former Texas Longhorns quarterback David Ash had to learn that lesson on his own.
Repeated mission trips overseas in an effort to fill the void left by football after his 2014 retirement due to concussions left him “running away from the pain” he felt.
As Ash traveled to the ends of the earth in the name of his God, his giant followed him, always just a few footsteps behind, always looming.
For the remarkably mature and poised young man so grounded in his faith throughout his life, he found himself in “kind of a rough place.”
“I never really got to see if maybe we could have turned that corner and got back in the national picture again,” Ash said. “I think a lot of things would have been different if I had been able to finish out my career at UT. I finally established myself as a leader, got the respect of my teammates and really, I knew the game of football inside and out.”
To be sure, the admitted perfectionist looked like he was finally ready to break through after a strong showing in the Alamo Bowl against Oregon State to end the 2012 season.
So perhaps there was some divine intervention as Ash found his way back to football — the CEO of the organization that was going to set up the former Texas quarterback on a two-year trip was best friends with a neurologist.
After a string of referrals, Ash’s symptoms cleared and he started punting again.
On Tuesday, he flashed the same arm talent that made his retirement one of the greatest lost opportunities in recent Longhorns football history.
Former Texas QB David Ash was 29 for 36 in passing drills today throwing to all comers.— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) March 28, 2017
Unsurprisingly, Ash also addressed reporters with the trademark candor that always made him a compelling presence in press conferences:
David Ash says people come up to him all the time and say, "You're playing football again!? You're gonna die!" He says, "Well so are you."— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) March 28, 2017
Whether anything will come of the workout from Ash’s passing or punting, if he ends up going on that two-year trip, he will likely do so without the concussion-related symptoms that plagued him for so long.
More importantly, he will do so knowing that he gave everything he could to football and then found out a way to give a little bit more by once again giving onlookers a gilmpse into what might have been.
And so when he next finds himself in a faraway land, he can turn around and, this time, finally, his giant won’t be there behind him.