Do you have a particular year in your life filled with events that shaped your life. Choices you made that changed the direction of you journey. I have always viewed 1980 as one of those years for me.
The first childhood dream I can recall was to grow up and be Mighty Mouse, which is a whole ‘nother story. But the first dream I ever began to actively pursue was to represent the United States in the Olympic 800 or 1500 meter events. From the time I won my first 600 meter race in the 5th grade, that dream was put into motion.
I there were independent things taking place in my world to shape and support that dream. 1. The fact that no one in my large family was making fun of me or my dream I took as a strong sign that I was on the right path. I grew up in the era of Steve Prefontaine and I was inspired by just sharing the same oxygen in the same state as he. (If you don’t know who Pre is, go get Kenny Moore’s book “Pre”.) I had a wonderful High School coach, and the best running mates in high school/post high school an athlete could have asked for.
But just after college graduation, I found myself busy with finding my way in the work world, finding my way as a father with the birth of our first child, our beautiful daughter Jaime, and I simply couldn’t afford the time to train with others. I made the decision to coach myself, to train myself and to quietly take my best shot at qualifying for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. My typical training time was from 9:00 – 11:00 pm, either on the roads or on the track. I suffered more ankle sprains than I care to remember dodging into the ditches at night to avoid the oncoming automobiles that didn’t seem to notice me in the darkness and I was just smart enough to figure out the if it came down to me or the car, the car was going to win that battle.
Spring of 1980, my speed made me a better candidate for the 800 meters and while I hadn’t run my goal times yet, I felt like they were just around the corner, we were on course. But two events were taking place that demanded attention. 1. The then current President announced our country would boycott the Olympics Games that were to take place in Moscow. There would be no dream come true for any American track and field athlete representing their country in the Olympic Games that year. 2. We were just getting glimpses of the special needs and special care that Jaime would need. I remember as clear as if it had happened today that morning reading the news about the boycott, putting Jaime to bed that evening and going for a late workout, wondering if I should keep at this for 4 more years, wondering if those goal times were really just around the corner, wondering if my very best was really ever going to be good enough……It was the last workout I ever did as a competitive athlete. The next morning I made the decision that it was time to let go of the dreams of a “child” and begin to live the life of a “grown up”.
Wow, I almost feel sorry for myself as I re-read this….Don’t. Who in their life hasn’t experienced this moment of letting go of something that they didn’t quite realize….for whatever reason. The point, or at least my point, isn’t that I decided to let that go of a dream that morning, but rather what I chose to reach for that afternoon. I know you’ve all heard it, but truly, when you get knocked down, or you find you’re not quite where you thought you would be in life, what get’s you back up? AND, when you get back up, what is it you are going to do?
A few things that help me get back up!
I LOVE to read, write, watch, listen, about things, people, events that will teach me something, that will move me, that will allow me a few moments to escape, and that will inspire me.
I watch the television show “Friday Night Lights” simply for the pleasure to escape, be entertained and inspired.
I catch the television show “30 for 30” on ESPN films about some of the great people and events that have shaped sports over the last 30 years. This last weeks title: “The Best that Never Was”. If you don’t remember who Marcus Dupree is, watch it. If you want to be humbled, to be inspired by another human being, take a “look see” at the life that was and is Marcus Dupree.
The Sundance Channel produces a show called “Iconoclast”. The show last week was with Ron Howard and Steve Nash. Yep, Hollywood actor/director and NBA all star point guard. You will be pleasantly surprised what nice guys they are and how much they have in common. Inspiring, on so many levels.
I just completed reading “The girl with the dragon tattoo”. Yes, that one. I am well aware that this is the first of the trilogy that has been on the market for sometime, but I am typically late to the party. I found myself looking forward each day to find some time to get back to reading what Blomkvist was getting into next. And Lisbeth, well, quite frankly she kind of scares me. Yet I think I would like hang out with her for at least one day.
I love having a cup of hot chocolate (yeah, I don’t do coffee) with new friends and just listen and learn about their life. I feel a little bit like the late CBS reporter, Charles Kuralt. Everyone has a story…a great story. I always learn something and more often than not, leave inspired by their lives.
My Nia practice is the first fitness practice that I have found that helps me find and maintain balance in my physical life, my mental life, my emotional life, and my spiritual life.
Allow yourself to be inspired by what you do, what you watch, what you read, what and who you listen to. It is fuel for your body, your mind, your spirit. You owe it to yourself.
My dream today is what I call my journey to becoming a “Sacred Athlete”. While there’s a lot to that, in my simple terms, it is being the best _________ that I can be. For me there is great joy, great pleasure, great reward in being the best father, son, brother, friend, coach, writer, musician, nia teacher, that I can be today. Could I be better? No doubt…and tomorrow I will work at being just that. But today, I will not be robbed of the gifts that come with doing my best.
Whatever your dream, don’t be frustrated if you are not as far along on that journey as you would like. Make sure it’s the journey YOU CHOOSE to be on, and take the next step, no matter how big, or how small, forward. And for heaven’s sake…Have fun!!! —Fred