As I ran around the track this morning I was joined by a class of kids from the high school up the hill. At least, that’s what I assumed they were. They shuffled and strolled around the track while their teacher stood silently at one end, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they were ducking behind the tennis courts to take a short cut. I am normally so supportive of anyone moving in any way, but I have to tell you: the day the doctor first let me walk around that track after five months of being non-weightbearing, I walked faster than most of those kids.
Maybe because it was nearly the end of May but the teacher seemed to be checked out. There were no shouts of encouragement, no words of prodding. Just silent waiting. It was all I could not to revert to coach mode and start yelling at them myself.
As I watched them endure the torture of a lap or two around the track, I felt very sad. I felt sad for a group of kids who were so oblivious to such a fine morning and who were so disconnected from their bodies. But mainly I felt sad because they didn’t have anyone to push them to do better. They didn’t have it on the track. I wondered if they had it anywhere. I knew what my own running coaches and mentors meant to me. Three and a half years ago I could barely shuffle around the track. Last Saturday I ran ten miles. Between there and here I had people who pushed me to keep going, to take one more step, to do the things that my mind was convinced was impossible.
The late Wake Forest basketball coach Skip Prosser was found of using the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Our chief want in life is someone who shall make us do what we can.” We all need people in our lives who will push us. If we have been open to growing as we grow up, we internalize those people. Eventually we are able to find inside our own selves that voice, that push, that word of encouragement.
Recently I saw a tweet from the “life is good” folks: “You can give up, give in or give it all you’ve got.” We all need that part of ourselves that’s able to say, “Come on – give it all you’ve got.”
I was sad because those kids wasted their walk this morning. And I was sad because I didn’t know how many of them would also waste their walk through this life, shining less brightly than they might have done, doing less than they could have done, being less than they were created to be.
What about you?