So I don’t know if it’s the moon phase, my hormones or just this time of year, but I’m overly emotional these days. You know the days? When every little thing makes you a little weepy? Yesterday, I had two episodes. One was just an incredibly sweet story about a husband and wife and the lengths they go for one another. The other was a damn commercial. Yes, a commercial.
In my defense, it was during the Olympics and I was already on emotional overload watching those athletes continue to demonstrate all that’s good about sports and teamwork and life. I’ve learned a lot about the right way to live by watching these tremendous athletes strive and excel and strive and fail. Regardless of the outcome, their strength & dedication shine through – as does their compassion, humility & honor.
As for me, I’m not an athlete – not really. I always wanted to be, but I lacked two key factors – a strong desire to win and any true physical ability. Sure, I tried out for all the teams, even made a few, but my rightful place was on the bench or the sidelines or the back of the pack. There was a time it embarrassed me, but I eventually accepted I just wasn’t athlete material and learned to be OK with it. I didn’t have to win to learn what’s important.
Recently, my sister & I were discussing our own kids and their inherited athleticism – or lack thereof. Although they each have unique strengths & skills in their own rights, none of them encompasses the whole package. We’ve all just accepted that athletic greatness is not part of any of our futures. Even so, just like their mommas, they continue to join and play and learn. And, just like our momma, we’ve taught them that the only thing that really matters is how they answer two very important questions – Did you do your best? Did you have fun?
If they can answer yes to both those, they’ve won.
So this leads me back to my second emotional episode yesterday – that damn commercial. It’s a Ford commercial and, in summary, it’s a compilation of short vignettes showing common people engaged in various ‘sports’,
It was these three phrases – Life Is A Sport. We Are All Fans. We Are All Athletes – that had me wiping my eyes and sniffling my snot. Hell, even now as I write, I’m weepy…because the timing and the message couldn’t be more perfect.
You see, four years ago today, the world lost one of the greatest athletes of life – Nate Avery. This was a guy who just got it. All of it. He fully understood that life was a sport – every moment of every day. And, when you’re playing a sport, you play hard. He did. He played hard for himself and for those on his team. And,we all loved being on his team. Just by association, he made us better athletes, and we, in turn, became his biggest fans.
As is true with all fans, we get mad when our star is pulled out of the game too soon. We question it but get no answers. We cry foul, but no one’s issued a penalty. We’re just left wondering why the game ended like it did. There will always be so much we don’t understand. And that’s hard to accept. There is one thing, however, we do know. He would have been OK with it. This athlete of life, who played so hard, may not have agreed with it, but he would have found a way to be OK with it. He would have continued to cheer us on and remind us to play hard. He would have become our biggest fan.
And, most importantly, he would have had the correct answers to – Did you do your best? Did you have fun?