(Owen and Jason – Photo By Debbie Dicochea. Shout Out To Special Olympics)
“I’ve learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.” – Martha Washington
Just because you can’t do something “gracefully” shouldn’t stop us from doing it in any way, shape, or form, because we will tragically never know not only how much me lose, but sadly how much more we can gain even with the simplest of efforts. We should remind ourselves that at important times we need to release the perfectionist in so many of us, and those aspects of our mindset should never be a reason to not try to accomplish what can be done, even if it’s less than perfect because it’s still produces a result much greater than had we done nothing at all!
Let me give you something to think about and maybe it’s only because of the way I process things now at my age and with a sordid amount of experience. Consider a sprinter competing in a race and as he’s about to cross the finish line in first place, he stumbles and trips across that line while still retaining the winning margin. Do you think it matters in the end as he stands at the top of the podium with the medal placed across his neck during the reward ceremony how it looked during the final moments of that race, grace or lack there of notwithstanding!
Then consider something from a different perspective that is close to Mom’s heart and soul: Special Olympic athletes! So why do I bring them up you may ask? Well here’s the reason why and it should matter to all even though it unfortunately took some time to register in some manner to me, and I’m so appreciative to Deb and others including my boys that it does.
The evolution of my understanding came from Deb’s considerable work with and investment of her soul in SO and was accentuated by the journey of a little guy named Owen and his family, who own a special place in the hearts of this family. I’m thinking that it is probably a much more simple process for the SO athletes to jump into such worthy challenges and competitions but I’m guessing there’s an element of trepidation in the minds of their parents, at least at the outset, to put on display how truly “special” their children are. Maybe they may not have the simple “grace” or “flash” many envision of the prototypical Olympians on television but I think the initial trepidation of the parents of SO participants quickly dissipates once they see their children embark and embrace with unabashed fortitude, fervor, joy, and happiness as they compete and rejoice in the spirit of the words expressed in SO’s motto: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” I love them and others like Owen for showing me that what may not originally be described as “graceful” depending on the aspects of the evaluator, they certainly demonstrate courage, bravery, beauty, and nobility by taking the first steps towards not just the first attempt but everyone afterwards and they are winners regardless of the official standings, at least in my eyes and so many around the world who follow and end up inspired by them.
And just to give you an understanding how overrated “grace” and “style” is, I’ll put in in terms for you boys to understand. Do you remember when Josh Hamilton used to put on such a display of uselessness during his career by diving head first into first base on close plays. The fans loved it, it made the highlights on ESPN and other sports outlets, and probably fueled his ego when he was an elite player. Well I still recall the years he was an Angel when he repeatedly defended this method going into first, no matter how foolhardy the baseball experts and purists viewed it. Well we can agree that Josh’s Angel career was a bust but nothing emulated that more than when he went head first again on a play and suffered a broken bone in his hand that put him on the disabled list and sidelined him from the lineup for weeks, and affected his entire season to the extent he was a highly paid non-factor for the Angels when he was paid to impact the team so much more! It just seems that when others depend on you, you should not just make any effort but one that is committed to your best offerings and is ultimately smart, intelligent, and devoid of vanity and ego so that how those efforts “look” does not detract from what needs to be “accomplished”.
The bottom line for many of us who compete for something worthwhile should rest on the preparation so that we forge through whatever adversity that needs to be prevailed over. And once we’ve done that, summon the courage to step up to the starting block to ultimately test our determination and launch ourselves at the sound of the starting gun into the uncertainty of not only the possibility of victory or even if that does not occur, maybe finishing faster or better than we’ve ever imagined for ourselves. Beauty of perfectly performed acts should not be the ultimate measuring sticks since we are the scriptwriters of our stories and lives, and it shouldn’t always be calculated using “garden variety” measures in how we approach something requiring unconventional approaches.
Oftentimes entering the fray is our only leverage in the pursuit of a discovery of who we are, what we can accomplish, and what we ultimately achieve for ourselves and those that matter absent any style points restricting the initial decision to just f’ing “TRY”. As I normally do, I’ll end with a quote and repeat one set forth above: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt. And once you take that step, remember SO’s motto “Let [us] win. But if we cannot win, let us be brave in the attempt”, because with that effort, we ultimately win somewhere With each endeavor! Good luck and thank you Deb and Owen to have graced me with that understanding.