Friday, February 21, 2014

"Circles of Life"

With snowflakes drifting through the air on a chilly November morning, Baby was born! He is nurtured and loved by his parents who protect and teach him right from wrong in his early years.

Kindergarten calls him!  Mommy hugs and kisses him as he begins his next stage of life.  In the school environment, he learns to cope with other children, to play games at daily recess times; and throughout the elementary grades, he is introduced to various sports.  In some, he excels.  Academically, he enjoys Mathematics and Science.

High School becomes his next “life challenge” ~ new friends, new teachers, team sports, opportunities to engage himself in music and technical clubs;  he treads through the teenage woes, anxieties and thrills;  and also experiences changes in both  body and mind development.

College and University present choices to be made...what vocation should he seek?  Should he become a sports team figure for basketball, soccer, football, hockey...or spend time with fields of technology and research?  He is vulnerable to students with whom to foster friendships. Each decision is a “stepping stone” to his future.  When one circle is completed, another opens…to Life's next stage.

“The Game is Over…But Another Begins”
writes Steve about his daughter.

(Excerpts from the Spectator November 21st issue):  She walked off the soccer field in tears after ninety minutes of effort, of sweat, of gut-wrenching sprints. The season was over…ending with a loss.  They were tears of sadness, frustration and disappointment.  My daughter is not 5 or 6, or even 15 or 16.  She is 21 and a lovely young woman with the world ahead of her.  These tears were borne of passion, of sport, of competition, of friends.  They were tears of lessons learned and a life lived.  These tears were for her last game.  It was terrible to watch her walk off the field in tears…trying to be strong.

It was a sad moment, but one so many athletes go through.  For some it is tragic, for some melancholy, for others, bittersweet.  It didn’t hit me until that moment that most athletes walk off the field that last time, as a loser, not a winner.   Only one person wins; only one team wins the championship.  But make no mistake, my daughter is a winner!  And so are all others who leave the field, the pool and the arena  when their sport careers seemingly end…abruptly and with finality.

Responsibilities, tenaciousness, health, commitment, leadership, motivation, travel, teamwork, friends, joy, accountability, dedication, focus, passion, perseverance, fun, maturity, a work ethic, an education, a sense of fair play.  Experiences!  Attributes!  LIFE LESSONS.  Perhaps more valuable than anything learned in the classroom.  That is Sport!  That is Life!

For one dreadful moment, all we could do was hug her as her body heaved.  But that moment will pass and one day soon she’ll walk out onto the field and breathe in the air, the grass and all that is good.  That chapter in her life is now closed, but the next one has already been opened.  One to be “played” at a different venue, with a different objective, with different team mates.  That…is the Circle of Life!

Philosophy from the Olympics

Carolina Kostner, Olympic figure skater from Italy stated,
“I want to leave skating a better place…than I found it!”

“Absolute Service”
(Excerpts from an article written by Denise Linn…thank you Sherrie for this enlightening story.)

On a flight into San Francisco, I surreptitiously noticed the young man sitting next to me crowded in the middle seat.  He radiated a calm centeredness.  As I’m always intrigued to find out what beliefs are  held by those who seem at peace, amidst the chaos of everyday life, I engaged him in conversation.

He explained that he was a Marine and had been stationed four different times in Iraq.  He said his life was often in peril and there were many times when buddies on either side of him, had been killed or seriously wounded.  I couldn’t understand how someone ~ who had been in that much constant danger and who had seen so many violent deaths and carried shrapnel in his arms…could be at peace.

When I asked him what sustained his spirit, he pulled out a dog-eared, well-worn book.  He said, “As a warrior, I know that death is always a possibility.  I have found peace  through studying the way of ancient samurais.”  The book he held in his hand was called…Bushido:  The Way of the Samurai.

He said, “In a way, this is my manual for Life.  I read it over and over.”  He explained that the concepts in the book, which were written in the 18th century Japan by a respected samurai warrior, were very different for the Western mind to comprehend.  However, there were aspects of the code that really appealed to him, such as being in absolute service for the well-being of others and a willingness to die.

“In Iraq, I woke up every morning accepting my death.  I know that this sounds strange, but it gave me a kind of peace.  I wasn’t afraid of dying in battle because I had already accepted my death.  This allowed a kind of peace to fill me and maybe it also helped keep me safe  because on the battlefield I wasn’t always reacting out of fear.”

I told him that I was of Cherokee heritage and Native American warriors had a similar code.  My ancestors would wake up in the morning and say, “It is a good day to die,” living in the present moment

As we were leaving the plane, he put something in my hands…his tattered book.  He said, “I’m grateful for our conversation and I want to give you my book as a gift.”  As I saw him turn the corner in the airport, my heart was so open.  Because of this chance encounter, I started thinking about the power of releasing the past…being in the present with acceptance of “what is”  even if it means facing death and what it means to be “a hero.”

To Me…Being a Hero Means:
To do what’s right…even if you are afraid.
To listen to the inner wisdom of  your soul…and not the random opinion of others.
To be kind...and remember that sometimes the person you need to be the kindest to…is yourself.
To live by choice…not chance.
To pursue excellence …excel, not compete.
To have integrity...keep your word and your commitments.
To make corrections and changes...not make excuses.
To be fair and treat all people with respect and understand their point of view…even if disagreeing.

Merle Baird-Kerr…scripted February 15, 2014
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