I never thought I would miss gymnastics as much as I do. I’ve been away from the sport for only a couple months, but I think about it everyday.

I woke this morning thinking about my good friend Scott B. Scott is a great coach, a good mentor, and a friend. He wrote me recently the kindest of emails regarding coaching gymnastics and this trip. He mentioned passion. He spoke of my passion for coaching and for this run of peace.

Although my dear friend sought to compliment me, it’s really what’s in him that deserves the compliment. It is his love for gymnastics, the kids he coaches, and life itself that allows him to recognize the same quality in others.

If we don’t know compassion, kindness, or humanity, how can we recognize it in others? It is the very fact that we do know what these qualities look like that enables us to acknowledge it in others.

Years ago I took my gymnasts to a large meet called the Pacific Coast Classic. At the time it was one of the most preeminent meets in the US. I had a young gymnast named Josh who just happened to win the meet. But it isn’t his success at the meet or as a gymnast that I am most proud. It isn’t his numerous accolades, trophies, or championships for which I remember Josh most.

While at the meet, I pointed out to Josh that there were some girls competing in “boys” gymnastics. Josh replied, “Ewww, I don’t want to compete against any girls!” I mentioned to Josh how brave I thought those girls were. I said, “Think about it Josh, those girls come in here knowing that others will stare, make fun of them, insult them, and not want them here. And yet, they still came because they love gymnastics more. A gymnastics competition is hard enough, I think that that is pretty brave to overcome both.”

Josh thought about that for a while. Then, he dug in his bag to get 2 “goody bags” (Bags of candy and toys that Josh had made to give to other gymnasts in our rotation to show his sportsmanship and to make friends). He walked all the way across the gymnasium by himself and approached the girls, gave them the goody bags, and told them he was proud of them. This is what I remember about Josh.

Thinking a bad thought hurts, saying bad thoughts hurts worse, acting out our bad thoughts brings the most pain for all present. Teaching others to think bad thoughts is the greatest way to hurt.

However, in my experience, the converse is just as true. Thinking a good thought helps…heals. Saying nice things is even better. Acting out our good thoughts brings the most joy for all those involved. But, it is teaching others to be kind, to love, to be patient and understanding. Teaching peace—this brings the greatest bliss.

I woke up this morning thinking about Scott, Vince, Mark, Jed, Karen and all the other coaches I’ve known who teach compassion on a daily basis. These are the people I know who help young men and women over come obstacles, are patient with fear, and see the greater possibilities in each of the persons with whom they have charge.

If all people viewed each person they met as one they could teach about compassion, or whom they could learn compassion from…what a world…what a beautiful world we could make.

 

Advertisements