With sand in my shoes and my heart pounding in my ears, I found myself gasping for breath and laughing till my stomach ached. I was “It” and these boys weren’t going to make it any easier for me to get them. As we circled the jungle gym endlessly, the sand flying—hot and warm from the day, I realized I was so happy. Nothing seems to matter when you are playing tag, especially when you are playing with little studs.

I realized, that perfect day in the park, that these wonderful boys ARE the one’s that we all wished we could be. They are the kids who are the fastest, the one’s doing the backflips off the equipment, the one’s doing the dive rolls through the chains of the swings, and the one’s with the sweaty brows, sinewy limbs, and radiant smiles that we all recognize as the perfection of form.

I was able to take some boys on a hiking and drawing adventure in Golden Gate Park last weekend. They said that they wanted to learn to draw, and asked if I would teach them. I’ve taught them many things about gymnastics, it seems only obvious that they might like to learn to draw from me as well. But also, I think it was just an excuse to have fun with an old man.

Snakes and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails,
That’s what boys are made of.
With dirt on his nose,
and scrapes on his knees,
the throwing of rocks,
and the climbing of trees,
with pockets of frogs,
and jars full of bugs
makes a sweet little boy
full of kisses and hugs!

Training gymnastics is a bit of a solitary act. Sure, you are part of a team, but when it comes right down to it, it is just you against yourself, you against the apparatus. All realize that struggle, and it bonds us in our successes and in our flops. When it comes down to it, that is the way of life. A lot of people think that they are “competing” against others, or they are “working” for some heavenly reward. They strive to be “recognized” for their “good” deeds. At the end of the day though, it is just you…just you who will judge your level of compassion to and for your fellow man, your willingness to be the problem or the solution, your desire to be the change in the world you wish to see.

These boys are so wise and so smart. The other night one of them took me to dinner and asked me the most difficult and well thought out questions. The “Old Soul” in the 12 year old’s body asked me, “When last we talked, you said that you wouldn’t ever come back to coach here…to coach me. But, when I came back from my trip to China…here you are. Why?”

I told him that even “that”, was a learning lesson for me. The impediments, real or imagined, to me returning had all melted away. The way of peace had melted hearts, opened doors, and provided the means. But most of all, the way of peace has shown me that it is really only my own expectations that limit what can be accomplished. It is really only me that ever gets in the way of love, compassion, or forgiveness.

Getting out of the way—thatis the lesson.