Saguaro Lake on Ebay

 

Playing catch is fun…except with adults. When my buddies and I would go out to play catch, we never coached each other on how to throw better. We just accepted the fact that at some times we threw well, sometimes poorly. We enjoyed the act, not our accuracy. We lived in the moment. And occasionally, we would have to get the frisbee off the roof, the ball out of the tree, the puck out of the gutter.

Many have coached me to be more frugal, business savvy, and to excel in real estate, business, and making money. To some it up the advice has been, “Be concerned”. And, money makes you happier, and worry about the future and getting old.

The push of many is to be better. Better? If a kid is having fun, how can it get better? What we are REALLY trying to do is make OUR time better, not the kid’s. WE don’t like chasing those errant passes. WE don’t like chasing…WE don’t like taking care of others mistakes. WE don’t recognize that it is part of the responsibility of being “great” at something is taking care that others who aren’t as “great” still have fun. Instead we try to make others greater in OUR image, in OUR likeness, and keep us from feeling impatient.

 

Like many, I have tried to school young men and women to play catch “better”. Being constantly worried about dropping a pass, missing a catch, fumbling the ball is not happiness. It is fear. I choose not to live in fear.

It is the slave who works for profit.

Yesterday, I witnessed a total oxymoron. My buddy Dave’s five year-old nephew Ryan has learned to dial the phone. As such, he calls Dave 3-4 times a day just to chat. He talks to Dave telling him how he is saving up his cereal box tops to get a prize, how at swim lessons he learned to have an underwater tea party, and how in kindergarten all the children share the crayons. Dave just listens, asks questions, and laughs. As I cooled my feet in Saguaro Lake and painted the vista before me, I listened to Ryan with Dave on speaker phone.

In contrast, a short stretch down the beach, I saw a young father chiding his 3-4 year old because he was scared to go into the water. Belittlingly, he asked, “Do I have a son or a daughter?” “Why are you being such a cry baby?” It reminded me of when I was running through Georgia, I saw a father out playing catch with his son. Screaming at him when he made a bad throw saying, “What the hell was that?” “God you are going to be horrible just like your brother Freddy. Why can’t you be more like your brother Tim?” If the ball landed 10 feet from the dad, the dad didn’t move, but rather he made his son run from the 60 ft. away to fetch the ball for his father.

 

As human beings, we try to make those around us better, out of love. But at some point we must ask, are WE happier for the giving the “lesson”? Are those around us “happier” because of our “lessons”? Where did we learn these “lessons”? And, are they even true in the first place?

Patricia is a ER nurse. She is the type of woman who is good at what she does, beautiful, and funny at the same time. She was one of the first women to ever graduate from Notre Dame, and is very intelligent. What impresses me most about her is that in the ER she treats everyone the same. Although it is the law to do so, she does it because that is who she is. When you come into the ER, it is usually because you have made a “bad” choice. Either you looked at the nail gun as it fired, you forgot to disconnect the power to the iron, or you should’ve purchased a taller ladder. Or perhaps, you shouldn’t have got into a knife fight, shot up that black tar heroin, or said no to another beer.

Regardless of the choices that Patricia witnesses, she treats all people with compassion, and she always settles them down by saying, “I see you are hurting and concerned about your status, please allow me to help you, and I will give you the best possible care.” What more could you ask of any human being?

She doesn’t chide them for the mistake, but rather discusses “how we can solve this together.” The people have already learned the lesson. “Don’t look down the barrel of a gun”.

I have been part of the problem at times. This keeps me humble about this subject. As a coach, I’ve tried to school or coach others to be “better”. There have been times when I have laid into kids for being dangerous, making mistakes,  or being “dumb”. But, who amongst us doesn’t do the best we think we are capable? Who doesn’t try their best?

The father at the lake was, believe it or not, trying his best. He has just never thought to try another approach. He was just repeating the approach advocated by those around him, and those who raised him. For me the litmus test by which I measure all my own decisions (or at least try) is simply asking, “Is this the most compassionate thing I can do at this very moment?”

I’ve received a lot of “advice” now that my run is done. I’ve been told to get married, get stable, become permanent, start worrying about my future, and gather a nest egg. It has all come from those who mean well and really do love me, but it can all be summed up by this statement, “Help yourself before you help others.”

On the other hand, I would rather follow the path of those like Mother Teresa, Harriet Tubman, Gandhi, MLK, William Penn, Thomas Merton, and other who said (and thankfully lived). Today is all I have. Love on those with whom you can now.

A friend recently sent me $100 in the mail, a big gift for her. An even bigger gift for me, as it is the only money I possessed. Yesterday though, I was able to purchase groceries for a man who had none, and pay the electric bill for a family that had no money to pay for their own.

In the business world, that was a dumb decision. But I ask you, would more joy have been produced by keeping it? I am poor, and yet I am a river to other people. This IS true service…not slavery.

Below are the most common regrets recorded by a Hospice worker of many years. On your deathbed what will you have wished?

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Mother Teresa was busy scrubbing the white froth off a lepers feet, or nub really. An American journalist sitting near by said to her, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” Mother Teresa not looking up from her work said, “Neither would I.”

I ran for an entire year with no money, and yet I never missed a meal. Why would I start worrying about money now? Instead, pay catch, and if need be chase after someone’s errant throw, making nothing of it. Perhaps, in time, others will be as courteous to your mistakes as well.

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