Rest Day Read (SR-18)
Choruses from The Rock by T.S. Elliot
“But it seems that something has happened that has never happened
before: though we know not just when, or why,or how, or where.
Men have left GOD not for other gods, they say, but for no God; and this has
never happened before
That men both deny gods and worship gods, professing Reason,
And then Money, and Power, and what they call Life, or Race, or Dialectic.
What have we to do but stand with empty hands and palms turned
upwards in an age which advances progressively backward?”
When I did a little rant about poetry a couple weeks ago, I received a copy of this gem of a poem by T.S. Elliot from Mr. A. Catlin. I thought it appropriate to use early in Holy Week to help us evaluate where we are, both personally and professionally, in our relationship with our fellow man and with God. After reading and digesting, decide if you currently work to advance “progressively backward” or are determined “to work and live to honor God”.
Monthly Archives: March 2010
Rest Day Read (SR-18)
Rest Day Read (SR-17)
If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together…there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think, but the most important thing is, even if we’re apart…I’ll always be with you.
-from Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
Today, I read this and heard it spoken at a very sad event I attended. In this particular time and place, it brought a tear to my eye, a lump to my throat and punched a hole in my heart. As modern life spins and whirls around us, we must remember to smile and to hug and to enjoy on a more frequent basis. We are fragile things.
“‘Little by little… I got to see the bigger point of baseball, that it can give us back ourselves. We’re a crowd animal, a highly gregarious, communicative species, but the culture and the age and all the fear that fills our days have put almost everyone into little boxes, each of us all alone. But baseball, if we love it, gives us back our place in the crowd. It restores us.” -Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
Rest Day Read (SR-16)
Life Value and the Paradoxes of Risk a commencement address by Charles S. Sanford Jr., University of Georgia, 1989.
“In the end, you’ll find there is more happiness in creating value for others and enjoying the benefits, both material and psychological, that flow to you, than there is in only adding to your own net worth. It’s that simple. When we create value for others, we do not personally take in all the value we have created – and that, the people who have done so say again and again, is a source of incomparable satisfaction. Actually, the implications are encouraging, for they suggest (amidst all the headlines about greed and ego-centrism) that there is a nugget of altruism in our natures – buried deeply, perhaps, but still accessible.”
Oh boy…where do I start. This article was tagged off of a Crossfit.com post a couple weeks ago, so again, thank you Crossfit.com. I had an incredible amount of trouble finding one quote to use as an intro from this article, it is all golden. Looking back over my printed version, I have almost 75% of the article marked in orange highlighter. Inspirational and intellectual, informative and considerate, personal fulfillment intertwined with communal fulfillment, Sanford hits a home run with these ideas. It may take several readings to completely wrap your arms around this one (3 times for me), but give it a chance and let it sink into your person. Just think how much greater our society, our economy, our government, our country and even each of our own lives can be through this path of using risk properly and creating value with our deeds.
“Welcome to Shorty’s Ranch and Pet! How may I help you today?”
“Hello, Madge. You’re in a fine mood today. Get a raise or something?”
“Nope. Getting ready for Chick Days. You know how I love Chick Days.” Madge leans to me and whispers. “My favorite part is that I get to take home the ones that don’t sell. Madge’s Famous Friday Night Football Tailgate Chicken doesn’t happen by magic, you know!
“Yeah, yeah,” I answer. “Shorty here?”
“I am right HERE!” a short bald head appears from behind the candy rack at the checkout counter. “What are you blind as well as stupid?” He walks around the counter, swinging his rigid left leg along on each stride with his good right leg. “How can Shorty’s Ranch and Pet be of service to you today, my simple-minded friend?”
“Shorty, I got a big problem?”
“And that’s supposed to be news to me?”
“Come on, Shorty. This is serious.” I follow him as he walks down the aisle toward the office. I lower my voice “Shorty, I got an Alien Attack Dog with laser beam eyes at the house preparing for a full-scale alien dog invasion. And, it has taken my kids hostage to keep me from trying to stop it.”
Shorty stops and looks back at me. “You are serious, aren’t you?”
He rubs his hand across his bald head. “You know, I have heard of these kinds of things, you know, through the Ranch and Pet industry chat groups. But, I never thought anything like that would happen HERE. ” He shakes his head, “And it has those sweet darling children of your wife’s”
“I need some help fighting this thing, Shorty.”
“I hear you and I’m in. What you thinking?”
“Well, the way I figure everything has a weakness, hasn’t it? I was thinking, Achilles had his tendon, Napoleon had his Waterloo, The Wolf Man had silver bullets, Michael Jordan had baseball, Scooby-Doo had Scooby Snacks….then BANG it hit me like a rock! Could the AAD share the same weakness with millions and millions of earth dogs, that insatiable desire for dog treats? That’s when I hopped in the car and drove out here.”
“That is some pretty slick thinking, there. Sounds a little crazy, but I think it might work.” Shorty turns and limps to the pet aisle, his head bobbing up and down with each stride. “Follow me, I think I have the planet’s perfect dog treat right here on my shelf.”
He hands me a bag. I read the label “Science Diet Simple Essentials Chicken Flavored Dog Treats.” I look down to Shorty. “These good?”
“Dang straight these are good. Dogs can’t resist them, well, at least earth dogs, that I know for sure.”
“Well, thanks, Shorty” I shake his hand and walk away. “Wish me luck.”
Shorty watches me walk back down toward the checkout counter. “Good luck and don’t worry”, He pauses for a minute, looks toward Madge helping a customer in the garden tool section. “Madge will put that on your tab when she gets a chance.”
I shake my head and walk out the door, reading the label on the bag of Science Diet Simple Essentials Chicken Flavored Dog Treats, “Dogs can’t resist!” I open the Nissan’s door and scan the skies, “I sure hope they can’t…”
There are two football pregame talks from Coach Paul Lane that still give me the goosebumps. Quote number one was from the very first Friday game of the Paul Lane Era at CCCHS in 2000. We were home against Beloit. I remember right before the National Anthem, with all the team and coaches in the south end zone, Coach Lane tell the boys how special it is to be right here, right now, getting the opportunity to play football.
“This is Friday night in America. ”
(After starting that first season with my head spinning, feeling way out-of-place, I knew right then I was working for the absolute right coach. I knew right then I would work my butt off to justify him taking a big chance to hire me.)
Pregame talk number two was the last game of the 2007 season. We had to win a district football game on the road at perennial powerhouse Holton Wildcats in order to make the playoffs. We had a rough week leading up to this game. Two starters suspended, a couple hurt and/or hurting and two seniors quit the team because I asked them to play scout team offense in practice. We were underdogs on a good day and with all this other stuff, the dog was going even further under. So, we loaded up the bus and headed to Holton. After we arrive, Coach Lane has a relaxed air which pervades the entire team. We go through our pregame preparations at Holton High School Stadium, one of the most underrated and often maligned high school atmospheres in the state of Kansas (I loved that playing in that old stadium). I know it is not macho to describe a football game as “happy”, but it was just a “happy” atmosphere. In the locker room, right before heading out for kickoff, Coach Lane lets these fly to the boys:
“The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” -Earl of Beaconsfield
You could just see the kids who were starting their first varsity football game sit a little taller, breathe a little easier and transform into varsity football players. Then he addresses the team again:
“They don’t write children’s books to teach children that dragons exist…They write children’s books to teach children the DRAGONS CAN BE KILLED.”
The kids just sat there for a second. The words began to sink in. Then a determined group of football players strap on their helmets, walk to the field and compete with purpose, pride and passion. Holton eventually wore us down for a couple late 4th quarter touchdowns to win. I know we lost, I know parents, fans and administrators were disappointed, but I have never been more proud of a group of kids after a game as I was walking with those boys off that particular field on that particular night. I will never forget that feeling. The very essence of what high school sports are all about.
Rest Day Read (SR-15)
The Physical Genius by Malcolm Gladwell
“If you think of physical genius as a pyramid, with, at the bottom, the raw components of coordination, and, above that, the practice that perfects those particular movements, then this faculty of imagination is the top layer. This is what separates the physical genius from those who are merely very good.”
What makes the great ones great? The million dollar question. I have been fascinated with the concepts of this article by Malcolm Gladwell, originally published in New Yorker Magazine in 1999, ever since I stumbled across it. I particularly like the Gestalt, or the space/form recognition component.
I used to get really funny, odd looks and blank stares from administrators, parents and some other coaches when I would talk about these concepts. I would use Gestalt methods in offensive lineman drills every day so that the lineman would see the patterns the opposition would employ to stop us. Recognize and repeat, repeat and repeat over and over again until it was embedded. We would watch game film of the opposition as much as possible, then during practice a offensive scout team ran the opposition’s formation and plays. Recognize and repeat, repeat and repeat over and over again until it was embedded. Everyone knew our scout team was not as good as our upcoming opponent, but the important things was to present the patterns.
The great ones “see” (visualize and process) things in a different, advanced manner. They have the raw components, the desire to practice to obsessive perfection and they possess the factor of imagination that vaults them to a completely different level than the rest of us. For an example of “the faculty of imagination”, think of the spontaneous moves involved in a Barry Sanders breakaway run.