Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Original Coach K

 Don't look back
A new day is breakin'
It's been too long since I felt this way
I don't mind where I get taken
The road is callin'
Today is the day

- Don't Look Back, Boston

When you mention the name Coach K, most people associate it with legendary Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. But..back in the day my track and cross country coach Mr. Kostecki was known by his teams as Coach K before Duke had their Coach K.

I had never thought about or reminisced about my high school days with Coach K until recently when I attended a cross country meet to watch my friend's daughter race.

On the sidelines during this race I saw coaches encouraging and throwing out pointers to their runners. For myself, Coach K's consistent pointer was, "Don't look back! Keep moving! Don't look back!"
This was my habit, the habit of always looking back to see who or how many were close behind. It was a habit that was hard to break and I learned my lesson the hard way. It was in my junior year of high school at an invitational cross country meet where many schools participated. For most of the 3 mile race, on a trail in the middle of the wilderness I led. But in the end that habit of looking back cost me dearly as two runners passed me at the stretch with the finish line in plain sight. I was more worried about who or what was going on behind me instead of concentrating on the finish line before me.
Hmm, where have we heard that bit of life's philosophy before on not looking behind or at the past?
"It's not possible to go forward while looking back." - Ludwig Miles
"We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future."
- George Bernard Shaw
"Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the present." - Bill Keane
And we are also reminded in scripture on how to run the race:
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. - 1 Cor. 9:24
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. - Phil. 3:3-14
The Apostle Paul was great at encouraging others and The Church through his letters with the simple fortitude of moving forward and forgetting those things behind. Paul knew what he was talking about because he had to live it. He did not get hung up on his mistakes and failures. Instead, he just asked God to forgive him, and then he forgot about those things.
It's okay to look at your past and how God may have gotten you through some rough times, but don't  dwell on your past mistakes and failures instead use them to build you up for today and reach for that which is before you.
"You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space." - Johnny Cash



Saturday, August 20, 2016

Bolt n Monday

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”   - Theodore Roosevelt

Within these 2016 Rio Olympics there has been some great human interest stories, some have even creeped up from past Olympics thanks to social media. One as such, a video of the fastest man ever timed Jamaica's very own Usain Bolt. A video where Bolt was doing a television interview and paused in mid-interview as America's national anthem was beginning. After standing at attention while the Star Spangled Banner was played he completed his interview at the anthems conclusion. This actually happened during the 2012 Olympics but has resurfaced through social media, perhaps it's because it's what America needs to see right now.

For some reason this act of patriotism, even coming from someone who resides in Jamaica, brought back memories of an event that happened 40 years ago this year. I remember watching as a kid a Sunday afternoon baseball game between my Chicago Cubs and the LA Dodgers. A game where a couple of protestors ran onto the Dodgers playing field and were about to light the American flag on fire. Then suddenly out of nowhere Cubs outfielder Rick Monday whisked by to grab the stars and stripes before the kids could light it on fire.

Rick Monday played 19 seasons, 2 all-star games, 2 world series and won one championship, but will forever be known for one of the greatest plays in baseball and American history.
"What happened in my playing career will take care of itself. The flag represents the rights and freedoms we all enjoy in this country."
Ironically some of America has forgotten these values, just recently in fact. In a small town in New York, a city leader demanded it's fire dept. to remove the American flag from it's fire trucks. Which led to this response from the fire department, "At the time when our country needs unity, to do something like's next to flag burning in my mind."
Throughout the many wars in our history men and women sacrificed their lives fighting for our freedom, some soldiers even went to great lengths to display the American flag to declare victory. A victory some take lightly today, unfortunately.
The Star Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key, who gained his inspiration from the American flag as he watched soldiers display it triumphantly above Fort McHenry in the war of 1812.
Although at most events in America it is only the first stanza of our anthem that is sung or played, the song actually has five stanzas to it, the fifth written by Oliver Wendell Holmes. A stanza America needs to be reminded of today.
When our land is illumined with Liberty's smile,
If a foe from within strike a blow at her glory,
Down, down with the traitor that dares to defile
The flag of her stars and the page of her story!
By the millions unchained who our birthright have gained,
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained!
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Say What?

"Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation."  - Mark Twain

Ah, yes, speaking words much better than a text or email.

We have become a society of so little conversation, so little in fact that most of our conversations within the four walls of the same house are via text through our cell phones. But, speaking words in general and more than the habitual hello is what some still crave.

Just recently I avoided the long line of a drive-thru at McDonalds and decided to just run inside for a quick cup of coffee. Lo' and behold, while standing in line by the cashier someone politely tapped on my shoulder. Alas', it was a friend I had not seen in a long time. She was having lunch there with her co-worker so I decided to sit and visit with them for a little while and catch up on old times.

Upon their leaving to go back to work,  a senior citizen sitting next to us was apologizing for talking too loud. I told him I hadn't even noticed and thus I ended up sitting next to this Korean War Veteran and chatted with him for a half hour. So much, for that quick run-in for coffee! But I could tell this senior just wanted another fella to talk to and so I obliged. Sometimes that is what we need to do, slow down and actually do more than recognize a person with a simple nod and hello.

After leaving there I found myself in a bit of a quandary on deciding which of two hair cutting salons to go to for a haircut, since my time was now cut even shorter. After I made my decision and went to my choice of destination I came across a new gal working at the Super Cuts. We quickly struck up a conversation which led me to providing her with some quality traveling tips that she was desperately in search of for her family.

Some days we will embark on situations or circumstances that we might not even be looking for, but they are there, like the old man who just wanted a conversation with someone other than his peers.

 Now if we could just get ourselves out of ourselves and take notice of those around us, who knows what may happen.

The opportunities exist all around us, we just need to be looking and not staring at our cell phone.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

What's The Deal With Art Anyhow?

Art Garfunkel? Art Carney? Art Linkletter? Art Fleming? Art Monk? Art Modell? Art Rooney?
What do all these men have in common? Nothing, except they're all named Art and are famous in a variety of culture. And that's what art is if you've ever been to an art museum.

On a recent visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum, my first time in a very long time in one of those, it reminded me of how different not only art is, but how we view art.

Picasso once said, "The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls." Visiting an art museum will do that. It makes you think! Some people can look at a painting and get a whole different perspective than another person. You will also realize there are a variety of ways to express art. Such as this painting:

Some peoples trash is another person's art.
And then there's art that really wants you to think.
"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." - Edgar Degas
And then, we also have art that really isn't art at all, or is it?
This just reminds me of the game pieces for Candyland Game.
Everyone has different tastes in a variety of culture, foods, sports, etc. For myself, this was my favorite painting:
Which goes to show how much different my tastes are from yours. But that's okay, that's what makes each of us individually unique.
Remember, "A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind."