Your words alone could be just what someone needs right now. By telling someone how amazing they are, could mean the difference in them reaching their full potential. Never stop encouraging
As many of you remember, Stuart Scott was an anchor for SportsCenter on ESPN for 20+ years until he passed away at the beginning of this year after battling cancer for 7 years.
Looking back, he’s probably the first celebrity or public figure to make me tear up after hearing about his death.
As far back as I can remember, I watched him every morning before school to watch all of the previous day’s homeruns and slam dunks.
His fight against cancer hit mainstream after his deep and moving speech when he received the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2014 ESPY awards.
Hit play if you haven’t seen it:
Just before his passing he finished writing a book, Every Day I Fight, about how he made his way to ESPN and all of his complications with cancer.
One thing that really stood out for me while reading it this weekend was that he stayed true to himself. He was who he was.
That’s what made him so entertaining to watch on TV.
He even says in the book that he commentated just like he was talking with his friends while watching a game. And if you ever watched SportsCenter with him, you couldn’t have agreed more.
That’s why people loved him. He was who he was.
Another thing that came to mind while reading his story, was why is it that people change their behavior when they find out they have cancer?
I loved reading about his new perspective on cherishing each moment that he experienced. Not that he didn’t before but not knowing if it would be his last with someone made each moment that much more special.
But what I was thinking was why wait to hear we only have a certain amount of time left? We are all going to die.
Let me repeat that. We are all going to die.
Let that sink it.
Some people go to bed at night to never wake up. Some drive off to work and never return home. Some get cancer and are told they have five years to live.
Do you ever get into a deep conversation with friends and someone asks, “what would you do if you only had six months to live?” Or some form of that question.
Why don’t we live like we have a certain number of days? Why do we put things off that we really want to do?
This might sound crazy, but imagine your doctor just told you that you have x number of years left. What would you do?
Maybe we should start living as if that were the actual case. Because all of our chances of living are zero.
The imagine that I posted of Stuart jumping rope, says a lot. But what I really love is that it shows strength, especially after knowing that he went straight to the gym after each chemotherapy treatment. It also shows that he never gave up living despite what he was going through.
Even though a lot of us will have no idea what it’s like to go through life with cancer, we should fight to live for each day as we had only a certain amount of time left alive. Which is the most true fact there is.
Whatever you want in life, fight for it.
Fight every day for it.
And just like Stuart, just be you.
This past weekend I went off on a 3 hour run on a long and desolate dirt road that stretches to the horizon. It’s an out and back route with the foothills to my right on my way out. Herds of cow periodically disperse the open fields and antelope can be seen far away with their gaze directed towards me wondering if I pose a threat to their habitat.
About halfway into it, I felt something that I haven’t felt in a long while.
Today I did that run again. Same route and same distance.
Again, halfway into it my mind seemed to melt away. A separation of body and mind from the rhythms of running. At times my mind is completely blank as if I purposely set out to meditate in motion and there are times that my mind is so deep in thought, that I feel the disconnect from the physical self.
For about 30 minutes today I was “gone.”
I know that there are 3 cattle guards that I have to carefully cross when I do this route but as I approached the middle one today, I felt completely lost.
The surrounding area looked unfamiliar, even though I am quite familiar with this run.
As I reached the cattle guard, I even looked all around thinking there was no way that I was already back to this one and I was thinking that I had never seen that part before. It’s only this road and no turn offs. “Where am I?” I asked myself.
Then I realized I was completely zenned out for the last 30 minutes and immediately recognized why I haven’t experienced that in a long time.
When I first started to get into running about 5 years ago, I tried to run with music once. It felt completely unnatural. I couldn’t find a rhythm with my feet or my breath.
As the years went on, I formed the belief that running should be about disconnecting from technology. Running is one of the most natural things in the world. One thing that I love about running is that by disconnecting, I am able to connect with myself and the world around me.
So from that one experience from trying to listen to music on the run, I thought I would never mix the two again.
Somehow I got the idea months ago that I was going to want to run with music in my last race. I created a playlist and my plan was to hold out until about mile 60 until I played it. I wanted something to pump me up while the going would get tough.
From the moment I got that idea, I listened to music on my long runs so I would be use to running with music before the race.
Oddly I loved it. It was a change of pace to crank the music as I grinded up switchbacks or let the music carry me when I was started to bog down.
But today and a few days ago, I was reminded of an element that made me fall in love with running in the first place.
Music and many other technological advancements are just comforts that distract from being present in the moment and even from being present with your feelings.
Running is my time of the day to disconnect from everything. To be free and to let my mind drift off into thin air. Even if it’s for a brief moment in a run, it feels infinitely blissful. It’s a feeling I haven’t felt in a while and a feeling I’ve missed and love.
As I was riding in the car back to the starting line after I dropped from my last race, I kept thinking about my favorite TED talk.
It’s with comedian Steve Mazan and he talks about chasing your dreams.
Seriously, watch it. Not only is it funny but it’s deep and inspirational as he shares his story.
I know I have shared quotes from this talk before but they are worth bringing back up.
Someday isn’t on the calendar. Friday, Saturday, Sunday are on there about four times a month. But when it comes to our dreams it’s probably the busiest day of the week.
If you’ve ever chased a dream, you know that it lights a fire in your heart, that whether you reach it or not, it warms everyone around you and everything around you.
We’re all dying. But if you are not chasing your dream, you’re already dead.
Steve talks about re-chasing his dream of getting to perform on Letterman. He gave himself 1 year to fulfill that dream.
Did that happen? Nope.
After 2 years? Nope. 3? No, it took him 5 years to reach his dream goal.
Another thing that stands out in this talk for me, is when he talks about changing the way we view our dreams. Instead of think of them as a noun, a singular point and final product, think of it as a verb, an action, something you do every day.
I was shooting for the stars with this last race. My place goal and time goal was a massive leap to the top. And I fell flat on my face.
Looking back I can see that I was in way over my head given my experience and my current abilities. But I have zero regrets in setting such lofty goals.
Yeah, I didn’t even come close to them and I even didn’t finish the race. But I am so much better off than I would have been if I didn’t have such goals. This has been the most valuable experience and I am only stronger from it.
It’s very easy to get discouraged and to give up on goals in the way society is today. We have become so reliant on instant gratification with all of the advancements in technology, that when we don’t get what we want, we think of our setbacks as failures and not learning lessons.
You only fail if you give up.
I’m not giving up on winning a major 100 mile race.
I was foolish to think that I was going to win this last race. I know that what I went through will only be a stepping stone towards my dream.
Like Steve Mazan, it may take me 5 years. It may even take me even longer. But I won’t give up on the idea of training to win and becoming the best I can be or even living in my dream of spending most of my time everyday running.
Instead of focusing on a single goal, or as my dream as a noun, I have lived in my dream the last half year or so. Instead of wishing I was running or wishing I was out in the mountains while sitting at a desk in a cubicle, I was out training and doing just what I wanted every day.
I am one step closer to my goals. Success is in making progress, and I have done just that.
So whatever your passion and dreams are, shoot for the stars. There will probably be a 99% percent chance you won’t reach your goal the first time around. You’ll just have to pick yourself up, dust off, take the lesson as a blessing in disguise and take on the challenge again.
You’ll be living in your dream if you do and there is no better way to live your life. Because “if you’re not chasing your dream, you’re already dead” right?