I had an opportunity to talk to the Cabrini College swim team last night. That was fun for me as I graduated from Cabrini many lifetimes ago so I enjoy visiting the campus whenever I can. I went in totally cold and unscripted so I wasn’t sure how I was going to frame whatever I was going to say. That was intentional though because I knew the group would be small and it would give me an opportunity to fully engage them for who they are and just let the talk have its own set of legs and lungs and go wherever it was lead. I think it went well. A few interesting questions were asked and I could tell that most of the room seemed pretty dialed into what I was saying. I think I touched on a few things that resonated with them.
I talked about a lot of things ranging from family life to Cabrini life to triathlon life, and of course life with leukemia. A few of the key points that I honed in on were around the choices we make and our reactions and responses to the cards that we are dealt. And some of you have heard me talk about this many times. Sometimes we get so stuck in the muck complaining about what happened TO us that we neglect opportunities to respond in a positive light and take some of that control back and do something FOR ourselves.
I reminded the group to think about the size of their footprints and not the sound of their footsteps. One doesn’t need to display a large billboard to show the world your accomplishments. When you do things right, people will just know. Your accomplishment sort of becomes you without you needing to draw attention to it – or yourself. I’ve always thought there is grace and class in accomplishing huge feats with subtlety.
I also talked about my passion in coaching the Team in Training triathlon crew. I encouraged them to find something in this world that they love, and look for ways to use it in a way that might also benefit others.
One student athlete asked me how I stay mentally focused in a long race or training day. Admittedly, that’s hard to do. And I have certainly done my share of unraveling from time to time. But my response to him pulled from a quote that a friend shared with me. This friend was a long time professional soccer goalkeeper with a brilliant career that took him all over the world. He once told me that he is now happy just enjoying life’s simple pleasures and doing regular yoga. He told be time has taught him the importance of “being where your feet are”. I think about that often if I let things get too far ahead of me and feel overwhelmed. I focus on staying in the moment and simply remind myself to be where my feet are.
One of the last questions of the night came from the assistant swim coach. He wanted to know how I want to be remembered years from now. The timing of this question was eerie because the night before, I received a very nice note from an old college friend that pretty much answered the question. This friend had stumbled onto my website and told me that she loved my blog and reminded me of a day many many years ago that she blew out her knee in a friendly game of “touch” football at Cabrini. I borrowed a car, took her to the hospital, stayed with her and made sure she was taken care of. She also told me that I officially nicknamed her “wheels” from that day forward. She went on to say how much she appreciated what I did and has never forgotten that day. She also said “you were giving then, and I see you still are”. “You are in my thoughts and prayers”. And that my friends, is how I would like to be remembered. As a giver.
If at the end of my days, there are many more stories out there just like this one, I will have lived a good life. And a happy one. And even if those stories are never shared, I will still have lived a good life. And a happy one. I have been blessed every day of my life.