Thursday, June 26, 2014

Back Through The Rearview

I remember teaching my daughter, Hannah, how to back up when she was first learning to drive.  At first she wanted to use the rearview mirror, but she soon found out she had trouble steering just like we all did once upon a time.  Looking backward, it was tougher than I first thought it might be.  I had to remind her that she needed to look back over her shoulder so she could see more of the area behind her.  A bigger, better, and clearer, more unobstructed view of what was there lurking behind the car.

And now there are some cars with the camera that shows the area behind the vehicle.  One of our cars has one, and to be honest, I’m so used to turning around and looking, I forget that it’s even there.  Old-fashioned, I guess.

Interesting concept though: looking backward.

The thing is . . .

Looking Back Through The Rearview is really only good for one thing: moving backwards.  Looking Back Through The Rearview is really only good for one thing: going in reverse.  And while going backward or going in reverse will get you moving, and while going backwards or going in reverse is sometimes necessary, it’s often uncomfortable and one can’t sit like that for very long.

Got me thinking . . .

It’s nice to reminisce every so often.  It’s nice to go back and “remember when” once in a while, but often we end up telling and retelling the same stories over and over again.  We tell ourselves the same things over and over again.  We end up dwelling on our foibles, our faults, our shortcomings, and we kind of fall in and remain in a rut of old stories and old memories, sometimes funny, sometimes bitter sweet, and sometimes downright painful.

And just like driving and looking Back Through The Rearview, we don’t really go anywhere important, anywhere really meaningful.  Nowhere at all, really.

I do know it is important to take a look back every now and then because by doing so, we learn from where we’ve come.  By looking back, we see just how far we’ve gone.

But by keeping our eyes on the sights already behind us, we don’t progress.  We review the same road, the same traveled territory, and I believe it can, and often times will, stunt our growth.

Just as when we drive our vehicle down the road, it might be best to glance every so often Back Through The Rearview to check on our travels, to check on our progress.  But just to check.  Only just to check.  Because if we keep our eyes fixed on where we’ve been rather than where we’re going there are accidents- to ourselves and to others.

Life is meant to be lived in the forward rather than in the backward.  Life is meant to be lived moving forward, and seeing where one is headed, and only every so often, looking backward to see where one has been.

Life is more exciting, more interesting looking ahead, looking forward, rather than looking behind.  We need to allow the past to remain there.  Perhaps remember it every so often.  Obviously to learn from it.  But we cannot grow and become by dwelling in the past, by remaining in the past.  Learn from it and then move on.  Always, move on.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Pursuit Of Perfection

At least once a month, Kim or one of the girls pulls out the DVD of Remember The Titans and we watch it together as a family.  The most recent viewing was two nights ago.  Kim made popcorn and we sat in our family room and watched it.  We’ve watched the movie so many times, we can recite the dialogue along with the characters.  At various parts in the movie, we laugh.  We get annoyed, if not downright angry.  We cheer.  We tense up even though we know the outcome.  We tear up.  And in the end, we smile.


There is a scene when Coach Boone, played by Denzel Washington, tells his team that they are to Pursue Perfection.  No fumbles.  No missed blocks.  No missed tackles.  Perfection.


Quite the notion, Perfection.


I’ve coached high school and college basketball.  I’ve watched my son and daughters play basketball, soccer and softball.  Now it’s exclusively soccer, though both Emily and Hannah play Powder Puff football.


When I coached, I told my teams, my players, that basketball was a game of mistakes: the team that makes the least amount of mistakes is the team that usually wins.


It doesn’t matter what the sport is.  A wrong pitch.  An ill-timed error.  A missed free throw.  An interception.  Blown coverage.  It doesn’t matter what the sport is. 


We see it in high school games.  We see it in college games.  We witness it in the pros.  It’s a game of mistakes.  Any game, every game, is a game of mistakes.


But knowing that shouldn’t prevent a team from The Pursuit Of Perfection. As Boone says in the movie, if we aim at Perfection, we might achieve excellence.


And that is the way of life, isn’t it?


We Pursue Perfection.  And if we do, perhaps we can achieve excellence.  And for those of us who really, really struggle, if we aim at Perfection, perhaps we might hit pretty good.  Or on a bad day, we might hit okay.


But there is a risk in the Pursuit Of Perfection.


Sometimes in our effort, we might trample on others to be Perfect.  In our effort, we might ignore the beauty that surrounds us, the love that embraces us, the help that is offered to us. 


In our Pursuit Of Perfection, we run the risk of feeling down and defeated if we achieve less than Perfection.  We run the risk of judging ourselves too harshly, not recognizing that we are, after all, human, and prone to making mistakes.  That seldom, if ever, was there ever someone who was Perfect.  In fact, I can only think of one individual who was Perfect, and He lost his temper with the money changers in the temple.  In fact, the one individual who was Perfect was eventually whipped and crucified.


So . . .


Perhaps we can Pursue Perfection, but still enjoy the life we live.  Perhaps we can Pursue Perfection, but still see the beauty around us, feel the love that embraces us, and every now and then, accept the help that is offered to us.


And perhaps, in our Pursuit Of Perfection, we can help others along the way as they, too, Pursue Perfection.  And we can help each other recognize that we are all, each of us, only too human, only imperfect creatures, and in that realization, we can smile and nod and recognize that we, each of us, are really pretty good in spite of our lack of Perfection.  That it’s okay to be pretty good.  Even okay to be, okay.  Something To Think About . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Power Of We, Importance Of I

For a long time, I have believed the notion and concept of “it takes a village.”  While Hilary Clinton’s book formalized this for me, I’ve grown up with the idea, this belief probably because of the family I grew up in, the ideals and ideas instilled in us by my mom and dad, by my brothers and sisters, by the folks who entered and stayed in my life these sixty years.  I’ve seen it again and again in my own life and I’ve seen it in the lives of others.

For example and most recently, the home of one of our seniors burnt to the ground earlier this week.  There is little, if anything, left.  Maybe a few clothing items.  Maybe one or two other items, but by and large, the house and all that was in it is gone.  It happened in the middle of the night and thankfully, there wasn’t any harm to the family.

Now, our seniors graduate one week from tomorrow.  This young man will walk across the stage and receive his diploma.  This is a moment of celebration, but I have to believe, for this young man and his family, even if they try, the celebratory mood literally went up in smoke and flame.

But . . .

A teacher came to me concerned about this young man.  We talked, and I walked her over to the guidance office where we met with the young man’s counselor and our social worker.  A plan was developed and an email . . . an SOS . . . was sent out to the staff asking for gift cards for the young man.  I, and they, and my staff realize that we can’t replace everything.  No way.  I mean, seventeen or eighteen years of “stuff” . . . how would it be possible to replace everything?

But . . .

More than any other school I’ve been in, this school community is family.  It was family before I arrived and it will be family long after I’m gone.  It’s in our school culture.  It’s in the way we do business.  We might not necessarily agree with each other all the time, but what family does?  In the end, we come together because we’re family.  It’s our way.

So . . .

It is our hope that we can lessen the load.  Perhaps, help this young man lift a bit of the weight off his shoulders.  That is our hope.

And that is the Power Of We.

Things get done when We are involved.  Ideas take off and become airborne.  Projects and plans take root and grow.

But . . .

It took that one teacher who came to me and asked, “Can we help?  Can we do something?”

That is the Importance Of I.

We can’t sit around and wait for someone else to step up.  We can’t wait for someone else to step forward. That brief moment might pass and then nothing happens.  How tragic is that? 

For something to get done, for anything to be accomplished, it takes someone willing to step up, to step forward.  Because, I believe, it is only then that We becomes powerful, a force.  I don’t believe we can have one without the other.  There is Power in We, but We doesn’t happen without I.  There is something Important about I.  But there is something even magical about the Power Of We and the Importance Of I . . . together.  Something to think about . . .