Monday, November 28, 2005

Perspective and Thanks

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I attended a funeral for the father of a friend of my 8-year old daughter. He had an interesting story as he grew up in Cambodia and mangaged to survive the genocide. He met death with a level of grace and courage that I can only hope for.

A few days later, I found on the web an old high school classmate of mine. She has been spending most of the past 15 years working for Doctors Without Borders. She spent a fair amount of time in Yugoslavia during the chaos.

My little family travels to Hartford, CT for Thanksgiving to visit with my wife's family. They have a lovely tradition of going around the table, just before desert, and everyone spends a moment telling what they are thankful for. Two years ago, some one said "Water". I have been pretty much intimidated since........

This year, with the help of the little bit of perspective given by the first two examples, I decided, rather than trying to one-up "water", to go the self-indulgent route. I was thankful for the opportunity to pursue the things that interest me.

I have been doing a better job of 1) acknowledging that I shouldn't take things for granted, 2) recognizing my unimportance in the grand scheme of things, and 3) frequently reminding myself of the things that I am thankful for. I think a healthy dose of self-deprecation goes a long way toward keeping things in check.

The author of the book "The Inner Game of Tennis" postulates that competition is a cooperative effort between two opponents to fully realize their potential.

So, be thankful for the opportunity to play our sport. It really is a gift. Also, don't believe the hype. You might be the MAN on your team. You might have just roofed someone for a goal or "made someone your bitch". Celebrate the chance to challenge yourself to your fullest potential, but always remember to step back and recognize the insignificance of your actions. Be humble.


Seigs said...

Great post. Lessons often forgotten...

Marshall said...

Where I celebrate Thanksgiving, 5-year-old Connor has us each write what we're thankful for on a leaf and he attaches them to the Thanksgiving Tree. I can't for the life of me remember what I wrote down this year.

gcooke said...


Is the tree the same tree every year? Is it a real tree? Is it on the table? I think this is a great idea, and a nice way to present it. Some of the younger kids at our meal do not feel comfortable speaking in front of the group. Several of the grown-ups do not have such inhibitions.

I think that is interesting that you do not recall what you wrote.