Tuesday, February 05, 2019

I See You, Rick (Or, The Inspiration Isn't What You Think It Is)

I saw more than a few stories in the last few years about Rick and Dick Hoyt. Rick has CP, as I do, and in brief, Dick wanted to include his son Rick in something they could do together. They started doing triathlons together. No, really. Dick had to do a whole lot extra to bring Rick with him. In a sense, Rick needs help with everything. So I have seen this before, and I've seen news stories and videos lay it on a little thick with the "inspiration" stuff. But I love their story, because I know why Rick did what he did. He could have had a pity party, and decided to sit on the sidelines. (And there's truly nothing wrong with rooting on your Dad, and living vicariously.) Rick wanted to do more. And as I think back on the footage I've seen, the image of Rick's spastic arm raised in celebration as they approach the finish line is something that resonates. It's that warrior spirit, and it belongs to Rick. In my view, the inspiration is not in what Dick is doing for Rick, but what Rick does for his father. The elder Hoyt often called his son a "competitor" and said that had they not begun training together, he would be dead. And that's factually correct.

When I appreciate great feats of athleticism, I don't spend time brooding about the fact that I can't do them. You don't, either. Why should I? When I see the warrior spirit, I recognize it as kindred to my own. So many times in our lives, we lament the fact that we fail at this or that. Maybe quite frankly, we're unhappy with who and where we are. It still remains to cultivate the true warrior within, that true person of greatness we are supposed to be.

 Josiah Viera died recently. He was a Cardinals baseball minor league coach. He had a rare form of progeria, or rapid aging disease. They probably thought they were doing this little dying kid a solid when they first met him. And that's fair enough; I have no gripes with the myriad Make-A-Wish chapters all around the world, and what they do. And we make a certain allowance for the publicity of inspirational stories, and how we're all encouraged to be more intentional, thankful, and filled with purpose.

But I don't see a dying kid when I think of Josiah. I see a guy in uniform, with a bat in his hand. I see those strong forearms, ready to hit a ball. Honorary coach, my foot. He loved that game as much as anybody out there, and the players knew it, too. That's what  saw. Don't miss the warrior spirit while feeling pity or sadness.

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