A few months have gone by since two of my greatest childhood idols, John Havlicek and Bart Starr, passed away. I mourn their losses and thank them for the thrills they brought into my life. Who can ever forget Bart Starr leading his Green Bay Packers to victory against Dallas in the “Ice Bowl”, one of the greatest football games of all times? John Havlicek won eight NBA championships during his sixteen-year career with the Boston Celtics.
Havlicek and Starr were gods to me when I was a kid and I tried to emulate everything they did hoping one day I would be the kind of god they were.
But they weren’t gods. Despite their many heroic accomplishments, new, shinier gods soon replaced them in their sport. Havlicek and Starr were not immortal, and they soon faded away into obscurity after their retirements.
I found out about their deaths from a small banner announcement at the bottom of the screen on ESPN 2. I shed a tear for them. I also thanked because I enjoy a full and active life today because of my efforts trying to be like them.
Childhood idols as spiritual teachers
There is a great lesson to be learned from the life of these two athletes. Their accomplishments, in the end, were no greater than anything you and I have ever done, the only difference was that theirs were gained in front of a public spotlight.
But their demise reminded me of something important about myself. Out of my compelling need to measure my self-worth by comparing myself to others, I spent most my life chasing after the accomplishments I thought society noted as significant. I sacrificed many things along the way, often failing to nurture my relationships with friends, family and even my children. Most importantly, I put off doing the things I felt the most passionate and joyful about while I busily chased for more trophies for my mantel.
Like Havlicek and Starr, my accomplishments are a thing of the past. Other people replaced me and what I did has been relegated to distant memories that are steadily fading away.
So, what is the lesson in this?
Many of us place work above everything else, putting off what our soul screams for every single day. We do so because those around us taught us about the importance of having status, power and wealth. But, as Havlicek and Starr teach us, the importance of these things is a mirage.
Take it from me, someone who is closer to my end than I am to my beginning, you have no time to waste. The moment is now to love deeply, be compassionate and generous to all around you, pursue the things that give you joy and passion, and live with integrity.
Every second you waste does not return. Each day you spend chasing the rules of the world keeps you from reaching your full bloom. Spending your energy chasing security and sameness robs you of your life while you become comfortably numb
Perhaps you are one of those who is living your dreams, but if you are not, there is no better time to change that than now.
As always, wishing you a life filled with joy, love, and serenity.
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.
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