I was texting yesterday with a good friend, Bill. Bill is a partner in Centennial Farms, the horse racing syndicate that owns Wicked Strong. While this racehorse finished fourth in both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, the memories that were created and added to his life’s journey made it a first. You see, it’s not the end that matters, it’s the preparation and hard work over the countless weeks and months leading up to the race that tell the story.
As Joseph Campbell, the well regarded mythologist, teacher and author noted: “If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are – if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”
Over the years of our friendship, Bill and I often talked about life’s journey. We both are amazed, humbled and appreciative of all that time has shared with us along the way.
I was reading the local newspaper this morning, in particular a story about Beverly Warren who will become Kent State University president on July 1. During her 14 years as an administrator with VCU, she commuted from her home in Keswick, in Charlottesville, an hour drive that she described as “really good thinking time. I think it’s a powerful use of quiet time.” This poignant remark struck a chord with me. Taking frequent time to reflect on all we have to be grateful for, and all the lessons and memories awarded us on our journey will serve us well. It fuels our inner being.
In 2013, Zoe Koplowitz completed her 25th New York Marathon. A significant achievement for anyone, but even more so when you consider Zoe has been afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis and diabetes the entire time. She has finished in last place of every race she has run. Zoe starts each race alone, some four hours before the official start. When the leaders catch up to her, she steps onto the sidewalk and watches them pass. “I am in awe of their beauty and grace. Could it be that their feet never touch the ground…? I see the winning moment in their faces just as I will recognize that moment in my own face, many miles and many hours down the road. And right now… the only difference between us is one of pace and stride,” she has written.
Zoe’s story serves as a wonderful analog to our life’s journey. Reflection is that time we step to the curb during the race and take into account all we have accomplished, the good we have done, the pain we have endured and the obstacles we have encountered and overcome. All the relationships we have formed, the lives we have touched and the kindness and teachings we have bestowed upon others.
My oldest son, Chris, and his wife, Lisa, recently were blessed with the birth of their first child. While an Important event, yes, the journey is just beginning for them in many new ways. Increased responsibility and expenses, a loss of the “duo” and the emergence of the new “trio,” and countless teachings and learnings, bi-directional, which will immediately begin to occur and will shape all their lives. Change will be the watchword for them for some time.
My son, Christian, just completed his first year at East Carolina University. At the first home football game that season, 50,000 boisterous fans were in attendance. I asked that when he entered the stadium that day that he take a moment and pause. Pause and reflect on the significance of the moment. While he was caught up in the revelry of his first college football game, the vast percentage of fans were not current students. I urged him to soak it all in, appreciate that very moment, for one day years down the road he will hopefully be one of them. Ardent and loyal fans that have weaved memories over the years, continually carrying their school along their life journey.
My daughter, Kaitlyn, will graduate this week from high school. She too will embark on her college career this fall. I urge her to pause and reflect on this special moment as she waves both farewell to one four-year journey and says hello to the next one. I hope she will reflect on the growth and development that has already occurred, and the next plateau she is soon to hit, one with greater independence, self-discipline and accountability. I know she is ready and I can’t wait to witness this next stage of her journey.
My son, Cameron, prepares for his high school state soccer tournament being played this Friday and Saturday. It is the culmination of countless practices, scrimmages and games. They are 20-1 heading into the semifinals and are deservedly a proud group of young men. I urge him to pause and reflect on what it took to get to this point, the sacrifices and preparation that he, his coaches and teammates made. He should take a moment and look into the eyes of each senior (he’s a junior) and know that for many of them this will be the end of the road. It’s really not about how much more they accomplish, but what they have built and is sure to endure after they depart. I’m not talking about sports and wins. I’m talking about life, relationships, teamwork, overcoming weaknesses, working together as one unit to accomplish a common goal. He likely will not see most of them again, but he will have countless memories to relive forever.
Within my own company, Core, we are having an exceptional year. Our team is working seamlessly as one. I urge us all to pause and reflect on all we have accomplished. How we have come together, bonding firmly, proudly walking our values, building meaningful relationships and living out our mantra to “have a positive impact in the lives of others.” I most certainly think we are doing that and I am proud to be a part of your team.
My texting with Bill yesterday reminded me once again that life continually happens around us. Life is not an event, but a journey with many branches, many highs and the occasional lows. Let’s stand back and look at it in the context of the journey and recognize you are living “Your Wicked Life.”