Football is KING in our home. You know this.
But I try to keep the guys in good condition all year round. That means they either 1) work out with me, 2) have a personal trainer, or 3) do alternative sports during the off season. Ezra is finally on the varsity football team at defensive tackle and end, so they have him occupied with off season conditioning and weight lifting. Silas and Solo run track. Silas runs for a community center and Solo runs for his middle school.
Silas has targeted track as his primary sport, but Solo only uses it to increase his speed and explosion. On the weekend, we all run. Not sure if I mentioned this in a prior post, but my most popular phrase around the house is “THERE ARE NO OFF DAYS.” That goes for academics as well as staying in shape. What have we talked about before? Creating good habits so that when they leave the house finally, they won’t be sabotaged by idle time. Always look for an opportunity to get better, to become smarter, well-read, stronger, faster—perpetual improvement. Every. Single Day.
I’m sure that when they grow up and come back for holiday dinners with their families, they’ll talk bad about my philosophical approach to self motivation. I know they get sick of my little phrases and ‘old dude’ idioms. But that’s my job to be an in-house motivational speaker. They look and listen, but I’m sure they’re saying to themselves, “I wish this negro would just shut up…” Solo always gives me that look. But recently, he blew me away after I tried to explain a ‘deep’ Rabindranath Tagore slash James Evans tactic for him to use when competing in the long jump. He took my perspective, and then kicked it in the man marbles. Totally flipped the script on me.
So on Saturday mornings when we don’t have any other obligations, we either head to “the hills” to run, or we take it to the track at Solo’s school. The boys will stretch, run three straight laps, do calisthenics, and then go over the events that they’ll compete in. This particular morning, Solo went hard on his long jump technique. He had a respectable 16 feet as his longest jump in the most recent meet . But the little brother knew he could do better. So we went through his sprint down the runway, the planting of the foot, the jump, and how he opens up his body. Everything. Over and over again.
So I hit him with the idea of positive visualization being the key. It could be just the boost that will psychologically launch him maybe even a foot further. Seeing himself soar beyond the pit may take him to a length that he never imagined.
Me: So here’s what I want you to do—don’t look down. Look beyond the pit.
Solo: I never look down. When I plant my foot, I can kind of feel it or…what do you call it? Peripherally see it or something?
Me: Good. Never look down. Your mind will take your body as far as you can visualize it.
Me: Okay, look—look at the hundreds of thousands of tiny grains of sand in this pit. What I want you to do is locate the last pebble of sand at the other end of the pit.
Me: You can’t see it. But at the other end of the pit, there is one last , tiny bit of sand that marks the end of the pit. Focus on that pebble. It will take you further. Believe me. If you see yourself there, then possibly you can jump that far.
(E.T. the Hip -Hop Preacher would be disappointed in my efforts.)
Solo: I don’t get it. You want me to look at what? On the ground?
I’m getting frustrated at this point. Like, damn, boy, you’re not feeling the serene, yet profound thoughts I’m trying to plant into your cerebral cortex so that you can be a bad ass track star? Stick with me! But I didn’t say that. Instead I simply asked…
Me: So what do you look at?
He looked up and pointed. Almost three hundred yards away was a wall of gigantic firs standing shoulder to shoulder. Crystal, clear blue skies were sandwiched between the tips of the tree tops and a very light, layer of clouds. It looked like the trees were actually holding up the sky. I turned to look and it just caught me off guard. I never thought to look up. I felt so small at that moment, yet so enlightened, and I don’t think that Solo even knew that he taught me something that afternoon.
Solo: I see myself sprouting wings and going over those trees over there…
(Les Brown would turn his back on me.)
Our own expectations, regardless of how lofty or grandiose they may be, probably pale in comparison to what they dream of for themselves. Once a child is given the tools to set goals and learn how to put action towards those goals, they set their own limits. Their ideas of how far they can go , how high they can rise, come with no apprehension. No fears. And isn’t that what we want for them? To be as tall as those trees? To hold up the sky? To go up and beyond that last pebble of sand?
Now, every time I pass by that school, drive by that track, I look at those trees and wonder how he’ll do at the remainder of his track meets. I wonder how high and how far he’ll jump. I wonder if he’s already realized that one day, even the trees, and everything in the sky, will no longer be the limit.
Raising The Mighty Joint of the Month: Ben Folds-Still Fightin.