About 70 pounds ago, I thoroughly enjoyed running. I loved it and those who were committed to it. Fr. Kidwell would always include me in the prayer before chemistry class so I could include a thought or two about the upcoming track or cross country meet. Ironically, I was kicked off the team because my coach and I had a disagreement about my hair length. It wasn't the team that I loved though; it was the sport and the ability to run, to feel the sensations of movement and speed. To be mobile, fast and strong was a gift. Some had more of that than the rest of us. No matter, it was a pleasure to burn the energy on the track.
But it is more than that. The late, great running legend, Steve Prefontaine, died at 24 years old in 1975 when world-class athletes lived on food stamps, not rich endorsements. One of his oft-quoted comments is "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." Not until I read more about him did I fully appreciate the depth behind his statement. He was gifted with many athletic abilities, and the courage that brought them all to harvest. He never gave less than everything he had in the moment.
We are all endowed with various gifts. While one problem is that we don't use them fully, another is that we don't even recognize our talents, characteristics, traits, or abilities as gifts. As gifts! I believe we can learn from Steve, too, that it takes courage to fully use one's gifts. It requires courage because we risk failure when we use them, we face the chance that others will be jealous, we sometimes fear the changes that success will bring to our lives, we bring pain to our hearts or bodies by pushing the limits of our gifts, and we become more visible to scrutiny when we use and share our gifts. We all have gifts. Do we have the courage, allowing ourselves both the selfish and selfless faces of it?
"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." What are you doing with yours today?
Listen to Life is a free newsletter about learning and getting more from life by paying attention to our own stories and the stories of others, based on the presentations, writings, photography and workshops by Dion McInnis (www.dionmcinnis.com). Copyright 2009 Dion McInnis. All rights reserved.