My Story - The Little Stories
I need to make mention of the “little stories” in a person's life. It is here where so much of life is really lived and reveals who we are. I will share a story to illustrate what I mean.
Two weeks after winning the Nova Scotian 1500m championship for my age group, I entered another track meet where I had a unique opportunity to compete against the 1500m champion, Brian Malone, from a higher age group. It was a track/cross country race in which anyone under 17 could compete. What an opportunity to improve as a runner. Shortly after the starting gun fired, there I was in my customary position, last place. I learned that from my 1968 Olympic hero, Kip Keino. I probably should not write this as I know it would disappoint a certain beloved coach who taught that attitude determined success, but running from last place actually became a bit of an ego thing.
That teacher/coach, Charles Weatherby, much later in life, told my wife that I was one of the top five student-athletes he had (of 4,000+) during his long teaching career. He also told her that the one thing that separated me from everyone else, was my attitude. A wonderful influence on my life, he was.
As I went to pass the first runner, my eyes popped. The runner was a small boy, probably no more than 8 years old. I pulled out to pass but did not get very far. Something inside me said that I had a bigger mission that day. I ran with the boy for the rest of the race, giving encouraging words along the way. When we finally got back to the stadium for the last 120m, I could hear the crowd cheering. Many probably knew
who I was and also knew exactly what was transpiring. I told the kid to give it everything for the last 50m. I came dead last.
After I crossed the finish line, I took a few seconds before I turned around. I wanted to congratulate him. I did not get the chance to do so. His mother had come out of the crowd and she was in a full embrace with her child. I smiled and walked away. I knew inside that I had done what was being asked of me that day. Later, Brian told me he was looking for me as he ran and wondered where I was. He, apparently, had been looking forward to the challenge, as had I. I told him I had other things to do. This is one of the stories I think about whenever I am feeling down, as it reminds me who I am.
The biography that inspired my self-sacrifice that day was "I Am Third," the Gale Sayers story. The meaning - God, Others, Self. In other words, you are a servant and, therefore, it is not about you.