Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Child In His Eyes

The eyes of the eighty-one year old man glittered alive when he began to tell how he once did triathlons. Years have passed and the world has changed, but his core hasn’t. Now he was training for the senior Olympics. In the corners of his mouth was a sort of peace-with-oneself grin. He had been touched where the spark still remained. Ever so slightly you could see him straighten as his grin grew to a large smile, and like a child, he excitedly told me more. You could tell he felt at once alive and, for that moment, resurrected from obligatory life, and transported to the child he had always been. It was easy to see the child in his eyes.

And there is Jason, less than half that age: father, husband, hockey player, ultra-distance runner, and now an Ironman. He tempers his many obligations with a childlike enthusiasm for life and big bites of it. I can remember at a family gathering once, when I sat down beside him asked him something about his endurance training and exploits. The lights came on. He had that same look of that 81 year old man telling me about his triathlon past and training for senior Olympics. Like my 81 year old friend, Jason spoke with confidence, hope, and enthusiasm for what he had done and what he was training for: Ironman Lake Placid. He had an injury he was trying to work through; time constraints to be overcome, but you could tell he had the “bit between the teeth” and would not be easily turned aside. Jason had that child in his eyes. He made the hard training. He took on Ironman Lake Placid when conditions were not the best. One step and then another, no matter the conditions: He wanted to be an ironman. It was his dream. And , down the finishers chute, here comes Jason, overwhelmed with childlike exuberance in a culmination of all the hard training the early hours, the long hours; all worth it; celebrating the gift of life by living his dream.

And God bless those unafraid to dream big dreams, to put it all on the line in pursuit of that dream, unafraid: unafraid of failure, unafraid of pain, unafraid of expressing the joy of life, unafraid of letting themselves go; unafraid, ready, and prepared, reaching up to put the child in their eyes again and again.