There is the story of Mohamed Ali traveling in an airplane. (His name is not synonymous with humility.)
While he was flying, the airplane hit moderate turbulence. “Moderate” is a nice word the pilots use to describe a situation for those who otherwise may suffer a coronary attack when the plane is bouncing around. Passengers were all asked to fasten their seat belts and everyone complied except for Ali.
A flight attendant walked by and saw him and said, “Excuse me sir, would you please fasten your seat belt?” To which Mohamed Ali replied, “Superman don’t need a seat belt.”
She didn’t hesitate a second, looked right back at him and said “Superman don’t need no airplane either.”
And somehow as I think and write about the short life span of an athlete and the decisions I make every day as an athlete, I get that strange feeling that I am trying to do some Superman stuff, and I have to fasten my seat belt as time goes by fast.
When we look at professional athletes with all the pressures, and you see them in those tense moments of competition, and thousands of people waiting for that winning moment over their opponent and for them to decimate the opposition, the pressure is intense.
As this pressure builds on, whether you are an athlete, a politician, or business person, you see their life shrunk down to a few years of peak performance and then suddenly they are gone. And while once upon a time their names were on the lips of people, and images imbedded upon our conscience, 20 to 30 years later they are gone and replaced by new heroes.
These people are great examples of you and me because they bring a parenthesis focus in their short life span of what is represented of all of us in all our lives. While we are given that span within we try to do our best with the gifts that God has given to us, and everyone comes with some gifts and capacity, and yet unfortunately enough, we even come with some liability or some debilitation. My body as an athlete starts to lose strength and soon is beaten by the younger competitor. Then you can no longer do what you wish you could do.
When I look back and reminisce about my short life, and realize that I will be replaced by someone, I find myself thinking more and more about the decisions I am making every day, and their impact. I think about the pressures and temptations that come daily to compromise my values and convictions. I think about how vulnerable my life is, like the wind that comes and then it is not there anymore. I think about how imperfect, and sinful I am and yet Christ still forgives me and gives me strength to continue. I think about investing in good faith while I still have time.
All of these thoughts compile a sense of urgency to maximize this short time while I am here, a sense of investing to add value to people around me, a sense of being intentional each day. Each day is an unrepeatable miracle. Today will never happen again, so I must make it count.