Steve Gleason was a safety for the New Orleans Saints for eight seasons and was most known for the block of a punt against the Atlanta Falcons. This game happened to be the first home game after Hurricane Katrina and many have used that blocked punt as a symbol of the recovery efforts and rise of the city of New Orleans after the devastation that took place when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.
While that block was important, to me, it is nothing compared to what Gleason has been able to accomplish since then.
You see, in 2011, Gleason revealed he had ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He has a young son and Gleason has been recording messages to his son so that when Rivers grows up, he will know his dad. Gleason has also taken patients on climbing expeditions and other adventures, directed a documentary, spoke at the United Nations and landed money to pay for technology for other patients.
The point is that Gleason didn’t stop living because he was faced with a disease that will eventually take his life. And because of his refusal to keep on living, he might be the epitome of the slogan that Life Is Not A Spectator Sport.
I’m pretty sure we can think of one or two individuals who merely go through the motions and exist rather than live. They’re perhaps comfortable with their life. Perhaps, they might be, to a degree, satisfied with their life. They might feel they have a job, make a living, have a house, a car, and pay bills on time. Satisfied, because what else might they need?
But are they truly, really alive, or are they spectators in this great sport called life? Are they just watching others live and laugh and love as one might do when one sits on a couch and watches a soap opera?
Life is meant to be lived. It is meant to be loved. It is meant to be held sacred and embraced and given to others like the Olympic Torch that is passed on from one to another until it lights the Olympic flame.
In the many cards that my family has received since my son’s death, there was a poem by Helen Steiner Rice that I would like to share with you. Perhaps you have read it once or twice already and that’s okay. It’s a good reminder for all of us. It goes like this:
“Time is not measured by the years that you live
But by the deeds that you do and the joy that you give-
And each day as it comes brings a chance to each one
To love to the fullest, leaving nothing undone
That would brighten the life or lighten the load
Of some weary traveler lost on Life’s Road-
So what does it matter how long we may live
If as long as we live unselfishly give.”
What a gift each of us can be, should be, to others! To help bring meaning to another’s life. To bring a sense of caring, of concern, of compassion and passion itself. We do those things for another and we are truly immersed in life ourselves. We become active participants instead of spectators.
And it isn’t the length of life that counts, but the quality of the life that is lived as we walk this earth with one another.
One last thought . . .
Gleason could have packed it in. Others have and do in similar situations. We’ve seen it. And while those others might do so, there are yet others who go on to do other things, big things, great things with their lives no matter the length of time that is lived.
They live life as it should be lived. Giving. Loving. Sharing. Mentoring. Raising up. Helping.
My question to you this day is, who are you going to be: a Spectator or a Participant? It is a choice and in that choice, you can and often do influence others to make a similar choice. My contention is that Life Is Not A Spectator Sport. It needs to be lived- each day, each moment of each day, and every moment of every day. Something to think about it . . .