From Chapter 1 of Saint Josemaría Escrivá’s book The Way: Character
Don’t waste your time and your energy — which belong to God — throwing stones at the dogs that bark at you on your way. Ignore them.
Last night here in Nebraska we celebrated as one of our own, 8-year old Jack Hoffman, was honored at the ESPY awards for the best moment in sports of the past year. We’re very proud of Jack, and of the coaches and players who have embraced this little boy during his fight with pediatric brain cancer. As if he isn’t reminder enough of how precious and fleeting life can be, when you watch the video below at about the four minute mark you will see another little boy in a white jersey being lifted up along with Jack to slap the horseshoe prior to taking the field last fall. That boy, Isaiah Casillas, was a year younger than Jack, was also battling cancer, and died a few months after they shared that moment together.
Team Jack Facebook page
I missed the presentation last night but have watched a replay of Jack and his father being presented with the award and was reminded of another figure who, while on stage at the same awards show twenty years ago, delivered a stirring speech that speaks to the point made by Saint Escrivá today.
When I was a freshman in high school I followed the improbable story of North Carolina State basketball and watched them play their way into the NCAA Tournament. And then I watched them win it all as huge underdogs. Ten years later their ex-coach, Jim Valvano, was giving an inspirational speech while in the final stages of his fight with bone cancer. Valvano died less than two months later.
To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.
It’s so important to know where you are. I know where I am right now. How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. You have to be willing to work for it.
I just got one last thing, I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have. To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get you’re emotions going. To be enthusiastic every day and as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great could be accomplished without enthusiasm,” to keep your dreams alive in spite of problems whatever you have. The ability to be able to work hard for your dreams to come true, to become a reality.
Jack Hoffman has, and Jim Valvano had, no time for distractions. No time for the naysayers. They demonstrate the power of an intent, sharp focus that comes from being confronted by a life-ending disease.
What’s my distraction? What’s yours? What am I (are you) taking for granted that is allowing us to be hounded by the barking dogs of distraction?
Shake them off, ignore them, and get into the arena.
The Man in the Arena
by Theodore Roosevelt
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
– Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship in a Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on April 23, 1910.