Ladies and Gentleman, Start Your Engines

Long before the race begins…

Start Your EnginesThe true competition started. Preparation for the race day, game day, the big event, etc. began when you said you wanted to participate!

You began to prepare. Training. Tuning. Repairing. Polishing. Finding the right fuel. Looking right. Walking correctly. Best shoes. Contingencies considered. The results of those many hours, days, weeks, and years of preparation bring you to the starting line.

In Track events, there’s a starting pistol, basketball has the jump ball, football a whistle and a kickoff. In a career it might be that internship. In marriage it was the date.

Regardless of the event, that big day appears and you had better be ready for the time of your life!

The real life of it all is this: Everything we do is a competition. Life is a competition. There are winners. Losers. It’s might not be that we are in competition with someone else, it may be we are competing against ourselves, our culture, our heritage. How well do you win? How well do you lose? Sports. Politics. Family. History. Background. Challenges.

We compete on many fronts!

Yesterday and early this morning I was thinking about some things that I have done well. Admittedly, there are some things I should learn to do better. It’s never to late to improve, but you have to commit to being in the field of play – the place you go to win, or lose.

You know the old adage, “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.” You never have the option of winning if you never get into the contest!

When I was in elementary and we were having a Field and Track day (I think it was toward the end of the school year), I wanted to compete in Cross Country running – until I saw the country they wanted to run across and realized it was not my destiny. I wanted to run across the country!

During the same years we competed often in the “Joe Camp Ford: Punt, Pass and Kick”… My brothers and I always seemed to win something. Shoulder pads. Football helmet. Football.

And those years of Little League! We never went to the playoffs (if they even had them), but we challenged ourselves to do better with each game that game and went. Of course, Frito Pie awaited the ending of the game if we had not had dinner yet.

Yashica Twin Lens ReflexAfter some early injuries and surgeries, I finally realized me and sports do not go together very well. I became the school photographer and participated in many sporting and school events that I would never have dreamed being a part of, except the camera in my hand gave me entrance!

Marriage was never a competition. We started out well and have been married nearly 42 years. I’m thankful for my wife that completes me! We have a goal of 65 years of marriage as this was the number of years my grandparents celebrated the year he died. Only 23 more years left!

This means a lot to me, including making sure I’m healthy enough for the challenge!

Career choice ended up being IT, even when the tests in high school said I should stay away from any career that involved computers and math. Go figure! I bounced along through companies and jobs, going to college for the next best training, and ended up with some really good income and experiences. Our last move proved that I was too old and had made too much money for the local economy, so I re-invented myself and have enjoyed the later years of teaching college.

The Apostle Paul describes the winning of the prize, and that if you join the contest then you enter it with the intent of obtaining the prize. He alluded to the natural world of competing against others and only one being declared the winner. The bigger picture was making sure that you do not do anything to declare yourself ineligible for the challenge.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NKJV)

This is my thought today. We are entered into many competitions. Some of them are life and death. Others are simply time and distance. Some have huge paybacks, others are simply the satisfaction of reaching the end prepared for the next stage of life.

“The problem with doing nothing is that you never know if you are done!” (Anonymous)

You will never succeed in life by accident. Eisenhower said, “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.”  What you are planning on doing is nothing unless you execute the plan, and then the plan needs to keep being polished and reconfigured for reality. Much of our planning is done in blue sky dreams. Reality is like that falling skier on ABC’s Wide World of Sports opening:

“Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport… the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition… This is ABC’s Wide World of Sports! ”

If you don’t remember this, well, then you are not old enough!

And maybe that’s part of the problem. When you are young, like those kid skiers we used to see in Alaska, you have no fear of failing or falling. Leap off the chair and fly down the mountain, into the chasm, through the funnels of ice. No Fear. Adults, meanwhile, consider the potential of failure and chose their downward path with considerable knowledge and patience.

Regardless…. Compete in life like you have something worth winning. I think there is an ultimate win, and an ultimate loss. I want to be on the winning side!

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