Almost every little boy and girl usually has a moment where they aspire to play professional sports. "You mean I get to make millions of dollars to play a game with my friends? Sign me up!" But soon the realities of ability and desire cause that dream to fade away. But for a select few, their talents and opportunities unite into a unique form and they make to the next level of competition. Then on to high school, then college (for some) and for a very, very small fraction, the professional ranks. Be it an individual or a team sport, that athlete and his caregivers have usually put in hundreds of hours of practice and sacrifice into achieving that goal and here they are. Most of us merely dream of donning the colors of our favorite team or hearing our name announced at an historic venue. But these select few have made it. But the journey to reach that goal sometimes has costs we don't even realize until it manifests itself. Some only really know themselves on the field of competition and their lives off the field are chaotic. Maybe the sport was their respite from a life of poverty or neglect. Or maybe they were pushed so hard they never had time to learn how to grow up. Whatever the circumstances, each year we here dozens of stories about professional athletes with off-field issues and seemingly no control on their life. But is it just athletes that suffer these issues? I believe many if not most people have developmental or psychological issues that cause any number of problems. But those problems are less public unless it is something so heinous as to grab headlines. No, athletes just have an entire genre of the media dedicated to watching their every move and, under that microscope, issues emerge and money intensifies. Somewhere along the way many lose sight of who they really are and what's important in life. Athletes must be masters of living in each and every second while in competition and then turn that off to be a normal human being as well. Not an easy tack and maybe why so few are truly successful on and off the field. Perhaps if we could just bottle up the joy a little one feels the first time he plays his or her sport and release that in short bursts, maybe that would help keep things in perspective.
Today think on your own talents and the ways in which you can use them to make your tiny part of the world a better place. And perhaps explore some talents you didn't know you had. Because I'll bet there's more there than you think.
There has never been another you. With no effort on your part you were born to be something very special and set apart. What you are going to do in appreciation of that gift is a decision only you can make.