Monday, August 07, 2006

Finishing With Dignity

Monday, August 7
Charlotte, North Carolina

It was hot and humid in Charlotte and the track meet officials, athletes and spectators had more to cope with than any of us might have expected. A highlight for me was the opportunity to meet my blog reader and commenter Rob, a fellow masters track athlete. I know you are all familiar with Rob’s cogent and spirited comments here. Rob is a 300 meter hurdler and sprint relay participant. Late on Sunday I caught a glimpse of Rob happily wearing a gold medal around his neck.

I shared another moment with Rob that I am sure he will remember. As I was preparing for the 100 meter finals I overheard a woman in the warm-up area ask a fellow competitor how she had fared in her race. In a chipper and light hearted tone she responded with the quotable phrase “I finished with dignity.” The value of this phrase caught my attention and as I turned to find the owner of the voice my eyes caught Rob’s eyes and we both smiled in recognition of the deeper meaning embedded in this woman’s response. I paused for a moment from my preparation to jot the phrase down in the small notebook I keep in my backpack.

I would like to transfer that idea into a wider platform for thought here. I like this phrase because it is imbued with all the flavorings of hope that can help glue the ragged edges of our lives. It carries an optimistic message for continuing our work through, despite the challenges presented to our living.

In Charlotte I watched my friend Wayne Bennett exemplify the idea behind this phrase. He arrived in North Carolina with a strained hip muscle that prevented his best performance. Wayne has proven over the years that he is one of the world’s best age group sprinters and I know that it was difficult for him to perform below his ability. Ignoring that fact, he raced and competed capably without excuse, while taking time to congratulate everyone around him on their own success. On the last day when the injury had reduced him to non-running status he still managed to smile, congratulate others and “finish with dignity.”

If we transfer this woman’s phrase and Wayne’s living example to our larger world we can find a valuable lesson for all of our lives. Each of us has surely faced adversity. Seven and the Brown-Eyed Girl have had our number dialed on many occasions.

Our hurdles might be overcoming addictions or illness. Maybe our family is not the family we would have chosen if we had been allowed to choose. All of us have made poor choices and come to regret things we have said or actions we have taken. We have all been offensive or have been offended.

Still, somewhere in this lady’s remarkable phrase lies hope. We all continue to own the opportunity of the next minute, hour and day. Utilizing that opportunity it matters not what we have left in our wake. It matter most that we take full advantage of the opportunity to transform ourselves into someone we and others love and respect more. This is a marvelous saving grace we have been granted. We can choose to run to the finish in a new way. No matter our past we can still choose to “finish with dignity.”

Embrace the paradox and choose wisely.

Pleasure to meet you Mr. Rob, and a pleasure to know you Mr. Wayne.


Postscript: When I got home late this afternoon I found several tequila botles in the trash and some discarded swim suits behind the pool's fountain walls. Anybody know what that's about? Allsion sez she doesn't know???


Rick said...

OK, I'll bite. Exactly how much dignity did you finish with? (Disregarding the preposition-ending sentence.)

Allison swore us to silence. And I don't know anything about the jello in the jacuzzi, either.

Angie said...

I don't no nothin' 'bout no tequila. *said while whistling, eyes diverted*

Anonymous said...

Oh Seven ... I am missing my bikini top ... have you seen it?

Jenn said...

I am SO trying to finish this damn divorce with dignity. And it is SO hard. I'm a 'what goes around comes around' kinda gal...that makes it easier. But what a great phrase...finish with dignity. I'm going to remember that right along with 'don't borrow trouble'. I think they work nicely together.

Oh...tequila? Huh. No clue. Sorry pal...can't help ya.

Lynilu said...

"Finish with dignity." What a wonderful phrase. It has been an underlying tenet for my life. I’ve always tried to complete anything I begin, even if that means rethinking what the conclusion will look like. Sometimes I’ve found it necessary to admit mistakes I’ve made, and I try to do so before anyone else can bring it up; it’s more or less a matter of pride to identify my errors and make corrections up front. At times this behavior has been guffawed by others; that’s OK. What is inside me is comfortable with that.

My current life situation (the events leading up to and subsequent to my husband’s death) is effecting a near total change of living style, and I’ve had challenges, one after another for a very long time. I’m working consciously to refocus everything in my active playing field (Oh, god, is this playing??) into a positive energy in order to attract more of the same into my life. I’ve allowed so much negativity in in recent months or even years to impact on me and my daily functioning, and this effort to redirect energy is my way to “finish with dignity.”

seven, you must watch “The Secret,” at The website doesn’t do justice to the content of the DVD. The ideas are the same I’ve espoused for a long time, and from the same sources, but nicely folded into one compact presentation.

Oh . . .and just so you know, I wasn't at the party at your place. I was home having my epiphany. And I left my tequila bottle here in my own trash can. And I did finish with dignity, too!

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

No, that is NOT lime on my breath, I swear it! ;)

Seven said...

Leonard Leonard,
I exceeded my own expectations and will fill in the story over the week. The name Leonard is written in chalk across the stone on a pool wall. It has a heart drawn around it?

Thanks for letting me know you weren't involved in any nonsense here. I'm glad Allison avoided it too.

Lady Dandelion,
Nope, but if you wanna show me it's cool with Ol Seven.

Actually it seems like you are trying to finish with dignity while standing adjacent to one of the three stooges. Tall order; but you can do it...:) Wish I knew more bout those tequila bottles??

As GET IT (with dignity).....there was a party at my house?? How did you know that?

Queen of the Nuts,
I believe you sweetie. But I am going to check the 24/7 video from the security cameras to see about this party lynilu's talking about.....

Grant said...

I, personally, think there's something to be said for whining and throwing a tantrum when everything doesn't go my way, but to each his own.

So, are you going to use that phrase the next time you make love to the wife? Do you think she'll accept the statement as is, or try to read into it?

Seven said...

Neither, she will collapse in laughter and call it par for the course!
Trust me that a national championship track meet is filled with whining and tantrums.....
A former Olympian (who will go unnamed) pitched one of the biggest ugliest tantrums I have ever seen at the declarations tent! Oh my! Such language...

patti_cake said...

That is the aspiration of my life "to finish with dignity". I can ask for nothing more. Great post,Seven and it sounds like you had a fine time in the Queen City.

Those tequila bottles and bathing, there wasn't an orange & pink one by any chance was there :)

Seven said...

Yes indeed young lady there is!! And you intend to finish with dignity in your birthday suit??

Ilias- said...

Congratulations on a successful "meet"... welcome back. I've just recently realized how wonderful failing is.. failing is the teacher. and dignity can be necessary to keep from having tantrums or being a sore loser. But then there is winning with dignity too. How to keep from gloating.. to win and still share a sense of comraderie with our fellow competitors. I play soccer and wholeheartedly believe that dignity applies to the sport.. winning and losing are one thing, and the love of the sport another. It's enough to make me cry.

Seven said...

Thanks Steve,
As a fellow athlete, I hear you....and you are so right. It is a fine line between feeling proud of an accomplishment and being an inconsiderate peacock...

Silent One said...

Sorry I wasn't here for the party, I was over at Leesa's destroying her place... ummm 700 comments has to be a record doesn't it? LOL

Your sentiment... and phrase is so true. Glad you had the insightful thought and oppurtunity.

Reach said...

It is good to see the beaches you are visiting through your words. To be in the line up, is enough to gloat. To win, is only the icing; for, the medals only remind one self of the adventure. Also, you should take pride in your win.


PS. I drink Rum, did you find anything along those lines? Was'nt mine!

Reach said...

Make the "Peace Sign", then turn it horizontally- that is the number seven in aviation.

Seven said...

Good to hear from you. Yes there was one rum bottle and I am pleased it wasn't yours.
Do you think my home boys know this 7 sign?....don't wanna confuse them!

Rob said...

Just stepped into the abode, after a marathon...22 hrs driving from Maine. The latest airline problem tipped the balance in favor of bringing home some lobsta' as well as a tube of Tom's of Maine toothpaste. And I'll be darned if I'm going to toss that in the bin for those NSA guys to take home. It was great to finally meet the wise and witty author of this blog, the man behind the curtain. Yes, the woman served up a profund comment that we intercepted simultaneously (that grin was priceless, and you ran with it) and served it back to your faithful blogees in your typical sage manner. Too many of us just want to finish [it], even if it's ugly. My sense then and now is she does everything with dignity. What a marvelous legacy.
oh, oh, I forgot the can of Maine air. When I left it was 67 degrees. I was also thinking that maybe New Hampshire needs one of those Bulgarian towers your building. Great talking to you, and hope to see you again in Boston and Orono, if not some other track.
umm. I was trying to sign a "just do it" symbol.

Rob said...

7, reflecting on the press release. Do you realize there are only two athletes mentioned in the first five paragraphs? Nice company.

Seven said...

Do you remember those silly Budweiser commercials where there was one last beer? I think it went like this:
Love ya man.
And I 'm very glad that Maine offered you a cooling of from that NC hell!
Peace and out.

Lynilu said...

Hey, seven, I'm starting to miss you. Now, that can't be a good sign! Please compe back and post something so I don't have to do any deep self-analysis over this. I'm scared of what I might find out about myself! I know you were probably needing a rest after that very impressive athletic showing, but your public is getting restless, hon!! ;-)

Enemy of the Republic said...

Oh, thanks for the tequila. Sorry that I didn't clean up so well.

Rob said...

7, I feel the same spirit connection. Hope all is well with you and BEGI (ornithological abbreviation for Brown-eyed Girl). I could tell she is one of the rare types that you have travel far and wide to finally see. I was desparately trying to get our relay quads together, so I didn't get to spend as much time with her talking about you. Pls convey my apologies. I truly hope you both come to Maine next year.

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