One of the unappreciated yearbook duties was covering Saturday morning track meets. After five irritating often-mind numbing days in the classroom, the idea of voluntarily giving up ones Saturday seemed downright stupid. I’d been taking pictures of my school’s team all morning, nothing special.Then toward the end of the second lap of a 880 race the stadium crowd cheered as the winning runners crossed the finish line. Nice. But the crowd really rose to their feet when the last runner, a little sixth grader, rounded the last turn and started to sprint for the finish.The crowd and the runner became one. They cheered louder and he ran harder. By the time he reach the finish the noise was deafening and he had given everything he had. He wasn’t on my school’s team but I shot off pictures like he was an Olympic champion. It was the most perfect unmanufactured example of the human spirit I’d seen in years. I love freezing those bigger than life moments with my camera and I’ve been lucky enough to shoot some pretty good action shots. I love my kids and will forever cherish my view through the lens. But few things choke me up as much as the unadulterated power of that crowd screaming for the little last place runner in an unimportant middle school track meet.
It was probably an equally unimportant Twitter link that led me to this amazing video of Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture.” In the larger scale of things we are probably entirely unimportant, but witnessing this man’s fight to maintain his full, meaningful life, his passion for his work and love of his family, makes me proud of my heritage as a part of this species. Like the last place sixth grader rounding the last turn, we need to recognise and cheer-on the efforts that come from our best-selves. jbb
Check out one of Randy’s legacies, the Alice Project at http://www.alice.org/.