With all this talk about sports heroes and scoring touchdowns and winning forever, I think it’s time to remind ourselves that sports simply provide the perfect (over-simplified) context for SPIRITUAL truths.
That’s why we love watching the Olympics, Super Bowls and World Cups so much. When we watch an athlete performing at their absolute (optimus!) best we’re simply reminded of our own heroic potential.
Of course, we want to make sure we get off the couch and get into the arena of life and use their demonstration of greatness as an inspiration for our own pursuit of excellence (rather than as mere entertainment by people who are somehow gifted in ways in which we aren’t).
(Remember: According to Anders Ericsson, the preeminent researcher on what makes great people great: We ALL have “The Gift.”)
Bringing it back the spiritual arena, Today we’re going to talk about Rumi.
As you may know, was one of the greatest spiritual beings in history and his beautiful poetry is beloved around the world. He was a Sufi—which is, essentially, a Muslim mystic. He was born in the 13th century in what is now Afghanistan. He lived and taught in Konya, Turkey which was, at the time, the capital of the dominant Selcuk Empire.
I smile as I recall studying Rumi and visiting his grave in Konya on my little philosophical tour over 15 years ago (during which I also studied Socrates in Athens, Jesus in Jersualem, and Marcus Aurelius near the Danube in Hungary).
What does he say about how we should live? Well, in terms of the intensity with which our sports heroes lived, I love the way he encourages us to play the much bigger game of life.
These passages capture some of his spiritual intensity:
“I am burning. If anyone lacks tinder, let him set his rubbish ablaze with my fire.”
“Travelers, it is late. Life’s sun is going to set. During these brief days that you have strength, be quick and spare no effort of your wings.”
If Rumi played football, he would have played it like Jerry Rice.
If he coached basketball, he would have coached it like John Wooden.
If you feel so inspired, I’d love to have you join me in opening Rumi’s letter.
Let’s spare no effort of our wings as we set ourselves on fire so that others may feel the warmth of our glow and we can change the world, one person at a time, together, starting with you and me. Today.