When I graduated from Griffin High School in 1967, I went to Gordon Military College. It was a rude awakening to my lazy, lackadaisical life! I did not know what self-discipline truly was all about. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I knew much about any kind of discipline! Sometimes it takes a rude awakening to get our attention before we learn very much. Well, military school certainly got my attention and did it quickly! From the moment we got up in the morning until we went to bed at night, someone was either yelling at us or blowing a whistle telling us where to go. Even though it was difficult, it taught me some important lessons about life!
One of the disciplines I learned while attending that school was how to do homework and study. Each night from 7:00 until 9:30 p.m., we had a mandatory study hall in which we were required to sit at our desks and study. Someone patrolled the hallways to make sure that we were at our desk studying!
One night I decided that since I had to sit there for 2 ½ hours, I might as well study! (Sometimes I am a slow learner!) I started reading a book called, Get in the Game, by Bill Glass. He was a former pro-football player for the Cleveland Browns. He impressed me so much because he was such a strong, outstanding individual and a real man’s man.
In the book he talked about how important it is to participate in the game of life. He pointed out that life is not a side-line sport. Life is something that we must get involved in and play with all of our hearts. He said that if we expect life to have any meaning at all, we need to play with “reckless abandonment.”
That phrase, “reckless abandonment,” caught my eye because many coaches had used that term when I was growing up, playing sports. I am not talking about being a dare-devil or doing dangerous activities. I am talking about giving life “your all” in everything you do! Coaches often told us that if we played halfheartedly, there was a good chance that we would get hurt. In other words, we should play with all of our heart in order NOT to get hurt! We were told that any athlete will never be very effective if he or she is afraid of being hurt. It is necessary to play any game, with all of your heart, giving it one hundred percent!
The book by Bill Glass applied that same concept to playing life at full speed. He said that you can not half-way do a marriage, or half-way raise children, or half-way work for someone, or half-way run a business if you expect to have good results and succeed.
That book made a profound impact on my young heart and mind at the time. I understood what he was trying to communicate. I understood that regardless of what I planned to do with my life, I would have to do it with all of my heart and with all of my might. I began to live by that philosophy and found it to yield good results in my life.
Several years later I came across that same book, and I remember that my heart leapt inside my chest because I recalled how much it had meant to me early in my life. Since my first reading had been so long ago, I decided that I would read it again.
I read through the book hoping to get everything out of it that I had gotten the first time, but this time it was strange. The book seemed to be flat. It seemed to be uninteresting; maybe even boring. I could not understand what had happened. How could a book that had changed my life so much many years earlier now have basically no meaning to me at all? It was indeed a strange occurrence! I thought maybe something was wrong with me. It wasn’t until years later that someone was able to shed light on what had happened.
You see, the first time I read the book, I had very little understanding of self-discipline or how to get involved in the game of life. I had very little understanding of what it meant to live life with reckless abandonment. However, over the next few years, I had starting using those concepts in my life and they had become part of me. Therefore, the information now was no longer unfamiliar to me. Because it was something that had already become part of my life and was no longer brand new, the book had lost its impact. It had already done its job and its work was complete. I had outgrown the book.
That understanding helped me to realize why it is important to learn and grow. As we learn and grow in life, the very thing that we once knew nothing about becomes part of our life. It becomes part of the very fabric of our soul. That is what happened with that book. The concepts in it had become so much a part of my life that I did not realize why it did not mean as much to me the second time I read it. Instead of just learning about how to play the game of life, I had grown into a participant who was actively involved in the game of life.
Now, one last thought – please do not get me wrong; I am not a perfect! I still make mistakes at times, just like everyone else. And, sometimes I fall down, but I sure am enjoying playing the game of life! I don’t want to sit on the sidelines. I want to play the game, giving it one hundred percent. I don’t want to arrive at the end of my life and be left wishing that I had done some things that I was simply too afraid to try. No, I want to play life with “reckless abandonment.” I want to be part of every activity that I can and to learn from my mistakes and failures. I find it is more exciting to live my life as an “involved participant” than it is to simply play it safe as a “casual observer.”
You and I are only going to get to live on this earth once. I hope that you will play life at full speed and with reckless abandonment, striving to be your best and achieve excellence in all that you do! It truly is the best way to go through life! I guarantee it!
Tip: Get in the game!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm