An unexpected brush with an international sporting hero sparks deep insight into the transformational power of vulnerability.
Occasionally life stops us in our tracks with a powerful message.
During one of our regular beach-walks this weekend, my wife and I paused to watch the 2017 World Adaptive Surfing Championships. In this sport, disabled athletes deny their physical limits, competing for international medals.
Watching these acts of great courage and persistence brought tears to my eyes.
The most moving of all sights played out right in front of us.
A young man in his mid-20s was preparing to surf in the championship heat. He was paraplegic, with no control of his flaccid legs.
His coach bent over, and scooped him up like a child to carry him into the water.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel to be this young man. But I know that I would probably struggle with a deep sense of inadequacy—having to be carried like a child!
How sad … not for him … but for me!
This young hero had embraced his vulnerability, graciously accepting the loving help of his coach. Through his “weakness”, he was strong. Without this vulnerability, he wouldn’t be competing, and he wouldn’t be wearing the gold medal that is rightfully his today.
In contrast, how often has my “strength” been my weakness? How many victories have I denied myself by hiding behind false strength or frail ego, instead of asking for and accepting help?
As we walked home, I reflected on his accomplishment with intense respect, and the certainty that my admiration was a tiny reward next to his own immense pride in his achievement.