Sport and Purpose

Generally, I’ve always separated the sports I did and my purpose into two categories with little overlap. Sports were something I did because I felt that it brought me closer to God in terms of having that freedom to fly and enjoy the outdoors but it was something akin to enjoying life. My purpose on the other hand was the driving force behind what I did for work and volunteering. The two things balanced my life between enjoying life and pursuing this purpose that could be riddled with challenges and perhaps sacrifices of the more comfortable things in life. However, I’m beginning to realize that I can’t separate the two, that they bleed into one another and this is actually a great thing. The two sports I have been primarily focused on (rock climbing and triathlon) are individual sports and in a way, focused on self-fulfillment but I’m beginning to see how my commitment to them has also opened doors in my area of purpose that wouldn’t have otherwise been available. Later today, I will be meeting with the YMCA about a volunteer position I applied for. The YMCA is an organization known to promote healthy living and some also run social programs; the volunteer position I applied for was to sit on a council to promote the involvement of young adults in the community. If I wasn’t active member in my triathlon club and involved in other sporting activities, I think it would be a bit odd to volunteer with an organization that prioritizes that. What’s more, being involved in sports also places me in a position to interact and build relationships with amazing friends that are committed to their sport but many of which are also interested and want to give back to the community. Sometimes, I get too narrow-minded and see ‘giving back to the community’ in ways that don’t involve activity/sports, for example building affordable housing. However, when I sit down and think a bit more, sport is probably one of the greatest avenues to meet people, opportunity to grow in ways beyond physical development and to overcome barriers that otherwise would remain.

These thoughts have been popping up into my head every now and then but really came to head  this morning. Earlier today, M sent me a public survey that had been launched by the provincial government that will allow the public to express what they believe are priorities are in sport funding. Initially, I had chosen all of them and grossly surpassed the points allotted. The first couple of sections dealt with physical education and introduction to sports, primarily with youth; one of the last ones outlined was development. Now, I knew that if I was to ever have children, that I would want them active, to dabble in a number of sports from an early age. I wanted them learn how to swim and bike because these were great life skills to have. I wanted to get them outdoors so they could not only frolic in the woods, play with leaves, branches and roll in  the mud (though I think I will delegate the hubby to cleaning them…;)) but so that they would grow up with the same appreciation that my parents instilled in me for the gorgeous outdoor playground and natural beauty of this world. For this survey, development was defined along the lines of engaging people, including children, who were severely challenged in other areas of their life and often, have no where else to turn but to other things that would further detriment their lives. Given my background and my own desired area of focus, it is no surprise that I would allocate points to this area.

However, it was not my own revelations that made me excited this morning. No, it was what M revealed. When M and I started dating, he expressed his concerns over his lack of community involvement and how he wasn’t sure what to do about it. He is extremely talented and skilled in a number of areas that seemingly have little connection but his biggest thing is sports. It is this shared passion that was one of the reasons he and I really clicked. For some reason, it never clicked with me until now that it is this area where I could see and potentially, where he could see, himself giving back to the community. Giving back isn’t always a grand gesture. When he was younger, he was competitively involved in a number of sports, all of which he has kept ties with. I can imagine him coaching kids in these sports and providing the right balance of support, motivation and challenge for the kids on his team. Time and time again, we hear stories about coaches being that role model and motivation for athletes to not just better themselves out on the field but also to pursue success in other areas of their life. What’s more, these kids grow up to be role model themselves and there we have it, the ripple effect. So that’s one revelation by M; the other revelation was how much he loved how sports brought people together. In my own head, this also means the breaking down of barriers. There is a fantastic Ted Talk that talks about organizing an annual marathon in Beirut, a city of which resides in a country torn apart by political and religious differences. Yet this marathon, this pursuit of running and running well, brought people together like nothing else; no policy, no strategy, no political action could ever have such success. I told M about this Ted Talk and it looks like it’ll be the next bed time video we’ll be watching next.

This shared excitement, this shared passion has taken the next step in my life and I think his too. Butterflies are flying in my stomach because I get to share this with him. That I get to grow but I also get to see him grow. Sports has always had an important place in each of our own lives. Yet coming together not only in playing a sport but perhaps doing something more is pretty awesome. Here’s to hoping 🙂