My life is odd, contradictory, and beautiful all in one. I’m a dreamer, and by default, this means I’m different. My dream is to continue coaching basketball with some sort of sports broadcast journalism in the mix. But ultimately, it’s not up to me. But whoever, or whatever it is up to, recently brought something really cool into my life. It was completely unexpected and unknown terrain. It was an opportunity to run track and field with a blind student at the high school I work at. Here are three things I learned from my experience.
1. Back Off
The first thing I learned is that blind people have boundaries just like any other human.
On one of my first days on the job, I grabbed Arthur (not his real name) because I thought he would kick over the lineup of green and gray striped Gatorade bottles seemingly every athletic department has.
But he didn’t need my help; he had just enough vision to navigate the swamp of water bottles.
And he made very clear he didn’t need my help when he bluntly stated, “You don’t need to do that.”
The normally meek freshmen had never spoken to me in that manner before, but the tone said it all. “Back off.”
It served as a reminder that he’s a competent individual who needed minimal help. All I had to do was a co-hold a rope with him and guided him through the upcoming obstacles. Sticks, hills, and branches, oh my.
But maybe there’s a bigger lesson here. That maybe, just maybe, we love others so much that we try to do too much for them.
Instead of giving them the minimum and letting them be on their way, maybe we overdo it, hindering their own spiritual evolution.
Or maybe, just maybe, I just had too much time to think during our runs.
2. The Forest
One of the best aspects of running track is that our runs took us through the woods of Hamlin Park.
We were literally running through groves of trees on mud lathered paths. It was glorious.
It just feels healing running with the greens. But I’ll let Dr. Andrew Weil break down the science.
Weil, “The Wellness Guru” himself stated the following on his website. “ Not only was forest bathing associated with lower cortisol levels, lower blood pressure, and heart rate, it also lowered blood cholesterol and reduced rates of diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, asthma, and death from heart disease.
He also added.
One reason for these benefits may be the “inhalation of phytoncides, aromatic oils with antibacterial properties released by trees. Some studies suggest that these compounds increase the activity of natural killer cells.
Or my advice, if you’re hungover, hit the trees.
3. Let Go
The lyrics from the Moana song feel just right now, but I’m unfamiliar with the movie, so deal.
But in all seriousness, one of the hardest things to do in life is let go.
On the day of our final run, I asked Arthur if we’d see each other anymore, and with his regular monotone reflection, he responded, “Maybe in Bible Study.”
My headteacher runs the group.
But what he was really saying was, please give me my space and let me be a normal student.
A few weeks later, we crossed paths in the club, where I completely ignored him.
I can’t exactly describe what happened next, but it felt like love.
It felt like a mutual understanding that our relationship was over but had strengthened due to my respect for his boundaries.
What I learned from Arthur was everything. What I learned is to let be.