Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thanks Lou Gehrig

     We have a rule in the Smith House called the 'No Bellyaching' rule, and it applies to complaints about anything, anywhere, anytime. My Dad used to say, 'Everybody has at least one big problem of their own, so they damn sure don't want to hear about yours.' He's right. But, the catch phrase teaches more of courtesy than what my children and I really need to learn; gratitude. 

     An old friend sent an email with a link to Lou Gehrig's famous 'Farewell' speech this morning. We listened to it (only four sentences were recorded) and we read it. Hopefully, the shorties got something out of it. At the very least, they know he didn't bellyache that day. Instead, his goal from the start was to make every one more comfortable by declaring how fortunate he was and bragging on everyone but himself. I've heard the clip a thousand times and it always, always blows me away. It is the most incredible display of humility I've ever witnessed. So, on a day like today, when I'm sure there is some one to blame for the little problems life has thrown my way, Mr Gehrig's speech was a gift, a gentle but firm reminder that everything I need is right beside me all the time. Gratitude, like joy, sneaks up on you when your focus, like Lou, is on others. It always catches me off guard because of it's slap on the forehead simplicity. 

     Today, even with new violations of the bellyaching rule, a self imposed stressful week and this, that and the other thing, I believe I am luckier than Lou Gehrig, a man, who was that day, 'the luckiest man on the face of the earth.'

Lou Gehrig

'Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? 

Sure I’m lucky.

Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? 

Sure I’m lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies -- that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter -- that’s something.

When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body -- it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed -- that’s the finest I know.

So, I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for.' - Lou Gehrig July 4th, 1939

Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech

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