Of the many deeply moving moments I enjoyed in watching the recent Olympic games taking place in London, for me personally, was the interview Tom Brokaw did with Sir Roger Bannister. He was the first man to break the 4 minute mile. On May 6, 1954 at the Iffley Road Track in Oxford, Sir Richard accomplished that in 3.59.4.
That was the year I turned 12. In my own life that was a year that shaped me to this current moment, for different reasons, of course. But now knowing Bannister accomplished what he did adds dimension to 1954
The Olympic Flame is passed between Sir Roger Bannister and Oxford doctoral student Nicola Byrom on the running track at Iffley Road Stadium in Oxford, England, Tuesday July 10, 2012. Bannister returned to the site of his greatest sporting achievement, to participate in the Olympic Torch relay as the Olympic flame is carried around the country to the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Brokaw, over these recent years has done a remarkable job of telling the stories of a past generations in both interviews and in his books. The NBC interview about legacy certainly added to his own journalistic legacy.
On the 50th anniversary of running the sub-4-minute mile, Bannister was interviewed by the BBC’s sports correspondent Rob Bonnet. At the conclusion of the interview, Bannister was asked whether he looked back on the sub-4-minute mile as the most important achievement of his life. Bannister replied to the effect that no, he rather saw his subsequent forty years of practicing as a neurologist and some of the new procedures he introduced as being more significant. His major contribution in academic medicine was in the field of autonomic failure, an area of neurology focusing on illnesses characterized by certain automatic responses of the nervous system (for example, elevated heart rate when standing up) not occurring.
For a long time now I’ve kept in mind one of Sir Roger’s quotes to inspire me, with the notion we all, no matter our age, need to keep moving in order to maintain our health. Many of those I mentor will now smile and know some of why I’m always saying, “Get moving!” Here is a favorite Bannister quote:
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle--when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.
During Brokaw’s interview of Bannister, I was reminded of the above quote when Tom asked him a question about how does running inform us about life. Dr. Bannister paused for a moment, then looked up and said:
The art of running is to take out of yourself more than you’ve got....”
Someone else once said something similar...
...we need to lose our lives to to find it:
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps he must give up all right to himself, take up his cross and follow me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it; but the man who loses his life for my sake will find it. For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world at the price of his own soul? What could a man offer to buy back his soul once he had lost it? J.B. Phillips New Testament--Matthew 16:24-26..
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it New International Version--Matthew 16:25
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it New King James Version--Matthew 16:25
Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? The Message--Matthew 16:24-26
How does this “losing” and “finding”
function as a key to unlocking your own life?
That's the long shadow of me on a recent early morning checking my running/walking time at the track at Chaparel High School here in Parker. Getting moving in the early morning unlocks my day. Getting moving unlocks my life in ever more important ways as the "stuff of life" continues to show up. Getting moving helps me to lose my life. Getting moving helps me daily unlock and find my life. The inviting solitude of each new dawn renews the promise to be fully alive. No matter what.