This week ESPN is celebrating Jim Valvano, the storied college basketball coach who led a very underdog North Carolina State team to the NCAA championship in 1983 and later became a popular broadcaster. Jimmy V died of cancer 20 years ago already, but in his last years, he dedicated himself to living his life to the fullest and creating a foundation to fund important cancer research. Shortly before his death, he received an honorary award at the ESPYs and gave a very memorable speech. His motto, and that of his Jimmy V Cancer Research Foundation, is “Don’t Give Up. Don’t Ever Give Up.” That’s a great message, but I’ve always remembered one part of his speech that night:
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
Now, those of you who know me, know that I am a bit of a BS’er and taking things seriously is quite hard for me. In cases where it’s emotional or difficult, I find that humor is particularly helpful in helping me avoid getting caught up in sad or heavy emotions. So, definitely because of the weight of our situation, I’ve found myself laughing a lot. The best part? Chelle has been leading a lot of our laughing. She’s definitely coming around and seeing the really awesome things ahead for us, and we are keeping things on the up with some chuckles.
Given all the new information we are absorbing everyday, the new discoveries we are making and all of the emotions processing, we spend a lot of time in thought. Almost too much, probably, and that makes things like shoveling snow, or moving furniture particularly wonderful because they require so little thought. But thinking is certainly a big part of our days.
Our emotions have certainly moved us to tears a lot lately, too. The first couple weeks, they were tears of sorrow and pain. Combined with the shock, it was sad days coming to grips with things. But, lately, I’m finding my emotions getting the best of me thinking about love. I can’t control how much love is building up inside me for this little guy. I just want so much for him and I know we can give him all of it if we just love him as much as we can. The other love is the love i’m feeling from others. The last several days we’ve been slowly telling our friends. Each one has been amazing and so loving. Every single one has pledged their support and offered to do anything they can. I know they all mean it, too, because we’ve been really lucky to surround ourselves with great people. Many of them have mentioned that they were brought to tears with our news and I know why. It’s not because they are sad for us, though sadness is a real emotion that is part of this. It’s because they love and care for us and don’t want us to be in pain. That means the world to me. It’s not always easy to feel love, but we’ve been feeling it a lot lately.
If you haven’t seen the Jimmy V speech, or even if you have, it’s worth 12 minutes of your day. There is a funny little rambling sports story in the middle about motivation and leadership that I actually find funny, but the really good stuff is sandwiched around that where someone nearing their end is still finding a way to energize and lift the spirit of everyone around them.
So, make sure and laugh, think and cry today. I’m 2/3 of the way there and it’s only lunch time!