Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Very important — use your favorite “p” word to fill in the blank. Get creative. Don’t stop at the obvious. See what you come up with...

...but while you're answering the question, "Who/what is a VIP — a very important person; able to take the exclusive top spot," do you ever answer it with, "Me."?

I was watching a documentary on yoga the other night called “Enlighten Up.” The documentarian, Kate Churchill, poked around at the myriad of yoga practices both in the United States and at the worldwide root, asking many of the questions that’ve been rattling around in my head.

Such as, “when did the practice of yoga begin?”

It was amusing the random answers given by different yoga instructors. I’m still not sure there’s a definite or at least widely-accepted one.

But I got a few things out of my time spent viewing.

One of them was this: I’m a very important person, not that's easy for me to say — or write. Whether I’m liked or not liked, I’m still the same very important person.

I like that thought, and want to pass it on.

It came in handy this week as I was coaching my 10 & under swimmers. One of them is having a particularly difficult time transitioning from being “one in the crowd” of summer swim, able to goof off at will, and suddenly being on the opposite end of my focus for an hour, twice a week, swimming for one of the top clubs in the country. It's "GO" time. He doesn’t like it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about him. I hope I have the opportunity to convey to him how important he is to me. So important, in fact, that for that one hour twice a week, he and his lane co-horts have my undivided attentions and total focus. They are my VIPs.

So all this led me to my children's book shelf, where there’s a work written and illustrated by Jon Muth called The Three Questions. It’s based on the teachings of Tolstoy and focuses on a little boy who wants to know:

“When is the best time to do things?”

“Who is the most important one?” and,

“What is the right thing to do?”

I thought of both the yoga movie and this book when I was coaching last night, and this boy completely broke down in anger and frustration when I made him come back to the wall to correct a stroke drill and to start over. He refused to finish practice. I'm trying to work through the feelings that I failed him.

I don’t know if there’s any best way to convey how important he is to me during the hour we have together; so much so that I expect the best out of him, and me.

I also don’t know if we ever really get good at answering those three questions and living compassionately in the moment; understanding how important we our to ourselves.We deserve nothing less than the best we have to give. Every hour.