I haven’t slowed down enough after returning home to recap much about Chattanooga. I’m working on other dragon boat events and running the business, etc. I’ve also been working on some things for the Southeastern Regional Dragon Boat Association. Please check out the Web site about dragon boating in our region!
The days seem to evaporate faster every moment…
My memories from Chattanooga are still fresh in my mind. I can’t express how much fun I had during practices and on race day last Saturday. The people made all the difference – the paddlers who obviously enjoyed themselves and those contributing to help children treated at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. Many – entirely too many to name – have become like family to me. I love Chattanooga! Mostly, I love the people!
Before anyone arrived at the venue on race day and when I was alone around 5:30 a.m., I took a chance to look around the expansive lake and enjoy the silence, save for the few vehicles crossing the bridge over the Chickamauga Dam. Later in the day when scores of tractor trailers honked at all the boats and spectators gathered, I thought back on that moment when I was alone before any of them arrived. Again I was alone in that moment, before the sun rose and just before Kathy, my Project Management Consultant who keeps my head on straight, arrived (with Starbucks in hand, btw!). At that moment, alone, before Kathy’s smiling face with a coffee in hand, I remembered one of my favorite passages I found thanks to an English Lit class I took in college:
What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
I love the last sentence: “but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude;” it is a hard one to achieve, if you think about it in every context of the paragraph leading into that line, and what we all know about the experiences of life. This paragraph is one of many in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance from 1841 that I have come to cherish since reading it.
I got way off the subject of dragon boating here, but the point all along was that we all bring something to our experiences – whether it be what I visualized to focus and take it all in on race day, or how any of us felt when we accelerated in a dragon boat, or how good we felt inside for giving back to help children treated at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger.
It was fun!
We will do it again next May and re-live all the feelings of each moment, and create new memories. We will also give back. It’s a legacy we leave for those who look back on us centuries later.