I was feeling very tired and lazy tonight, after two days back in the gym and work, so to keep myself from being a social media zombie in my bedroom all night, I took myself to the new X-men movie. I have loved all the X-men movies I’ve seen so far, but this one was a spiritual experience for me. In other words, I wept, in resonance with the part about the power of hope.
I’ve been talking lately about the importance of learning from your past so that you can move on to better things. Part of this movie hit home for me–about things I learned as a university track and field coach.
Part of what made my last year of coaching so difficult was having eight athletes on my squad, with incredible athletic potential, and seeing the immense obstacles that were between them and their potential. In the movie X-men, they talked about how difficult it is to bear someone else’s suffering while holding out hope for them. I think perhaps I was not prepared to coach a group of that size with their levels of obstacles. It made my college experience seem like a breeze compared to what they were up against: learning disabilities, abuse, family problems, financial hardship, physical handicap, etc. I began to suffer along with them, and I was already dealing with my own extreme physical and financial hardships myself.
It reminded me of the immense love and power the coaches and teachers in my life showed in guiding me to where I am today, despite the hardships I endured in my youth.
And I wept knowing to my core, just what it feels like to have such high hopes for people you care about, and the immense suffering that their suffering causes you in bearing witness to it. It reminded me that coaching at a Division II level, when I had come from a Division I level, was not a step down but rather a step higher in degree of difficulty, something that didn’t really hit home until my final year there.
I made a lot of mistakes in how I handled my suffering that year, and moving forward, I’m much more appreciative of the requirements one takes on as a coach–a believer–one who takes on your suffering–and gives you the gift of hope.