First, let me apologize for being away so much recently. I am finishing my master’s in the next few weeks and have had to buckle down on my thesis. That process has taken much of my time and mental energy.
As a brief break from the mental drudgery, I spent the weekend at The Greatest Camp on Earth in Matthews, North Carolina. I’ve attended this camp almost every year since 2014. It’s three days filled with Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Japanese Jujitsu, and a host of other arts.
Through the years, I’ve developed friendships with many of the instructors and several attendees. Aside from improving my knowledge in martial arts, I get to hang out with some of the best athletes in the world. This year’s camp had 4x Olympian Brian Olson and Olympian/Pan-Am Champ Ryan Reser.
Another familiar face was Sensei Lynn Roethke. Her energy on and off the mat is contagious. You can’t be around her and not want to start bouncing off a wall. She’s like the energizer bunny on steroids. Sensei Lynn was a 1988 Olympic Silver medalist in Judo and operates a fitness center in Wisconsin. She moves better than I do.
In passing, she joked with me about having to hear the same stories or see the same techniques from her year after year, and mentioned she was glad I didn’t get bored with it. I brushed off the joke at the moment, but have had time to reflect since.
Sometimes being around the same folks, seeing the same techniques, or hearing the same stories can seem monotonous or boring. But when you truly value the person who is demonstrating or talking, and feel the passion, it never gets old.
Sensei Lynn tells a story about her rise to the Olympics and the struggles she overcame. She also tells the story of a British Olympic runner who was one of the fastest in the world at the time. He fell during the race and battled through his injury to get to the finish line. It took him 22 minutes to finish a simple race. When he was told he didn’t have to push through the pain, he kept going instead.
His father asked him why he was doing that to himself. His reply: “I didn’t come here to start the race; I came here to finish.”
That quote got me through a few rough spots at camp and is what I’m holding to as I near the finish line with my master’s degree. I came here to finish.
Sometimes, hearing an old story or seeing something a bunch of times can be just as beautiful each time as it was the first. Never underestimate the power of positive people or positive stories. I didn’t necessarily need to hear Sensei Lynn’s story every other time, but it was especially powerful for me now.
What have you started that you need to finish?
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