Two events in the past 24 hours have caused me to examine my life. I am not one to wax rhapsodic, but these things hit home.
The first was the suspected suicide of Junior Seau. Started me thinking about CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). Playing rugby for over a decade I took a lot of shots to the head. I am constantly looking at my speech, behavior, and mood. Am I slurring? Forgetful? Depressed? Sometimes I am.. how much of that is normal? What price have I paid for that decade of fun, travel, and experience? Have I given up decades with my wife and kid to be a guy who almost 'made it' I don't know. Time will tell, I won't know till the bill is delivered.
Which brings up the question, was it worth it? Did I waste my life? I can't answer that yet, but Clint Darden does a pretty good job answering for himself:
Right now that's where I'm at too. Assuming (and hoping) my brain doesn't disintegrate before I've reached an acceptably old age, my time and strife and struggles were worth it. Even though I was a top level backup in a second rate rugby country. I was part of the mill that ground the grist for the true elites. I pushed some top guys to be better, and I helped carry on the tradition of Rugby Football in the U.S.A. (something that could easily have died out, and still could.) Most importantly I befriended, coached, and mentored others. Some of which became elite footballers, some of which are running rugby programs, and mentoring others.. a several are doing all three.
It's what I really enjoy about sport, and it's one of the biggest joys I have in BJJ. I'm a solid club brown belt. Fairly athletic, but I'm never going to be an elite competitor. I came to the game at 32. An age at which many of the top players retire. I can however translate what it means to be a dedicated athlete to jiu-jitsu at a time when that is becoming more and more important. I can take my analytical approach to life and help a younger player see a bigger picture. I can take pride in the beauty of the art. I can make a difference. I can teach, and mentor, and coach.
That legacy is alright with me. Athletes who win medals are buried with them, but coaches who create champions live forever.