RETIRED JURIST FORMER PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER
I remember snowstorms that dumped somewhere between 10 and 20 inches of snow on the ground as a child [in Canton, Ohio]. I remember not liking it then, and not liking it a whole lot now. That said, the difference between then and now is as a child, I resented it. And now, I just get it out in it and take advantage of it — I don’t let it be in charge.
That’s the key in the tendency to let the climate control what we do and how we do it, and I think that’s a prescription for limiting who we are. Over time I’ve learned how to take advantage of what’s there. For me, whether it’s extreme heat or extreme cold, you have to get out in it, take advantage of it, not let it get to who you are, how you act. In some respects, it becomes a challenge.
When I would play [professionally], I would be out there in short sleeves. A lot of people would bundle up and have so many clothes on it would make it hard to move, but I couldn’t do that. You’d go out and be standing on the sides with a 20 mile per hour wind in basically a t-shirt, but that’s what you do. If you’re going to overcome the obstacles in your way, that’s what you do. Maybe you’re smart enough not to need to overcome those obstacles.
The advantage of being outside every day is being in contact with the world around you. Yes, you can be comfortable inside, but you lose something by not experiencing the climate around you. What’s the Garrison Keillor line? “All the children are above average ...” We tend to think there’s something special about us, and there is, but there’s also something about us in thinking we are special that turns a blind eye to our failures. Which makes it very difficult to adjust those failures.
It seems to me that, as human beings, we can either tread water or try to make this world a better place. If you ‘re treading water, you’re really falling backwards. I’m just one of those people who believes that you have to be actively engaged in what you can do to make the world a better place. Because if you’re not, you’re making it a worse place.
For me, there’s something about trying to create a better world. Not just for me, but for everybody. Like Paul Wellstone said: “When we all do better, we all do better.”
We can be a part of all of us being better, but you have to be intentional about that. Just as you have to be intentional some days about being in the cold, ice, wind, and snow.
I hope that young people today see the opportunity that you can be a part of advancing who we are as a people. That they see the opportunities that being out in the world, whether it be walking, running, biking, hiking, being physically present in the world — without some mechanical device being part of it — how that can both make you feel better as a person, but also understand that the environment in which we live is worth not only preserving but improving, so that generations to follow can enjoy what we have today.
One of my colleagues used to make the point on a regular basis that those who run the world are the people who show up. And we all have the power to show up. Every one of us, no matter who we are, no matter where we’re from, no matter what our background is, we have the power to show up. That gives us the power to create change.