Letters to My Children: Find an Athletic Sport You Love

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When you were a young child, you played just to play. When you were outside, you ran and ran and ran. You didn't run because you were worried about the size of your legs. You didn't run because you ate a second helping of dessert. You didn't run because you were worried about your heart, liver or lungs. You ran because it was fun. You ran because you were playing tag and it was fun. You ran because you were chasing the ball and it was fun. You ran because you wanted to kick the can first and it was fun. The childhood experience of the pure joy of just being active is lost by so many people.

Many people exercise to lose weight. They exercise to trim up, look good. They exercise because they are trying to achieve an ideal imposed upon them from the outside world, through marketing pressures and a continual bombardment of a unachiveable, impossible-to-define, completely elusive and nebulous idea of beauty. Exercising for those reasons will take you only so far, and will never take you where you want to go. You have to enjoy the process, or you'll never make it to the end.

An easier way to recapture the joy of moving, the wonder at what your body can do, is to never lose it in the first place. Finding an athletic sport you love is the easiest way to do just that.

Sports are simply groups of people, moving certain ways to achieve a well defined, immediate goal. Two of the biggest goals are winning and having fun (not necessarily in either order). I don't care if you like slow moving sports, fast moving sports, intense or leisure sports. I just want you to find an athletic sport you love.

Because when you find a sport you love, you'll want to play it. It'll be the most fun you can have. You'll be out moving around. You'll be playing again, feeling the joy you had a child. The joy of movement. The joy of discovery. The joy of using a skill you learned. Sure, there will be some winning. There will be some losing. There will be frustration as you learn a new skill. There will be disappointment when you can't do the things you used to be able to do. But there will always be the movement.

I want to tell you some things here about sports. You probably know these already, but I want to tell you again.

The first is that, you'll be frustrated when you learn a new technique, a new process, a new strategy or play. This is okay, my child. This is okay. Learning something new will take time. Sometimes it'll take less time. Sometimes more. And, with practice, you'll be able to learn more quickly. In the beginning, however, you'll be frustrated. It's part of learning, so embrace the process, don't fight it.

Another thing I want to tell you is that you may not find your sport until you've tried them all. You may not find it until much later in life. You mother didn't find her sport until she was 25! Can you believe that? And that's okay, because she found her sport. She's still playing that goofy flying disc sport, and loves every moment of it. Every moment. Because that movement, that joy, it's on the playing field, it's in the movement, and it's wonderful.

Now, a last thought about all of this sports stuff. Some people will call certain activities "sports." It's a broad term, applied to many things, but not all sports are created equally. Which is why I wrote to you, "find an athletic sport you love."

I probably should have written, "find an athletic sport you Love, and play it to your dying days," but the last have is assumed: if you find a sport you love, you'll want to play it to your dying days.

Just make sure it's one that has movement. If it doesn't have movement, keep looking, my child, because that movement is key to so many things: keeping you young, keeping you fit, helping you grow older, teaching good conduct, and teaching humility.

And most of all, that sport will remind you of the joy you had as a kid, the joy of just running, running, running. Because it was fun.

Written after three days of inactivity