Most of us can remember what has been called the greatest college basketball game of all time: the 1982 NCAA Championship game that featured North Carolina State upsetting the favored University of Houston team. (Homework Assignment: Google YouTube of NC State upsetting Houston Cougars, 1982) I personally will never forget coach Jim Valvano running on the court after that game, all his players already celebrating with other teammates, he desperately looking for someone to embrace, someone to hug.
That scene will be in heavy rotation in just a few short weeks with the start of March Madness just around the corner. I can still remember the feeling of wanting to jump through the TV and hug an overwhelmed and excited Jim Valvano. That scene has never left me. In fact, it has provided the inspiration and my personal goal to be sincerely happy for other’s success as I was for Jim Valvano at the end of that game in 1982.
Ten years after that game and only a few months before losing his battle to cancer, Jim Valvano received the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award (Homework Assignment: Google YouTube of Jim Valvano accepting the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award) and in front of thousands of supporters and millions of TV viewers, the wisdom of a dying man challenged us all to do three simple things every day. The following is an excerpt from that heart wrenching speech:
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is Laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is Think. Youshould spend some time in thought. Number three is you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you Laugh, you Think, and you Cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week; you’re going to have something special.”
I don’t think Jim Valvano meant a “boo hoo” cry as much as he meant what I experienced a few weeks ago when I got a little emotional, a little choked up when I witnessed a friend of mine’s adult autistic son jump into his arms and exclaim, “I love you dad!” Or maybe a few monthsago when I was at an intersection and see approximately ten young ladies with posters that read, “Free Hugs.”
I then see two mechanics running out of a service station and getting a hug from each one of these young ladies. My emotions were moved to tears.I later found out these young ladies represented an army of roughly 10,000 Paul Mitchell Salon students who take to the street every September 23rdthroughout the United States and celebrate their nationwide “Free Hugs Day.”
And as I moved my car to the next intersection I see ten more of these young ladies. I blew my horn and they waved and screamed. I quickly put my car in park, opened my door, and received ten of the sweetest, warmest and most sincere hugs in the world! Again, my emotions were moved to tears. I thought, Jimmy V would be proud!
Closer to home, no one would question the intensity of Frankfort and the legislative session. We’re focused, we’re passionate and we’re determined. Schedules are tight, deadlines are upon us, we’re in a hurry and expectations are high. Nerves are frayed, patience in short supply and tempers are short. But maybe, just maybe, now would be a good time to pause and see the wonder of our democracy. The beauty of Kentucky, the greatness of our Country.
And maybe now is a good time to be especially thankful for the opportunity, the blessing and the freedom to do what we love to do and actually get paid to do it. But most importantly, maybe we should be more aware of the “Jim Valvano’s” running around “life’s court” looking for a hug. And it doesn’t have to be a “hug” hug. It could be a congratulatory note simply saying, “Nice job.” Maybe a simple, “Thank you.”
And maybe we should tell ourselves it’s ok to have our emotions moved to tears. And in the words of Jimmy V, “If you Laugh, you Think, and you Cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week; you’re going to have something special.”