I’ve been on a fitness kick lately.
Whether it’s my age, my doctor’s recommendations or my desire to live long enough to see the Chicago Cubs play in a World Series, I am trying to maintain a regular exercise program.
My wife and I both work at healthcare companies and our daughter just graduated with a degree in exercise science, so the value of regular exercise is a daily topic in our home.
Three to four days a week I am stretching, walking, sitting up, pushing up, and lifting weights. I’m trying to strengthen my core—those muscles around the stomach, back and hips that keep us balanced and productive throughout the day.
I usually exercise in our basement with a fitness DVD, but it’s more fun to run outside, as it helps my mind to relax and create.
To get ideas for this column, I lace up my shoes and go for a “run and write.” I let my mind wander through my favorite films. I imagine that…
…I’m running through the Painted Desert wearing a Bubba Gump Shrimp ball cap, in lands so beautiful that you can’t tell where the sky stops and the earth begins.
…I’m running on the beach with other members of the Olympic team, splashing through the surf and listening to the bold, synthesized sounds of Vangelis.
…I’m running through the streets of Philadelphia in the cold, early morning hours, a boxer training for the fight of a lifetime. Ahead of me lies these massive stairs…
My mind accesses a real memory. I’m in Philadelphia at a professional conference. Walking near the Museum of Art, I realize that these are the massive stairs where Rocky finishes his runs. Seizing the opportunity, I run steadily up, ignoring the locals who have seen it too many times before.
At the top, though a little winded, I raise my arms in triumph. “Rocky! Rocky!” the fans shout at the end of his films, especially in Rocky Balboa, the last in the series.
In this film, we find Rocky is the soft-spoken owner of Adrian’s, a neighborhood restaurant named after his beloved wife, a victim of ovarian cancer.
When a computer-generated fight on ESPN generates genuine interest in a fight between Rocky and the current champ, Rocky accepts the offer of an exhibition fight.
“I’m a fighter, and a fighter fights,” he explains to his son. “But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”
I focus again on the road ahead, my legs pounding the pavement as my chest and stomach muscles work hard to keep me balanced, moving forward.
My core is getting a workout. Fitness trainers tell us to exercise our core. Companies spend hundreds of man hours creating and refining their core values—the foundations upon which they perform work and conduct themselves.
What are my core values? How can I teach them to my children? I condense them down to an acronym: Christ-Oriented, Responsible and Enlightened.
To live a Christ-oriented life, we should follow what Jesus said are the two greatest commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 30-31).
I want my children to be responsible individuals, but more so than just completing their chores or doing what they say they’ll do. I would like them to be responsible with their friendships and their love, knowing that other people are affected by their actions.
They need to be responsible with their time, their talents and their treasures, as so much good can be produced from these gifts. I also want them to be responsible with the Earth’s natural resources, knowing that we should be mindful of everyone and everything that lives on this planet.
Finally, I want them to be enlightened individuals, people who will never stop learning long after completing their formal education. I hope they will read often, think faithfully and logically, be good listeners and consider other opinions so that they can actively form their own. “I didn’t know that” and “Thanks, that’s a good idea” should be common phrases for them.
Enlightenment begins with a certain amount of humility. The more I learn, the more I realize there’s so much more I don’t know or understand. It sets the stage to learn something new, to relate to my family and friends in a new way, or to understand the volatile issues our society faces today.
Can we learn how to be humble? My friend Steve thinks so. He says that humility is born out of thankfulness. If we start each day by thanking God for what He has given us, we will understand the magnitude of these gifts and how important they really are to our daily lives. That is our core.
I finish my run, thank God for my health and hang up my Bubba Gump hat…until tomorrow.