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The Measure Of Who We Are

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It was a warm May Monday. For some reason, I cannot remember why, I was in Evanston, Ill. There was time to relax, so I decided to take a long walk down to the lakefront. It was a beautiful stroll through a parklike area created from landfill, extending the Northwestern University campus into the lake. People sat on the grass in scattered groups enjoying the sunshine and the breeze.

The path led in a roundabout way to the land's edge. I looked out over the rocks jutting into the lake. A few boats were gliding to and from harbors in Chicago.

Then I saw something I had never seen before. To my right, I caught sight of a man standing up on what looked like a surfboard with a sail. I had never heard of ``windsurfing,'' but that is what he was doing. He glided past me looking utterly vulnerable to wind and rocks, while at the same time much in command of what he was doing.

I was fascinated and a bit awed. It occurred to me that learning to do what he was doing would take time and money and commitment. It also occurred to me that I might never do it.

For some reason that moment mattered, and the images of that moment have stuck with me.

I see the things others possess or do and, for a moment, things can become the measure of my life. In this kind of moment we can lose our sense of self or find it, lose it in comparison to the achievements of others, even strangers, or find the right measure of our own life and the worth of what we can do.

Remembering the goodness of who I already am in the face of another's feat can be tough. As that man on the surfboard maneuvered gracefully in the wind, I struggled to remember what I could do, rather than dwell on what I could not. That was and is a challenge each day. It helps me to remember the ancient words that tell that after each day of creation everything was pronounced ``good,'' which means to me, ``good enough.''

It is good to reclaim the measure of who we are and what we do. It isn't about others. It is, rather, the very same wind that blows life to those who must sail, and into those who choose to stand quite still.


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