Dave Cowens, one-time star basketball center for the Boston Celtics, disappeared. Without warning, he walked off the practice court, showered, dressed, and drove away. Alone. He kept driving to . . . somewhere.
Dave Cowens, one-time star basketball center for the Boston Celtics, disappeared. Without warning, he walked off the practice court, showered, dressed, and drove away. Alone.
He kept driving to . . . somewhere. His only explanation was the familiar comment, "I need to get my head together." He added that it could take as little as two weeks or as much as ten years. The sportscasters, management, team, spectators, and fans couldn't imagine what he was looking for.
I could. The Carpenters used to do a number that helps explain the superstar's puzzling reaction. It's a peaceful soul-song that talks about needing a place to hide away . . . to be quiet . . . to think things through . . . to reflect.
Perhaps that's what the Boston superstar was trying to say. He had everything imaginable—fame, possessions, job security, a strong body, lots of bucks—but maybe at that moment in his life he lacked something far more important. Something like a sense of purpose and inner fulfillment. Something which basketball and all its benefits could never provide. An inner itch that can't be scratched by achievement or people or things or activities. To scratch it requires a great deal of internal searching, which the athlete felt he couldn't do and still keep pace with the maddening NBA schedule.
To "find yourself" requires that you take time to look. It's essential if you want to be a whole person, real to the core.
Now, I'm not advocating that one suddenly stop everything else so he or she can work the hide 'n' seek process. That's rather unrealistic even if you aren't the starting center for an NBA franchise. It's a little like removing an anthill in your backyard with six sticks of TNT. Or like setting your car on fire because the engine knocks. Learning to be whole isn't prompted by copping out. But there are times in all our lives when we need to back away, slow down, stay quiet, think through, be still.
"I'd rather burn out than rust out!" shouts the zealot. Frankly, neither sounds very appealing to me. Either way you're out. People who are burning out may start a lot of fires and stir up a lot of noise and smoke. But who cares—if everything turns to ashes? People who are rusting out may move about as slowly as a sloth and live to a hundred and thirty. But so what—if all they accomplish in life is paying bills and staying out of jail?
There has to be more to life than just doing. There is! It's being. Becoming whole . . . believable . . . purposeful . . . lovable. Tomorrow, we'll talk more about the essential quality of being real.