We were sitting with friends on the little beach beyond the long stretch of white sand at Rangiputa late one sunny Sunday afternoon. Two of us had been swimming in the refreshing crystalline waters. We’d laid out a tarp and were picnicking, sharing thin slices of Peter Niepel’s delicious organic sourdough bread (procured by our friends at Kerikeri’s Saturday market) topped with local organic avocado, cucumber and courgette (purchased at the Kaitaia Farmers market).
I’d been sharing stories from Mary Ralph’s compilation of Doubtless Bay’s fishing community’s memories of the past. One such recollection was of the shark hunts in the Rangaunu Harbour and of the subsequent drying of the shark carcasses to provide Maori with a year-long food supply. Those days are long gone but I did see a two-metre-long shark cruise past me the year before while wading near this same beach.
Our friends shared the true tale of a friend of theirs in America. He was driving alone on a remote country road. He noticed something small and moving on the road and stopped to investigate. He was intrigued to find two mice slowly making their way across the road. They each held opposite ends of a tiny twig in their mouths. ‘What are they up to?’ he wondered, bending down for a closer look. It was then he noticed the one mouse was blind.
I’m reminded of the very special Seattle Special Olympics 100 yard dash in 1976. At the sound of the starting gun, all nine contestants started off in their own way, making their best effort to run down the track toward the finish line. That is, except for the one young boy who stumbled soon after his start, tumbled to the ground and began to cry. Two of the other racers, hearing the cries of the boy who fell, slowed down and looked back at him. Then without hesitation, they turned around and began running in the other direction—toward the injured boy.
While the other contestants struggled to make it to the finish line, the two who had turned around to run in the other direction reached for the boy and helped him to his feet. All three of them then linked arms and together they walked to the finish line. By the time the trio reached the end, everyone in the stands was standing and cheering, some with tears streaming down their faces. Even though by turning back and helping the boy who fell, these two Samaritans lost their own chance to win the race, they wore smiles on their faces because they knew they had done the right thing.
Competition presumes winners and losers. We all know the high of watching our modern day gladiators win an important match. We also know the agony of defeat. Let us not forget that we’re all in this thing together. Life is not a competition. As Albert Sweitzer once said: “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found to serve.”
Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com
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