“I feel confident because I’m the best player in the world,” said LeBron James, before the final game of the NBA playoffs. Maybe he is the best, but his team the Cleveland Cavaliers could not beat the Golden State Warriors in the finals. Basketball is a team sport, not an individual one.
I prefer the humility of tennis player Rafa Nadal, who has numerous Grand Slam titles and has been at the top of his sport for years. Praising his opponents, he never brags or anticipates playing beyond his next match. He appears grateful for his success and never describes his own play as “great” or “the best.” Yet, he is the undisputed best player to ever step on a clay court.
That is why it is challenging for me to read the words of Sister Joan Chittister, a woman whom I admire, as she writes in “Light in the Darkness: New Reflections on the Psalms for Every Day of the Year:”
“‘I celebrate myself,’ the poet Walt Whitman wrote. The thought is so delicious it is almost obscene. Imagine the joy that would come with celebrating the self – our achievements, our experiences, our existence. Imagine what it would be like to look into the mirror and say, as God taught us, ‘That’s good.'”
Celebrating the self? I sometimes despair at my wrinkled knees. I no longer look down when I am jogging because the sight of what is jiggling is too horrifying. How did my skin get loose? Yes, this is superficial of me. Sister Joan wrote about looking in the mirror. Last night, I dreamt that I looked in the mirror and I had acne pock marks all over my face like Stan Wawrinka, who is a really wonderful tennis player with unfortunate scars from his adolescence. I am a long way from saying, “That’s good” when it comes to my looks. It is more like, “This is as good as fifty-eight is going to get.”
Maybe I would do better looking at my achievements, experiences and existence. Being an achievement-oriented person, I have done a lot educationally, vocationally and athletically. Nike’s slogan is “Just Do It” and our family’s slogan is “Just Overdo It.” I have done more than enough in some cases. I am experienced, if not wise. And I can certainly celebrate my existence. I mean, consider the alternative! It is very good to be alive. I guess I can celebrate myself…some. I would not exchange my life for anyone else’s. As God taught us, “That’s good.”