Have you ever heard something that changed your life and outlook forever the moment the sounds entered your ears? Seen someone speak and felt so moved by their words you couldn’t get their voice out of your head? Well that description is the experience I feel every time I hear or watch Jim Valvano’s speech from the 1993 ESPY’s when he was presented with the Arthur Ashe award for courage.
I had a blog prepared and ready to go for this week but a few things happened tonight that inspired me to blog about this speech and the significance it holds in my life. Dreams, hopes, belief’s, goals, determination, and dedication are all words that Tom and I describe and expound upon in our blogs from time to time. Jim Valvano embodied all of the characteristics I hope to represent as a husband, son, friend, and father every day.
During this speech, Jim describes his current struggle with Cancer and how it’s not only affected him physically but most importantly the effect it’s had on his thoughts and emotions. It’s commonplace for us as human beings to take for granted all the blessings we are fortunate enough to have in our lives. We rarely take the time to “stop and smell the roses” or appreciate the little things in life that could be taken away at any second. We fail to live in the moment and are consistently working for the weekend and looking forward to the next meaningless social gathering or public function.
How often do we shut off our phones and spend the day talking with our family members? How often do we skip the BBQ to go for a walk with our children? How often do we take our frustrations out on family members assuming they will be there tomorrow to apologize to? Would it change our actions if our Physician informed us we had 8 weeks to live? Would our appreciation of all things simple suddenly invigorate our spirit if tumors ravaged our body?
I, like everyone else, often live life like time is guaranteed. I realize that this is simply not true. Our lives are promised for the second your currently living and the next could be gone with the blink of our eyes. One way that I try to remind myself of the fragility of our experience is by watching Jimmy V’s speech every couple of weeks. I’m not afraid to tell anyone that no matter how many times I watch this video, a lump begins to rise in my throat and my eyes become enveloped with tears. The passion, courage, and love that Jim Valvano exudes with this speech is real, and by reliving those 11 minutes with him I can remind myself to continue to value the blessings in my life.
If you have never been fortunate enough to watch this speech please take the time and soak in the message. I am not capable of explaining the depth of emotion I feel every time I see this. Tonight as I watched this again on ESPN before the MSU game I knew in my heart I had to share this with everyone in case you have not seen it before. Eleven minutes may seem like a long time to watch a speech but please take my word and trust me that this 11 minutes will be like none other in your life.
As I end this blog and attach the video below I want to leave you with one more thought. As Jim Valvano stood on that stage and gave his speech he knew that he was dying. Despite the reality of his situation he stood in front of all those people and spoke about LIVING. Less than two months later Jim Valvano succumbed to cancer and passed away. He is interred in the Cedar Hill section of Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina. His tombstone reads: “Take time every day to laugh, to think, to cry.”
“Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever. I thank you and God bless you all.” – Jim Valvano