I blame The Last Dance. The Michael Jordan docs-series on Netflix has to be at least partly to blame for why I’ve spent this last week marooned on my couch. I watched the series a couple of months ago, it was so interesting, that I spent more time then I care to admit planted on my couch binge-watching it. So why do I find myself here again?
My son and some of his friends were hooping it up at the local basketball court. As I watched them play all I could see in my mind's eye was Michael Jordan. The GOAT in his Bulls uniform leaning forward, hands on his knees, sweat pouring off his bald head. I can see MJ’s eyes gleaming white against his dark skin. Confident, knowing eyes. Eyes that are certain all comers will be vanquished. I now see Jordan airborne, defying gravity. His tongue is out. The ball comes from way behind his head, he slams it through the hoop. An earthquake happens and all defenders scatter like cockroaches exposed to mid-day sun.
At that moment I have an epiphany. I AM MICHAEL JORDAN. So what if I am nearing fifty, short, white, ten pounds overweight and have an artificial hip. My pre-teen son and his entourage of gangly friends don’t have a chance I AM MICHAEL JORDAN!
I take to the court, I don’t even bother to tighten the velcro straps on my three-year-old Ecco sandals. I belly bump the ball to my son at the top of the three-point arc. The game is on! The kid's swarm, it doesn’t matter, I’m unstoppable, jumps shots, layups, fade-aways. It’s all happening just like in the documentary.
Five minutes in it occurs to me that fatigue might become a factor in the outcome of the game. These young bloods don’t seem to get tired. I hastily arrange for a “first one to ten buckets wins” solution. That should do it.
My son is pressing hard for the steal, he over commits. I do a between the legs crossover with what I imagine must be lightning speed. Darve goes flying in the opposite direction. I totally break his ankles. The lane is open. I drive hard for the hoop. The left-handed layup is there.
Pop! Speaking of breaking ankles…and that’s how I found myself on the couch for the last week. It’s swollen and purple and propped up on pillows. Turns out I’m not Michael Jordan after all.
Inspiration, it’s something we humans need, Aspiring to greatness through the influence and example of another is no foolish thing. To be caught up with someone else’s magnificence to such a degree you want to be like that person, if even only for a few minutes is a good thing indeed. Yes, I probably should have been more careful, maybe put some better shoes on. Paced myself and checked my competitive nature a little better. But even still to be inspired is a beautiful thing, and for a short while on a concrete slab in downtown Vancouver, I was overachieving, inspired by the life of someone much greater than me.
I wonder if there is a human being out there that was simply the greatest at being human. The best of the best. Throughout the complexities of life, this person always managed to make the right choice. Someone whose life story is worthy of emulation. I think we have such a person. His name is Jesus.
Just like I can never live up to MJ’s talents on the B’ball court, not even close, I can’t live up to Jesus’ inspired life either, not even close. I can’t play at Jesus’ level. I will stumble in the lane and get hurt. I simply cannot fly at life as Jesus did. So why even try? Maybe being inspired by the life of a better person is a recipe for despair? If I didn’t try to be like Mike I wouldn’t be limping right now. Perhaps that’s what some people think, but not me.
Why not be inspired by Jesus? Why not let his greatness fill us? Why not come to love him and the legacy of his life? By aspiring to the greatness of Jesus we will find ourselves overachieving, rising up, to accomplish great feats of human goodness who without the inspiration of Jesus would otherwise be impossible.