I was trying to find an example of what it means to really make your life count when someone sent me a piece on legendary coach John Wooden. Suddenly my thoughts came into focus. Wooden made his life count. Here’s what the writer said of him:
On the 21st of the month, the best man I know will do what he always does on the 21st of the month. He’ll sit down and pen a love letter to his best girl. He’ll say how much he misses her and loves her and can’t wait to see her again.
Then he’ll fold it once, slide it in a little envelope and walk into his bedroom. He’ll go to the stack of love letters sitting there on her pillow, untie the yellow ribbon, place the new one on top and tie the ribbon again. The stack will be 180 letters high then, because the 21st will be 15 years to the day since Nellie, his beloved wife of 53 years, died.
In her memory, he sleeps only on his half of the bed, only on his pillow, only on top of the sheets, never between; with just the old bedspread they shared to keep him warm.
There’s never been a finer man in American sports than John Wooden, or a finer coach. He won 10 NCAA basketball championships at UCLA, the last in 1975. Nobody has ever come within six of him. He won 88 straight games between January 30, 1971, and January 17, 1974. Nobody has come within 42 since.
There has never been another coach like Wooden, quiet as an April snow and square as a game of checkers; loyal to one woman, one school, one way; walking around campus in his sensible shoes and Jimmy Stewart morals.
He’s almost 90 now. You think a little more hunched over than last time. Steps a little smaller. You hope it’s not the last time you see him. He smiles. “I’m not afraid to die,” he says. “Death is my only chance to be with her again.”
Listen to his insight:
“There is only one kind of a life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior. Until that is done, we are on an aimless course that runs in circles and goes nowhere. Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters.”
– John Wooden