The Calm Mind in the Sea of Torment
Most people never get to experience one of the most magical moments of life. It’s rarely seen, because it occurs when everyone is focused on the disarray that surrounds us — we are looking somewhere else when it hits. And it seems magical because it’s so different from every other attitude in a moment. There doesn’t seem to be an explanation. How could someone act so differently? How could someone not react like everyone else?
It’s rare. But it does happen.
It’s the calm mind in a sea of torment.
If You Can Keep Your Head
Rudyard Kipling started his great poem If referencing it:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you
I remember watching someone exhibit this calm state of mind during a sporting event years ago. It was an NBA game and the Indiana Pacers were playing the Chicago Bulls. The Pacers’ Reggie Miller just hit a shot that put the Pacers ahead in the game’s final seconds. The crowd erupted in cheers. Seemingly, everyone in the arena was cheering and celebrating.
Everyone, that is, except one man who didn’t flinch. No smile. No fist pump. He stared, like a statue. The job wasn’t done. There was still time on the clock. There would be no break in focus to celebrate, at least by one man.
The man who didn’t flinch and didn’t celebrate was Larry Bird, the coach of the Pacers. You can see the moment here. While the entire arena celebrated — both fans and players — one person knew the game wasn’t over. There was a calm mind in the arena.
The calm represents the acceptance of the reality that the mission isn’t finished. And in this case, it wasn’t.
The Bulls had a player who also had a calm mind. The Pacers lost after a last-second shot by Michael Jordan. Apparently, you need more than a coach to have a calm mind.
Avoiding the Reflex
Having a calm mind means dodging the reflex that everyone else is having. It takes something extraordinary to remain still when everyone around is in motion.