Recently I had to step away from something that I loved and had helped create. It was not an easy decision to make but ultimately I was given no choice.
It is remarkable how often the origin of things is tied to the very same phenomena that ultimately lead to their demise—a fact that is especially evident when we ponder cosmic endings, from the end of a great party to the end of our life on Earth.
Planetary scientists increasingly suspect that comets and ice-laden meteorites crashing into the primordial Earth probably provided most of the planet’s water—and perhaps much of the organic material—necessary for life. Organic molecules have been detected in comets such as the Hale-Bopp, and, in a recent study, researchers simulated those cosmic crash landings by using a gas gun to fire metal projectiles at 16,000 miles per hour into blocks of ice containing some of the same chemicals that make up comets. The shock wave and heat generated by the impact created molecules that formed amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.
Yet the very same objects that gave this planet life could also spell its demise. Astronomers predict that a comet or asteroid large enough to cause global devastation will smash into the Earth about every 100 million years or so. Fortunately, if such a comet or asteroid were to arrive sooner than expected, we are constructing observational systems to discover and track near-Earth objects, conceivably providing us with sufficient time to pre-empt catastrophe. (or at least a great view of our final moments)
When I first walked into camp as a staff member in 1983, I was 17 years old- excited to see what I could learn from the great gymnastics minds that were there. The Senior staff mentored me, gave me confidence, taught me technique and humility.
They also taught me that NOTHING was more important than the bond we shared. The parents trusted us with their most valuable possessions. Their Children. Coaches trust us with their future by letting us guide the gymnasts they work with. NEVER do anything to betray that trust. They taught me that each kid was something special. That there was no cookie cutter solution. To be an effective coach you needed to coach an individual. Realize that each kid needs your attention and that the connections you make OUT of the gym with them is as important to the ones you make IN the gym. The children need to feel important.
When I came to lead this camp- I tried to pass on those lessons and values. I surrounded myself with individuals who I knew would give 100% to them and they would in turn give me 100% back. They knew I had their backs and would NEVER throw them under a bus. We had something special. We may NOT fit in the real world- But when we were together- we were unstoppable.
Now as I say my goodbyes- I realize that the conclusion was written at the beginning. The hottest brightest fire burns out quickly. If you feel let down by this gloomy conclusion to all things, take solace in knowing that our future is still largely unwritten.
Until we understand the true nature of the energy which brought us together, the fate of the cosmos will remain a mystery. The universe might yet have a surprise ending.
This is not the end, This is not the beginning of the end.