If you turn on your television to ESPN anytime this weekend, you’ll probably see coverage of Lebron James’s announcement Friday that he would be returning to Cleveland. In a well-penned letter posted on Sports Illustrated’s website, Lebron announced his choice around noon eastern time on Friday. If you haven’t read it first-hand, I’d encourage you to. Here’s the link:
I shared the news with one of my roommates, and he took the more cynical approach than I normally would about Cleveland’s fans, pointing out how quick they were to burn Lebron’s jersey in the streets of Ohio when he left for Miami four years ago, only to quickly praise him and welcome him back with open arms now. This led me to consider the possibility that Lebron’s point about how his love of Cleveland transcended basketball might be what ANYONE would say after announcing such a thing if they did indeed want fans. However, I give Lebron the benefit of the doubt here, and I’d go far enough to say I respect him more because of it. Honestly, I may go far enough to actually become a fan of him now. Let me tell you why.
Last year, my then mentor in my old Bible study in El Paso, (who would later go on to wrong me and cause me animosity toward the Navigators organization), criticized me for explaining that I was dealing with writers block. He told me he was a writer, that he had been published as a poet and that waiting on “something supernatural” to overtake me was a fool’s errand. He told me writing was something you just did. This stung me like a needle to my heart. As I’ve grown up over the last year, I’ve come to realize he was all together wrong. ANYONE can write something technically perfect. But there IS something supernatural about writing. Something God given. Something preordained from before time began.
The same is true about the idea of “Home.” I know where my home is. I’m confident that I’ll never feel an affinity for anywhere else like that which I feel for Austin, Texas. It’s bizarre too, because I wasn’t technically born there, I only spent six months living in that city, and I don’t have any relatives that I talk to even on a weekly basis there. Yet recalling when I was there on mid-tour leave in 2012, as I got ready to board my plain back to a safe, comfortable country in the middle-east (that’s NOT sarcasm either), I felt more guilty and sad and upset about leaving the place than I ever have leaving anywhere or anyone. It wasn’t a “I wish I didn’t have to return where I’m going” type of sad, because in truth I liked where we were stationed and I’d readily go back if the opportunity presented itself ever again. No, this was more of a “Why the hell am I leaving such a perfect place for me” type of sad. I would have felt as hurt and distraught if I had been leaving to go back to Manhattan and Kansas State University for school as I did knowing I was leaving to another continent.
This I have no choice in either. The love of a fine woman like that of she who I currently pursue (with her permission by the way) might satisfy me enough to convince me to live elsewhere, as I am a hopeless romantic before I am anything but a Christian if I’m being true an honest with myself. Yet no place in which I wasn’t engaged in that singularly happy pursuit and effort could ever satisfy me like Austin alone does. It’s a feeling that transcends analysis or explanation or obvious attractions. It’s also something Lebron expressed in his letter to fans.
Those who have never felt this, like those who have never been overtaken by the writer within will not understand this. Those who have never consciously sat down before a notebook or a laptop screen on which to write, and been taken along by something unexplainable through what felt like a dream. Something they couldn’t remember, couldn’t describe, couldn’t by will of heart or body or mind deliberately recreate or initiate. THAT is what happens sometimes to born writers. God ordained writers. To some degree, anyone can learn how to write. But true writers, those who’s sole purpose in life is to do just that, as determined and bestowed by God, are born, THEN made, if they’re wise and recognize it. Those who haven’t yet experienced this will not give that any credence, just as they’ll attribute Lebron’s, (and my own), feelings and desire to return “home” to something more shallow. They’ll attribute it with statements like “oh he likes the nightlife” or “he likes the river downtown” or in Lebron’s case “he just wants to be a ‘hero'” or “he just wants to be near his family” or “he just wants to right a previous wrong.”
Those things will each play a part, perhaps, but that supernatural draw. That indescribable feeling of “home”, that feeling so vast that all the words ever spoken could never in existence fully explain and which some people never actually feel, cannot be accounted or overwhelmed by such shallow things as parties or booze or personal success in a place.
Thus, I can only empathize with Lebron and write the message that, if he ever saw this, I’d want him to know that I: not even necessarily a basketball fan but rather a fan of sports and the human spirit, am with him on this one. Kudos to you sir. Kudos for doing what you had to in order to grow up, by leaving for Miami, Kudos to you for winning the championships you did, Kudos for the help you’ve been to communities in Miami and Cleveland.
And above all, kudos for you to being true to yourself, and setting an example we could all stand to learn from. This world needs that. Cleveland alone doesn’t need that. The world IN GENERAL does. As William Shakespeare reminded us in Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3:
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not be false to any man.” — Lord Polonius
And as noted author Howard Thurman reminds us:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”— Howard Thurman