The Voice of the Turtle

I grew up in Detroit. I still love Detroit Tiger’s baseball. Today marks the start of Spring for most Detroit faithful as opening day is in full effect in Detroit. I still remember skipping school my Junior and Senior years of Highschool, driving down to Tiger stadium, watching baseball and hanging out with friends. My college years were filled with more of the same, but year after year it became less frequent. Now, I am sitting in my home office in North Carolina, but still thinking about the fond memories I had as a child and my early adult years sitting in the stands and cheering my team on. This quote is what Ernie Harwell used to use to open up Spring training for the Tigers and I think it is very important to here today on this opening day and also as you look on life:

“For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.” – Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Ernie Harwell (Jan 25, 1918 – May 4th, 2010) was a sportscaster for the Detroit Tigers from 42 years out of 55 of his career. His official last broadcast with the Tigers was on September 29, 2002 and a few years later on September 16th, 2009 he gave a farewell address to fans of the Tigers after announcing earlier in the week he had cancer. From his 2 minute long speech (he stated he didn’t want to say too much otherwise he would be penalized for the delay of the game) he stated this:

“In my almost 92 years on this earth, the good Lord has blessed me with a great journey. And the blessed part of that journey is that it’s going to end here in the great state of Michigan”

Ernie was happy with his legacy, he was happy with what he was blessed with and appreciative of his life here on earth.

We can learn a lot from this. How often do you say to yourself, “If I just had the promotion, I could do better”, “If I could have what my neighbor has, I would be happy”, “Wow that company is really successful, I wish my company was just like that”, and my favorite, “If I just won the lottery, I would be happy”. By comparing ourselves to other’s titles and accomplishments you don’t have and things you wish you had it is very easy to lose focus on what is important. Your individual talents, your company’s strengths, your unique way of doing things are important. By focusing on what you have now, and being the best in the moment, those things you wish you had will now become things you have because you are already happy.

No matter what you believe in, you have been put on this great earth to accomplish something. You have talents, gifts and contributions. The important thing to focus on here is that you are unique. You may not be a faster runner than Usain Bolt, but you might be a better cook. You may not own a bigger SUV than your neighbor but your yard may be better groomed. You need to look deep inside and be good at what you are good at and then things will start to be accomplished. I’m not saying it is bad to have goals, everyone should have them but if you spend time chasing those goals and not focusing on what you are doing and are good at in the present, it is very difficult to achieve the things you wish you had.

Another way to look at it is take for example, a huge rockstar concert as a microcosm of life. Ask yourself, “In a sell-out concert, who is the most important person there?” Is it the rising rock star? Maybe. Is it the person who opened the doors for the people to come in? Maybe. Is it the parking lot attendants? Maybe. Is it the concert goers? Maybe. The point is that everyone has an important part. If it wasn’t for everyone working together and doing what they are good at, the concert would not go on. Especially if the original construction company and contractors never built the facility.

I would bet Ernie Harwell understood this. He knew he was good at broadcasting, the fans knew he was good at broadcasting and in his final days on this earth, I believe he left his mark on history. Leave your mark on history but be different. As you go through life, you may not be the fastest, smartest or best as someone else but no one can ever be better than you can to yourself. Be blessed by your great journey. Be the voice of the turtle. Enjoy the flowers, Spring is here.

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