Two weeks ago, I saw the movie Seabiscuit for the first time.
I had heard so much about it before but I just never got the chance to watch it. So, instead of me looking for it, it came looking for me…and found me.
It was one of those busy Sundays and I was scrubbing the floors of my apartment. It was quiet and lonely so I turned on the TV for company. And there it was.
I was mesmerized. I forgot all about my floor scrubbing and just watched.
And today, two weeks later, I’m still mesmerized.
For those of you who haven’t seen the movie (and I must add here that you absolutely should), Seabiscuit is based on a true story. It is about an American Thoroughbred racehorse who became an unlikely champion in the 1940s.
Unlikely because compared to most racehorses, he was a little horse. He had knobbly knees and he preferred sleeping and eating to anything else. He also had a stormy temperament.
Unlikely also because everybody had seemingly given up on him.
Hence, with so many things against him, when he finally rose to the challenge of being a champion, he became a symbol of hope to many Americans during the Great Depression.
If a little horse could do it, so could they.
There are so many incredible facets to the movie, but the thing that stood out for me; the one thing that totally captured me was what George Woolf, played in the film by Gary Stevens, did for Red Pollard, played in the movie by Toby Maguire. What George did for Seabiscuit.
I’ll give you a brief background: When Red, Seabiscuit’s Jockey gets injured; George is hired as his new rider. With Red’s help, George successfully wins a major race and goes on to ride Seabiscuit for a few more wins.
In the very final race in the movie, Red, who is still recovering from his injury, rides Seabiscuit. George is also in the race but on a different horse. Seabiscuit, who is also recovering from an injury, is not doing well. He trails the pack and drops to last position.
George also decides to hold back and rides along Red, keeping him company in his darkest hour.
Then using a secret Red had disclosed to him, George allows Seabiscuit to come head to head with his own horse so the two animals could look each other in the eye.
After that, Seabiscuit surges and wins the race.
I sat there on the empty floor of my living room with smudges of tears on my face, my entire earth shaken by what I had just witnessed.
How many people would do what George did?
Would YOU be willing to stand aside and let somebody else take a crown when you can take it for yourself?
I was so moved that for a long time I couldn’t stop myself sobbing.
You see, we all struggle with our human weaknesses. Be it envy or jealousy. And unfortunately, we are all most of the time, downright selfish.
What George did was love in action.
He allowed another to increase while he decreased. To have the depth of character to be able to do that is just…priceless.
It is something we all need to emulate. To be that spurring voice for those around us who feel like little horses. To stand in the gap for another.
To create that space in our minds for other people’s transformation, even when it might cost us our moment of glory. That is not just a good deed…it is greatness personified.
Everybody needs a George at some point in their lives.
I will be your George.