There was a girl I had the pleasure to watch play soccer since she was around 13 years old. She was on my daughter’s team, but everyone who pays attention to Soccer in New England knew of her. She was the one we planned to cheer in the Olympics someday. She was also the one who always lifted her teammates up when they were down and brought energy to the field without exception. She was the one who enjoyed life as much as anyone I think I’ve ever seen. But she is the one whose life ended this month. She is the one that my entire town mourned last Friday and still.
I am writing about Ash Baird here in the Jobcase community not to share sorrow about a life cut short but to share inspiration about a life well lived. A couple thoughts from the celebration of her life are worth amplifying. I’ll narrow them to two.
• “Ash didn’t know her life would be so short, but somehow she lived everyday as if she did.” That statement really hit me. Its authentic and real about her. It’s instructive for us. All of us are here but temporarily. How sad to not wake up and find joy – better yet, give joy as Ash did – with every day. Don’t let yourself accept less. Take a moment this weekend for self-reflection. Are you happy? Are you enjoying life? If so – awesome! Be sure to share that with others, as Ash did. It’s contagious. If not, chart a course that will get you to a place that you say yes. You deserve it. You do!
• “Ash walked slow but ran fast”. Never saw someone faster with a ball on the field. But her friends and family talk of how slow she walked everywhere else. She was enjoying life. Stop to smell the roses? Just walk slow enough and smell all the flowers along the way. Yes, there are times to hit the gas, put your blinders on, get stuff done. But make sure to carve out the times to look around, enjoy the moment, enjoy friend’s family and earth. You deserve it. You do!
Ash Baird led an inspiring, albeit tragically short, life. She probably just knew me as “Olivia’s Dad”. But I was inspired by her, impacted by her, and will remember her forever. Here’s the vision I was blessed to witness countless times – I’ll end by sharing this with you:
16-year-old Ash gets the ball just shy of midfield. Defenders adjust. She toe taps a couple times, then gets the look, then charges right at them – not around. The ball magnetically hovers about 12-36 inches away from her cleat at any time. She fakes around the first and second, she pulls full Maradona move around the 3rd, the opponent Goalie begins screaming for everyone to come back to help, Ash’s team sprinting to keep up and get in position, Ash dodges around the 4th, one last player strives to catch up but can’t get between Ash and the goal, and just as Ash has the perfect chance to shoot – she pulls a perfect Cruyff pass to her teammate 5 yards away and smiles as her teammate gets the Glory for the goal. I saw this countless time. I see it every time I think of Ash. Joy, Excellence, Competitive, Sharing, Love, Compassion, Sportsmanship, Ash.
She inspires me to live a better life. Perhaps a few people reading this will be inspired by her too. I hope so. You deserve it. You do!