As a boy, my idol was baseball star Mickey Mantle. Along with millions of other kids, I dreamed of playing centerfield for the Yankees, slamming home runs over the fence to the tune of a huge crowd’s roar of adoration, and winning the Most Valuable Player Award. Several years ago, I saw an interview with Mickey Mantle after he had come out of the Betty Ford Clinic. I was stunned to learn that my hero had succumbed to a long and grisly bout with alcoholism. The interviewer asked the former star, nearing death due to liver damage, “How would you like people to remember Mickey Mantle? ”
With great humility, he answered, “I would like people to think that I finally made something of myself.”
Finally? I couldn’t believe my ears! If anybody had ever made anything of himself, I thought, it was Mickey Mantle, the most loved and respected athlete of an entire generation. The Mick was the king. Yet, through his eyes, all his stardom was for naught in the face of his losses to drink. To Mickey Mantle, overcoming his alcoholism was a far greater achievement than all the home runs he’d ever hit.
All worldly glory pales in comparison to spiritual awakening. Mickey Mantle mastered his lesson of a lifetime when he graduated from the Betty Ford Clinic. No matter what accolades we achieve in the outer world, it is our inner life we need to come to terms with. Although he had all the laurels a man could dream of, Mickey Mantle found peace only when he found himself.
Should you be tempted to trade inner peace for worldly glory, re–member the Mick. It’s what’s inside that counts.