Thursday, February 20, 2020

What Mariano Rivera Taught Walter Iooss Jr. About Gratitude and Humility

The December 12, 2011 issue of Sports Illustrated included an article by Walter Iooss Jr. and Chris Ballard titled "The Education of Walter Iooss Jr." Iooss' stories about athletes he photographed ranging from Jim Brown to Muhammad Ali to Michael Jordan to Tiger Woods--and many more--provide fascinating insights not only about those athletes, but also about Iooss and the art of photography.

What stopped me in my tracks, though, and inspired this brief article, is an exchange that Iooss had with Mariano Rivera, the New York Yankees' great closer. The conversation began when Iooss asked Rivera how he learned the pitch that brought him so many victories, the cut fastball (or cutter):
Then one time I asked him, "Who taught you that cutter?"

He said, "God."

I said, "God did?" Being an atheist, I said, "God never taught me anything."

Mariano said, "Oh, yes, he did, Walter."

He was very calm. He said, "He gave you your great talent. You should be thankful."

That humbled me. The truth is, I see photos everywhere. I look at someone sitting next to me at lunch, and instantly I'm putting up a background in my mind. That's just churning all the time. If the beauty's there, I want to take a picture of it.
Rivera's gratitude and humility are qualities well worth emulating. Iooss' drive to use his gift to capture beautiful images and share them with others is likewise inspirational.

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