Kentucky Derby Pomp and Circumstance
The horse race taking place at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May is known as “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports”. There is usually a lot of pomp and circumstance over twenty thoroughbred horses running for the chance to win the coveted garland of roses. There is a fireworks show, various concerts, a paddle boat race, a mini-marathon race, a balloon glow and race as well as a parade. That does not even count all the parties leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
Many people want to be part of the excitement surrounding the Kentucky Derby. The attendance ranking of the horse race in Louisville, Kentucky generally surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races together with the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup races. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentucky_Derby) People from all over come to see the hats, drink the Mint Juleps, place the bets and of course watch their favorite horse run and hopefully win.
Gearing Up for the Derby
For the spectators, the weeks and days leading up to the main event can be as all-consuming as if they are training to win the Kentucky Derby themselves. Buying the shoes to go with the dress to finding the perfect hat to round out the ensemble can be liken to an Olympic sport to some women. Preparing your house and yard for a Derby party can devour what little extra time you have after work or on the weekends leading up to the big day.
We All Have Our Obsessions
I discovered our compulsion to go all in with gusto is just not restricted to the Kentucky Derby. We get fanatical during March Madness and fantasy football, or if you are into baseball or hockey or soccer. It does not matter the shape of the ball or the puck because it does not even need to be a sport. It can be a hobby, a job, a friendship, social media, or an addiction or even an illness.
A Bipolar Obsession
For the last ten years since my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I have been as obsessed about this mental illness as a Derby fan walking into Churchill Downs for the very first time. Just like horse fanatics talking about the purse and the handicaps and the Paddock and singing “My Old Kentucky Home” with a Mint Julep in their hand, I went on and on about my symptoms and medicines and psych appointments. I had nothing else to talk about but my bipolar just like when a Derby fan picks their winning thoroughbred, that four-legged beast is the star of their life until race day or it gets scratched.
I have realized that if I am going to get stuck on something, I do not want it to be my mental illness. There is so much more to talk about like debating the winners of March Madness, who is the grey horse in this year’s Derby race or what is the hottest movies in the theater or what about your family? All of these things and more get us excited. It is what makes life interesting.
A Jesus Obsession
But there is a difference between interesting and life-giving. When was the last time you got enthusiastic about Jesus? I know that I cannot tell you when the last time I got enthusiastic about Jesus like I do about the Kentucky Derby or my bipolar. It has been a long time. I put more effort into finding a special shampoo at the beauty salon than I do with my quiet time with God. I would not rest until I found that special shampoo, but with my quiet time, I allowed myself to drift off to sleep.
I am not saying that being passionate about a horse race or hockey team is bad. What I am saying is that we need to better order our priorities. Instead of putting the decorations for the Derby party on the top of my to-do list this week, I should take time to be Jesus to a friend who has been struggling with a relationship. I have learned I always feel better, even with having bipolar, when I change my focus to God.
Do you have an obsession? Does it get in the way of God, your family, your work or other responsibilities? You have heard about my obsession, I would love to hear about yours. firstname.lastname@example.org