Saturday, August 4, 2012

If I could be like Mike

Remember when Michael Jordan was at his peak and there were commercials featuring him dunking the ball in some of the most insane moves ever perpetrated on a basketball court? There was a catchy jingle that accompanied those commercials. The chorus was a sing-song phrase that said, "Like Mike -- If I could be like Mike."

I'm not all that into sports these days, but I have immense respect for anyone who has a passion for something and strives to be the best at it that they can possibly be. I live with a man who has dedicated nearly his entire life to his passion, so I recognize the beauty and honor in it.

Michael Jordan's been retired for several years now, yet he still has legions of fans. But he's not the Mike I would choose to be like. In my world, I'd much rather be like this Mike.

This is Mike Fitts. Mike isn't a superstar sports hero. He's not some hotshot, expert birder. In fact, he's just your average "Joe," working hard to make a living, and doing everything he can to be the best person and the best father he can possibly be. He has good incentive.

This is his son, Josh. Cute kid, isn't he?! Josh is great. He's a normal kid who likes video games and all the other things kids his age are into these days. And, thanks to his Dad, he also likes nature.

Mike has worked incredibly hard to explore opportunities for Josh to experience birds and nature. He's been bringing Josh to Black Swamp Bird Observatory's songbird banding station for the last few years, even though Josh isn't always as thrilled as Mike is about the experience. (It does kind of stink when you have to get up at the crack of dawn!). I've been in awe of Mike's skills as a parent as I watched him strike the perfect balance between encouraging Josh to come, and respecting his need for independence, allowing him stay home when he really doesn't feel like it.

They make a great team, don't they! 
And Mike's wife Tammy is very supportive, too. 

I haven't known Mike all that long: only three or four years, I guess. But I've known him long enough to have become a huge fan. I really admire his approach to life. He wrote to me privately several months ago to tell me that he had a secret passion for writing poetry. I was deeply honored that he trusted me enough to share a few of his poems with me, and once I read them, I urged him to take a risk and share them with others. He started sharing some on his Facebook page and everyone loved them! Mike doesn't exactly look like your average poet (if there is such a thing), which only makes his gift all that much more worthy of appreciating. The fact that he was willing to launch himself outside his comfort zone and share these gems is one of the many reasons I admire him so much.

The Simple Things
by Mike Fitts

Ah, the simple things in life
To me, the most joyous
Yet the hardest to obtain
Having mucked up the lines
That define my existence
Makes what is easy so hard
Yet I will conquer
And return to simply living
For the here and the now
Love, Laugh, Live, Bird...

by Mike Fitts

Wake up, wake up
Ice melt away
Equinox comes on
Green spring forth
New life becomes
Forward time rolls
Stops for nothing 

Today is Mike's birthday. A blog post in your honor isn't much of a gift, really, but I wanted him to know that I admire him. And if I could, I'd be more like Mike -- Mike Fitts, that is. 


  1. Wonderful post, sounds like a great guy, and great to see him encouraging his son to respect and be awed by nature

  2. This is such a wonderful tribute to a really great guy!! Mike Fitts has given his son something that so many children lack today... a sense of the great outdoors, a respect for it's beauty and all of the wonderment that goes along with it. Happy Birthday, Mike Fitts!! You truly deserve this~

  3. Thanks, Dan! He really is a great guy and a wonderful father / teacher!

  4. Tiffanie,

    The same can be said about you and John. I've told you this many times, but the way you and John are raising Delaney will forever be one of the most awe-inspiring things I've ever witnessed. You two are amazing!