They say this is all a journey. This is the here and now. Otherwise known as our daily life. There is a beginning to everything, a middle and then an end. However, between the two points that go from start to finish is the true substance of our life. So, please don’t spend the bulk of your time worrying or arguing. Don’t waste another minute.
I understand the worry. Where will I go? What will I do?
What’s going to happen to me?
I understand the concerns for the future. However, there is the moment at hand, which we have to consider.
It has been my honor and privilege to speak to students in their classrooms. I see them and their young lives which are on the verge of blossoming into something magical. I want to tell them not to worry. I want to tell them not to give in.
I want to tell them so many things but in hindsight, I was told the same things too.
I was told to not give in. I was told, “Don’t give up.”
I was promised that this is life. This is not a game. I was advised. I was warned. I was steered yet I chose my direction because (of course) I believed that I knew best. I believed that no one else could possibly understand.
I remember being told, “You’re just a kid,” to which I’d reply, “And what do you know about it? You’re old. It’s been a long time since you were a kid.”
I think about conversations between parents and their children, teachers and students, or the older and the younger. I think about the generational rift between the two. I think about the overlooked similarities between us and the inability to connect our commonality.
I complete submission; I am truly amazed by life.
I am amazed at the differences between us. I am amazed by the quantity of life and yet, I am amazed how a person does not see the qualities they bring into this world.
I think of the waste that comes from depression. I think about the waste of comparison. I think about the unsettled biases and the social programming of identity and identity politics. I think about the waste of useless arguments and the meaningless fights or to argue just to argue.
I see this and I am amazed.
I am amazed at how opinions can limit talent. Judgment limits growth and both social and educational snobbery cancels the dreams of so many people (including me).
I have been in different classrooms. I have met with different students. I’ve met with different teachers and counselors. I have spoken in colleges and lectured in continuing-education and professional development programs.
I have presented and run weekly groups at a correctional facility and in a homeless shelter. I’ve met with people who come from the north and south of the poverty line.
I see them and I am amazed by all the talent, all the dreams, all the ideas and the hopes. I am amazed by the misunderstanding of value. I am astounded by the limitations of ignorance and the obstructions we face based on identity.
I am stunned by the misappropriation of value and worth; and more, I am overcome in a state of disbelief by the idea that people subject to this and live within this limitation. How is it possible that we allow ourselves to be limited by anyone or anything?
There is a word called sorrow. There is a word called regret. There are other words like guilt and shame, blame and fault — all of which are nothing more than words that lead to the path of limitation.
There are other words, such as doubt. There is fear. There is the unsureness of insecurity and the imbalance of personal uncertainty.
All of these are features of our life that limit us from reaching our best possible self.
I hear about pain. I hear about the feelings of loss. But pain and loss are part of life; in which case, we lose time and we hurt. We lose items and we hurt. We lose friends, we lose chances, we lose loved ones and we hurt. I say that we hurt; however, we also have the ability to endure. We have the right to learn, adapt and overcome.
I have had the benefit of participating in events to benefit children with pediatric cancer. I have been educated by an experience in the playroom at the pediatric section of a hospital in Midtown, New York.
There was a big room with all the toys a kid could ask for. There were costumes and games and children with bald heads. This was from the chemo.
I was blessed by an introduction to a young girl who was diagnosed with stage four cancer. I say blessed because somehow, in some way, she was chosen by whichever power there is in the universe to accept her treatment and survive an unthinkable sickness.
I was there for her first treatment and her last — and within my life, as big as this moment was, I was humbled and amazed by the ability of this little girl.
Although I was bigger in size, I never realized how infinitely small I am and this little girl showed me that small things are capable of enormous results.
Before leaving, I took the chance to play with some of the kids in the playroom. I ran around and played with every ounce of my ability. I worked hard to make each and every child in that room smile, at least once. And when I was done, I wept.
I wept because I realized that time is a precious thing; therefore, life itself is a precious thing. There are so many things to see and do and so little time, especially for them — the children who had yet to live.
There was one child who sat in a wheelchair. This child was too sick to smile. She was too ill to play and I swore to myself that if I could push a button or do anything to help her be well, I would do it.
For the moment, let’s close the door to this room and for now, there’s no one else but us. Rather than worry about where we will go or what we are going to do — let’s adjust our thinking to an action of moving forward.
What will I choose? Where will I choose to go?
Who will I choose to spend time with and what will I choose to learn from them?
I use the word choose because the word is pivotal. This owns our right, our power and our opportunity to choose the way we want to live.
To each of us is this journey that we call life. There is a beginning, a middle, and unfortunately there is an end. It amazes me that we spend so much time focusing on the future and forgetting about the present.
It amazes me that we give into the social constructs, the biases and all the other “isms” in our society.
I see you and I am inspired.
I am grateful and I am overwhelmed with a heartfelt reverence.
Above all, I am hopeful that in between the beginning and end, there is life.
Please live it.
Experience everything that comes your way. Do not be afraid. Do not go gently. Do not allow yourself to be labeled or defined by anyone else — and should you see yourself as too small or should you think that you are incapable or limited by a person’s opinion, I would like to remind you that there are more than 7 billion people in this world. Life is too short to spend with people who do not empower you.
Life is too short to spend with people who do not encourage or inspire you. But more, life is too short for limitations.
Instead, life is meant to prolong each and every second of our life; to wring every drop, to feel every moment, to be inspired, to live and to pass what you have learned on to someone else.
And with all my heart, I want to thank you for teaching me.