Friday, February 14, 2014

Facing Your Demons

Admittedly, I have found that trying to humbly, truthfully, and respectfully tell one’s story can produce a surprising level of anxiety. For this reason, I had to ask myself, will I be strong enough to revisit childhood hurts, personal missteps, shortcomings or old wounds, some of which still remain sore, with the degree of courage, honesty and wisdom that will be required?

You know the truth is that this whole endeavor was really my friend Sal's idea.

At the recent 40 year anniversary of James Caldwell High School student graduates he said, “Jonathan you should go ahead and tell your story” that is, “where your started in life and how you were able to eventually get to where you are now.” Without even saying anything, I sensed that Sal knew equally as well as I did that there was a time in the past when facing basic hard times and poor choices made the possibility of my having an otherwise bright and promising future look mighty bleak. After all, I was a black, fatherless, poor, and skinny little kid. Not exactly your winning pedigree for success in the mid-to-late 1960's in small town America.

After giving Sal's idea more serious thought for about two weeks, it then occurred to me that his proposed initiative might well be the best opportunity for me to finally ‘face my demons’ by reflecting more intently on who I have managed to become, what I would like to do with the rest of my life, and most important of all, how I might go about making sure that I learn to stick to my guns and achieve the very things that have now become most important to me at this stage in life? 

There is no question that today there are plenty of kids out there in the mean streets of many neighborhoods that have it much tougher than we ever did. In my opinion, this is largely do to their having much less financial, emotional, social and possibly even spiritual support available to them than we had in some of the least colorful days of our youth.

In light of this, I thought to myself, let me go ahead and make the time now to look for possible similarities embedded in my past experiences in life and hope that I can carefully identify useful frames of reference from which to offer added encouragement, hope and alternative ideas to today's youth if it is at all possible. I really feel strongly that I owe this to the next generation.

After all, each of us deep down inside has the strong need to do more than to just exist or get by in this world. Our lives need to make sense to us first and foremost. On this, I think we can all agree.