It is amazing where the road of life takes us. We never know where we will end up or how it will turn out. What we know is that where we are today is part of a journey started days, weeks, months and even years in the past. This morning I am sitting here a bit humbled and proud of where I am in life. Take a look at this photo.
This photo was sketched at South Kitsap High School here in Port Orchard. It is a sketch of me from the cover of my book, Just A Thought. The student who sketched it gave it to me as she left the classroom. It was a surprise when I saw and even more so when she gave it to me. Actually, it was super cool. Yes, Super Cool! Not for the reason(s) you might think either. It was super cool because of the journey that brought me to the point where this young girl had the opportunity to make this drawing of me. Let me explain.
Yesterday, April 30th, 2018, I walked into South Kitsap High School. I do this walk five times a week when I teach dance fitness and boot camp style classes for the staff but this day was very much different. On this day I walked into the main office to get a visitors badge during school hours. This time, instead of an fitness instructor, I came as an author and motivational speaker who was going to talk to the class that happens to be reading my book this semester. After a few minutes in the office two eager boys each holding a copy of my book ushered me up to the classroom where I was greeted by my good friend April, a bunch of inquisitive faces and a stack of books with my face on it. As I got ready to speak it dawned on me that life had changed drastically for me in the past 30 years since I was these very kids.
When I walked into the classroom a young man was sitting in the back row with his chair leaned back against the wall and his arms crossed. I recognized everything about this young man. The look, the swagger, the air of "i'm just here" attitude. He was me at that age. Now, to be fair to the kid I only made that connection from body language not from actually talking to him at that point. That being said, I am sure there is more accuracy in my thought than inaccuracies in that assessment. In any case, I told the kid to sit up and we got started. I surveyed the room as I introduced myself. One kid kept his arms crossed, hoodie on and looked forward most of the time as if I would turn him into stone if he looked at me. He eventually softened his stare by the end. Others were very interested in what I was saying and some might have been indifferent to it all. It was a mix and it was great to be there. It was also very strange for me.
See 30 plus years ago I was the hard-headed kid who talked to much, cared too little and did almost nothing but disrupt my classes. I was a class clown, which in hindsight I'd change to simply clown, who wasn't worried about tomorrow or my future. At their age (Juniors) I wasn't even sure I was going to graduate. Yet, here I stood talking to kids that were once me. In fact, my 11th grade year I almost flunked out because I skipped a lot of classes, did very little homework and could care less about any of it. I was lucky a gang problem forced me to finish my senior year at my dads house in another city. It took 15 classes that year but I graduated on time and was kicked out into the world. Even now I shake my head yes when I think how lucky I was to have graduated.
Here I am in this classroom talking about life, choices, good and bad decisions and possible mistakes with kids who are reading my book. My Book! I still can't believe that dumb kid from all those years ago is standing in a room helping these young kids with their perspectives and life choices. It is crazy for me to fathom. It is a shock. It is amazing. It is humbling. Me, a kid who heard his friends mother tell her, "don't play with him he is nothing but trouble and will be dead or in jail by the time he is 18." is now the man who is helping others avoid that very pitfall. The guy who is now in a framed portrait from a young quiet girl with blue (I believe) braces. As I told the kids, I would never in a million years think I would be an author, a motivational speaker, a dance fitness instructor and an inspiration to others. I barely made it out of school on time when I was their age and yet here I am.
Today's blog is a reminder to all of us that we have no idea where life will take us. We have no idea what our struggles will lead us to learn. We have no idea whose life we will change for the better or worse. One day we just may wake up having turned everything around for the benefit of others. In fact, you, yes you, might be the one with a book that people need to read and a message that resonates deep within their beings making them better people. You never know.
This photo will stay on display in my house not for vanity reasons but because of what it now represents to me. It represents a life long journey to find the voice within me that speaks the truest and most authentic version of me. And by handing me that picture who knows what path my little lady with the braces will take next. Isn't life grand? I think so!