In August 2013, I shared a post titled “Fear Not.” I was then in Florida reflecting on a fairly tough time in my life. In that post, I promised I would in time share some good news with you. Since then, against significant financial odds I was accepted to graduate school and I am now just a few months away from graduating with honors. Also since that date, I married Charlene, my compliment, best friend and the woman I love dearly. Plus, my first book will be published by the summer.
Despite the unbelievably devastating loss of my mentor and friend Dr. Myles Munroe, I reflect on the telephone conversation we had three days before the plane crash that killed him, his wife Pastor Ruth and seven others. It was November 6, 2014 and Pastor Munroe and I were confirming arrangements for him to talk to students in the leadership perspectives class I taught at my university. He died before it could happen but during that conversation he had said something remarkable I will never forget. He told me he was proud of me and had recently reviewed a copy of my life’s vision and mission statement I gave him more than five years prior. He told me I was on track and encouraged me to continue my work.
In similar form, I encourage you to have a personal vision and mission statement for your life and then to pursue it with vigor. Now is the time. Your moments are here. Let not life triumphs and/or tribulations distract you. Miracles may take many forms and may be as “simple” as the change of ones heart from apathy and unforgivenness to altruism and compassion. What you do matters!
At hundreds of feet in the air, our feet dangled. Then we extended our arms like sea gulls as the fresh ocean breeze gently moved us back and forth. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done? What’s the most romantic thing you’ve experienced? Can you imagine bringing both together and sharing it with someone you think is awesome? I did that and what a fantastic experience it was. Today, I treated Charlene to a surprise parasailing adventure.
About two weeks, I told her I had planned an “experience” for her and that it may include getting wet. I answered her questions with skillful ambiguity and she accepted. Even after we arrived at the beach she still did not know why we were there. No doubt, the collection of jet skies gave her an idea but it was the ideal distraction to the real surprise. The weather was a cool 70 degrees fahrenheit and the sun was setting. The perfect time for a romantic soar for two at two hundred and fifty (250) feet.
The team at J. R. Action Water Sports ferried us by jet ski to the launch pad. Charlene and I slipped into our life vests as the father and son team joked about what we were about to do. We all laughed about medical insurance. They were just as friendly as Marcia, who had greeted us near the water’s edge. We were soon harnessed to our chute and off we went from the platform.
We rose higher and higher until we could see many of the notable landmarks on New Providence and Paradise Island. Below us were miles of crystal clear ocean and to the west of us, one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. I was in no hurry for it to end and neither was she. We locked arms in a pose similar to Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) “flying” on the bow of the Titanic in the movie of the same name. It felt great to see her smile.
Parasailing is not for everyone but quality time certainly is. Today, make the extra effort to make that someone special feel valued and treasured. The love you give is an investment not only in the person but equally yourself. You’re worth it. What you do matters.
“I Love My Life”….the popular reggae song played from the boom box connected to my iPad as the group of about eighty, 5th and 6th grade boys swayed to the positive lyrics. Then, their excitement and anticipation grew as I selected a few of them to show their dancing skills in front of the class. Each of the four boys showed off their popping, breaking and other popular dance moves as their classmates cheered them on.
As the momentum continued to build, the students eagerly shouted responses to my rallying call. “CW Sawyer Eagles can you hear me?” “Yes Sir!” they screamed. With the room divided into two halves, each tried to top the other. They seemed as excited about the music and entertainment as the permission to shout as loudly as they wanted. We laughed, clapped our hands and talked for about 40 minutes. But what stood out most to me was our discussion about what they wanted to be when they grow up. Mick wants to be a dancer, Roland a Royal Bahamas Defense Force officer, Wisley a carpenter and Teko, an FBI agent. Joranden wants to be an astronaut, Shaquille an NBA star and Daron a truck driver. For others, they want to be a singer, doctor, artist, scientist, fisherman, track star, musician, UFC fighter, teacher, zoo keeper, pilot and even a spy. Phil Stubbs’ popular Bahamian song, Persevere reinforced the importance of what they had to say. It took longer than I had expected but gladly I listened as every one of the young men got to express his dream for adulthood.
What about you? What would you like to be when you “grow up”? Some of us are barely past our teens. That’s the Justin Bieber, Bodine and TI’s of today. Others of us have been around long enough to know who John F. Kennedy, R.M. Bailey and Bruce Lee are. Wherever you are on the time line, the truth is your time won’t last forever. Carpe diem, “seize the day.” What you do matters.
Have you experienced a hurricane or tornado? I have. In fact, several. The threat of a hurricane or cyclone strike is as much a way of life for those of us in Florida, China and the Caribbean as the threat of twisters in Kansas, Texas or Oklahoma. What’s more, social media and news stories share the experience with the world.
Right now I’m having to stay inside as Hurricane Sandy leaves her footprints throughout my community. Gale force winds rush through every opening it can find and the trees outside move like a disorganized Olympic rowing team. While most of us know of the destructive power of a storm, earthquake or tsunami, we may not as quickly consider the “little” things we do or say that may damage or potentially destroy our lives or someone else’s.
Poor eating habits, consuming or abusing substances (not all of which are illegal), conversations and associations that undermine good character and integrity, thoughts that move our minds to self-defeating attitudes, condescending remarks to others (even those we say we love), viewing and reading material that blur the line between right and wrong and the list goes on. A few days go, a mechanic told me that a car is like a human being. What you put in (fuel, oil etc) is what comes out (performance and reliability). Invest your time, talents and resources in building the best you and those around you. What you do matters.
Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” is one of my favorite songs. Today I reflect on my own quote, “The world is looking for its next hero but your child only wants you. Are you that hero?” Once I posted it to my FB page, I realized that my message wasn’t just for the world but first for me. How often do we think about the depth of responsibility and privilege of influence parenthood brings? While I’m not a biological parent, my responsibility to father, protect and guide are no less pressing. After all, I am a father figure, a godfather and an uncle. More so, I am a human being. Whether you are a woman in France, an uncle in Canada, a hubby in the USA or a father in the Caribbean, we all have a role to play in the healthy development of the children around us. What You do Matters.