Recently, I discovered, there is no way around it. Sometimes, you have to step out on faith and see where it takes you. Let’s face it, people who play it safe often go nowhere. It’s the risk takers who find success and/or change the world. Think Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and Sam Walton. At one point in their lives, they were told, ” You can’t do that! it would be crazy to go and start your own_________.” If they would have listened to the naysayers, then there may not have been an Apple, OWN Network, Microsoft, or Walmart. So maybe your dreams aren’t that big, you just want to open a little cafe, land a new job, lose weight, or write that bestselling novel. None of that is going to happen if you don’t do something about it. Change begins with you. The road to nowhere sometimes takes you to places that you may have never imagined. Life is about chances. Life is about choices. And guess what, you are the sole decision-maker in your life, but sometimes we give that important role to others, knowingly and unknowingly, and we allow them to define us and tell us what we should be doing, when we know we should be doing the very opposite. Are you going to take your role back in 2014? Are you going to keep living the same way in 2014, even though you know it’s not working and hasn’t been for a very LONG time, or are you going to that leap of faith and see where it takes you? Make the impossible possible.
Four days have passed and I’m still thinking about Mr. Mandela or Madiba (the name of his clan) as some are beginning to call him. But I have also been thinking about other people. I mentioned Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X in a previous post, but right after I published it, I thought, ” How could I have forgotten Steve Biko or Winnie Mandela?” Yes, she fell from grace, but she, Biko, and so many others continued the fight to end apartheid and even died for it, during Mr. Mandela’s imprisonment. So as we celebrate his life and accomplishments, let’s remember those who never received any accolades but fought the good fight. That day in 1990, when he took that long walk to freedom, I like to think, he walked in their footsteps. Yesterday, I heard Mr. Mandela say in a sound bite, “I’m no angel.” I didn’t hear all of the interview but that stood out, and made me think of so many other people who are considered heroes, revolutionaries, and freedom fighters to some and are vilified by others. Yasser Arafat, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Chris Hani, Yitzhak Rabin, Lech Walesa, Robert Mugabe, and Benazir Bhutto, are a few that come to mind. Controversial? Yes, but they all shared a commonality. At one time in their lives, they sparked a revolution, spoke out against the status quo, or evoked change, or all three. Speaking cost them a lot and some of them paid with their lives. During his trial in 1963, Nelson Mandela said that to end apartheid, he was prepared to die. How many of us believe in something so strongly that we are prepared to die? In the next few days, world leaders and dignitaries will descend upon South Africa to pay their respects and eulogize him. 95,000 people are expected to attend his memorial service tomorrow with millions viewing. How will you remember him? And don’t forget to check out the biopic Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom and read his biography of the same title.
Freedom often comes at a price and Nelson Mandela paid dearly. Today his debt was marked “paid in full” and he is now at rest. The price he paid was not just for Mother Africa but for Mother Earth. Through him, the world learned how valuable freedom is and how costly it can be to achieve it. Twenty-seven years he sat in a cell, while his oppressors continued to fuel apartheid. For 27 years, they tried to break him and crush his spirit, but wrong cannot kill right, and a Higher Power had other plans. By keeping him imprisoned they thought the dream would die, but as long as the desire is there, it lives.
What an extraordinary man and as President Obama said today, “A man for the ages.” Only an extraordinary man could endure what he did and not hate his oppressors. Only an extraordinary man can stand in his truth in the face of insurmountable odds, and overcome them to become even greater than he was before. Don’t think it’s possible, just read about Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X.
Even though he is gone, his legacy lives on. When you hear the world freedom, he will come to mind. When you hear the world unity, he will come to mind, and when you hear the word peace, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela will come to mind. Freedom fighter, husband, father, son, friend, African, teacher, prisoner, President, world leader, humanitarian, and a man who stood for something that benefited us all. He changed the world and you can too. RIP, Mr. Mandela.
Take a moment to remember all those we have lost from AIDS, the courageous individuals who are living with it, and the soldiers who are fighting to eradicate it once and for all. Become a warrior and donate or volunteer. RIP, Jesse “Sonny” Jones and Caleb Dube. A cure is coming!
It’s always tragic when someone dies before their time and don’t some people, famous or not, seem to affect you more than others. That’s how I felt today when I heard about the sudden, tragic death of Fast and Furious star, Paul Walker, yesterday in California. He was only 40 years old and that was too young to die. Yesterday, when he woke up, I wonder if anything felt different or if just felt like a normal day? I wasn’t that crazy about the Fast and Furious franchise, but I really liked his roles in Snow Dogs because it was the total opposite of most of his movies, and Takers, because he had a such a small role, but such presence, and that was the last movie of his I saw. Besides being one good-looking man, his acting had depth, kind of like a 21st century, James Dean; with a bad boy image, but a sense of vulnerability about him, and a private side (the real him) that he shared with those who knew and cared about him.
The irony of his untimely death, if there is one, is he was best known for playing a character who lived a fast and furious lifestyle, but yesterday, he was just a passenger on his way to an event for his charity organization, Reach Out Worldwide. There was obviously more to him than his movie star good looks. Besides being involved in charitable endeavors, he loved cars and made many personal appearances at car shows, and actually wanted to be a marine biologist. He even made a documentary about the subject for National Geographic.
Whatever the findings of the autopsy of Paul and his friend, he appeared to live a good life, doing what he loved, helping people, and having fun. He leaves a daughter behind and a host of people who loved him. He didn’t just make movies, he made a difference in the world and touched lives in his own special way. In the end, isn’t that what really matters? How many of us can say that? RIP Paul.
I haven’t written in a minute and it’s due more to laziness than anything else, but recently there has been several events that have reignited a spark in me. Stay tuned…More to come.