Was sitting on a bench in Central Park yesterday afternoon, and I’ll be damned if this didn’t come walking toward me.
Wanted to tell one more story from YMCA camp. As part of their camp experience, each camper chooses a goal that he/she wishes to accomplish before the end of the session. Each camper is then assigned a counselor to mentor them in pursuit of their goal.
This is Malik from Brooklyn. Last summer, Malik’s goal was to stop bullying at camp.
"How do you do that?" I asked.
"Well, you can’t stop it completely," he said. "But if you see someone getting bullied, you can ask the bully to think about how he would feel if the same thing happened to him."
The coolest part of the story happened after camp ended, when Malik returned home to Brooklyn. He ran for president of his 4th grade class on an anti-bullying platform, and won the election because “there were 15 other kids who got bullied who all voted for him.” After he was elected, he convened a meeting of all the class presidents, and passed a school-wide rule than anyone seen bullying would have to serve detention during both lunch and recess.
Warms the cockles of your heart!
Yesterday, I was walking through Washington Square Park when I noticed a small boy and his mother selling cowboy supplies. “We’re saving up for a horse,” they told me.
The boy’s name was Rumi. After speaking with Rumi’s mother, I learned that Rumi has loved horses his entire life. He has horse themed shirts, toys, and backpacks. All those things are great. But Rumi’s biggest dream is to own a horse. “You can get one for $1000!” he told me. After a full afternoon of selling cowboy supplies, he’d raised $1. He seemed a little downtrodden by the afternoon’s results, but committed to his ultimate goal.
That night, I jumped on the phone with a couple of horse experts— not Rumi’s parents— who have special expertise regarding kids who want horses. These horse experts— not Rumi’s parents— told me that having a horse is super expensive. It’s just about impossible for normal parents, especially ones who live in a small NYC apartment, and who aren’t wealthy, to provide a horse for their child. Sometimes this can be quite heartbreaking.
So I thought of a plan. Let’s send Rumi on a Wild West Adventure! With the size of the HONY audience, it’d be quite a simple thing to do. I spent all last night making phone calls, and threw in $300 to get us started. Please consider tossing a few coins in the [cowboy] hat:
“I rushed through life. Now I’m relaxing. And I’ve gotten more out of relaxing than I did out of rushing.”
“What were you rushing toward?”
“Didn’t you get satisfaction from your achievements?”
“No. They only caused me to want more achievements.”
I asked her for a piece of advice. She reached in her purse, pulled out a piece of paper, and handed it to me. It said this:
Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good. Life is too short— enjoy it. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present and the future. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about. If a relationship has to be secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
Take a deep breath, it calms the mind. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else. When it comes time to go after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer. Burn the nice candles, use the nice sheets, wear the nice lingerie, wear the nice clothes. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
Over prepare, then go with the flow. No one is in charge of your happiness but you. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: ‘In five years will this matter?’ Always choose life. Forgive but don’t forget. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time. However good or bad a situation is, it will change. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
If we all threw our problems in a pile and we saw everyone else’s, we’d grab our’s back. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need. Yield. Friends are the family we choose. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.*
*Some Google sleuthing revealed the author of these tidbits to be Regina Brett: www.reginabrett.com
“We’ve been friends since we were 13.”
“What’s the most fun you’ve ever had together?”
“Oh, we don’t know…”
“Well, what’s the hardest you’ve ever laughed together?”
“Now you listen here! I want you to write down these questions you’re asking us, pull them out when you’re 85 years old, and see if you can answer them yourself!”