Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Martin Luther King and His I Have a Dream Speech, 50 Years Ago Today

50 years ago today, the brave, bold leader that was Martin Luther King Jr. took centre stage of America's view in the Mall and Lincoln Memorial to talk about civil equality. His was a message for the equality of all people, not just Blacks as some people may like to think. In fact, a quarter of the 250,000 who showed up to see him speak on that hot August day were white! Regardless of the colour of the people who listened to King speak, they showed up because they wanted social equality for all, and not live in a country where a small elite few controlled the masses by keeping them down.

I'd like to give you an idea of how long ago 50 years is from 1963 to present day; that would be like being in 1963, and having a look back at 1913. Cars were barely on the road, the airplane was still a experiment in human engineering, and there were still horse and buggies on the streets. 1963 was light years away from 1913.

Except in civil rights...

Although there were massive advances in technology and human engineering during that span of those 50 years, very little was done about civil rights for all Americans who were created equal in the eyes of God, but not treated as such before the law. "Separate but Equal" still ran its course.

The courage King had to deliver this speech was unparalleled. His message of love, kindness, equality, and civil rights for all were long overdue in society, and here stood the perfect man to address the issues at hand. These were the days of Camelot and JFK, and it all took place 50 years ago today.

I am so thankful for powerful leaders such as Martin Luther King. His legacy can never be measured by how impactful his speech was that day. Things started to move after that day. It may have taken a long time to get there, yet there was progress in having every human being be heard, understood, accepted and respected regardless of age, skin colour, sexuality, religion or any other factor to discriminate against.

Is the world perfect now because of Martin Luther King's speech that day? Of course not. It will never be free from human injustice at the hands of those who want to control the power of the world. However, I would like to think it was all part of the plan to get empowerment in the hands of able-bodied people who could pass these tools to the next generation so that someday, we will realize that we are all souls of no colour, religion, sexuality and ageless. We are all spirit beings having a human experience, laughing about what we "look" like in this life in order to teach us the lessons we are here on earth to learn.

So thank you for your life of service Dr. King. Thank you for inspiring in others, the hope you held for all mankind. It cost you your life to do it, and it has been a wonderful message and a lasting legacy that you would have been proud of.

God Speed Martin Luther King Jr. wherever you are...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Journey of a Lifetime and Your Impact in the World

I remember watching the movie, "Coach Carter" and hearing an amazingly insightful quote.

"Our biggest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure..." That quote came from Marianne Williamson, and she is absolutely right.

A friend of mine read my novel, "Journey of a Lifetime". He came back to me and told me something that I knew, but had not fully acknowledged.

He told me that my novel would change lives.

It gave me goosebumps to hear that, and I quickly dismissed it. I dismissed it because it was safer to think that my novel would NOT change lives, rather than give the reader the insights to their own power. The intention of my novel is exactly that, yet I was not prepared for the acknowledgement of it. I wasn't prepared because it is my worst fear that I could change the world. I mean, that's an arrogant thought, right? "Who am I to change the world?" Yet, we all do it everyday. We help people by listening, by forgiving, by loving and caring. Every action we take has an impact, no matter how small. I  steps in our own communities, we would have an impact on the world. We may never know what the impact is, but we know that there is one.

The effects of my book will never be measurable. I will never know the effect it has on people, the world, or my life. Yet, I know it will because I know it already has and it has yet to be published and released to the public.

I know this because another friend of mine went to an addictions councelling meeting tonight and quoted the first line of my novel, which is...

"To me, it all comes down to the final five minutes of your life..."

How do you want to be remembered? Do you feel that you were heard, understood, accepted and respected in your life to those who mattered most to you?

Hearing that the opening line from my novel had an impact in that meeting, made the turbulent journey it took me to get to write "Journey of a Lifetime" totally worth it.

Instead of dismissing my accomplishment, I accepted it. I took it in. I thought, "People will get their lives back. Parents will get their children back, kids will get their parents back." I had a hand in that. While I could have been out doing anything else with my time, I was learning how to write that novel over and over again so that it sounded perfect for you, the reader.

Then I got completely overwhelmed and got significant about myself for a minute and I cried. I didn't cry because I was sad. I cried because everything I had endured in my life which felt overpowering in every moment, didn't stop me. It made me have a stronger capacity to be a better person by helping others. So I cried because I realized that I made it happen, and I had arrived.

Others have may have their moments like climbing Mt. Everest or completing an Iron Man competition. They are great moments, no doubt. But the moment moves onward, and you are forced to try to remember the feeling.

"Journey of a Lifetime" will outlive me. It is bigger than me, and it will continue long after I am gone. The hope that every single person will realize their own power in their own journey is an important one. If my novel helps them get there, then it was the greatest thing I think I could contribute myself towards, and I will be perfectly ok knowing that I had an impact without knowing how much.

Playing small does not serve the world and its greatness. But mostly it doesn't serve you! It is my hope that you pick something you are passionate about and start building your capacity towards it. Take small steps, or big ones! But start walking towards what you would want to be remembered for.

After all, everything does come down to the final five minutes of your life, and what you want to be remembered for...

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Just Start With "Hi"

On my Journey of a Lifetime 15 years ago today, I found myself in Stockholm, Sweden. I was staying at a youth hostel on the south side, named Zinkensdamm when I ventured out with some fellow backpackers to Kungsträdgården to participate in the city's Water Festival.

Downtown Stockholm was like a runaway party. There were hoards of people everywhere! Being a first time visitor, I knew nobody but the people I had come from the hostel with, and I even lost them in the crowd. I was alone in a sea of people, being a virtual stranger to the country, city, and language.

While looking around in the crowd, I noticed one blond female over all the others. She was wearing leather pants for God's sake, and I could not keep my eyes off her. Of course I was paralyzed with fear because it immediately occurred to me that I wanted to go talk to her.

But I didn't.

I watched her from a far until I finally lost her in the crowd. I frantically tried to locate her, but she was gone. Within seconds, the self-loathing kicked in. It was a battle of good Fred Flintstone-bad Fred Flintstone in my head of, "Why didn't you go talk to her?!"
One was on the attack, and the other was entrenched for a brilliant defence. Finally, after an epic internal battle, a truce was called in favour of an agreement. I capitulated, and gave my word that if I got a second chance and this woman came back, it meant that I HAD to go over and talk to her.

She came back about 10 minutes later and the panic set in. What would I say? How would I say it? As I walked over towards her to keep my word, my hamster-wheel mind spun every possible scenario of what I could say to her. I was over complicating it and I knew it.

When I got there, it really was as simple as just saying "Hi, I'm Chuck."

That was 15 years ago today, and Martina (yes, that is her name) and I are still great friends. From the start of that simple greeting, we talked all night, and she invited me to a Swedish crayfish party the following day at her friend, Mathias' house. Friends like Mathias and Peter that I created a lasting relationship with that night, are still close to my heart and valued greatly by me today.

We all have had children, and I have seen them grow, and we've kept in touch all of these years. I'm so grateful for them and their friendship because even though we don't see each other often, when we do, it is like a family reunion.

Yet I realize that all of this was only made possible in the one moment of clarity I had to stop being fearful and just simply say "Hi" to another human being.

And today, 15 years later, I am overjoyed that I did. Looking back, I realize that I could have dealt with the rejection of Martina not accept or like me, but knowing what I know now about our friendship, I would never have forgiven myself for at least seeing where the possibility could have gone if I simply took the first step. I am a better man for having been to Sweden and met my wonderful friends there, and have met many more wonderful friends in Sweden subsequently.

It was truly one of the most wonderful stories of my Journey of a Lifetime.

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Journey of a Lifetime Perception

It certainly has been the Journey of a Lifetime!

I think that every writer's worst fear is that their audience won't "get" their message. For the past 4 years that I have been writing the manuscript for "Journey of a Lifetime", I have stewed at my computer fearful that my reader will not understand my work. I would obviously want them to love and connect to my story, its characters and themes, yet understanding is what I would have settled for.

As I write this, I can tell you that I am overjoyed with the positivity that you have received my novel with. I know that your feedback is honest, because I get completely different reviews of my book from each person. At first, I thought I had failed as a writer to connect with my reader because of the eclectic response I received. It was my expectation that everyone was going to connect to the main character, Tristan Kelly, but this was not the case. Instead I found the reader connected to different characters, some major, and some with tiny roles. They enjoyed different parts of the book and to be honest, some of the most enjoyed parts were passages that I was going to edit out because I thought they were meaningless and pointless.

I'm certainly glad I didn't.

What I also found was that I wrote something, and although each person read the EXACT same thing, they sometimes got completely opposite views on it. Much the same how The Bible is read in exactly the same text, and different meanings are interpreted, so was the same with my book.

This simply amazes me.

However, the common thread I am getting is that we are all the same. Everyone who has read and commented on Journey of a Lifetime, has told me that they have had the same feelings, connections and experiences in their lives with surprising accuracy as what my novels talks about. When the reader connects to the story, it propels them into their own life and in this case, allows them to see insights and new views about their legacy in life.

Creating and leaving a legacy is most likely one of the most, if not the most important thing we will ever do with our lives. Your life is your unique story and you are the author of that story. You have experiences unique only to you in the 7 billion people on the planet, and yes, it is worth telling it!

Journey of Lifetime is really about you telling that story, because the Journey of a Lifetime is really yours! This story is simply the vehicle which transports you to look at your life and want to be understood for everything in your life.

Because at the end of the day, we all need to be heard, understood, accepted and respected.

Anything else would not be Journey of a Lifetime...

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