It Takes A Lifetime

As a young boy I was given some profound advice that has served me well over the years. A very wise and influential man once told me, "It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and a single act to destroy it." At a tender young age I was unable to adequately comprehend that statement or even apply it to my life. Over the years I began to realize that that statement applied to not only your reputation but also life in general. In life we work towards improving ourselves, professionally, spiritually and mentally. Building a well-rounded life also takes a lifetime, but realizing that it takes just one foolish act to destroy your life's work of building a great reputation, a professional career or your relationship with God is the key. Remembering that with destruction comes the opportunity to rebuild is the other key.

In my life I have had the opportunity to watch and learn from a great teacher. A man who not only spoke about the keys to a successful and happy life but also lived them. He grew up the youngest son of a working class family. His father had no formal education, he had no degree from a prominent institution proclaiming his advanced learning. His father was simply a hard working man who taught his children that to get ahead in life you had to earn it.

Heeding the advice of his father and following his example he learned the meaning and the value of developing a tremendous work ethic. Knowing he was destined for life beyond the small towns he was raised in he took the knowledge and the examples his father had provided him and earned high honors in school. His life hit a bump in the road and he married at a very young age. In the eyes of some he had damaged his hard work, his efforts and his progress. Falling back on the counsel of his father he realized that with the destruction / distraction came the opportunity to rebuild. He went on to earn a scholarship to college and eventually earned a scholarship to medical school as well. The benefit of having a loving and supportive family coupled with an overwhelming desire to achieve continued to motivate him through the years.

He has faced many challenges within the frames of his life. The lessons learned from the mistakes of his youth and the teachings of his father and his example provided him with a template for the future. His goals and his aspirations were the fuel by which he began to realize his true potential. I have had the benefit of watching this man grow from a boy to a man. His example, his hard work and dedication is evident on a daily basis. He strives to impart the lessons of love and life given to him by his father. His advice and his counsel have served me well in my life.

The trials of this man have been many, but he has remained strong. He has raised 4 children over the years. He has buried a son, watched as his other son learned the painful lessons life has to offer when you decide to stray from the path. He has watched his 2 daughters learn similar lessons. During which he has remained strong, and true to the teachings and example of his father. I have the comfort and the knowledge that as his father and his son look down on him from the heavens that they are truly proud and in awe of the man they call son and father. I know that his 3 remaining children have similar feelings as well, but without the knowledge granted us when we depart this earth they cannot even comprehend the true greatness of this man.

He has done so many wonderful things for me over the span of my life. He has provided me with the tools and the knowledge I have today. He has taken the example and the lessons taught to him by his father and improved them, refined them and is in the process of imparting that wisdom to not only his children, but to all he comes into contact with. I have learned so many things from this wonderful man. I have learned to embrace failure and adversity because they are the keys to growth. I have learned that we are truly the owners of our destiny and as the owners we have full control over its direction and final outcome. I have learned the value of hard work and how it pays off not only in dollars but in knowledge as well. I have learned what unconditional love is and how it is not a myth but a reality. I have learned that anything in life is possible if you are willing to pay the price and dedicate yourself to earning it. Most importantly, I have learned that obstacles exist for everyone. How you overcome those obstacles and discover who you are is the challenge.

Men like this are rare, but they do exist. They are the means by which our society improves itself through time and through history. They are found in the halls of academia, in offices large and small, on the streets protecting and serving the people. They are a quiet few that live their lives in service of those they come into contact with, never knowing the impact they truly have and never requiring acknowledgement and reward for their contributions. I have the honor of knowing such a man. He has never asked anything of me that I was not capable of doing. He has raised the bar for me over the years and he has been there for me when I have fallen. He has picked me up, dusted me off and pushed me to try again and again until I realized success. He has been a living example of what we as human beings are capable of if we commit to excellence. He has been a friend a teacher and a hero.

He is my Father.

Remember Who You Are

Within the frames of our lifetime, we are exposed to an eclectic mix of individuals. These individuals serve to provide us with information, examples and structure that assist us in shaping who we become. Some of the material passed on to us contains substance and value, while some contain the recipe for heartache and confusion. During the formative years of my life I received a constant dose of advice: "Remember who you are."

From a very young age I was like a sponge, seeking out information and guidance from whomever was willing to lend it. Sometimes the guidance I received helped me along the way. Sometimes the guidance took me off of the path that was to lead me towards true happiness. One thing remained constant however, a single phrase that played in my head like a broken record, "Remember who you are." I cannot remember when it was exactly that I heard that phrase for the first time. Maybe it was in the womb, or perhaps on the first day of school. Whenever it was, I am grateful for those simple words.

But words are not enough. Along with those words comes the need for a living example, someone to show you what they truly mean and how it applies to life. Throughout my life I have had many individuals who have served as instructors, parents, teachers, church leaders and friends. But the one person who dedicated their life to teaching me the value of my life and the purpose of my life is the one person who constantly told me to remember who I was. That simple phrase and the example behind it guided me through many rough times.

Like so very many of us I have had to learn the lessons of life. Some of those lessons are wonderful, beautiful and filled with joy. Others are dark, confusing and fraught with despair. What makes it possible for us to glean knowledge from our experiences and grow are the individual fibers that make up the overall fabric of our lives. Those individual fibers are the simple words and actions of our instructors. What we take from their actions and words help to weave a comforting barrier between misery and ourselves. I had an instructor in my life who began their lessons of life with a single thread, the thread of remembering who I was.

Who was I? That was the first question I had. Over the course of time, my instructor showed me who I was. Not by telling me but assisting me in discovering who I had the potential to be. First she showed me that in order to discover who I was I had to love others. She provided me with a living example of love. Over the years I have watched as she has consistently practiced this principle and philosophy. She has the most pure love of life and people. She never judges, she never hates and she never speaks or acts unkindly. Over the years I have watched as life dealt her many hard blows. She has never wavered.

My instructor continued to guide me on my journey. She told me that I could do anything I wanted, I could be whatever I wanted to be. As a result of this encouragement, I never doubted my potential or my ability. Along the way I continued to learn. I learned the value of compassion, dedication, commitment, perseverance, love and forgiveness. As the lessons and the living example of those lessons continued I soon discovered who I was. When those powerful words of remembering came my way they began to have meaning. Whenever I strayed from the path, there they were. Over the years I strayed from the path on many occasions. Each time I heard the words and I could not deny the message contained therein. I was compelled to regain my footing and re-enter the path and continue my journey. Sometimes I was stubborn and I would deny who I was, but in the end the true nature of who I was made it necessary for me to return to the life that was mine.

I will forever be in debt to my instructor. For the time and effort she put into teaching me to be me. For the love and compassion she showed me. Everything I am today, and everything I will be, I owe to her. I have a wonderful life and a deep understanding of who I am and what life is all about.

My desire is to be a teacher of people, to be a living example in the same manner and fashion as my instructor. I have watched as she has guided so many people through life. She has given of herself completely and without thought or care for her own gain. She does it because she is truly and instrument of God. The messages she brings are of hope, joy and happiness. She lives as she teaches and she teaches as she lives. I have had the opportunity to know may people in my life, but none match the beauty and purpose of this wonderful woman.

Never in my life have I met an individual who possess the qualities and characteristics of this individual. Her approach to life and love are unparallel. Her desire to serve her fellow man is unmatched. I thank God on a daily basis for her involvement in my life, for the fact that he blessed me with the opportunity to know her. She truly is a living example of what we all have the potential to realize in our lives. She has never stopped assisting me in my life and to this day she teaches and lives a wonderful life. She is my living example, she is my friend, she is my mother.