My latest read, challenges members of academia to put together their last few PowerPoint slides and deliver what will become known as their last lecture. And not because they are being fired, but because they are being asked to think of the morbid reality of their parting words to the younger generation, if they are unable to deliver another lecture again. The book focuses in on one particular professor who actually is dealing with the reality of dying and so what he puts forth is a lecture that he wants to have air for his children in years to come since he won't be around. He asks attender's of the lecture to remember their inner child and spirit, while he delivers an unforgettable ode to childhood dreams.
Coincidental in reading this book, as well as a post from one of my writing inspirations Hannah Brencher
(http://hannahbrencher.com/2012/11/19/you-are-called-to-be-a-brick/) I have been forced to stop in my tracks and answer the infamous "WHO THE HECK AM I" question.
In the last lecture, Randy Pausch talks a lot about facing brick walls in your life, and that often times these walls are put up in front of you to really test how badly you want things. Over time you walk away from the things you care about least and fight to push through those walls for the things you care about most. The concept seems pretty normal for what we have all heard before - you fight for what you believe in and don't ever give up. But in times when we are faced with challenges that seem out of our control we often cry out for help, push people away and fall in weakness rather than putting on those boxing gloves and charging through those walls. We often give up when we can't see the light at the end of the tunnel and let our fears get the best of us. But the truth is, if we look inside we always know deep down that, that fight is worth it, we just have to muster up the courage to live through the tough times so we can scream for joy in the good.
Now linking Randy's concept of the brick wall to Hannah's post on "being called a brick" it's clear that while Randy asks you to break through those brick walls, Hannah makes you realize that as a result of all your fights and battle wounds, you are able to be the brick, that intricate layer of foundation that supports the ones closest to you, when they come to you and admit their failures, weaknesses and fears. At the end of the day we are all fighting through life to support one another as we continuously make mistakes, implement changes and get better. At every point in our lives we are either falling on a brick or being the brick for someone else.
But can we all actually identify with this reality? I mean are we all strong enough to realize who the hell we are? And what that means to people? And does it make your stomach turn or are you grateful for that person you see in the mirror? Are you okay with knowing that your whole life will be spent in this constant role reversal of falling and being fallen on?
The truth is that while we make mistakes or face failures it makes it harder for us to look in the mirror and really face ourselves head on. We question who are are, and are afraid to say as Hannah says " This is me. Broken, yes. Learning, yes. Trying, always. But this is me." We all are in this impulsive race to get through life with out ever really accepting our fears, failures or defeat.
I think in answering the "WHO THE HECK AM I?" question, I have come to be able to look at myself in the mirror and say just what it says above - This is me. Broken, yes. Learning, yes. Trying always. But this is me. - only I will take it one step further and say I am proud of where I have come from, the battle wounds I have faced and where I stand now. It's only because of these battle wounds that I am able to embrace the challenges that lay in front of me and be the brick that the people around me need. I wouldn't rather be in anyone else's skin and I know that the world needs me.
Now I ask all of you in cyberspace, to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself, WHO THE HECK DO YOU SEE? And are you grateful for who you see? Or is your stomach turning? And those battle wounds, have you let them consume you so that you run in fear, or are you using them to make tomorrow that much better?
I know I have been pushing this whole reflection idea as of late, but I think its fitting for the time of year. With the holiday season and the new year around the corner, its our chance to really right our wrongs, pat ourselves on the back and move forward knowing that we have bricks all around us to catch us when we fall.
And with that I sign off :)