Admittedly, I have found that trying to humbly, truthfully, and respectfully tell one’s story can at times produce a surprisingly strong level of anxiety. For this reason, I did have to initially ask myself, am I really ready to revisit past childhood hurts, personal missteps, shortcomings or old wounds, some of which may still prove mildly sore, with the degree of courage, honesty, humility, and wisdom that will truly be required?
The truth is, this whole idea was really that of my junior high school age friend Sal.
Last year, at the 40 year anniversary of James Caldwell High School student graduates he said, “Jonathan you should go ahead and tell your story” that is, “where you started from in life and how you eventually get to where you have now come to find yourself.
Without even saying anything, I sensed that Sal knew equally well as I did that there had been a time in my past life when facing particularly hard times and poor choices seemingly made the possibility of my having a bright and promising future look mighty bleak. After all, being a black, fatherless, poor, and skinny little kid was far from a golden ticket to a life of imagined success back in the mid-to-late 1960’s in typical small town America.
Well, after giving Sal’s idea some serious thought for about two weeks, it occurred to me that his suggestion might actually be the best opportunity ever for me to finally ‘face my demons’ by reflecting more intently on who I have managed to become, what I would like to now do with the rest of my life, and most importantly of all, to carefully consider how I intend to go about making sure that I have finally learned to stick to my guns when it comes to achieving the very things that matter most to me at this advancing stage in my life?
Today, quite obviously there are plenty of kids out there in the mean streets of many American neighborhoods that have it much tougher than I ever did. I believe that this is largely because these youth greatly lack the financial, emotional, social, and spiritual support that was so often made available to me during some of the most critical stages in my personal development.
In light of this, I thought to myself, let me then go ahead and make a serious attempt to look for the possible similarities embedded in my past experiences in life with the hope that I can somehow show a number of personal frames of reference that may offer encouragement, hope, and generate alternative ideas for a number of today’s struggling youth. I also feel very strongly that I actually owe this to the next generation.
After all, each of us deep down inside has the need to do more than to just exist or to simply get by in this world. Our lives need to make sense to us first. On this, I feel quite confident that we can all easily agree.