Life gives us exactly what we make of it; our level of commitment, to nourish and sustain us, is at the core; while the seed of our expectations, planted at the very start, gives us everything we ever really need to know.
This morning I am fascinated by our "level of commitment" to Afghanistan; over the last ten years, it has ebbed and flowed, it's been up and down, it's captured our attention, and then poof!, out of sight out of mind and then back again.
For the United States, it has settled in an uncomfortable position to say the least; we are damned if we do and damned if we don't, and would hate to risk it either way. We have one foot in and one foot out, do the hokey pokey and we turn ourselves about...
How can we say in one breath, we are out July 2011, and in the very next, be on our knees committed to a marriage for a lifetime, if that's what it takes? It just doesn't make sense. We simply can't have it both ways.
Then there is Hamid Karzai, who in a real stunner happened to say this yesterday -- mind you, while at a press conference to calm the nation's nerves...and I QUOTE: "If there is anything we can do, call us."
We have our warriors in your backyard to fend off the growth of radical Islam terrorists planted amongst the poppy fields, and you act like the neighbor next door, offering what appears to be an insincere sentiment without the stamina or will to back it up? Oh yes, let me know if you need anything...cup of sugar, I'm there for ya...
His comment almost made me laugh, if it weren't for the sinking feeling in my gut that we are in the wrong place at the wrong time, while if we are not 'in it to win it' no matter what it takes, it would be highly recommended for us just to get out. Now. As fast as we can.
Our level of commitment is everything.
In the very same evening, I happened to jump to the PBS News Hour -- and all I can say now that I'm looking back -- it must have been Divine Providence leading me out of the desert, or something.
There he was, a guy named Wes Moore. An articulate, handsome, breath of fresh air; a tall glass of water to quench my weary soul, indeed. He was exactly what I needed.
Wes wrote a book -- of which I am doing something I would not normally do -- by recommending it before I've read it myself. Look for The Other Wes Moore today, and buy it. Support this man and his foundation, built upon a simple premise, there were two roads... one took the high, the other took low.
Without reading it, as lame as it sounds, I can just tell you my expectations of value are on high alert for this one; for this man is the very example of living his expectations, rising above challenges and making something of himself. For the two "Wes Moore's" were of startling similar backgrounds: both from single mothers, both from the same inner city neighborhood, both with the same inclination towards drugs and gangs, and both with the same prospects of getting out...or so we thought.
Yes, both boys played with fire, committed petty crimes at an early age, and seemed all but a lock in for taking the road commonly traveled by an African-American boy of these highly suspect and tenuous surroundings. However, one boy had a mother who had a dream for him to be different -- and believed he could. On a wing and a prayer, she sent him off to a military school to set him straight, if you will, and give him a foundation to carry him into a life of higher aspirations. And it worked.
Years down the road, this Wes comes home to find his mom mumbling about some other Wes Moore; turns out there are these posters up all over the neighborhood, bearing a picture with the forewarning that "Wes Moore may be armed and dangerous" and to steer clear.
Well, the long story short, is that Wes Moore, captured by the happenstance of the two worlds of the same but different converging, wrote a book about The Other Wes Moore -- reaching conclusions that our expectations shape our lives in unimaginable ways -- and in looking back, he could very well have been this other Wes Moore.
The Other Wes Moore sits in jail today, having been the outcome of what Wes refers to as "making unforgivable [bad] decisions." But the point is they came nearly from the exact same seed by all accounts, and could have been twins, if not for the internal push from within to become something better, and to believe and expect that he could by the strength and conviction of a mother who wished harder for him than for herself.
Sure, luck may play a part; being in the right place at the right time maybe. Perhaps a few caring souls along the way, integrally involved at all levels to help him succeed, sure. But above all, it took Wes' personal commitment to do the work, the hard work -- and boy did it pay off, he went on to be a Rhodes Scholar of all things! He grew to expect great things -- and he did great things; as he said in the interview, "expect to graduate, and you do."
His story, in a word, inspires me; it forces me to stop and pay attention to where my commitments are in my life -- am I committed to what truly grows a better person, today, right now? What kind of life am I nurturing -- and how may I serve my girl better, or my love better, or my own soul better? How absolute are my expectations, and in turn my actions, in creating the outcome for success or failure, in my own life? Are both of my feet in, dare I ask, in everything life requires of me? Am I doing my very best, to push myself forward?
Of course, on a grander scale, my heart aches for the path of this country; my mind wanders down the road of financial defeat and insurmountable debt, the absence of good character and of the Wes Moore's of true substance, finding ourselves suddenly at the crossroads -- the lost, disenchanted, and the so called disenfranchised on the one side, coupled with those who recognize the secret within us all and only believe in the something better -- an idea humbly fostered by our forefathers, seemingly terribly lost in translation from one generation to another two hundred and thirty four years later.
It is unimaginable really; how we have all come from the same seed set forth by our founders, and yet here we are, collectively, dying on the vine.
I wish to nurture the mindset of the wiser Wes Moore in us all; I wish to stand for an undying commitment to America, the land of the free, home of the brave -- maker of people like Wes Moore, the Wes Moore who wrote a book about The Other Wes Moore -- planting seeds of greatness, shedding a little light on those of us who need a little help, providing us with a gentle reminder of what we are made of, our potential, sprinkling us with inspiration and the push to burst forth with both feet firmly planted, committed for all seasons, everlasting.
Make it a Good Day, G