"People who get comfortable of mind and intellect get dull, people who get comfortable in their spirit miss what they are created for. They were created to magnify the glory of the world, not simply to reduce in size and fail to reflect that spirit."
Cory Booker, 2012 Stanford Commencement Speech
Over the weekend I had the occasion to catch a compelling, tear jerking speech by Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker addressing the 2012 graduates of Stanford.
In the comments found on the you tube site, I was a bit perplexed that even one graduate found his words to be irrelevant to them. Call me naive, but I was also shocked at a number of comments that appeared to be flavored by racism and political and social views that can often cause a blanket dismissal of receiving anything of value from someone who holds different ones.
Maybe it is that many of Stanford's college graduates have not yet bumped into the world unsheltered or maybe it is that they have not yet needed or found within themselves a spark that they will need to both carry and cultivate in a world that offers no guarantees of happiness, peace, fairness, success, or ease...
Cory Booker spoke about those who have found themselves embracing discomfort and making the courageous choice to keep going, in spite of the lows that can sideline a passion and dedication to live a life grounded in a conspiracy of love, not just for self but for all.
He spoke of courage, love and faith through a reflection of stories from a cultural history many would rather forget and a present that many don't want to see. He spoke of unity and service as a mission, not just a dream.
The quote at the top of this article is one you will hear as you watch this powerful plea, not just to 2012 graduates, but to all people of every nation, race and creed. As he spoke the words, it was as if he knew exactlty what I (and many others) needed to hear.
I realized that I had been shrinking, or as he stated, reducing in size and questioning something I have known since I was a little girl; what I was created for.
I realized that in the past I I have felt indebted to people and communities that didn't really support a deeper essence and expression from me. Of course, if I choose to be 100% responsible, this was merely a reflection of feeling indebted to a part of myself that does not really value who I am, what I do and therefore, the gifts I have been given.
And, I apologize. I apologize for discounting the gifts I have been given (whether recently or a decade ago!) by not seeing them as worthy, valued or valuable and for settling as a result. I apologize for continuing down paths that are just not mine to take anymore and being unwilling to take ones that have not already been cleared for easy navigation!
When I said yes to a higher calling, I left a very successful and financially rewarding but spiritually vacant career. After my first two years in business, I made another shift and all but stopped working in corporate and government settings. I stopped saying no and finally began saying yes - not to a personal desire as much as to a calling to live a life many would judge as insane and at times, completely irresponsible.
Taking time off this year was not much of a choice and it "appears" that much of what I have contributed and created over years of dedicated work and service was lost in the process. I say "appears" because appearances do change, in an instant, and are not always based in fact. And boy am I living, breathing proof of that!
As Booker said (amongst dozens of golden nuggets), "He who has a heart to help, definitely has a right to complain."
Well, I have a heart to help. As much as the who, how and through what is a mystery, I have a heart to help and serve in the ways I have been created for. I have a heart to change what needs to be changed and I pray to God I have a heart to never change what is mine to do and who I am (in God's eyes), absent of being influenced by anything external to me.
But, complaining without the willingness to take action--even difficult action--is a waste of precious energy I am just now getting joyfully reacquainted with.
Do take note of any agitation you experience because it is a call to make a change and it may not be the change that seems to be most obvious. Challenge your judgments and fears. Be willing to dissect and re-write the story that seems to define you and open to writing a revised version.
Be aware of sedentary agitation, as Booker speaks to in this speech, but don't necessarily ignore or attack what agitates you. Instead, go deep into conversation with your Source and ask where you are being asked to seek a deeper truth and clarity. Decide who you are going to be, regardless of all of the invitations to be something you won't really love or be proud of, and BE IT, regardless.
It takes courage and guts, resilience and discipline. It takes energy and failure and learning from every single interaction with aspects of ourselves we don't always embrace, let alone like.
And remember, as you will hear towards the end of this powerful tribute to all who have walked before and those who are yet to come, "when life has beaten you down so low...or you've done something wrong and are laden with guilt....or you lie in curled up in bed sleepless at night, courage is not a roar" (not always). It is "the small voice that says 'get up, take a shower, brush your teeth and go out there and love..."