Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Never Too Late: A Thanksgiving Message

The month of November delivers us Thanksgiving, which brings a time of both gratitude and reflection on the past. As the next to last month of the year, it's also when we either pat ourselves on the back for how much we've accomplished or give ourselves a hard pass (after a little self criticism) on how much we didn't, then vow to hit the restart button after the New Year. However, whether 10 days, 10 months, or 10 years have slipped from your time clock, I was recently reminded of a famous quote for which we should all be thankful: "It’s never too late to follow your dreams, and there’s no time like the present to start."

As comic fans reeled from the news of the passing of American comic book writer, editor, and publisher Stan Lee at the blessed age of 95, my admiration for Lee didn't have much to do with his 60 years of print and cinematic genius as much as it did that Lee was in a club of historic "late bloomers." Although Lee joined the publishing business at Timely Comics in 1939 at the age of 17 and became editor-in-chief within a couple of years, it wasn’t until 1961--nearly at the age of 40--that he would hit his stride. Timely Comics would be renamed Marvel Comics that year, and in association with legendary comics writer-artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee would go on to revolutionize superhero comics.

Not to leave the "late bloomers" club without competition, late American playwright and double Pulitzer Prize winner, August Wilson's, career path took him on a journey as an Army vet, porter, short-order cook, gardener, and dishwasher. However, never abandoning his deep love for writing, Wilson co-founded the Black Horizon Theater in the Hill District of Pittsburgh along with his friend Rob Penny in 1968 and introduced his first play, Recycling, which performed for audiences in small theaters, schools and public housing community centers for 50 cents a ticket. However, it would not be until 1982 when the first of Wilson's famed 10-cycle plays--Jitney--would premiere, and seal his place in history as one of the greatest playwrights to ever live. Wilson, at the time, was 37.

On a more serious and timely note, this years mid-term election--due to current administrative turmoil and the non-leadership entities that reside in both our Nation's Capitol and White House--brought out candidates running for election that were both many and varied. Although the Democrats lost the Senate, it gained the House, and there was not a more notable victory than that of Georgia, first-time congressional candidate winner Lucy McBath, infamously known as the mother of Jordan Davis. Davis was killed in 2012 in an act of racist gun violence, while sitting in a car at a stop light with three friends. His murderer, frustrated by the "loud rap music" emanating from the vehicle in which Davis was riding, retrieved a loaded shotgun from his car, fired 10 rounds, and killed 17-year-old Davis instantly. The senseless act of violence would propel Bath to become a gun control advocate, serving as a spokesperson for Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, and ultimately leading her to make a bid for the Congressional seat in order to turn her personal loss into national change. Before tragedy propelled Bath into a different place in history, she was a flight attendant for Delta Airlines. She is 58.

May we all be fortunate to avoid the tragedy and pain Bath has endured as a motivation toward our greatness; however, it does not erase that fact that dreams, no matter how they're ignited, reside inside all of us and, unless acted upon, will also tragically wither and die. Whether it's a career change, returning to school, starting a business, starting a family, or even redefining relationships, it's simply never too late to make a change. No, it won't be easy but as another famous quote states, "If it were easy, it wouldn't be worth it." Because of this, however, I'm also wise enough to know there will be those beyond age 37, 40, even 58, who may read these historic accounts and think they're still too old to begin again or start something new. To that, I leave you with this: Harlan David Sanders, better known to chicken lovers everywhere as Colonel Sanders, founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken company at age 65. He went on to become a multimillionaire. I rest my finger, lickin' case.

In all seriousness, on this Thanksgiving, as we sit among family and friends and reflect on the past year, let's remember to be thankful for both what we've accomplished but also for dreams that remain in our hearts that remind us that as long as we have breath in our bodies, it's never to late to chase after them. May you be blessed with the courage and tenacity that propels you into your destiny, and may you be an encouragement to others on their path who can benefit from your support. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said "The time is always right to do what's right." Find out what your "right" is and get started working on it TODAY.

Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!