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“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!

“I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

“I have a dream today.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A Dream Came True

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I’ve always wanted to be my own boss.  Part of the reason is because I have never been my own boss, and I am bitten by “the grass is greener on the other side” bug.  But the other part of the reason is wanting to prove to myself that I have what it takes to strike out on my own.  This dream has been alive ever since I moved to the Bay Area and started to mingle with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs-wanna-be’s (myself included) in social and corporate settings.

But something is holding me back.  Actually, a handful of things are holding me back — it’s money, it’s talent, it’s time, it’s this, it’s that.  In fact, ever since I’ve identified these barriers, I have been trying to conquer every one of them by rationalizing why I would be triumphant in the end.  But no matter how hard I try to make sense of my fear, I am still not able to take the necessary first step.

Today, however, I found the following passage that clicked inside me. Curious why the passage resonated with me, I decided to dig deeper.  Turns out one of my biggest fears is actually me not able to make a difference with what I do.  This passage makes it super clear that if I don’t do anything, I DEFINITELY won’t make a difference.  It’s such a simple concept to understand, yet I never fully digested the meaning until now.  Now I believe I am sufficiently inspired to do something about my dream.  I hope these words will do the same in inspiring you to do more with your life too!

“I say to you, this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.

You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be, and one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid.

You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab or shoot or bomb your house. So you refuse to take a stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are ninety, but you are just as dead at 38 as you would be at ninety.

And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.

You died when you refused to stand up for right.

You died when you refused to stand up for truth.

You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
From the sermon “But, If Not” delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church on November 5, 1967.

I found the following while I was searching for some inspiration today.  We all need inspiration, but inspiration is especially important when we are facing difficulties in our lives.  I happen to be going through some rough patches in my life right now, and I found the story very uplifting.  I hope it will be the same for you:

I took my text from a little book called The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein, which I can describe only as a fairly tale for adults.  It tells the story of a circle that was missing a piece.  A large triangular wedge had been cut out of it.  The circle wanted to be whole with nothing missing, so it went around looking for its missing piece.  But because it was incomplete and therefore could roll only very slowly, it admired the flowers along the way.  It chatted with worms.  It enjoyed the sunshine.  It found lots of different pieces, but none of them fit.  So it left them all by the side of the road and kept on searching.

Then one day the circle found a piece that fit perfectly.  It was so happy.  Now it could be whole, with nothing missing.  It incorporated the missing piece into itself and began to roll.  Now that it was a perfect circle, it could roll very fast, too fast to notice the flowers or talk to the worms.  When it realized how different the world seemed when it rolled so quickly, it stopped, left its found piece by the side of the road and rolled slowly away.

The lesson of the story, I suggested, was that in some strange sense we are more whole when we are missing something.  The man who has everything is in some ways a poor man.  He will never know what it feels like to yearn, to hope, to nourish his soul with the dream of something better.  He will never know the experience of having someone who loves him give him something he has always wanted and never had.

There is a wholeness about the person who has come to terms with his limitations, who has been brave enough to let go of his unrealistic dreams and not feel like a failure for doing so.

Source:  Kushner, Harold S.  “You Don’t Have to be Perfect.”  Reader’s Digest May 1997: 167-68.

I stumbled upon a quote from Mother Teresa many years ago.  Ever since then, I’ve incorporated it into my email footer not only to share with others what life is and can be but also to remind myself that life indeed is what you make it.  Here is the quote:

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is a beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is life, fight for it.

I recently found the following video from YouTube that really brings the quote to life, so I want to share that with you here.

As the video says, “Each one of us on this earth has the ability to lead and to inspire.”

Life really is what you make of it!

On Friday, July 25, I wept for a man I’ve never met. I am sure thousands did the same. The man was Randy Pausch, most well-known for the “Last Lecture” he delivered. I recently finished his book also by the same title, and that’s what prompted me to write this post. If you enjoyed his lecture, you will find his book equally if not more inspiring.

In the book, he talked a lot about reaching out and making a difference in people’s lives. He said one of his goals in life had always been to teach young students to think for themselves, and he gave examples of how he made that happen on a one-to-one scale as well as on a one-to-million scale. Reading those words in the book made me want to reach out and make a difference in those around me too.

It’s one thing to be inspired, but quite another to realize the task at hand is daunting. Not wanting to be discouraged so easily, however, I turned to the web to search for assurance that I can make a difference. The following clip did just that for me. Humor aside, it shows how a few persons can influence people who don’t even know them. I need to remember and apply that to my quest in reaching out and making a difference. I hope it, too, can convince you that everybody can be an influence — yourself included.