"To captivate our varied and worldwide audience of all ages, the nature and treatment of the fairy tale, the legend, the myth have to be elementary, simple. Good and evil, the antagonists of all great drama in some guise, must be believably personalized. The moral ideals common to all humanity must be upheld. The victories must not be too easy. Strife to test valor is still and will always be the basic ingredient of the animated tale, as of all screen entertainments." —Walt Disney
"Of all the things I've done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them toward a certain goal." —Walt Disney
Inspiration comes in many forms, and often those you hope to inspire can turn out to also inspire you. I know I'm supposed to talk about food today, but instead I'm going to embark down a path of inspiration and reflection, as today closed a chapter in my life. It is a chapter in a book that I know I will pick up from time to time to revisit, but it will never be the same as it was.
Today I had the distinct pleasure of meeting several of my recently graduated senior for coffee before they all go their separate ways for college, or whatever path their future is directing them towards. it is entirely possible that I have spent more time with this group of students over the past three years than their families have. These were the kids I depended on, the go-getters, the leaders, the creative, the enthusiastic; the kids who gave up their Saturdays to help finish a show build without much complaining, who came in before school to fit in extra rehearsal time. We spent so much time drawing on each others talents in our little corner of the world, that it was all to easy to get caught up in the group dynamic and lose sight of the individuals. Today, as I listened to them talk openly about their futures with excitement and anticipation, the individuals emerged. They are all such different people from one another, but so much a part of each other that it is strange to think that they will go their separate ways. I remember to well the end of high school, knowing that some of my friends would be with me forever, while most would go their own way and we would lose contact. Even in the presence of Facebook, many of those on my friends list are simply people I used to know, who are sometimes perhaps curious about me, and who I, in turn, sometimes wonder about. I think these kids know this too. You could see in their faces that they knew this was probably the end of something. They are about to go make new friends, form new social groups, and have new social homes. High School officially ended for many of them today, whether they realize it now, or will realize it sometime in the future.
But, I noticed something as we sat in a very crowded Starbucks taking up almost every table and chair they had. These kids inspire me. When I began teaching high school these kids were sophomores, and I have been able to watch them grow into wonderful young adults. I have been witness to their personal triumphs and failures, their relationships and break-ups, fights with friends, anger at parents, and more. I have seen their faces when they didn't get just the right part in the show, seen their faces when they got exactly the part they wanted, and seen their faces when they were shocked that they got a part they were certain was going to someone else. In essence, I have seen them through the thick of it, and I have seen them triumph. They are a breathe of fresh air, ready for anything, and prepared for whatever outcome they receive. I had set out to be an inspiration to them, to hopefully teach them something that they could use in their lives. I did not expect for them to also teach me quite so much. And I love them all for doing so. They taught me not to fear the future, but to embrace it. They taught me to love unconditionally. They taught me to laugh just because. They taught me to have faith in others, and faith in myself. And, they taught me that nothing is impossible or out of reach.
I have high hopes for our nation's future. These kids will go on to do wonderful things in the future. In this one small group I see future executives, vocalists, actors, and teachers. And I'm certain that one or two of them will surprise me completely, in fact, I'm counting on it. I see myself at 18 reflected back at me 10 years later. These kids will build our nations future, and I am proud to know them.
So, in closing, this post is dedicated to my shining stars: Lexi, Haley, Kelsey, Mary, Carson, Sean, Joel, Nathan, Zack, Jeremy, Logan, Cory and the rest of you that couldn't make it today. Go out and do good.
"Somehow I can't believe there are any heights that can't be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C's. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy and the greatest of these is Confidence. When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably." ~ Walt Disney