“ Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive”. – Howard Thurman
This morning I awoke reflecting on the Pulse tragedy that occurred two years ago. The immediate thoughts I had were of anger and frustration. What has changed? What have we learned from the tragedy that took 49 lives?
Memorial Day weekend I danced shoulder to shoulder alongside friends and strangers on a crowded dance floor in a busy Wilton Manors nightclub. I wasn’t thinking about Pulse, nor was I thinking about any other mass shootings, yet I found myself suddenly consumed with anxiety. I could right in that moment be in the next place, be the next victim. It was the perfect formula. It was a holiday, in a gay bar, with loud pounding music and limited security. As I continued dancing, growing more and more anxious, I found myself planning my escape route. How I’d protect the people I was with. Where we would all find cover. I almost had to leave, and I thought, my friends would think I am being so dramatic right now if I told them this, only to find out later they were having the same thoughts, experiencing the same anxiety. The reality is there will be a next time, it will happen again and again. What do we do?
There are countless Parkland students “doing” as I’m writing this. They will be criticized, they will be told what they do won’t make a difference, but they’ll keep doing. They’ll keep doing because it’s what moves them forward, gives them hope. As I watched the Tony Awards and the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas drama club perform “Seasons of Change”, you could see each and every one of them come alive. If you saw the performance, if you spent time with the kids who are speaking out, marching, rallying, you’d feel the aliveness. Unlike myself who can make a choice to go dancing at a crowded nightclub or not, these kids have to walk back into the very place their nightmares occurred and are expected to learn and thrive. They must find what makes them come alive, without it they have no hope.
My art has always made me feel hope. It fills me with a sense of aliveness. That aliveness has led me to make a positive impact on girls and women across the nation. Who’d a thunk a Philly kid with little education becoming a single mom of twins, who didn’t even drive a car till she was 33 could make a difference? Don’t underestimate yourself. Find what makes you come alive. Share it.
The world needs you, and each one of us holds within ourselves the possibility of change.