What changes the trajectory of our lives?
I’m reminded of these words credited to Martin Luther King, Jr., “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase”.
How many times in your life have you had a passion or idea and let it slip away without ever pursuing it? I recently reflected on the number of times I’ve heard this from countless people who’ve told me their stories. I’ve concluded that at this stage of life, there’s no time to waste, and the trajectory of where it can lead can be life altering, life affirming and life fulfilling.
There are countless stories of people who pursued their dreams and passions against all odds at the later stages of life. One of the stories that always stands out to me is that of Colonel Sanders. Sanders was an abysmal failure who was fired from many jobs before starting his restaurant. That restaurant also failed; he went out of business and found himself broke at the age of 65. Things turned around when he sold his recipe and the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in 1952 at the age of 67.
Duncan Hines wrote his first food and hotel guide at the age of 55. In fact, one of his guides mentioned Sanders Court and Caf, the original restaurant owned by Harlan Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders. At age 73, he licensed the right to use his name to the company that developed Duncan Hines cake mixes.
Ray Kroc, who failed at many business attempts, was over the age of 50 when in 1961 he bought the first McDonald's restaurant, now the largest owner of real estate around the world.
When making the decision to pursue your passion, you should know that sacrifice will be your partner. I wasn’t entirely aware of this until I started on my present path. There may be many disappointments and pitfalls along the way. It may take giving up security, convenience, and comfort. But with perseverance, fortitude and“Stickability” if you will, (a book by Dr. Greg S. Reid) I’ve also personally experienced that with each small success, each meeting, it seems like pieces come together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
It’s easy to allow self-doubt and the doubts of others to take hold. I’ve had my own meeting with doubts.
Doubts become more powerful, whether your own or the doubts of others, if you allow them the space and opportunity. The question remains: is the power of the passion stronger than the strength of the doubt? Hopefully there are one or two people you can find in your circle of friends or family that will become your ardent fans and provide the support you need during these times.
The story behind Roget’s Thesaurus comes to mind as an example that it is well worth pursuing a passion. Peter Roget was an accomplished doctor, lecturer, and inventor. Despite professional successes, he suffered from considerable depression. At the age of 61 he retired from professional endeavors and pursued his passion for making lists to cope with his depression. He pursued creating a catalogue of words organized by their meanings. At the age of 69 he began the journey of publishing his project and the first printed edition of Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases became a reality when he was 73 years of age. He continued working on the project until his death at age 90. Later revised and expanded editions were published by his son and grandson.
Age SHOULD NOT stop anyone from flourishing, from realizing their dreams, unless they want it to. It is definitely a choice.
Whatever it is that “lights your fire” go for it. If it empowers you, act on it. If it merely occupies your otherwise free time, pursue it. However, out of whack it may seem to others, or even to you, if it energizes you, puts a spring in your step, continue stepping in that direction. You never know where it will lead. You don’t have to know, you don’t have to see it, you just have to take the first step and keep marching on.
The story of one of the renowned painter, Grandma Moses, is a familiar one. She began teaching herself painting when she was in her 70’s; with her first big break coming when she was at the tender age of 78. She began writing her memoir at the age of 92.
How does this tie into the title, “one text away”?
I took a chance, a leap of faith. I TEXT Greg S. Reid to ask if he had any cancellations on Monday AM before the beginning of the Secret Knock event which was beginning on the other side of the country the very next day. Indeed, he led me to the person on his team who could make the arrangements. Within an hour I had flight reservations, and an hour later I left for the airport. Without a hotel room or any idea about the event or where I was actually going, something told me I had to be there most importantly because of an idea I’ve had about pursuing a screenplay towards the making of a film based on a book I read almost 2 years prior (the author of which has only recently given me permission and rights to pursue the project) The subject matter is elder wisdom, wise leadership, community and intergenerational relationships, topics near and dear to my heart. I believe the film could help elevate the conversation about the value, care and treatment we provide to older adults in our society, to shine a spotlight and give a voice to what's been silent.It seems far-fetched, almost unimaginable. After all, I have no experience with or connection to, or with, filmmaking. But the idea, vision, passion for the project has lived inside of me for all of this time.
As a result of what I call the “The Secret Knock Experience” the doors that have opened and the contacts I’ve made towards pursuing this dream are part of an unimaginable story. From knowing no one in that world, to being on the precipice of having the screenplay completed, to connections with Hollywood producers, it has all been an amazing journey.
Life is a risk. We all take risks each and every day without giving it a thought. It’s a calculated risk to get on a plane, to get behind the wheel of your car, nowadays there are more evident risks in going to the mall, a concert, or worse. Despite concerns, we continue to do so because they are part of our daily life.
Without taking the risk you remain on your present course where unpursued dreams and passions can deprive those who could potentially benefit.
The film pursuit may definitely seem off the chart, and whacky to some, but it hasn’t stopped me. I have a vision and a passion for the importance of the subject matter and therefore will continue to pursue it as a goal and a dream. It has led me to connect with amazing people, and has taken me in directions I never could have imagined.
You don’t know where your pursuit will lead…maybe to results bigger than you ever imagined or maybe not. It's the process that matters and you will be well served on the journey of allowing your passions and obsessions the room to flourish.
Life is a dance. Just as each dancer has their own style and each dance its own rhythm, each person pursues their journey at their own pace, in their own season, and according to their own rhythm.
It may take a leap of faith. My leap of faith was the result of “just one text”.
What is your one text, your leap of faith?
If you want to talk about pursing your dream, feel free to email me at: email@example.com
PS: I started this piece with the title, thinking only about sharing my journey based on the “Secret Knock Experience” I had no idea where it would lead. It turned out it has helped me on my journey as much as I hope it will help you on yours. In my case it’s about filmmaking, what’s your dream?