Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Words To Live By ...

Oprah is always good for a message. Not a light-tap-on-the-shoulder message, but a core-shaking-stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks-make-you-see-your-life-in-a-new-way message.

Last night, curled up on the couch, unsure if I was truly getting sick or if I was just feeling slightly blah, I watched "Building a Dream," Oprah's special about the creation of her Academy in South Africa.

Her producers are the best in the business, so it's no surprise that it's insanely well put together. And Oprah (I just typed "Orpah" by mistake, which isn't really a mistake, as that's her actual name) simply emanates greatness and goodness. But the girls are the real story, of course.

All of their stories tugged - hard - at my heartstrings. I've lived a very middle-class life. I never wanted for anything. Which isn't to say that my parents spoiled me outrageously, though looking back, I did get pretty much everything I ever wanted. I just didn't want extravagant things.

But the basics were always there: Not only did I have enough to eat, I ate well. When mom was stumped for what to make for dinner, we had steak. Not only did I have a place to sleep, I had my own room. In sixth grade, my birthday gift was a new bedroom set. And I still use most of the pieces today.

These girls, though. These gorgeous, sweet, smart, funny girls, walking home from school, hoping they don't become the next rape victim in their crime-ridden neighborhoods, carrying on after witnessing the murder-suicide of their father and mother, studying by candlelight in a tin shack and cherishing a sparkly pink pen.

All of their stories are inspiring. But one girl in particular said something that I heard deep inside of me. Lesego, whose mother left her when she was four to be raised by her father, who does the best he can, said to her classmates, "You are an individual. Act like an individual. Don't try to blend in. Blend out."

Blend out.

Blend. Out.

I was flattened by that.

I've printed them out, Lesego's wise words, and put them on my wall of quotes. The quotes go on my wall as they come to me, so the order is random, but today Lesego, who can be no more than 11 years old, joined the ranks of Einstein, Sophocles, Dostoevesky, Dickens, Goethe, Tolstoy, and Twain.


Blogger Jeff Hunter said...

Pretty visionary for an 11 year old.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Mikeachim said...

As an aphorism, that carries a strong ring of truth.
I've always found it funny how we're trained at school, socially and up to a point academically, to be exactly the same as everyone else, to suppress all sorts of individuality, to 'excel' by being just as good as everyone else without being 'clever' (I mean in a negative sense),....
....and then we get out into the outside world and that training's entirely useless. We're told we should try to be unique, to stand out. We get turned on our heads.
No wonder adult life is so confusing.
It's nice to see that the truth of the matter is apparent to some people at a very early age. So there's hope.

4:37 PM  

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