I continue to be captivated by the natural beauty of Southern Illinois in the fall! The cool temperatures and the proliferation of trees with their resplendent colors…will cause you too, ‘Pack up you troubles in your old kit bag…and smile, smile, smile!’ Of course adding to my good humor is the fact that the old 63 is almost upon me! I am humbled and happy to have made it this far… Life is best taken in moderation. I have found that it is better to speak less…and listen more… What seems to be an insurmountable problem in one year…may be meaningless in the next. Many problems work themselves out…if you will give them time.
My friend Jeff has written a book about his life and his Horatio Alger story of rags too riches. The book is entitled, Against All Odds. Having known Jeff for nearly 50 years…I can attest to the inspirational account of his life as a homeless youth on the streets of Chicago, Illinois too the owner of a successful business in the United Kingdom. I first met Jeff when he was a member of a hippie commune in Elkville, Illinois. We attended the same church and I was staying overnight at the commune. Jeff along with his soon to be foster father, Michael, were so kind too me and after breakfast they asked if I wanted to take a shower before our attending Sunday church service. Of course I did and they ushered me to the back yard where there was a little tin structure…with no door nor shower curtain. On the roof of the shower was a wash tub with a hose coming through the bottom of the tub and a valve to shut the water off or on. When I inquired as to the absent door they assured me that there was no worries as long as the corn was high in the field next to the back yard. It has been our family’s privilege to visit Jeff and Margo on several occasions during the past 10 years. I enjoyed attending an Opportunity meeting with Jeff when we were visiting York. I was moved to see him greet the over 100 attendees and go from person to person to shake their hand and to hear their story. The people were looking for someone to share with them an opportunity…and Jeff was there to help them attain their goals in life.
Nothing made me happier when I was with Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale then to offer opportunity to those who customarily were marginalized. When I began in 1978 my department was basically a white man’s club. There was one woman in the foreman ranks and few African Americans throughout the department. Through the years, with the help of many people of good will, we were able to create the most diverse department in Plant and Service Operations…and according to then President Glenn Poshard…the most diverse department at the University. I was thrilled to be a bit player in a wonderful development that included several outstanding staff who were physically or intellectually challenged.
So you can not dream too big a dream…the sky is the limit! Take life a day at a time. Always stay focused on your dreams…with the knowledge that you will walk up many steep hills and down into many dark valleys. It is not the destination that is the value of a well lived life…it is the journey!