“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge, president of the United States 1923-29.
When one year comes to an end and a new one begins, it is customary for the poets and the pundits to review the past flight of this third rock’s last lap. But, I will not bore you with yet another extraneous evaluation of a trip we have already taken together. Instead, I would like to focus on the orbit ahead.
There is always something exciting about putting the past behind us and ushering in a fresh start, a new beginning, a new year and a blank slate. Consequently, as in years past, 2014 will bring awesome prosperity to some and great disappointment to others. Many will displace their dreams and several will discover their destiny. However, those of us fortunate enough to still be alive on January 1, 2015, in many ways will be different than we are today. Some of us will even have learned to believe in miracles.
Sharing the middle years of my single Mother’s arduous youth taught me that when something terrible happens, you have to do something positive right away. Even if the good deed does not directly affect the bad, it is the first step in changing your luck. Not always using those exact words, I have had my Mother’s lesson repeated back to me numerous times by the many insightful people I have met during my life.
At the end of my 15th year as a columnist, I am gratified to declare I have never been a reporter. I am a writer. The reason it is important make this distinction is because when you fall down, the reporter arrives, notepad or microphone in hand and a cameraman close behind. It is the reporter’s job to make sure everyone knows that we are flawed, as far too many believe it is their life’s mission to insure that our worst day is the only one anyone will remember. However, I am proud to say you will not see me until you get up. That is because I have always believed the greatest chapters defining the real meaning of our lives are found upon pages that document our response to misfortune.
Throughout history, adversity has acted as calisthenics for our human spirit. Accordingly, I will forever contend that brain surgeons, masons, crossing guards, housekeepers and hairdressers have more in common than not and each have their own unique story to tell. We may not all live in the same neighborhoods or go to the same churches, classrooms or concerts, but we are all in our own distinctive ways, simply searching for a better life for ourselves and our children.
So, as we recognize yet another milestone upon the road of our collective journey, I want to take this opportunity to thank all those who have shared their stories with me, as this will be my last column for Hometown Sevier. Now, I am not talking about the guys who were born on third base and tried hard to convince me they hit a triple. I am speaking of the devoted nurse who helped a child battle a dreaded illness, the inspiring teacher that tutored a struggling student, the coach with high expectations of the team and the preacher who genuinely prayed for our salvation as he struggled to feed his brothers and sisters. Some you know personally and many you only met on the pages of “Life is Voluntary.”
Yes Sevier County, in 2014 miracles will take place every day. Some will capture your imagination, while unfortunately most will go unnoticed. Nevertheless, those daily wonders will only be made possible by those of you who will resolve to stop waiting for something extraordinary to happen and choose to be the miracle.
In closing this chapter of my writing career, I pray you will never let anyone convince you that government is your Mother, or that God is not your Father. After all, to make a great omelet, you have to break a few egos… Happy New Year!
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.” – Marie Curie.