When I visited Washington, DC over seven years ago (I swear it seems like yesterday, yet another sign you are getting older) for an internship I was doing for the then Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt we got a tour of the city. It was a really awesome trip. We got a tour of the East and West wings of the White House (I even saw the First Dog Barney … from a far, but nonetheless saw (be impressed, please)), the capital building and did the typical Washington, DC sightseeing. We visited the monuments, museums and historical landmarks that shaped our country. It was truly an awe inspiring experience.
But, there was one place that truly took my breath away and made me pause in reference and contemplation as an early summer thunderstorm came rolling into the city. It was on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where some 44 years prior Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech. His speech reshaped the direction of the 20th century, called for the end of racism and gave hope and a dream to millions … and even more since. Understanding the magnitude of that bit of American history was a very humbling feeling to me.
Not only had Dr. King’s speech call for the end of racism, but it gave validity to one’s right to dream and to be who they truly are. It gave a voice to those that felt marginalized, mute and unequal. It wasn’t just an issue of black vs. white anymore it was an issue of humanity. It was a call for equality for all.
Standing in that moment my first reaction was to call my Dad. As a child of that generation and cause I knew he would understand my thoughts and feeling. Our phone call wasn’t any more than five minutes. But, I tried to describe my thoughts and feelings of that moment. I thank him for always supporting me and daring me to not just dream, but do. It was a really special experience for both of us. One that will be etched in memory forever.
In that conversation my Dad said something to me that I want to share with you. He said, “You can dream anything, be anything and do anything. Just do it.” — I’ve since checked past Nike commercials, I’m 98.6% sure he came up with that saying himself. I digress. But, I’ve really tried to take my Dad’s counsel to heart. When we deny ourselves the opportunity to dream, we forfeit our ability to be our true selves. We take the wind out from behind our sails and become stagnant. No progression is made and waste is made in our time and talents.
That is why we must dare to dream. That is why we must not only dare to dream, but we must have the audacity to even believe in them! That belief will lead us to action, which will then take us to heights unimagined and unforeseen. But, it starts with that dream.
When I was at my heaviest, saddest and poorest state I had to reapply the counsel that my father gave me a couple years prior. I had to believe in my dreams and take action to achieve them. I had let my guard down and stagnated myself in a place I never want to return to. But, changing that mentality has been the biggest difference for me in the past four years, it’s given me the wings to dream and believe that I can run marathons, half marathons and further 180 times before I turn 40 years old. That dream never left me when I was over 400lbs. and dared to reach the 220s. Each step I take, I take having seen it before.
My plea to you is an echo of my father’s counsel to me. Dream and be who and what you want to be. But, find the power within you to do it. But, above all … DO IT! It doesn’t matter who we are, what the color of our skin may be, what our orientation happens to be or what our religious background is … we all are equal in our right to dream of a better world for ourselves, our family and those traveling this road of life with us.