Much like most of the world, I was saddened when I heard the news that Muhammad Ali had passed away. While I read snippets of his life, looked through photographs and the famous quotes, I didn’t fully connect to his story. But on the day of his funeral, I was drawn into the televised event by the stories of his friends and family. I sat for a moment only to remain for the duration.
As a writer, I have always loved Ali’s quotes – the poetry and the audacity certainly, but mostly the wisdom and the passion. While the stories and words of his family and friends painted a picture of the man, it was former president Bill Clinton’s eulogy that stuck with me.
Of course, Clinton made the connection to both Ali’s life and his time in the ring: “How do some people refuse to become victims and rise from every defeat?” But these are the words I have been carrying around with me since I watched his impassioned speech:
I think he (Ali) decided very young to write his own life story. I think he decided, before he could possibly have worked it all out, and before fate and time could work their will on him, he decided he would not be ever be disempowered.
What he said sounded absolutely true of a man I have never met but only read about and watched from the outside. And the words seem to be more poignant with recent tragic life events. But the words spoke to me about my own life. Am I writing my own life story?
With all the big things, yes…my husband, our children, our family, passion for my work…yes I do believe I am writing my life story. With the little things…speaking my truth, saying no without guilt and taking the time to attend to my own bucket list of life experiences…perhaps I could do a better job of that. But I am trying to focus on the gifts I do have rather than what I feel still needs to be done.
For most of us, it’s probably the bigger things…those hopes and dreams that we tuck into our back pockets that may not be the way we had envisioned writing our story. Perhaps we feel we should implement a lifestyle change to eat better or exercise more. Or maybe it’s a vision for our work, a long-held dream to create a business or make a difference with our work. Whatever it is, maybe we’re afraid to take that step forward for fear of failure or that we’ll succeed and it won’t be what we thought.
For me, it’s that little dream I have been trying to manifest to gather all of the elements of my gifts to put it toward a healing place – either a place of my own or a service to offer others. Somedays I feel as though I am moving toward in the direction my dream, other days, I feel as though I will never get there.
So I think it’s the words that Clinton said near the end of his speech that I will try to carry with me: “in the second half of his (Ali’s) life, he perfected gifts that we all have: Every single solitary one of us has gifts of mind and heart. It’s just that he found a way to release them in ways large and small.”
Yes we all have gifts. Perhaps I am not Muhammed Ali or Mother Teresa, but I am most definitely me. And right now at this very moment in time, I am doing the best I can. I have beautiful gifts that I am able to share with the world. I have a family I love very much and I try to let them know how much every single day. I am grateful for each day. I give with my heart in my work. I take care of my body, my mind and my spirit. As I continue to write my beautiful life story, I have decided I will add a few extra chapters, devoting pages to happy, carefree stories created only for me. While certain aspects of the plot may not unfold as I had envisioned, I continue writing the story of my dream. There will not be one word of regret in my life story.