I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

In memory of Maya Angelou, I have decided to share one of my favorite poems that she wrote.

“I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.”

Life’s Bricks

About ten years ago, a young and very successful executive named Josh was
traveling down a Chicago neighborhood street. He was going a bit too fast in his sleek, black, 12 cylinder Jaguar XKE, which was only two months old.

He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed
down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no child darted out, but a brick sailed out and-WHUMP! — it smashed into the Jag’s shiny black side door! SCREECH…!!!! Brakes slammed! Gears ground into reverse, and tires madly spun the Jaguar back to the spot from where the brick had been thrown.

Josh jumped out of the car, grabbed the kid and pushed him up against a
parked car. He shouted at the kid, “What was that all about and who are
you? Just what the heck are you doing?!” Building up a head of steam, he went on. “That’s my new Jag, that brick you threw is gonna cost you a lot
of money. Why did you throw it?”

“Please, mister, please…I’m sorry! I didn’t know what else to do!”
Pleaded the youngster. “I threw the brick because no one else would stop!”

Tears were dripping down the boy’s chin as he pointed around the parked
car. “It’s my brother, mister,” he said. “He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.” Sobbing, the boy asked the executive, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.”

Moved beyond words, the young executive tried desperately to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. Straining, he lifted the young man
back into the wheelchair and took out his handkerchief and wiped the scrapes and cuts, checking to see that everything was going to be OK. He
then watched the younger brother push him down the sidewalk toward their home.

It was a long walk back to the sleek, black, shining, 12 cylinder Jaguar
XKE-a long and slow walk. Josh never did fix the side door of his Jaguar.
He kept the dent to remind him not to go through life so fast that someone
has to throw a brick at him to get his attention. Some bricks are softer
than others. Feel for the bricks of life coming at to you.

Bucket List items 1 through 3

I am writing this while cruising at 26,000 feet on my way to Orlando, on a slightly bumpy flight. I love listening in on the conversations people have even though the people next to me are taking this time to sleep. Travel is so exciting, there are so many places to see and things to do. On this trip I’ll get to cross 3 things off my bucket list: visit Florida, go to Magic Kingdom, and go to Epcot. I’ll sign off for now, trying to save some battery life. If anyone out there actually reads my posts, have a fantastic weekend.

The smallest gestures can have the greatest impact

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.” I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friend tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.

As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye.

As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.”

He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.

I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before.

He said he had gone to private school before now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes.

We hung all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. And my friends thought the same of him.
Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, “Damn boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed and handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship. Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak.

Graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than me and all the girls loved him! Boy, sometimes I was jealous. Today was one of those days. I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks,” he said. As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began.

“Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach… but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.” I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.”

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his Mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize it’s depth. Never underestimate the power of your actions.

With one small gesture you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse. God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way.

New beginnings

This has probably been one of the best weeks of my life. I booked the flight to London and Germany, and I booked the flight to Orlando to visit one of my best friends. This year I’ll definitely be crossing off quite a few things from my bucket list. Lastly I celebrated my 30th birthday with friends, family, and the best coworkers anyone could ask for.

As I reflect on my last 30 years, I see a lot of ups and downs. That’s the way life is, a pile of good things and a pile of bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant. I have truly been blessed to live the way I have these last 30 years.

Looking forward to the future, I can’t help but feel like a little kid staring up at the night sky full of wonder and amazement. I know there will be ups and downs, but the possibilities are endless. I am looking forward to seeing what is in store for me. Life is one big adventure story, and I’m going to do my best to make it a good one.