I truly believe that we should follow our dreams as a people… as a human race, and do things that make us happy. But take into consideration everyone else: Family, friends, strangers, the world around you. Selfishness is definitely a thing of the past. We all need to look to the future. There’s gonna be more people, more crowded, more to deal with. It’s only going to get harder and harder if we don’t see each other as human beings and equals. That’s what I think.” —Shawn
I am honored today. Not by the accolades of any crowd. Nor rewarded any acknowledgement for efforts, or even pumped up at any event. My honor this day is indeed beyond myself and for this I will be ever enlightened.
It all began yesterday through a chance meeting with Suzi– one of the fine art students at Ohio State. Suzi is not the traditional enrollee you would expect at a University the scale of OSU. On a campus of 65,000 (rich in diversity), the hopeful futures of many a young man and woman is shaped and formed. From science to art, philosophy to mathematics, it is all here. Youthful minds of times ahead converse and grow, and Suzi is absolutely in her element.
She, her husband (you’ll get to know him in a moment), fellow OSU student Kaylin and I are at breakfast when Kaylin asks, “What class do you teach?” Suzi smiles, “I get that all the time… I’m and undergraduate,” she glowingly replies.
I could write a book on Suzi. Her life experience alone is the equivalent of any masters program and she has the credentials to prove it. But the format of this blog is far too limiting to fully introduce you to the greatness of Suzi. So I’ll just summarize. Suzi has special depth. Exuberance if you will. She is a survivor, a fantastic artist, a loving wife and successful mother… a person, simply put, with the greatest of integrity, true spirit of love and peculiar imagination. Just that kind of person who, at first meeting, melts your heart as she focus not on herself, but refreshingly, asks endless questions of who are you. Yes, Suzi is the real deal, and in knowing her, you realize that is possible to find the courage is to make all your dreams come true.
But she is not a lone traveler in her course. For walking with her is a good husband, children and close friends. All of whom stand as testament to the power of one. A people, who individually, inspire us to (as overused as the term may be) “Follow our Dreams.”
Shawn (Suzi’s husband) is his name. Large in stature, he is a gentle giant. His warmth of character is engaging and his hospitality is endearing. Suzi later tells me, “25 years and I still love this guy to death.” I get it, for after spending only a few short hours with him his influence is forever engraved on my heart. Impressions that inspire me to look deep into my own reasoning for what I do and discussion points that I am certain will refresh my internal dialogue in navigating this next chapter of my life.
Credit where credit is due, Shawn stands not by himself. Greatly appreciated, I’ve been invited to break bread with not only he and Suzi, but also with his closest of friends, Brian and Pat. Both men, who like him, have courageously left the financial security of employment to partner in building a business of their own.
Some might criticize irresponsibility, stating that it is an unstable proposition for three men (all of whom are supporting families) to undertake such challenge during the latter part of their careers. To add to the matter, the risk in starting up a rurally located enterprise during the closing part of painful recession might be seen as throwing caution to the wind.
This afternoon I am graced to visit the workplace of these three remarkable, and resourceful men as they share their motivations. Here is what they have to say.
“If you can seek out your independence… seek hard.
I truly believe that we should follow our dreams as a people… as a human race, and do things that make us happy. But take into consideration everyone else: Family, friends, strangers, the world around you. Selfishness is definitely a thing of the past. We all need to look to the future. There’s gonna be more people, more crowded, more to deal with. It’s only going to get harder and harder if we don’t see each other as human beings and equals. That’s what I think.”
“Life is precious.
I think everybody just needs to slow down. Learn how to live with family, life… and love– Short and sweet, but very important. We’ve gotten away from family time as a whole.”
“Listen…Pay more attention.”
“To what?” I ask.
“Everything… to what we are doing in general. Using all the resources and not putting anything back. I don’t know the answer.”
“I think that is the answer,” I add.
“We work with our hands,” Shawn expresses. “We are craftsmen and we are proud of what we do.”
Bryan picks it up. “Makes for a happy environment.”
Shawn: “We catch ourselves singing while we work. Don’t take that the wrong way. We can’t sing. We’re living the dream… to do what you love and have fun while your doing it.”
All three grow in laughter, “life is good… life is good!”
Shawn: “It’s the outside world that is almost bleak now. We are looking out, saying, man everything could be way… way better.”
Pat: “Who else gets to work with their best friends?
Shawn: It has brought us together…”
Brian: “’…and it’s also taught us our trade is, obviously a dying trade, but that our trade can be fun again. To make a product and then stand back and say, ‘wow, this really looks nice!’ I want everybody to see it. Because it was done by our timeline, by our standards… It makes a big difference… A big difference in being happy in what you are doing.’”
All sounds great. But many of us are deep into our life commitments. So I have to ask
“How do you make the break?”
Shawn takes the lead in responding. “You throw the oars in the water and you rock the boat.”
Brian (In unison with all): “Follow your dreams.”
Brian (solo): “Go big or go home.”
Shawn (humbly): “Don’t be scared.”
Pat (reflective): “… and don’t wait too long.”
Shawn elaborates, “If you wait till your ready… you’ll never do it.”
“How do you know when you are ready?” I question.
They all light with laughter. “You don’t.”
Shawn: “That’s why you can’t wait.”
Pat gives final council, “well, you’ve obviously got to know what you are doing to start with. Once that happens, you’re never going to learn the other half of it until you do it.”
Brian: “The biggest thing to knowing when you are ready is, if you are working for the man and you are constantly pointing out his pitfalls and things that you think would make it go so much better…”
Shawn adds to what Brian saying (as Brian nods in agreement). “…and not so much for yourself, but for the whole company. Not just an independent thought, but man! This could be so much better! So much more efficient; and, everyone would be so much happier. Happiness goes a long way.”
“More than money,” I ask.
“No doubt about it!” they all agree.
Pat: “Especially since we have more of that than money.” They warm up again.
Suzi, Shawn, Pat, Brian. Thank you for inviting me into you life today. I am a better person for it.
May all your dreams come true my sweet new friends.