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The Rose

July 07, 2018

Today I’d like to base my article on a story I read on the web not so long ago. It has been shared by many people but this particular version I got from www.livelifehappy.com, and added my own slight tweaks. Here goes the story....  

 

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.

She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?”

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze.

“Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked.

She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…”

“No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

“I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.

 

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months, we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.

 

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

 

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium.

 

As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”

 

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. 

 

Secret number one: You have to laugh and find humor every day.

 

Secret number two: You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it! 

 

Secret number three: There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change.

 

Number four: have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.”

 

She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.”

 

“Some say love, it is a river, that drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor, that leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower, and you, its only seed.

 

Its the heart afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance
Its the dream afraid of waking, that never takes the chance
Its the one who won't be taking, who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live.

 

When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love in the spring becomes the rose”

 

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

 

At the year’s end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep.

 

Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be. 

 

Such stories are always heart warming especially considering we are living in an age where people give up too easily. I don’t know what her story was, or why she never got her university degree earlier, but whatever the case, she truly lived up to her own advice. 

 

She had a dream of graduating despite her age, she had a wicked sense of humor, again, despite her age and she definitely had no regrets about her life, her age not withstanding.

 

I have been talking to many people but the one thing I have come to realize is that most of them are afraid of doing the things they would love to do because they fear what other people will say about them. As a result, they end up doing things or conforming to situations that they are very unhappy with. For instance I know of a very good lawyer who totally hates his job though he loves the money. When asked, he always says if he hadn’t advanced so much in age, he would have changed his current career to what he truly loves; that is being a chef. This is what his heart truly wanted to do since he was young but his father wouldn’t allow him to. The result of this is that now he is a great lawyer but a very unhappy man. Imagine if he does so well in a career he hates, how much more would he do if he was putting all his energies into something he truly loves doing?

 

Unfortunately this lawyer is not the only person who goes through this hate for his career. There are so many other people who are working in jobs they hate but they are unable to move out of those jobs because they fear what other people would say if they really did what they loved doing. You know, I once heard one of the motivational and inspirational speakers I follow say something that left me thinking a lot. This is what she had to say: “When you're 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you're 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you're 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place”. 

 

By the time you realize that nobody ever cared about what you do or not do, time will be far much gone and you will never be able to recover that time again. The goodness is, despite that, if you are still alive, if you are still breathing, then you can still do something with the life you have now, as Rose has taught us in her story today. Why most people fear taking that leap into the unknown is because they lack confidence in themselves. They imagine what people will say should they fail, and they fear being laughed at. 

 

If there is anything that has killed most dreams it is fear. Like someone said, some people die at age 25 and aren't buried until they are 75 years of ageIn other words, many people’s dreams die inside of them before they can even realize them for one reason or another, then like Rose said, by the time they realize they could have done something about their dreams, it is already too late for them to do anything because by that time they would probably be on their death bed waiting to finally die in reality.  Imagine 50 years of a wasted life!

 

As I come to the end of this article today, I’d like to take you on a very thought provoking journey into the future. Regardless of how old you are as you read this article today, imagine yourself at the ripe age of 90 years like Rose was when she died. If you continue living your life the way you are doing now, if you continue doing the same things you are doing and in the same way you are doing them now, will you die full of satisfaction or full of regrets? 

 

There is nothing that sobers someone up like thinking about where you will be in the future, or what legacy you will leave when you exit this world. To avoid regretting later, why not have a picture of what you want to have achieved by then by doing something Stephen Covey calls “beginning with the end in mind?”

 

To help you do this, this week in my ongoing #52BooksIn52Weeks2018 book reading challenge I am recommending one of my all time favorites by Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective PeopleThis book will teach you great habits that you should have in order to live a life full of satisfaction in all areas, a life that has minimal regrets, a meaningful life that will leave many inspired. 

 

To quote Rose in her speech above, “growing older is mandatory. Growing up is optional”. Redeem your time by growing up now and taking full responsibility for your life. 

 

Remember, it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be! Start where you are today.

 

Be ignited. Be Inspired. Be Influenced. Become the best version of yourself you can ever be.

 

PS: This article was originally published in Tanzania's Guardian On Sunday on the 8th of July, 2018, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".

 

 

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