When I was in high school I was involved in speech and debate. As part of that effort I often participated in oratorical contests that were sponsored by the American Legion. One of the requirements of the contests were that you had to deliver both a memorized and extemporaneous speech based on a series of topics that would be drawn at any given event. For me, the memorization part was the hardest as the speeches were quite lengthy. As my grandmother and I would visit friends and shut-ins around town, she would have me recite the speech for them. She felt the more exposure and opportunity I had and the more I could repeat the speeches, the words would sink in and the memorization would finally occur. While most were gracious and gladly sat through my speech, I am sure there were some that probably got a little tired of listening to them, but they indulged.
One weekend in particular stands out for me more than any other. I was staying over at my grandmother’s house and she had set aside time for us to keep working on the memorization part. Unfortunately, at this same time I also had a massive toothache that was greatly affecting my thinking and all I wanted to do was quit. There were no dentists working on the weekend and I was going to have to endure until we could get to one on Monday. The contest was two weeks away and I can remember her conversation with me as if it were yesterday. She reminded me that there would be times in my life where present situations would not always be perfect to try and accomplish what I wanted to do. I may at any given time be dealing with pain, raw emotions, uncomfortable circumstances or other outside influences that would keep me from focusing on my intended goal. It is in those times that I would need to dig deep for an inner strength to get through the current situation and that I was to never take my eyes off of the ultimate objective. At the time, it didn’t make much sense as I dealt with my tooth pain. However, as I look back at that moment that may have seemed to be so simple, it actually would become a catalyst for how I would deal with future situations.
I went on to win the oratorical contest at the local, district and regional level and came in second at state finals. Today, when things seem to be dire, I go back to that moment and my conversation with my grandmother and I dig a little deeper to find the inner strength to get through whatever I may be facing. Growing up we often fail to see that parents and grandparents often know best until much later in life. Seniors have a wealth of information to help guide and shape us if we only we will listen. How often do we not stop and listen and later in life wish we had?
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.