Brian's Ramblings

My thoughts in text, photo, and video form

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Growing Young

If you can give your child only one gift, let it be enthusiasm.
 ~ Bruce Barton

Thirty-nine years ago, my parents were excited to go to the old (Kapiolani) Children's Hospital (now the Rehab Hospital of the Pacific) to have their first child born.

Early that morning, my dad took my grandparents to Honolulu Zoo.  When they returned to the apartment, near Straub Hospital, my mom was ready to head to the Children's Hospital.  My parents took a taxi to the hospital.

There was a resident doing an internship and asked my mom all kinds of questions, which she did not mind at first.  She was alert enough to notice that the tape, or paper, for one of the monitors had run out, as it dropped to the floor.

The birth process began and the lives of my parents would not be the same again.

As I was being born, doctors quickly realized this was not an ordinary birth.  Something had gone drastically awry, as they saw the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck as I entered the world some 15-minutes later.  Yes, I was without oxygen for at least 15-minutes. If God did not have a purpose for me, I would not be composing this entry today.

Out of survival instincts, my body tried breathing, causing me to ingest amniotic fluid.  This caused my lungs to collapse. as this sticky fluid had no mercy with developing lungs.  Doctors quickly went into "rescue" mode, placing tubes in both sides of my torso in order to manually pump air into my lungs to get them filled and open again.

An IV was inserted into my skull (I have a small bald spot that reminds me of my fight to live), as that was the most accessible vein at the time.  Once things became a little more stable, doctors spoke to my parents and said they could be "guardedly optimistic."  As first time parents, this is the LAST thing you expect to see or hear.  The next 48-hours would be critical.

My mom felt empty, as she saw other mothers being handed their newborn; here she was watching me being rushed into the NICU.

I was a pretty big baby, weighing over 8-pounds at birth. This played a big role, I believe, in my survival.  48-hours passed and I was still alive.

My parents didn't know what "guardedly optimistic" meant; to this day, we're still trying to figure that out!  God prepared me for a purpose that would be greater than myself.

I went home and my parents treated me like any other newborn.  They were happy to have me home. I would fuss before bed, so they would take me on long walks or car rides, hoping I would sleep.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.  Typical fussy baby.

As I reflect back upon my life, the most fundamental character trait that enabled me to live purposefully was all of the many life experiences that my parents exposed me to.  They took me everywhere - Canada, Disneyland, San Diego Zoo, the aquarium, just to name some places!

The word CANNOT was not in their vocabulary, unless I was getting into mischief.

I grew up believing I could be anything and do anything I set my mind to.  Whether it was excelling in school, trying out for the high school bowling team (and being denied because I used a ramp), to having friends over for epic nights of Nintendo; there was enthusiasm from my parents, encouraging me to do what I wanted and to always give my best.

There were moments where I floundered, but I appreciated such moments since they taught me life lessons that I would have never gained without such experiences.  Such as, not throwing small coconuts off the second floor of Kailua Intermediate School.  Why?  You could misfire, hit a pillar and have the coconut bounce back into your eye!

If anyone told me, or my parents, I would have a career in education, we would probably laugh at the thought. But, thanks to wonderful friends and mentors, I found my identity.  I am an educator!

There are days when the work just wears me down, but I still try to approach each day, each task, with enthusiasm.  The same enthusiasm that my parents demonstrated to me whenever I tried something new.

Another driving force behind much of what I do stems from a genuine desire to help others.  I've been extremely blessed to have so much help and love from others in order to get me to this stage of life.

I am extremely mindful of my body and how much it can endure.  When I take on a task, I pour my heart and soul into it; if I'm unable to do this, I simply won't pursue it.

I know I've put on blinders at times, focusing all of my being on what I'm doing.  Whether it was doing well in the classroom as a student; or being the best educator possible for my students...I'd do all I could to do quality work.  Quality that met MY standards.

However, as you grow and develop over the years, one learns how to better grow.  You don't want to grow older, but rather you should aim to grow younger.

When you grow older, you could become cynical and lose that sense of enthusiasm in whatever you're doing.  But, by choosing to grow younger, you form a mindset of approaching all you do in life with unbridled enthusiasm.  This allows one to do greater work.

I chose to spend my day at home, quietly working on grading for my summer course.  I chose this because the summer is quickly winding down, so I wanted to keep up the pace I've maintained in grading work.  Sure, it would have been nice to be out and about doing fun things outside.

But, I really enjoyed reviewing student work and grading with enthusiasm.  I'll have time to enjoy living, a little, once I complete my summer duties.

Some might not understand my logic, which is perfectly fine.  People who want to celebrate and not think about work on a birthday are just as hard working as someone who chooses to do work instead.

I also realized that my Facebook wall would be flooded with birthday wishes; from people I know well, from people I call acquaintances, and from complete strangers.  Regardless of what category people were in, I enthusiastically composed a message of gratitude for every individual.

Does it matter that people shared birthday wishes because Facebook reminded them?  Not really.  People could see a reminder or alert and ignore it completely.  No one forces anyone to post birthday wishes.  So, in order to express my appreciation, I wrote back on well over 350 posts. The most meaningful posts came from good friends, but right up there were messages from former students.  As an educator, when a student remains in contact with you after graduating, that is priceless!  Seeing beginning teachers flourish and grow into seasoned teachers is the greatest gift I could receive.

As I look ahead, my overarching goal remains the same - live everyday enthusiastically.  Tomorrow is never promised, so do everything you want to do today!  If you love someone, tell them; if you're bothered with someone, communicate those feelings to the person from a place of enthusiastically wanting to gain understanding.

If you want to pursue a new path, do it!  When you feel that seed within you heart starting to grow, do NOT let it die!  Care for it so it can blossom into something amazing.  Something so amazing that you, and others around you, can enthusiastically embrace whatever it is!

Life is too short NOT to live with enthusiasm.  I hope to meet that someone who will want to grow young together - enthusiastically loving, challenging, and encouraging each other through this wonderful process called life!

Never forget to live with enthusiasm and never pass up an opportunity to share this zeal for life with anyone you care about.

I'm grateful to my parents for entrusting me with the greatest gift of all the ability to live enthusiastically, so I can grow younger with each day that I'm here on earth.

 Dad, me, Mom

Until next time...

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