Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Last Thursday marked the auspicious debut of the next budding star. our eight-year-old son, Leo. On stage he portrayed the Great White Shark in the Nativity Elementary School musical of "Go Fish." And from there, he will have the opportunity to step through one of two doors...

15 minutes. It is often paraphrased that in our life, we each receive 15 minutes on the world's stage; those 900 glorious seconds when time stands still and we find ourselves in the white hot spotlight. Within those 900 seconds, we find ourselves approaching two doors. One door is that of personal victory or success (as we define it) during those 15 minutes. The other is that of perceived personal failure or loss (as we define it) during those 15 minutes.

And if you are reading this at this moment, you most likely have - whether you realize it or not - experienced at least one of your "15 minutes on the world's stage." So, what did it feel like to you? Can you identify one of those "world stage" moments in your life? Let me help you by articulating a few of my "world stage" moments:

  • Trying out for the 7th and 8th grade choir production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," I didn't receive the role of Snoopy like I wanted... I was casted by the choir teacher Miss Thorstenson for the role of the lead role and blockhead Charlie Brown.
  • Submitting a simple drawing for a statewide Christmas art contest, my work was selected for first place in my 11-12 year-old age category.
  • With my elementary physical education teacher allowing me a second chance at the 600-yard dash (during my sixth grade year) to qualify for the Presidential Physical Fitness Award, I not only trimmed 14 seconds off my time, but also set an elementary school record at that time.
  • My sixth grade teacher Ray Kaluza allowing me to utilize his personal telescope to witness my first and only a solar eclipse... but a moment that propelled me into exploring the cosmos from that time forward.
  • My father, that just happen to be my Little League coach, who gave this just-average second baseman a chance to prove himself.
  • My third grade teacher Leon Tounimen that serenaded us right after lunch with his guitar and folk songs; a teacher and a moment that made me want to serenade the heart as well. To this day, I continue to play and advance my guitar skills.
  • My 9th grade teacher Barb Frater who challenged each student in my class to write an original narrative; a teacher that pushed me beyond the point of "just getting by."

My friend, some of these moments are so subtle, one would hardly notice that I was on any stage at all. But in each instance, I was presented with moments - some very visible and others that were "behind the scenes" - that literally directed and shaped my life. They were crossroads and pivotal moments. They were moments of "approaching two doors." One doorway of success and the other of failure. The difference? There was always a parent or teacher that directed me through the doorway toward my soul.

And if you spend time reflecting, you may find grand (but simple) and powerful (but subtle) "15 minutes on the world's stage" moments in your life as well, my friend. The majority of them most likely occurred behind the scenes and before you even left high school. Regardless of when they occurred, they were moments that touched the heart and stirred the spirit. Can you at least identify one such moment right now? What did it feel like for you?

And you, whether you realize it or not, are that parent and teacher that can make all the difference in the world - for small children, friends, family and adults alike. You were given the gift to encourage, push, promote, challenge and support through all the subtle and obvious "15 minutes on the world's stage." And as it has been said before, with great power comes great responsibility. Use it wisely. It can and will make the difference for one life, which will make the difference for five lives, which will make the difference for 25 lives, which will make the difference for 125 lives...


One of my son Leo's first questions, after his last performance of "Go Fish," was, "Dad, do you think I'll get a part in next year's program?" Personal victory and success. A sojourner well on his way down the crossroads of his life.