For some reason, as I write of today’s friend, I can’t purge the reference of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s (pseudonym Lewis Carroll) classic novel, Alice In Wonderland.
I’m sure you know the story, and as I reflect on how to acquaint you with my new friend, one character keeps appearing in my mind, that of the Hookah smoking oracle, The Caterpillar.
No he is not a Hookah smoker, nor does he speak in riddles, or exploit any of his wisdom with any form of rudeness. Yet in addressing us, he is deliberate, calm and introspectively aware… like an oracle.
His name is Irvin, a young man, who other than his zest for basketball and in developing his career as an architect, he is committed to passing on what he can.
“What is your definition of success?” I question.
In perfect oracle form, he pauses long and deep, then replies, “Success is being able to not only help yourself… but to help others.
Either you steer people the right way or help them open their eyes in taking a moment to focus on what they really want, and to help them get there before it’s too late.
And if there is something else they want to be, to help them to act before they waste time, money or opportunities.”
Irvin is only twenty-one, how does he gain such insight?
In his words, “My dad is from Central America, moved to the United States when he was twenty. His father abandoned his family when he was seven years old, and since then he has always been a hard worker. He had to, wanted a better life for his family and he has never given up.
Last year he had a brain aneurism at forty-eight and suffered a stroke that paralyzed his left leg. Now he walks… he never gives up.
He has always inspired me to wake up every day and do something. I have to admit that some days I so wake up and just want to have fun, then I think of my dad or other people in the same situation, or how hard my mom is working to support the family now that my dad can’t work anymore.”
Irvin is no martyr; he is an advocate for self-reflection and of positive action.
“I’m shy,” he tells me. But as I converse with Irvin, he slowly opens up and I see not an ounce of hesitation. I propose… Irvin is incredibly thoughtful.
From his example, might we think of how we react to those around us who are not the greatest orators or at the center of attention? The question, do we dismiss, before we inquire?
Irvin ponders throughout out interview, and after each pause he delivers humble counsel, “’I can’t give any advise of myself, but based on my experience with my family and friends, I’d say, ‘keep pushing and don’t give up. Opportunities show up if you keep pushing.’”
Yeah, we have heard similar words before… Keep pushing, Irvin claims.
Many may react, how much more can I push? Life is too difficult! It’s not fair!
But when you think of the case of Irvin’s father, who in many ways, had the deck of life cards stacked against him, it is evident that all is possible, and life becomes a matter of balanced perspective.
And that balanced perspective is what has been passed on to Irvin, and the genesis to my labeling him, oracle.
“People used to be a lot friendlier and less insecure.” Irvin tells me.
I’ve heard this line before, “People used to be a lot friendlier,” but Irvin give us an original interpretation by including the thought, “And less insecure.”
Again, an oracle’s reflection, and a reflection that we can all chew on. Life is faster than ever, and I am positive that it will only speed up with the passage of time.
Brings us to accountability in directing our behavior and brain waves. With a world moving faster than we can ourselves develop, how can we find our true selves?
Every day is a battle for quite mind share, and in Irvin’s paused thinking as he responds to my questions, I am re-reminded of a valuable lesson, “Think before you act, and act upon what you mind tells you is right. And in doing so, be strong enough to ignore any world influence that is contrary to your core beliefs of who you are.”
There is so much compassion for others in Irvin, Things like returning from Hawaii, where he was attending university, to help his youngest brother who was getting into trouble, and his current evening employment, not solely for himself and his education, but also to do his part in supporting the family.
Another pause, followed by wishes for the next generations, “I hope life goes in a good direction. There are a lot of good resources and opportunities… if people don’t get greedy.”
Greed? I agree, the mother of so much devastation.
After thirty minutes of conversation, Irvin unassumingly talks of his needs, “I like to be with people who are supportive and inspiring, and look out for me. You don’t want to be with people who put you in a bad position. I’ve been pretty lucky!”