The Power of Now


Today is Wednesday. And that usually means that I post something wedding related. But, this Wednesday I want to take a break from weddings. (Just this Wednesday…we’ll get back in to it next week. Don’t you worry!) I feel like this post couldn’t wait another day. In other words, I needed to write it now.

I’ve been flooded with a lot of emotions during the past couple days. I’ve felt broken hearted, a little angry, worried, yet simultaneously completely inspired. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster.

Within days of each other, I received news of three tragedies that pretty much shook me to my core and sent me into a bit of a panic. A student at Pepperdine lost her dad in a hot air balloon accident. And she, her mom, and her sister are in critical condition. A sister of a friend of mine passed away in a car accident on her way to start her sophomore year of college. A daughter of my mom’s friend also passed away from a burn that turned cancerous.

I keep asking myself “how could this happen?” Everything was okay – in fact, more than okay – and then in one split second, their worlds’ were flipped upside down and their lives’ were on the line.

My heart broke for each of them and for their families (please keep them in your thoughts and prayers) as I imagined what they were going through. And I really could only imagine. I began to worry at the thought of something tragic happening to someone closer to me or even me. I was a bit of a mess.

However, during these same few days that I received news of these tragedies, something amazing was happening in Los Angeles, California –  The Fourth Estate Leadership Summit. This conference held by the founders of Invisible Children is for students and educators who want to “meet the people, learn the skills, and gain the experiences that will help them make a difference in their own communities and around the world.” It was a couple days filled with inspirational stories and speakers encouraging young people from all over the world that they have the power to make a difference in this world. And not only were the young people of that room inspired and encouraged, but those who tuned in to the live streaming of the conference, like me, were also inspired and encouraged! (You can watch the conference back on youtube as well. I haven’t quite finished watching the entire conference so I will be watching those long youtube videos too. Here is the link to them: Day 1. Day 2. Day 3.)

I first found out about The Fourth Estate Leadership Summit in Tom Shadyac’s class a couple months ago. Jedidiah Jenkins, the idea maven of Invisible Children, came as a guest speaker to one of our classes. And at another class, representatives came to hash out all of the details of the conference. The representatives also invited along Kathy and Amy Eldon to give us a taste of what the conference would be like since they were going to be guest speakers at the conference.

Kathy and Amy are the mother and sister to Dan Eldon, an avid journalist and activist. Unfortunately, Kathy, Amy, and Dan also experienced a tragedy similar to the one’s I just mentioned. On one of Dan’s excursions as a journalist to expose the travesties in the world around him, he was murdered along with three other journalists. Dan was only 22 years old. But, he lived a full life.

Kathy and Amy have since published Dan’s journals and started a foundation dedicated to supporting creative activists like Dan. They told Dan’s story, how they were able to cope with the loss of their son/brother by not allowing anger to overcome them and instead directing the passion into a movement, and offered advice to our class as well as the thousands that attended the conference in Los Angeles this past weekend. They spoke specifically about the power of now. Here is what they said: (Watch at least until 1:57:55)

These tragedies have really focused my attention to the idea that tomorrow is not guaranteed. While that scares me and worries me, it also forces me not to hold back or push things away and save them for later. It forces me to not waste my time with petty things and instead do the things I want to do now, be the person I want to be now, share my feelings now, make amends now. Now is the time, people. If you’re waiting for a sign, THIS IS IT! Make that phone call, send that email, give that hug, take that class you have always wanted to take, travel the world, cross off those bucket list items now. Not tomorrow, not next year, not next week, not later, not even soon…NOW.

I also have to admit that I struggled with this idea of doing things now. There are lots of things I want to do now, but some of those things seem impossible to do now. Like moving to Nantucket and starting a life and a family here. And the idea of losing my life before I can do those things among others worries me. But, then I realized that I’m missing the point a little bit. While I believe there are definitely things I make excuses for (saying it’s not the right time, I can do it later) that can be done now, there are some things that do come along later in life…like moving to Nantucket. I also want to go to college now and I can’t do that and  move to Nantucket. Things come in conflict with one another. So, I realize that I might sound crazy encouraging you to do everything you want to do right now this minute. It might not work for everything you want to do. But, there are definitely things that you and I continue to make excuses for that can be done now. Those are the things I’m talking about. Do those things now. Even if they seem so impossibly hard (like changing the world), do those things. Things sounding too hard are not impossible and does not count as a valid excuse to keep waiting. Also, I can’t and you can’t let the idea that something might happen before you and I can do those things that come along later in life worry you and me any more. Because we would be focusing too much on the future instead of relishing in the moments of the present. That is what is most important. To live every moment of your life now to its fullest potential. That is my challenge to you and to me.

Life is so precious. And we must all agree to stop taking it for granted right now. Do we have a deal?

P.S. I only shared about 2 minutes of the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit with you guys. But, I really do encourage that you watch and listen to some of the other speakers too including, Jamie Tworkowsi of To Write Love On Her Arms, Adam Braun of Pencils of Promise, The Buried Life, Sophia Bush, Kristen Bell, and Rachel Bilson to name just a few. Every morning, I begin by watching to about a half hour of the conference and I always walk out my front door feeling so inspired and ready to tackle my day. You won’t be disappointed if you watch. I promise.

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