Just Stand.

The wisest person I ever met in my life: a third grade drop out. Wisest and drop out in the same sentence is rather oxymoronic, like jumbo shrimp. Mm-hmm. Like fun run, aint nothing fun about it. Like Microsoft works, ya’ll don’t hear me. I used to say, like country music, but I’ve lived in Texas so long I love country music now. I hunt, I fish, I have cowboy boots and cowboy– Ya’ll, I’m a blackneck redneck do you hear what I’m saying to you? No longer oxymoronic for me to say country music. And its not oxymoronic for me to say third grade and drop out.

That third grade drop out, the wisest person I’ve ever met in my life, who taught me to combine knowledge and wisdom to make an impact, was my father. A simple cook, wisest man I ever met in my life. Just a simple cook. Left school in the third grade to help out on the family farm but just because he left school doesn’t mean his education stopped. Mark Twain once said “I never allowed my schooling to get in the way of my education.” My father taught himself how to read, taught himself how to write. Decided in the midst of Jim Crow-ism, as America was breathing the last gasp of the Civil War, my father decided was going to stand and be a man. Not a black man, not a brown man, not a white man – but a man. He literally challenged himself to be the best that he could all the days of his life.

I have four degrees, my brother is a judge, we’re not the smartest ones in our family. Its a third grade drop out daddy. A third grade drop out daddy who was quoting Michelangelo saying to us, “Boys, I won’t have a problem if you aim high and miss. But I’m going to have a real issue if you aim low and hit.” A country mother quoting Henry Ford saying, “If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re right.” I learned that from a third grade dro– simple lessons!

Lessons like these: Son you’d rather be an hour early than a minute late. We never knew what time it was in my house because the clocks were always ahead. My mother said for nearly thirty years my father left the house at 03:45 in the morning. One day she asked him “Why, Daddy?” He said “Maybe one of my boys will catch me in the act of excellence.” I want to share two things with you, Aristotle said “You are what you repeatedly do. Therefore, excellence ought to be a habit not an act.” I know you’re tough but always remember to be kind, always. Don’t ever forget that. Never embarrass mamma. Mm-hmm. If mamma aint happy, aint nobody happy. If daddy aint happy don’t nobody care but you know, what can I tell ya.

Next lesson, lesson from a cook over there in the galley, “Son, make sure your servants’ towel is bigger than your ego.” Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the paint of stupidity. Ya’ll might have a relative in mind you want to send that to let me say it again, ego is the anesthesia that deadens the paint of stupidity. Pride is the burden of a foolish person.

John Wooden coached basketball at UCLA for a living, but his calling was to impact people. And with all those National Championships guess what he was found doing in the middle of the week? Going into the cubbard, grabbing a broom, and sweeping his own gym floor. You want to make an impact? Find your broom. Every day of your life, you find your broom. You grow your influence that way. That way you’re attracting people so that you can impact them.

Final lesson: “Son, if you’re going to do a job, do it right.” I’ve always been told how average I can be. Always been criticized about being average. But I want to tell you something, I stand here be fore you, before all of these people not listening to those words, but telling myself every single day to shoot for the stars, to be the best that I can be. Good enough isn’t good enough if it can be better. And better isn’t good enough if it can be best.

Let me close with a very personal story that I think will bring all of this into focus. Wisdom will come to you in the unlikeliest of sources, a lot of times in failure. When you hit rock bottom remember this, while you’re struggling, rock bottom can also be a great foundation from which to build and on which to grow. I’m not worried that you will be successful, I’m worried that you won’t fail from time to time. The person that gets up off the canvas and keeps going, thats the person that will continue grow their influence.

Back in the 70’s, to help me make this point, let me introduce you to someone. I met the finest woman I’d ever met in my life. Mm-hmm. Back in my day we’d have called her a brick house. This woman was the finest woman I’d ever seen in my life there was just one little problem, back then ladies didn’t like big ‘ol linemen… The Blindside hadn’t come out yet, they liked quarter backs and running backs… We’re at this dance and I find out her name is Trina Williams from Lompoc, California. We’re all dancing and we’re just excited and I decided in the middle of dancing with her that I would ask her for her phone number. Trina was the first… Trina was the only woman in college to give me her real telephone number.

The next day was walked to Baskin & Robins ice cream parlor. My friends couldn’t believe it, this was forty years ago and my friends still can’t believe it. We go on a second date, and a third date, and a fourth date. Mm-hmm. We drive from Chico to Valleio so that she could meet my parents. My father meets her, my daddy, my hero, he meets her, pulls me to the side and says, “Is she psycho?”

But anyway. We go together for a year, two years, three years, four years by now Trina’s a senior in college. I’m still a freshman but I’m working some things out. I’m so glad I graduated in four terms; Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan… So now its time to propose, so I talk to her girlfriends and its California, its in the 70’s so it has to be outside. Have to have a candle, you have to have some chocolate – Listen I’m from the hood, I had a bottle of Boon’s Farm wine. That’s what I had.

She said “Yes!”

That was the key, I married the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen in my – Ya’ll ever been to a wedding and even before the wedding starts you hear this, “How in the world?” And it was coming from my side of the family!

We get married, we have a few children, our lives are great. One day Trina finds a lump in her left breast. Breast cancer. Six years after that diagnosis me and my two little boys walked up to Mommy’s casket. And for two years my heart didn’t beat. If it wasn’t for my faith in god I wouldn’t be standing here today. If it wasn’t for those two little boys there would have been no reason for which to go on. I was completely lost. That was rock bottom.

You what sustained me? The wisdom of a third grade drop out. The wisdom of a simple cook. We’re at the casket. I’d never seen my dad cry but this time I saw my dad cry. That was his daughter. Trina was his daughter, not his daughter in law. And I’m right behind my father about to see her for the last time on this earth, and my father shared three words with me that changed my life right there at the casket. It would be the last lesson he would ever teach me.

He said “Son, Just Stand.”

You keep standing. You keep standing. No matter how rough the sea, you keep standing. And I’m not talking about just water. You keep standing. No matter what. You don’t give up. And as clearly as I am talking to you today, these were some of her last words to me. She looked me in the eye and she said “It doesn’t matter to me any longer how long I live. What matters to me most is how I live.”

I ask you all one question, a question that I was asked all my life by a third grade drop out. How you living? How you living?

Every day ask yourself that question. How you living? Here’s what a cook would suggest you live, this way, that you would not judge, that you would show up early, that you’d be kind, that you make sure that that servants’ towel is huge and used, that if you’re going to do something, you do it the right way.

That cook would tell you this, that it is never wrong to do the right thing, that how you do anything is how you do everything, and in that way you will grow your influence to make an impact. In that way you will honor all those who have gone before you who have invested in you.

Look in those unlikeliest places for wisdom. Enhance your life every day by seeking that wisdom and asking yourself every night,

How am I living?

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Speech by Rick Rigsby

Transcript from a video by Goalcast

Ever Tried. Ever Failed.

I had so many dreams of where I wanted to go, who I wanted to be, and what I wanted to do.

You have your own story to tell.

Theater companies I wanted to start with classmates, movies I wanted to be in, directors I wanted to work with, stories I needed to tell.

I packed the life that I knew with socks and a toothbrush into my backpack and I slept on couch, after couch, after couch, after couch at friends apartments in New York until I wore out their rent paying roommates’ welcome.

I didn’t want a “day job” – I was an actor, I was a writer – I had to get a day job. I dusted pianos at a piano store on Ludlow Street for five months. I worked on the property of a Shakespeare Scholar for a year pulling weeds and removing bees nests. I went on unemployment once but not for long, I couldn’t handle the guilt.

Eventually I was able to pay rent for a spot on the floor on the lower East side, but my roommate had a breakdown and disappeared. I helped hang paintings at galleries; paintings that inspire you to think, “I could do that.”

And then, finally, after two years of job and couch surfing, I got a “job”. In application processing. As a data enter-er, at a place called Professional Examination Services. And I stayed for six years – six years.

From the age of twenty-three to twenty-nine; well they loved me there. I was funny. I smoked in the loading docks with the guys from the mail room and we shared how hung over we were. I called in sick almost every Friday because I was out late the night before. I hated that job. And I clung to that job.

Because of that job, I could afford my own place. My dream of running a theater company with my friend and fellow Bennington graduate Ian Bell had died. I had only the one window – I myself could not look out the window, it was quite high. No “acting agent.”

When I was twenty-nine I told myself, “The next acting job I get, no matter what it pays I will from now on, for better or worse, be a working actor.”

But something good happened; I got a low paying theater job in a play called “Imperfect Love,” which led to a film called “Thirteen Moons” with the same writer. Which led to other roles, which led to other roles, and I’ve worked as an actor ever since.

I didn’t know that would happen. At twenty-nine, walking away from data processing, I was terrified. Ten years in a place without heat, six years at a job I was stuck in, maybe I was afraid of change.

Are you?

But this made me very hungry. Literally. I couldn’t be lazy, I couldn’t be. And so at twenty-nine, and at very long last, I was in the company of the actors and writers and directors I had sought at that first year, that first day, after school. I was, I am, by their sides.

Raise the rest of your life to meet you. Don’t search for defining moments because they will never come. The moments that define you have already happened, and they will already happen again. And it passes so quickly – so please, bring eachother along with you.

You, you just get a bit derailed. But soon something starts to happen, trust me, a rhythm sets in. Just try not to wait until like me, you’re twenty-nine before you find it. And if you are thats fine too. Some of us never find it. But you will, I promise you, you are already here. You will find your rhythm or continue the one you have already found.

Don’t wait until they tell you, you are ready. Get in there. Sing.

The world might say you aren’t allowed to yet. I waited a long time out in the world before I gave myself permission to fail. Please, don’t even bother asking. Don’t bother telling the world you are ready. Show it. Do it.

What did Beckett say?

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.

We burn very brightly, please don’t ever stop. The world is yours. Treat everyone kindly, and light up the night.

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— Transcript made from a video (Are You Scared of Change) made by Mulligan Brothers

 

 

 

Monday Morning

Real quick, this is just a rant. Very simple.

And something that I want you to pass on or watch every Monday morning because the level of complaining is unacceptable.

Look, what if I told you this was the last Monday morning of your life?

What if I told you you’d die this week?

Would you complain about your crap job or that test you don’t want to take?

I doubt it.

You’d go much higher level thinking. Well that’s really what it takes.

It takes understanding that if you’re not pumped right now, if you’re begrudging what you’re about to do, if you’re not looking forward to it — Look, I respect practicality:

You got to go through school because your parents want you to, you got to pay your rent, you got student loans, I get it.

But please recognize the world we are living in.

We are living in a world where there is so much more opportunity; this internet thing created way more opportunity for all of us. Way more.

I mean look, you might not even be alive.

Like, your mom and dad could have had sex like three minutes latter and you wouldn’t even exist, and you’re complaining. You could have ended up being a bus, a tree!

I just don’t get the mentality of being head-down sad on a Monday morning.

I’m going to make Monday morning my bitch!

I’m going to make you Saturday, Monday morning.

That’s what I want to do every morning, and thats what I want from you.

Please, take a step back and think about how awesome it actually is. And then, recognize that you can attack the world in a totally different way because you were lucky enough to be born during this era.

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Gary Vaynerchuck

“Your Pathetic Magic Betrays You”

I think about that all the time.

I don’t think its our purpose to understand.

Except one thing, we’re soldiers.

We have to know what we’re fighting for.

I’m not fighting so some man or women I barely know can sit on a throne made of swords.

“So what are you fighting for?”

Life.

Death is the enemy.

The first enemy, and the last.

“But we all die.”

The enemy always wins.

And we still need to fight him.

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One More Light

Should’ve stayed, were there signs, I ignored?

Can I help you, not to hurt, anymore?

We saw brilliance, when the world, was asleep

There are things that we can have, but can’t keep

.

If they say

Who cares if one more light goes out?

In a sky of a million stars

It flickers, flickers

Who cares when someone’s time runs out?

If a moment is all we are

We’re quicker, quicker

Who cares if one more light goes out?

Well I do

.

The reminders pull the floor from your feet

In the kitchen, one more chair than you need oh

And you’re angry, and you should be, it’s not fair

Just ’cause you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it, isn’t there

.

If they say

Who cares if one more light goes out?

In a sky of a million stars

It flickers, flickers

Who cares when someone’s time runs out?

If a moment is all we are

We’re quicker, quicker

Who cares if one more light goes out?

Well I do

.

Who cares if one more light goes out?

In a sky of a million stars

It flickers, flickers

Who cares when someone’s time runs out?

If a moment is all we are

We’re quicker, quicker

Who cares if one more light goes out?

Well I do

.

Well I do

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The Lost Boy

It’s hard not to hate.

People, things, institutions… when they break your spirit and take pleasure in watching you bleed, hate is the only feeling that makes sense.

But I know what hate does to a man. It tears him apart, turns him into something he’s not, something he promised himself he’d never become.

That’s what I need to tell you, to let you know how hard I’m trying to not cave under the weight of all the awful things I feel in my heart.

Sometimes my life feels like a deadly balancing act. What I feel slamming up against what I should do. Impulsive reactions racing to solutions miles ahead of my brain.

When I look at my day, I realize that most of it was spent cleaning up the damage of the day before. In that life I have no future, all I have is distraction and remorse.

I buried my best friend three days ago. As clichéd as this sounds, I left a part of me in that box. A part I barely knew, a part I’ll never see again.

Every day is a new box boys. You open it, you take a look at what’s inside. You’re the one that determines if its a gift or a coffin.

SONS OF ANARCHY: Ryan Hurst. CR: James Minchin III / FX

 

Twenty Hours in America

More than anytime in recent history, America’s destiny is not of our own choosing.

We did not seek, nor did we provoke an assault on our freedoms and our way of life.  We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil.

Yet the true measure of a peoples’ strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive.

Forty-four people were killed a couple of hours ago at Kennison State University. Three swimmers from the men’s team were killed and two others are in critical condition.

When after having heard the explosion from their practice facility, they ran into the fire to help get people out.

Ran into the fire

The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight.

They’re our students, and our teachers, and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels.

But every time we think we’ve measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless.

This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard, we will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars.

God bless their memory. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

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