Dear Me

Colorful VortexI think it is about time that I spoke with my teenage self. I want to let him know what I’ve learned throughout my adult life.

Let’s start with something simple but fundamental: do not be afraid of women. They can be wonderful and mysterious and generous and caring. Even though they intimidate you, it helps to actually talk to them and not take rejection too personally. It’s OK if you’re not their type. There are many women who will want to know you. Eventually, one will love you unconditionally.

Be who you are. Don’t worry that you like poetry more than football. If we all blended in with the crowd, there would be no change in this world. Do not live inside the prejudices of others. Change comes from being different, even if that means being ridiculed. One day you will be the difference that others envy.

Make choices from the infinity of your existence. Don’t live inside a box with a label on it. The labels are put there by others, people who see life through limitations.

Don’t let your ambitions become unrealized dreams. There are many bumps in the road to fulfillment but don’t take those as failure. Failure is giving up. Failure is accepting someone telling you that you’re not good enough. Failure is believing in the doubts and fears of others.

Take risks. When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. Later in life you will have responsibilities but now you have none except to yourself. A career is something people talk about to justify a job. Take your passions and make them work for you.

Don’t make enemies. Revenge is like gluttony. It’s satisfying for a moment in time but leaves you feeling ill. Rise above the petty grievances that weigh others down in meaningless pursuits. You are better than that.

Make a difference. It’s not about designer clothes, Swiss watches or German cars. The difference you make is about the people you meet, the positive thoughts that you can infect them with. The progress you make in your life can also be the progress for others. Greatness comes from impact.

Your life ends one minute at a time. Never waste a single moment. Live in the ecstasy of wonder, the joy of discovery. Cancel the dark thoughts with the exhilaration of what is possible. The light shines brightly from within you. Others may try to extinguish it but never dim that light yourself.

You are alive. It is the greatest gift of all.

Live it. Never be forgotten.

And I will never forget you. Because you are me.

To Live Forever

FireworksThe joy of sharing is never greater than when we are sharing joy itself. But the irony is that even in a crowd, we can find joy in such a personal way that we feel alone with it.

I was three rows back from the stage in the Royal Albert Hall when the man in the huge black gown opened his mouth and began to sing. And in that precise moment, ten thousand doves were released from his lips and each one landed on the shoulders of strangers and whispered in our ears that now we could hear the sounds that come from the very lips of God.

“Nessun dorma.  Nessun dorma.”

None Shall Sleep Tonight.

I did not sleep that night. I could only remember weeping openly in my seat as Pavarotti’s explosive tenor reached the final sustained note of the spectacular aria from the final act of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot.

“Dilegua, o notte! Tramontate, stelle! Tramontate, stelle! All’alba vincerò! Vincerò! Vincerò!”

Vanish O Night! Fall away Stars! Fall away Stars! At sunrise, I shall win! I shall win! I shall win!

I looked around to see if any other grown man was crying like a baby. But the woman beside me was not weeping. I did not know her but despite that fact, she removed her underwear and threw it onto the stage, along with a long-stem red rose.

“I love you! I love you! Tu sei una stella… la mia stella! I love you Luciano!” she screamed. I knew how she felt.

And then it seemed that every woman was removing her under garments and throwing them onto the stage. I hesitated for a moment. No, I would keep my shorts in place.

I had dinner with Pavarotti after the concert. He sat silently with a bandana around his face, fearful of the germs that might reach him from the trembling mortal who was sitting in front of him, nervously picking at his prawn cocktail. Sadly, Pavarotti did not stay beyond the appetizer. How could he? God had only loaned him to us for a moment so that we would know what it means to, “Have a soul.”

Some said that Pavarotti died. The Italian Air Force flew over his grave. The Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival Hall flew black flags in mourning that day.

They were all wrong. He is not dead. Pavarotti lives inside a million souls. I just close my eyes and listen and his voice is there.

I cannot recreate for you the emotion of that night in the Royal Albert Hall. But I can share with you the joy that I still feel inside.

Vincerò!  Vincerò! At sunrise, I shall win! I shall win!

It is quiet now. But the joy of that sound will live inside my soul forever.

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