Hello everyone! I am doing something really special that I wanted to share with you. My journey to Topeka, Kansas was quite the trip but I was determined to get here to meet Ryan, a young, shy 17 year old kid from the Make-A-Wish organization. You see, I am here to grant his wish. From the moment you meet Ryan, you know that you are in the presence of kindness. His strength and courage in the face of tremendous health issues really has inspired me in a whole new way. I had to blog about Ryan....not because of his health struggles but because of what he has taught me.
I was really excited to talk to him and get to know him, but he was really, really shy and kind of quiet. I knew that wasn’t going to stop me. Our worlds are so vastly different that I can understand how Ryan might be uncomfortable to spend time and chat. What I love is that he has a wise, old soul. You do not meet people in life like this often and when you do...you stop and take it all in.
After a while of me doing a lot of the chatting, he mentioned he had just been to New York, so I asked why. Ryan is in the marching band at his high school. I immediately responded and said..."so was I". He became so excited and quickly asked what instrument I played. I shared with him, in case you are wondering too, I played the saxophone , clarinet and later became the drum major (thank you very much). I asked him what he played and he said percussion. We began to laugh and chat more. I leaned over and said “so Ryan, do you think we are band geeks?”....he looked up and laughed and said "Yeah I do". I said you are right but we are actually really cool!!! Finding something that we had in common made him loosen up and he started talking about his love of video games. When I told him how I just LOVE playing video games his eyes completely lit up. I could literally feel the walls between us crumble and all of a sudden we were just two normal guys sitting on a porch, him wearing my hoodie (it was freezing out) and me wearing his Dad's jacket….talking about the things we loved.
Whenever someone is nervous, if you just talk about what they love, their passions or their hobbies, you get to see the real them. The fact that I felt such a bond to this 17 year old boy that was so different than me, just gives me hope that someday I WISH that everyone will learn that all of us are really more alike than different at their core. Maybe Ryan wasn't shy, maybe he is wiser than I thought. Perhaps he was doing what I was doing- listening, observing and getting to know me as I was getting to know him. He was trying to make me feel comfortable just as I was doing the same for him.
I really just want to remind everyone know that no matter how different you may THINK you are from some body, there is always a common thread that you two share but only if you take the time to find it. Finding it, and the journey of getting to know people and yourself in the process is so beautiful. In this electronic age, sometimes we need to just slow down and take the time to talk to each other. We all must take a breath so we can stop and really listen to one another. Thank you Ryan for teaching me and for sharing your journey.