“I FEEL THE NEED, THE NEED FOR SPEED!”
For Connor, and I, that was the saying of the day. It was cheered about 14 times before we went rave running on the Intracoastal, in Delray Beach Florida.
I remember going on a wave runner for the first time. I was 7 or 8 years old. I rode on the back seat, behind my dad, holding his life jacket with the tightest grip I could muster. I remember the thrill of the speed, the wind in my face, the fear in my skin, and the excitement in my mind.
The present moment:
I was in the front of the wave runner today, with one of my best friends; my little brother, Connor. He was grabbing on to my life jacket with the tightest grip he could muster. He was feeling the speed, the wind in his face, the fear in his skin, and the excitement in his mind. Just like I did.
Back in March of 2012 I decided to participate in the Big Brother Big Sister organization. This group is designed for people to sponsor a youth ages 5-17. The sponsor connects with the youth, while enjoying fun things together on a weekly or monthly basis.
That’s where I met Connor, my 10-year-old little bro.
Connor has been everything and more than little brother to me. We hang out every 2-3 weeks and have a blast! Connor looks up to me, and I enjoy hanging out with Connor. I learn something from him every time we meet.
It’s uncanny. Connor and I have some things in common, which make you open your eyes:
Connor’s dad passed away a couple of years ago. My dad passed away 11 years ago.
Connor’s dad loved him and had great moments with him. My dad loved me, and I had great moments with him.
Connor’s dad had struggles with vices that held a tight grip. My dad had struggles with vices, which did the same to him. Those vices led to the premature passing of both men.
Connor has an amazing mother, Laurie, raising two kids, two years apart. I have an amazing mother, Lauren, who raised two kids, two years apart.
Sometimes we need to be conscious of coincidences in our lives. This was a coincidence I was extremely conscious of and present to.
When I heard about Connor, I knew I would be his big brother. It was coincidence I couldn’t let pass by. There was something special about the Connor coming into my life.
The past 18 months have been incredible. I’m there for Connor, and he’s there for me. We have fun, and sometimes we talk about life. He’s very respectful, and very caring.
The last time we got together was just awesome. Lunch, football and body surfing at the beach, his first time on a wave runner, then dinner and more football in the parking lot.
But what shined most about the whole day was a moment at the beach we had. We saw a kid in his 20’s with his family. He was 23 or 24 years old. He had the look of a very confident kid and seemed to have a great attitude. He also had only one leg, but that didn’t seem to bother this kid.
Connor says to me, “I feel bad for that guy, he’s only got one leg.” It was sincere and he truly cared about him. I agreed with him, but I immediately attempted to give Connor a lesson about what I observed.
I first I asked him, “did you notice the look on his face? His attitude? He was happy. He was happy to be with his family, enjoying the beach on a beautiful day. Enjoying life. A good attitude is everything in life. And anything can be done with it. “
Second, I told him: “You have to remember how good you have it, and be thankful. That’s important.” So next time you complain about something, remember that some people out there are not as lucky as you. It’s important to be thankful for who you are and what you have.”
I asked him if he got it. I could see Connor processing what I just told him for a moment. Then he looked at me, and said yes, nodding his head as he said it. Then he finished attacking his snickers ice cream bar.
His Mom, Laurie, sent a text to me later that night: “Joe, Connor told me when I picked him up, that today was one of the best days in his life.”
I’m grateful for Connor and Laurie. And I’m also grateful for my mother, and my entire family. To see Laurie provide for her children, with her strength and perseverance, reminds me of my mother, and of the same sacrifices she made for my sister and I. Both mothers give me incredible perspective, and inspire me to do more.
All I’ve ever tried to do with Connor is just do the same my family has always done for me. Be there. And allow him to have fun.
That has an impact.
It does for Connor. And my family had an impact on me at 10 years old.
That impact remains today.
Our experiences from the past, qualify us to help others. Our experiences are meant to be shared with others.
Be conscious of the coincidences in your life.
And remember, there is an experience you’ve been through. And that experience, when shared, can be the imprint that makes an impact.