I lost my vision when I was 16 and my dream at that time was to pursue professional hockey. At the time I did not have the best skills, but I had the passion and I believe my passion would have bled off in to my development. My passion came from watching my sister get through the restart of her life at age 8 after going through a major stroke that occurred during a surgery to remove a brain tumor. She had plenty of struggles and many long stays in the hospitals and many close calls, but still came out living and loving life and people with a sense of vibrancy that I had never seen before.
I lost my vision and my dream, my passion, my purpose was wiped clean. Who am I, what do I do, what defines me, how do I adapt to this new way of life? I guess you can say I lost my vision. I lost my capacity to be a leader because I let my strife be my life and hung on to it with all my might like I would lose my life.
when I lost my vision I lost my capacity to live for something bigger than me because all I could focus on was my own struggle looking for a snuggle like it was a drug to make myself feel better. This destroyed me, but, but I was being put back together like a mosaic a piece at a time, I just had to lay it.
All roads lead to El Dorado
I connected with my history teacher in high school and spent many lunches in his room after losing my vision; I put being a history teacher on the map as a possible goal, but still clung to hockey by rejecting the offer to move away to school. I dated a girl that went to school in southern California, so schools that were a priority to transfer too were down south, this led me to choose Santa Barbara as my destination. I got connected with a Christian community and was able to dive head first into this thing called faith. I tried again to cling to the hockey dream by joining the rowing team to stay in shape for hockey with the hope of getting my vision back. I quit the team down the road and found that was not where I should be dedicating my time and effort. This opened up time to pursue black studies as a second major. My heart was opened up and was able to connect with something again. A spark was flickering into something. I connected with what I was learning because my extended time spent in Oakland as a youth playing hockey and visiting my sister in the hospital. I connected with so many attributes of black culture and racial injustice that I observed growing up. It challenged me to see how I was a part of a bigger system, a system of hurt people that hurt people, sometimes based on race sometimes based on gender and sexuality, but it was something that we were all collectively a part of no matter the good or the bad. Before graduating I was introduced to a truth and reconciliation commission, the one at brown university that was seeking reparations for slavery.
The summer after graduation I specifically decided to choose not to pursue work right away. One reason was to rest and reset after 18 years of education and the other was to not fall into the status quo of the college, work, career, family order. It was during this time where I realized that a theme to my life is restoration. It dawned on me while sitting behind my restored 1970 barracuda at a car show. I learned about restorative justice through the truth and reconciliation research that I did on brown university. All of a sudden I started getting my vision back. 6 months down the road, I went to a justice conference and connected deeper with this idea of restorative justice and it was expanded for me from the individual case to international restoration. The following week my friend Phil would take me to the storyline conference and I would be given the tools to find a redemptive perspective on my suffering. A speaker would talk about how this redemptive perspective was being used in South Africa and Rwanda. The power it had to restore communities, societies and people. This is what would I would come to know as the truth and reconciliation commission of Apartheid, which I came to see as a deeply restorative practice. This redemptive perspective on suffering had the power to transform a person from victim to empowered and empowered into change maker. Within 3 months I was on a plane to South Africa to get hands on experience with the people near Cape Town.
It’s becoming clearer
I connected profoundly with this idea of restoration and is what the roots of restoring my vision is founded in. I found that restoration is the journey and the vision is the power. As Arch Bishop of South Africa and Nobel Lorient, Desmond Tootoo says, “there is no future without forgiveness”. forgiveness is what makes redemption possible, redemption is what makes reconciliation possible, and reconciliation is what makes restoration possible. Each step of my journey has been a stepping stone that has led me to this point. Our vision comes from our belief, so the power of vision is the belief that you can be the change you want to see.
I know there is a great purpose for the things that happen in my life. I have been able to find purpose in the trials my sister has gone through, the trials I have gone through, the collapse of my dream. like the phoenix powerful life comes from the ashes. This connection from my sister to hockey to history to black studies to South Africa and to restoration is not for me. It is me, but it is not for me. It is for others. What I want you to see is that you have a story just like I have a story and there is great purpose in your story just as there is in mine. I believe there is something more for you and there is something more for me. You and I have to just be willing to step into it.
If you would be willing, share In the comments what has led you to where you are
I find this exercise to be so powerful, if you would like to write your own story like the one above and send it to me I would love to post it and share it.