O Captain, My Captain!
You will forever live on as the person who taught me about the concept of ‘Carpe Diem, Seize the Day, Make Your Life Extraordinary’. In fact, I was 8 years old when I first heard these words. I took them to heart and embraced them and believe that they are one of the reasons why I was able to overcome a terminal heart condition and outlive my life expectancy by more than three times.
It was only fitting that these are the first words in the first chapter of my first book, The 7 Life Miracles, which shares 7 secrets to living a passionate and wonderful life. Carpe Diem. Seize the Day. Make Your LIfe Extraordinary. Those words are also how my mom and I sign our cards to each other. They are how I sometimes end my yoga classes. They are on my mind, every day. And, I owe that to you.
When I went to China to teach sophomores in college English as a Second Language, I knew I wanted to make an impact with my 96 Chinese students in a powerful way. I wanted them to think outside of the box and learn more than just English. So, I borrowed your lesson and had each of them stand on my desk and overlook the classroom, to see a different perspective. I had some students cry, some laugh, some let out a ‘barbaric yawp’… but each one of them told me that that lesson changed how they thought about things – for the better. To this day, I still receive letters about that lesson.
As a personal trainer for a group of incredible women, I found these women to be talking about how much they wished they were like other women… a different size, shape or whatever they compared themselves to. I took them out to a courtyard and had them start marching. At first, they marched on their own, and then they started marching in cadence. Just like your boys marched in the movie. I had them sit down and tell me why I had them do that. They stated that at first they walked to their own beat, but were easily drawn to want to march to someone else’s. It was in that moment I told them that they must always let their heart be their drumbeat and they must always march their own cadence. What makes them most beautiful is what is unique in them – their own march. The women cried and our training program changed. They no longer compared themselves to others, they just focused on honoring themselves and being their best version.
Each time I teach a yoga class, I theme my class with some positive inspiration. It dawns on me how many of my thoughts, themes and quotes have come from you. Just last week, I pulled up the quote:
That you are here – that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse. What will your verse be.
While that first came from Whitman, you brought it to life, in Dead Poets Society and then the Apple commercial. Your voice will be forever in my head asking me, ‘What will your verse be?’.
As I look at my life, I realize how much you have impacted it, in so many ways.
Thank you Dr. Keating, Robin Williams, O Captain, My Captain, for showing me about the type of life and impact I wanted to have in this world. Thank you for teaching me about dreaming big and going after those dreams. Thank you for inspiring me in countless ways.
I stand on my desk and salute you, and promise to always look at the world with a unique perspective.
O Captain My Captain.
Rest in peace.