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Monday, June 6, 2016

Muhammad Ali — Growth

Life is about change and growth as individuals and as writers and artists.  If we think the same thoughts at 50 that we did at 20, we have failed to grow and mature in our thinking. We have wasted our time here on this earth.  If we paint the same paintings or write the same stories at 50 that we did at 20, we have failed to grow and develop our skills. We have wasted the precious gifts we have been given.

I am much more accepting of life today than I was when I was 2o.  I now take the long view and realize the world will go on long after I have left this world behind.  When I was eighteen, I thought the world was about to end.

How have you changed?  What have you learned? What did you learn yesterday?  What do you still need to learn?  Have you stopped growing?  Are you simply existing — waiting for the end to come?

In the summer of 1966, I saw Muhammad Ali standing on a street corner in downtown Chicago.  He was 24 years old and I was seventeen.  He was already a world champion boxer and I was a teenager from a small farming community just beginning to engage with the world. He had already refused to be inducted into the armed forces and was stripped of his title.  My first protest march was two years away.

More than 30 years after I saw Muhammad Ali, I met one of his daughters at the restaurant she owned in a suburb of Chicago.  I was there to give a speech on the privilege of service. Life had come full circle.

Life is about the people who cross our paths, the relationships that we choose to develop and the memories we acquire.  Life is about growth, learning and change.  Thank you, Muhammad Ali, for what you gave the world of yourself and what you taught us.