You’ve probably heard Ben’s story, one that is 27 years in the making.
Beginning with fighting to live the day he was born, to not walking or talking, to ignoring the experts who didn’t believe in him, to finding a way to graduate from university.
If you haven’t heard the full story, it just so happens that the audio version is available here.
The truth is we all have a story. And that story is really about a journey. One that is filled with moments of joy, and excitement, but also of conflict and strife.
There are times that are over-the-top amazing and times that are also very dark, when the whole world seems to unravel. For some reason, the painful moments are often the most memorable.
The last 6 years that we spent to help Ben get a meaningful education have been all of that. Both wonderful and exhausting.
It took a lot of energy to keep all the balls in the air, all the time, to help smooth the path so he could succeed.
There were battles over support funding, working with government bureaucrats, hiring and training education assistants, and caregivers, educating professors on Ben’s needs, coordinating transportation, learning new technology …
And then, just life in general – seizures, crazy work hours, trying to stay healthy and everything else that just happens.
Ben did all the work, of course.
The fact that he kept pushing on through 6 years of studying, and testing, and assignments is the real story.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m so, so thankful and grateful how the journey has unfolded so far.
But in a strange way, it has been a bit of a letdown, too, if I can be so bold to say that. You know, running hard for all that time and then one day it’s all over.
When you work at something for so long, in the same routine, and then you actually reach your goal, there’s this unsettling feeling of “now what?”
I don’t know, is it OK to feel that way?
One of Ben’s friends and classmates sent me a text message the morning of his graduation ceremony, telling me that she couldn’t attend, but also excitedly saying that “this is only the beginning for him!”.
Up until then, I hadn’t thought of it that way.
Her message was really an invitation to keep looking forward to the next part of the journey. That maybe for all that we’ve seen and experienced, we’ve only scratched the surface.
That we ain’t seen nothing yet.
It was OK to celebrate today. The effort we all put in to get here. All the mistakes, all the joy, all the achievements. All of it. It was no small feat.
But the more exciting part of all that was the invitation to get ready for what comes next.
So, wherever you are in your journey right now – reaching an end and thinking now what, or continuing to battle with no end in sight – just keep walking it out.
Goodness will find its way to you. After 6 years, it did for Ben.
Keep believing in a future that is bigger than the past.
And get ready for what happens next.
I’m all in for what happens next. Are you?