I had not been back to my Alma Mater in forty years. But here I was driving down once familiar streets, craning my neck at buildings renovated and reinvented that housed me, fed me and schooled me many years ago. This return visit was not by chance, but by invite. I was to be a guest speaker to a group of communication majors. Me. The girl who graduated with a degree in science was returning as an author of literary fiction.
Strange how life has its way with you; how a barely eighteen year old with the dream of being a journalist finds herself taking Anatomy and Physiology, Physics and Biology. The dreams I left behind remained dormant waiting to energize again when the timing was different, better; when life said it was okay to be what I always wanted to be.
I stood before a group of students recounting my journey from graduation using the metaphor of shoes. With lines taken from Forrest Gump in the film of the same name I weaved my way through the maze of days, months and years.
“Mamma always says you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes, where they are going and where they have been. I bet if I try real hard I can remember my first pair of shoes.” Forrest Gump
Perhaps some of the students listening never saw the movie. Too bad. Despite its length there were some memorable lines, chunks of wisdom like the one above that might serve as a guide in the future. My shoe metaphor allowed me to travel through the decades since I’d last walked that campus and each different pair put me in another mind set, on another journey.
I told the young men and women listening, to nurture the friendships they will make while in college and to live their lives with passion. I told them also to believe in their dreams and to do whatever it is that ignites the fire inside. Let that flame burn hot, I said, for a life without passion is no life, why it live any other way.
For the record, my next pair of shoes might be flip-flops; I want to see where they will take me.
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