Well, this is it: My last full night in my house. My last night in Overland Park, Kansas and I can’t sleep at all. My head is too full of too many thoughts moving far too fast for me to sleep. Thus, I write. This is (in all likelihood) my final post for Culture Shock as what could be argued as a student. From now on you’ll have to find me in the “Alumni Adventures” section. Damn, I feel old and yet, I still feel like a kid.
Culture Shock and the Howard Thurman Center have given me some the greatest moments and lessons in my life. I’ve learned how to be a more effective leader, a kinder soul, and a more humble (this is up for debate) person in general. I have learned that people are often far deeper than they seem, they just have to be pushed — some less gently than others. I have learned that love is not something you can force, it is something you must be willing to wait for and be willing to accept when it presents itself. I was taught to think through ideas and to never come to the table with a problem, but rather a potential solution. Most of all, I have learned that your passions and dreams are the most powerful thing about you. One of our esteemed editors recently posted a Howard Thurman quote on her Facebook wall that read,
“The dream is the quiet persistence in the heart that enables a man (or woman) to ride out the storms of his churning experiences. It is the exciting whisper moving through the aisles of his (or her) spirit answering the monotony of limitless days of dull routine. It is the ever recurring melody in the midst of the broken harmony and harsh discords of human conflict. It is the touch of significance which highlights the ordinary experience, the common event… Keep alive the dream; for as long as a man (or woman) has a dream in his (or her) heart, he (or she) cannot lose the significance of living.”
This isn’t my favorite Thurman quote, but it’s a damn good one if I do say so myself. It strikes a chord because as I throw myself into my next adventure I realize that no matter how hard life seems, no matter what obstacles present themselves, and no matter how much pain I may suffer, I have a purpose to keep moving forward. As I alluded to in a previous post, all there is to it is to simply put one foot in front of the other. Find what makes your soul resonate with the most beautiful melodies and make it your goal. Once you’ve done that, work and work and work and work. If you’re going to be something, then aspire to be the best — plain and simple.
If I can give one piece of advice to potential students, current students, and people of all ages, it is this: Take leaps of faith. Fear is natural. Fear is to be expected; but do not let your fear define you. Fear is only as strong as we let it be. So take a deep breath, trust yourself, and jump into the abyss. Take that class, meet those people, go to a place half a world away. When asked, “Why?” simply respond, “Why not?” If you do not explore, you may never find what creates that resonance in your soul, what creates that truly beautiful music in your heart. And let’s be real, a life without music isn’t much of a life at all.
Finally, I want to give one final loving “thank you” to my fellow HTCers, my fellow Culture Shockers, and to you — my lovely readers. It is because of all of you that I can move out in the real world (or as real as Brooklyn is…) with my head high and the knowledge that I can and will accomplish my goals. No ifs, ands, or buts. I’ve already leapt.
See you soon,
-Eric Calvin Baker