For All To See
Over a quarter century ago, I hung a lantern on one of my problems. It was Bobby Kennedy, a mentor of mine, who said, "Hang a lantern on your problems." I listened to him, and it worked. Back then, nearly three decades ago, I wanted to write a newspaper column and even a book. I fortunately hung my lantern on that problem in front of a professor at the University of Chicago, a friend of mine, Dr. Wendy Olmsted. Wendy's response was a simple question, "What's stopping you?"
Wendy's question was the right thing to say to me, and I responded that I had never taken a writing class in all my years of college, graduate, and post-graduate school. I knew enough grammar to write but not at a level necessary to write for a paper. Wendy's response was that she would work with me. We met each Friday afternoon for a couple hours. Essentially, I was tutored by a U of C professor for over a half dozen years. Midway through my writing tutorial, I got a job writing a column for a paper in Dixon, IL. The column became the basis for the articles on my website.
Therefore, Kennedy's "Hang a lantern on your problems" admonition has been a part of my life for many years. Recently, I listened again to my mentor. I wrote to Congressman Pete Visclosky about his emailing the US Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar. Pete asked our embassy to forward an email, which contained my formal written request to interview Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. John Grouch, the Public Affairs Officer at our embassy, forwarded my email to Mr. Zaw Htay, who is the Deputy Director General of the President's Office.
Randy Pausch had a similar statement as Bobby Kennedy's lantern comment. Pausch said, "The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something."
My formal written request to interview Aung San Suu Kyi, the Lady, was probably very much like other request letters. However, sitting down with the Lady and discussing the past and the path forward for Myanmar would be the most important thing that I will ever do in my life. I have sent to Mr. Zaw Htay not only a written request but also a video request. Additionally, I have an index page over a half-dozen essays about the Lady and my drive to sit down with her.
I want to talk about the future. However, I want to discuss some ideas that I have about my helping the people in Myanmar. Beyond that, one of the things that absolutely intrigues me is that I would like to address several of the parallels that I see between things that have occurred in each of our lives. Those parallels have energized both of us.
However, it would take many hours even days to do all that I wish to do. Then I remembered Dr. Wendy Olmsted telling me that she would work with me. I have honestly toyed with the notion of applying to teach some humanities classes at some university in Myanmar. I have asked Mr. Zaw Htay to forward my interest to universities that might be interested in having me teach a couple classes. In that way, during the semester of my teaching in Myanmar and when the Lady had a few moments of spare time, I could speak with her about my personal ideas that might help the people of her country.
However, this essay is merely a backstory about me. You have problems facing you in life. Do what Bobby Kennedy advised us to do. "Hang a lantern on your problems." It has worked for me.
Visit the Burma Independence page to read more about this topic.
Visit the The Last Lecture page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.
Visit The Mentors and Me page to read more about this topic.