Experiencing the sheer joy of someone else’s success is a special happiness. I got to feel this positive shockwave recently. Let’s go back a bit for context. In high school, I failed Algebra 1. Not a good thing, so off to summer school I went. The challenge was with two working parents; I needed a carpool to get to class. Enter Allen. Allen and I were about as far apart on the high school social spectrum as two kids could get. Different backgrounds, races, ages, social circles- and clearly academic outlooks. Allen was in summer school to accelerate his studies, not catch up.
Those differences didn’t matter at all. That summer, we became fast friends. We both were dreamers. As the summer gave way to fall, we weren’t carpooling anymore, but we were walking together to the movie theater to catch new releases. The movies we saw were inspiring and helped us clarify the paths we hoped to take. Allen dreamed of a career in theater, and I sought to travel and have bold adventures.
After high school, we lost touch. Then, a couple of years ago, we reunited via Facebook. Our catch-up was a fun exchange of how we’d been, memories of the movies we’d seen, and me once again thanking him for how his support helped me get a B in summer school. Nothing serious, and no life details were exchanged. Just fond memories.
Then this week. What popped up in my news feed was Allen tagged in a 20-year anniversary post for the Broadway production he starred in. A BROADWAY production. Allen had realized every stage actor’s biggest dream. In all his humility, he’d never mentioned that success to me.
Who would have known that two random kids creating a well-worn path from their school parking lot to the local big screen would have the privilege to realize the big dreams those films inspired and their unlikely friendship. What a reminder of just how much is truly possible.
What chapter do you want to create next in your life?
The fun, joy, and excitement of our stories only fade when we stop imagining ways to explore the directions in our hearts to follow. Don’t let the stress of today stop the music. Let your life play out in the big ways that matter to you. Lead like Allen.
Thank you, Allen, for all the inspiration and support. You helped me become a writer (no math required) and supported every crazy idea I had (maybe I’ll join the Marines to pay for law school) because you saw something in me, I hadn’t yet seen in myself. I hope you know I saw that in you too. While I am 20 years late to the party, I’m celebrating your success like it just happened. Bravo, man. Bravo.