The people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do. Apple ‘Think Different’ Commercial 1997
During the Great Migration my maternal grandparents left Smithfield, North Carolina and settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although Philadelphia did not promise African-Americans anything easy, nor was the playing field anywhere near level, it was still a city that offered possibilities to those who were crazy enough to believe in something better.
On October 25, 1954, my grandparents purchased their first home on a block where neighbors welcomed them by breaking their windows at whim. When a police officer was not standing guard, an extended family member was. But my grandparents were crazy enough to believe that things would change. So they stayed, and things did.
My grandfather, a mechanic, was foolish enough to consider owning his own business, while my grandmother followed suit convinced that a domestic worker, wife and mother of four could go to nursing school. He saved his money, and his auto shop did exceedingly well; she graduated at the top of her class. By my grandmother’s untimely death at forty-five, their daring to be crazy enough had well paid off. Undoubtedly, hard work and pure tenacity were major staples of their success. But just as important was their unwavering belief that they had a right, even under extenuating circumstances, to pursue their visions of happiness.
It’s easy to be audacious when we are young. We feel invincible and believe that time is on our side. Like my father. At 18, with a one-way ticket, a hundred dollars, a pint of whiskey and all grit, he left his London home, hitched a ride to the Heathrow International Airport and boarded a flight to America. He worked hard, did well and forty-two years later he passed away on American soil an American citizen, of which he was very proud.
Often though, when age and major life responsibilities are upon us we forfeit crazy and pledge allegiance to smart. We defer the life that we truly desire until the children are grown, or enough money is saved, or a better plan is formulated. After all, is that not what responsible adults do?
Not long ago I came to a crossroad. I had two options, one choice: be smart or be “crazy enough.” As I inched closer to siding with “crazy enough” amplified thoughts of the consequences of failure and set backs sent me scurrying back to smart and responsible, safe but unfulfilled. Because I am, after all, a responsible adult.
Then two weeks ago my grandfather passed, and through death came new life.
When I reflect upon my grandparents’ courage and tenacity under dire circumstances, I am honored. As I revel in the intrepidness of my father, I am proud. When I ponder each of their steadfast allegiance to their individual pursuits of happiness, I am vindicated. I am stronger. I am able.
Maybe my grandparents and father did not change the world, but they were crazy enough to change their world. Now, they have given me the courage to change mine.
Wish me well!
Very truly yours,
P.S. – R.I.P. Pop-Pop, Grandmom and Daddy. Thank you, and I love you all for life and beyond.