Jackson Heights FFA
Live Your Life
“What is life?” It was “Philosophy Friday” and my FFA Advisor posed this question to my Agri-science Class. That day I found that we could answer this question in many ways. Life is a magazine. Life is a cereal. Life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. Finally there was my advisor's favorite, the explanation that he gave us every year when he reminded us to make the most of everyday, “Life is a game, and it could be game over anytime.” Throughout this year, I came across an anonymous quote that takes this one step farther. This quote does a great job of defining what we often go through in life as well as in FFA and we'll be taking a closer look at it this morning; it goes like this, “Life is a game. Play it. Life is a challenge. Meet it. Life is an opportunity. Capture it.” “Life is a game. Play it.” Crack. The sound of the bat hitting the softball rings out, and Kade is running to first base. Seth moving like a tiger scoops the ball up and prepares to throw the softball to first base in order to catch his prey, but then he waits just half a second as the voice in the back of all of our minds screams out, “Wait! Are you really going to get out a six year old?”With that moments hesitation, Kade makes it safely to first base. A couple minutes before this Jeremy finally agreed to play a softball game, after Silas, who was eager for a competition had asked him for about the millionth time if we could play. The teams had been split up, and Seth and Brady did the whole who can put their hands on the top of the bat first deal in order to decide who would bat first. Brady had won with his usual determination while Seth just silently smiled, grabbed his glove, and took his place in the field. Jeremy, Jacey, Cody, Seth, Brady, Drew, Silas, Kade! That's right I have seven siblings, and last year about this time I stood on this stage and explained how living in a big family is very similar to living in a big FFA Family.
Now one phrase that I always heard growing up in a big family was, “Wow! There are almost enough kids in your family to have your own baseball team.” In a big family and in our FFA family we all have skills and talents that we can share with our team as we play this game of life. In my family Jeremy is the oldest and therefore our leader, Jacey is the sweet one, Seth is the quiet one, Brady is the determined one, Drew is the story-teller, Silas is the competitive one, Kade is the baby (and I suppose you always save the best for last), and I am the ornery one. Some of the most enjoyable times that we have as a family are when we are all together and playing our role within our “team.” As a big family and as an FFA Family this can be very true, we do have enough people to field our own baseball team. In fact I think that we often find ourselves on a team on the field that we call life, and as we continue on in life this will only continue to happen. We will be on a team of co-workers, family, or even FFA members. One thing that is important to remember as we are on this field of life though is that we all have skills and talents that help us to play our position. We might be in right field, left field, short stop, or the pitchers mound, but we all have special talents that we can share with our team in order to best play the game. It is important that we use our very unique skills to the best of our abilities. What would it look like if we had our right fielder trying to pitch from right field? What would it look like if we had our home-run hitter bat first instead of fourth? If this was our game-plan for this game of life, we would probably set a record for most walks in a game instead of the most strike outs, and we would probably only score one run when we hit a home run instead of hitting a grand-slam and scoring four runs. We play this same game of life as FFA members. What would it look like if everyone in our FFA chapters came up with brilliant ideas, but no one carried them out? What would it look like if, green hand members took the place of our FFA Advisors? (Yeah, you thought that the drive here was scary.) If this was our game-plan for this game of life we probably wouldn't be able to accomplish very much in our FFA chapters, and we might not make it back home alive.
Take a look at the chair number that you are sitting in. We all put on official dress and come to these sessions as FFA members, but simply put you are the only one who will be sitting in your chair during the 5th Session of the 86th Kansas FFA Convention. What skills do you have that can further not only your chapter, school, and community, but the Kansas FFA as well? What is a task that you have been good at since you were 5 years old? What is one of the most important lessons that you have learned this past year? How will you share those skills, talents, and lessons this next year? Kansas FFA, “Life is a game,” and we “Play it,” best when we choose to Live Your Life, by using the skills and talents we are given to help our team. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Kansas FFA, “Life is a game.” How will you “Play it?” We all have skills and talents that we have to offer that make us unique, but sometimes we have to overcome a challenge that is holding us back. “Life is a challenge. Meet it.” One of the biggest challenges I faced this past year was when my grandfather passed away. On September 25, 2013 at 3:35 pm I was in Hale Library on the third floor studying when I received a phone call informing me that my grandfather had passed away. (Two days after that I can remember sitting in the front row of my crop science class, just like I always did. I tried to take notes and focus just like I always did. I had a whole lot of other thoughts I my mind that day though. It felt like I was in the middle of a black hole, just being sucked down, while hoping that someone would come and rescue me.) I can remember sitting in class, and on the outside we put a smile on our face and pretend like everything is just fine, like everything is normal, but on the inside we know that's not true. At the time, I recorded many of the thoughts that were going through my mind as I dealt with the loss of my grandfather. “So many emotions...it is so different being on the other side of things...I always told myself I wouldn't cry when this happened, but this is a man to cry for...I'm so sad...I will miss him, but at the same time I am joyous that he will be in a better place...no more Parkinsons, dymentia, or memory loss...he knew Jesus and because of that he will be in a much better place...who knows he might even dance (Holliday Style)...that's another emotion...humor...we can laugh and smile at all of the good memories...and share in the bond and joviality of being together...part of it seems fake, a way to hide the pain, but part of that seems real after all that's who grandpa was...then there's a feeling of loss...I wanted him to see his great grandchildren...I wanted him to see engagements and marriages...and the world will miss this man who lived so simply, yet so vibrantly...then there is sorrow...for grandma...” There were so many, thoughts and emotions, that I was experiencing at this time, and it was tough in many ways to go back to school after this. However, as my family came together after this it was amazing to see all of the support that people provided us with. Whether it was a kind word or a great big bear hug that people shared with me, I realized that my grandpa had touched many people's lives. I also realized that he taught me many important lessons that I could pass on. While it is still different not having my grandpa around, I am thankful for the many lessons he taught me. I am also very thankful for all of the people who helped my family during this time.
We often have a large challenge like this before us, and it changes our life. When we get to the other side of our challenge we see things a little bit differently. It's my experience that most people at this time probably have at least one challenge that they are dealing with. Some might seem more major or more minor than others, but my experience leads me to believe that this is true. Before state officers are up here on stage, they get the opportunity to be out in the audience. I can remember being out there thinking, “Alright this speaker is funny, their motivational, but I'm just a normal kid. At this time I'm not diagnosed with cancer, and I haven't had to save the world, so when are they going to start addressing my challenges, when are they going to start addressing “normal” challenges that we may face. I realize that there are those of us in this room who have had to deal with a death, this past year, but I realize that there are probably those of us who haven't had to experience this up close yet. There might be people in this room who have had to deal or might have to deal with challenges that range from alcohol and drug use, to relationship issues, to how we handle our money, to dealing with a sprained ankle, or not being able to find a single Kleenex in the house when we really need one. Even if I didn't mention your challenge in this brief list believe me I understand, how you feel and I am talking to you. You might be going through the world's largest challenge ever, or you might being going through what seems like the world's smallest challenge ever. The magnitude of the challenge does matter though, what matters is how we meet our challenge. Sometimes when I am getting ready for a particularly hard task, I like to watch an “inspirational” video on YouTube. One of my favorite lines in my favorite video goes like this, “I have a saying that goes like this when life knocks you down try to land on your back because if you can look up, you can get up.” When life knocks us down, do we land on our backs or do we pull out a white flag and give up? Think of a challenge in your life right now. How are we meeting this challenge? How can we see this as an opportunity for growth and learning versus viewing it as an insurmountable obstacle in our life? Kansas FFA “Life is a Challenge,” and we “Meet it,” best when we choose to Live Your Life, by realizing that we can learn and grow from these challenges. Kansas FFA, “Life is a Challenge.” How will you “Meet it?” We all deal with challenges, but there are ways we can capitalize on challenges and other situations that arise. “Life is an opportunity. Capture it.” “Alright, I'm not going to call a timeout here, but I want you to tell the linemen to really gear down and push for this first down. I'm going to let you take responsibility and tell them that because that's what I call leadership. With that I ran back out to the huddle, relayed this message to my teammates, and we pushed forward on the next play and got a first down. As a middle school football player, and then later as an FFA member my advisor, Mr. Lierz was constantly urging me to step out, strive for premier leadership, and push me to be my best. “Life is an Opportunity. Capture it.” One way that I like to capture opportunities that life gives me is to surround myself with great people. By doing this I have learned some amazing lessons, and I have had some amazing experiences. By surrounding myself with people like Mr. Lierz, I have been able to capture many opportunities. One of these was when Mr. Lierz told me that he thought I should run for a district office. At first I thought he was crazy, but in many ways Mr. Lierz understood me better than I understood myself. He knew that I liked being involved and that if I was playing baseball I wanted to be on the pitcher's mound, if I was playing football I wanted to be the quarterback, and therefore as part of FFA, I loved having the opportunity to serve as a district officer.
There are many ways that we as FFA members can capture opportunities that arise before us. Personally when I think of capturing opportunities, I think of all of the fantastic people I have around me. I have the opportunity to learn from them. We get to celebrate the good times together, and we are there to support each other in the tough times. I love to be able to look back and see how reaching out to the different people in my life has helped me to grow throughout the years. There are many possible ways though for us to capture the opportunities that we are given. We can capture these opportunities by reaching out to the amazing people around us, stepping out of our comfort zones, serving others even if it is tough, or finding some other way to make the most of every moment that we have. “Life is an Opportunity. Capture it” How do you capture the opportunities life presents you with? Do you capture moments by surrounding yourself with people, like the African proverb goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together?” Do you capture opportunities by setting goals and working towards them? Do you capture opportunities by stopping and enjoying the simple moments in life? Take a moment to consider how you capture the opportunities you are given. Kansas FFA “Life is an Opportunity,” and we “Capture it,” best when we choose to Live Your Life by making the most of the moments that we have here, which for me is asking someone to come along for the ride. Kansas FFA, “Life is an Opportunity.” How will you “Capture it?” On this “Philosophy Friday,” if you asked me, “What is life?” I would consider telling you that, life is a magazine. I would consider telling you that, life is a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get. I would be pretty sure that my advisor would tell you that, life is a game, and it could be game over anytime. However, on this “Philosophy Friday,” I would expand on that. I would tell you that, “Life is a game. Play it.” We all have talents, skills, and strengths that make us unique and allow us to bring something special to our FFA team. “Life is a challenge. Meet it.” Know that there will be challenges we face, but if we come through them we will be stronger. “Life is an opportunity. Capture it.” We can choose to make the most of every moment by taking actions like surrounding ourselves with people who are willing to help us through the good and bad times in life. What is life? “Life is a game. Play it. Life is a challenge. Meet it. Life is an opportunity. Capture it.” What is life? Life, is a noun, it just kind of sits there. Live on the other hand is a verb, like jump, run, and skip, it takes action to make it happen. Kansas FFA Live Your Life!!