Friday, May 30, 2014
Lindy Bilberry delivers State President's retiring address
Garden City FFA
Savor the Moment
One single moment. My life—almost 20 years to be exact—has consisted of over 614 million moments. Some happy—some sad. Some nervous—some mad. Around the world, 4 children are born every second.. and about 2 people die. It takes only a single second for a baseball that left a pitcher’s hand to get hit and fly back to him. In a single moment, a honeybee flaps its wings 200 times. A lot can happen in a moment. Moments… they matter. Are we making the most of our moments? Are we actively engaged in every moment…. Or are they just passing us by? Do we savor every moment? Savor the opportunities. Savor the memories. Choose to make every moment that you savor a good one.
I am a HUGE red dirt country music fan. One of my absolute favorite red dirt bands is Reckless Kelly. In April, Reckless Kelly had a concert in Manhattan and I begged around enough that two of my friends, Emily and Katy, said that they would go with me. On the night of the concert, I could barely stand my excitement. We were some of the first people there and landed ourselves in the front row. As the evening continued, I quickly became acquainted with a young man who was also standing near the front. He noticed that I was singing almost every word along to the songs, and concluded that I must be a pretty big fan. Boy, was he right! However, at one point during the concert he noticed that I was taking a lot of pictures and videos to text and Snapchat to all of my friends. He continually pestered me to put away my phone, so eventually I did. Once I put it into my pocket, he said, “You know, you’re obviously a big fan and are excited to be here. Why aren’t you taking the time to simply enjoy it?” He was right. I LOVE Reckless Kelly. I LOVE concerts. Going to this concert was an item that I could finally cross off of my bucket list. Why was I on my phone instead of enjoying it? At that concert, I only had about two hours—roughly 7200 moments— to take in as much as I could before it was over. I wasn’t taking full advantage of the opportunity that was in front of me, instead I was wasting it behind a cell phone.
In FFA, we get four, sometimes five years to savor the moments and opportunities that we have while wearing the blue jacket. In high school, we get four years. In life, we could get twenty… forty… sixty… eighty years. We never know, but the inevitable truth is that all of these things eventually come to an end. Are we spending so much time focused on one thing, like me on my phone at that concert, that we aren’t enjoying the things that are around us before they come to that end? Do we focus so much on the end result that we aren’t enjoying the moments that get us there? What’s holding us back from living in the moment—from taking advantage of opportunities? Each moment is what we make of it, so we should take advantage of every opportunity that we are presented with. Lots of these are opportunities that we may never be presented with again… so we had better make the best use of them while we can. Savor the moment by savoring the opportunities. My dad was active in his FFA chapter in Post, Texas and a few times I’ve asked him about his experiences. He’s always told me stories about the ugly green pants he wore with his OD, the time his district voted down letting girls in FFA (how did that one work for ya, dad?), and playing his guitar for members. Not once did he ever mention a plaque. Not once did he ever mention a medal. But a year or two ago, I was cleaning out a storage closet that we have in our barn and ran across some of my dad’s things from high school. In this dusty old box were medals, plaques, record books… looking in that box, it became clear to me that if there was an award or honor to be won, my dad had probably won it. Yet, when my dad told me about his FFA career, that’s not what he told me about. Reflecting back on that dusty box makes me think that I approached my time in this organization—and in high school in general—all wrong. If you looked up high school Lindy Bilberry in the dictionary you would find overachiever, public speaker, 4.0 GPA, distinguished senior, plaques, medals, accolades… the list goes on and on. My happiness hinged upon results. My FFA career was no different. As recently as a year ago, if you would have asked me about my favorite FFA experiences, my response would have sounded more like a resume than a story. I would have told you about winning a few state championships in public speaking and how cool it was to talk across the stage as a National CDE finalist. I would tell you about honored I was receiving plaques and metals from banquets and competitions and how it felt to ‘win’ the election of chapter and district president a couple of times.
For four years, my time in our Organization was defined by my success in the blue jacket. If I could go back and tell myself one thing, I would tell myself to focus a lot less on the competition and a lot more on the people and things going on around me. How many opportunities passed me by because I was so focused on doing well? I had it all wrong. My dad—he has it right. The medals and plaques… they ended up in a box in a closet. But the memories… those are what have lasted him a lifetime. It is so easy to get caught up in the competition—the thrill of the chase—the adrenaline of a win. But do we get so caught up in winning that we aren’t enjoying the things around us? Meeting new people? Making memories? Are we willing to keep going in that CDE, sport, class, activity, just because we love it—not because we have to win? Winning is great and all, but if we don’t win, it’s not the end of the world. In life, we’re not always going to get a plaque or a medal if we do great work, but what we can do is create memories along the way. I used to define my time in this jacket by the things I could hang on a wall or put on display… but this year—the year I didn’t win anything—has been my best FFA year yet because of the memories I’ve made and the relationships I’ve developed. Those, not my successes, are what I will tell my kids about my time in FFA. Savor the moments by savoring the memories, not the accolades. A year and a half ago, my neighbor, youth group leader, and most importantly my friend Charlie Drussel was involved in an accident in his shop that literally caught his body on fire. After spending over two months in a coma, Charlie woke up to find that he had lost two months of his life and two things that most of us find pretty important—his legs. Take a second to think about how that would make you feel. You wake up without a clue where you are, without a clue that you’re missing two legs, without a clue that two months of your life have passed by without you even knowing it. Your entire life has revolved around farming and racing and engines and mentoring young people… then all of the sudden, without a warning or a choice, that’s all been stripped away from you. If it was me, I would have been angry. I would have been furious at my situation and resentful of my life, been angry with God even. But Charlie—you’ll never catch him without a smile on his face, sharing his testimony with anybody who will listen. Charlie believes his life is a blessing and his joy… it’s contagious. How many times do we let our days be ruined by little things—not acing a test, someone cutting us off on the highway, dripping food on our favorite jeans, a friend talking about us behind our back, that cute boy or girl who doesn’t seem to notice us or ABCDXYZ the list goes on and on? If Charlie can keep a smile on his face while facing a seemingly nightmarish circumstance, what excuse do the rest of us have? Folks, I hate to tell you this, but life will not always be a cake-walk. We all face difficulties—big and small. The difference between Charlie and the majority of the rest of us? His attitude. Charlie understands that in life, we only get so many moments—and they are made worth living by making the conscious decision that those moments will be good ones, not bad ones. When we’re faced with what seems like a monster of a problem—whether it’s not acing a test, someone cutting us off on the highway, dripping food on our favorite jeans, a friend talking about us behind our back, that cute boy or girl who doesn’t seem to notice us or ABCDXYZ or even having our world flipped completely upside down like Charlie did—let’s be ready to battle them. When it seems like it’s not going to get better, let’s smile and fight through it. How much better would our world be if we all chose to have good moments as opposed to bad ones? Savor the moments by choosing to make them good ones.
Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to savor some incredible moments with FFA members from across our state. I can’t thank you enough for letting me be a part of some of the moments in your lives. When I think about what makes this Organization—this blue jacket—so special it’s the moments that we get to savor while we wear our National Blue corduroy. From the time we zip up our jacket for the first time until the moment we hang it up for the last time we spend some of the most pivotal moments of our lives in them—we laugh in these jackets, we cry in these jackets. Our members serve communities, step up as leaders, and make a difference in these blue jackets. We win—we lose—we work hard—we grow up—we find ourselves all while wearing the blue jacket. In these jackets we are a family… in these jackets we stand together for a common cause—it’s in these jackets that we ‘believe in the future of agriculture’ and ‘practice brotherhood and honor agricultural opportunities and responsibilities’ in these blue jackets we ‘develop those qualities of leadership which an FFA member should possess.’ We learn to ‘be courteous to everyone, just in our dealings, and above all, honest and fair in the game of life’ all while wearing the blue jacket. In these jackets, we get to savor some of the best memories and moments that we will ever know. Wearing this jacket gave me moments that changed my life—and I hope that the same is true for you. How can you make the most of your moments? Savor the opportunities—savor the memories whether you win or not—choose to make every single moment you can savor a good one. For 157 million of my approximately 614 million moments on this planet, I’ve gotten the chance to be a member of this blue jacketed family. These are the moments that I will savor for the rest of my life. Kansas FFA, savor the moment!