Life is an opportunity for endless discovery of purpose. The continuity of life freezes peculiar moments in time and catches your heart wide open in unexpected ways.
I recently watched High School Musical 3, The Graduation with my children and father-in-law. While I leaned back to enjoy the flick, I didn’t realize I was a sitting duck waiting for the bullet of time to knock me into a pivotal moment. The Disney series deals with students, musical plays, proms, friendship, and burgeoning love; this latest one in the series focused on coming-of-age, purpose and life after graduation. The characters came face-to-face with destiny, purpose and choices as their high school days came to a close. But first, they decided to produce one grander musical play as outgoing high school graduates.
As the music played and the scenes raced across the screen, something unusual happened. Time transported my mind back to my high school days at Walbrook Senior High. Out of the blue, like a spring shower, I began tearing up. Trying to disguise my tears in an inconspicuous fashion, I shifted in my chair and adjusted my glasses while wiping tears from my eyes and forced my mind back to the screen. But as soon as the tears stopped, the movie presented another memory-thumping scene. Faced with a choice between pursuing basketball or theater, one of the students agonized over his decision. The director of the musical sat in the dark auditorium unnoticed, watching the student sing about his choice. When he sang the last note of the musical number, the director told him the stage was a good place to discover oneself, and ten years from now, opportunity and choice may not be there. She then admitted she had submitted his name to the Juliet School of Arts.
Again, uncontrollable tears flowed down my cheeks like a river. I recalled being a high school student with hopes of a career on the stage. As the movie flickered on the silver screen in front of me, another one played within my head. The movie had found the combination to the locks on the gates of my heart, opened them, and unleashed my buried memories of lost opportunity and choice long forgotten.
The acting bug bit me in elementary school when I performed my first play as a king presenting his royal crown as a gift to Jesus, the newborn King of Kings. Memories of my acting days and my opportunity to go to Hollywood for a screen test rushed to the forefront. Dreams of wanting to be like my Tennis hero, Arthur Ashe, flooded my thoughts. Dreams of football stardom, a singing career, conducting an orchestra, modeling, becoming an astronaut and acting were the music of my opportunity. The promise of greatness in these fields slipped through my fingers. Time and opportunity passed by and none of these dreams materialized. I had thought memories of them would never resurface from the depths of my gated past. Watching High School Musical 3 proved otherwise.
Opportunity and choice had presented me many roads to follow, but I did not seize the moment; time moved forward and took opportunity and choice with it. I examined the movie and my life and almost descended into the dungeon of sadness and regret. But just as suddenly as the movie had snatched me to the past, life snatched me forward and I realized opportunity had not died for me, but had only changed.
Another dream that I’d once had was to write and publish a book. In the heat of failure, disappointment, and divorce, my life went into an extended hiatus of obscurity and lackluster existence. But in the midst of this chaos, opportunity and choice changed, leading me back to the desire to write. This time, I accepted and pursued this dream without hesitation, and I succeeded when I published my first book, False Roads To Manhood, What Women Need To Know; What Men Need To Understand.
Though High School Musical 3 served as a key to unlock the inner core of my mind’s memory, I’m the better for watching the movie. In a way, the movie shook buried skeletons of unfulfilled dreams and extracted unsettled regret from my psyche, ultimately turning my high school musical dreams of the past into an article of purpose. As I stood on the precipice of regret, regret said time is past, it’s over! But, opportunity spoke out in resistance to say, “The time is now!” I choose now to release these words on paper in hopes that someone believes opportunity does not die.
The pinnacle lesson here is that we must not blink an eye at opportunity. We must not hesitate to pursue every God-given purpose and dream with everything we have. If something pursued does not pan out, remember that opportunity and choice changes and resurfaces. When it does, don’t let regret steal it; instead, grab it with gusto and never look back. Looking in the rearview mirror of life too long causes us to wreck our futures by not paying attention to what awaits us now.
The young man in High School Musical 3 did not let opportunity slip by and chose to purse both theater and basketball by selecting a college offering both programs. Isn’t it strange how a movie can dissect the heart of life and help us realize that even though high school ends, opportunity remains? Because we didn’t reach our goals then is no reason to throw in the towel now. As my son once said, “There is no towel to throw in.” Right now is an opportunity. Right now we can rediscover life and rediscover our life’s goals. Within every person is a dream, and for every dream, opportunity knocks at the door. Will you take this opportunity and open the door? Will you harness opportunity with effort so tenacious it negates all obstacles?
God is a God of opportunity and he wants you to know that He knows the thoughts He thinks towards you, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11).
High school days are past, but opportunity still knocks, waiting for you to say yes.