The best part of Jerry Maguire was not the completion, the quan, the legitimately adorable Lipnicki. The best part of the movie was Jerry’s realization that his goal to success had to be about more than his own selfish desires.
I have never felt that my place in the world was greater than anyone else’s. But I absolutely feel that I have a responsibility to protect and grow the community in which I live.
My brother is a quadriplegic. It sucks. It really fucking sucks. The reality is worse than anything Hollywood could bring to the screen (with great, fleeting acclaim followed by a shadowy Netflix Instant grave). The diving bell and the butterfly of that kind of life is not one that has yet lived in cinema. But it is a life worth living, and one rarely seen in media today.
I watch my brother keep going with a bravery I do not have equipped in my own chromosomal structure. Courage skipped a kid, and Jeff’s last 15 years following a traumatic diving accident has made that clear.
His accident forced us to combat our own mortality as teens with energy that had previously been focused on typical hormonal episodes. Each day became loaded not just with the heaviness that paralysis brings, but also with the sense that time for action is fleeting. Nothing can be taken for granted, not if a previously minimal act like breathing was now only possible with medical intervention.
I spoke at an alumni event a few months ago for entrepreneurs at my alma mater; I was invited because of an organization I created, Born for Broadway. The forum moderator asked what my advice would be to students attending the event, kids hoping for a pearl to parlay into future employment.
I told them not to be bad.
It’s that simple. Don’t be bad. Don’t be lazy, don’t be inconsiderate, don’t be unaccountable for your actions. Do your very best every day. Remember to listen. Don’t be an asshole. Ideas are great, but action is so much better. If you don’t feel you have a position in your community, create one; be a part of positive, productive change. Be better than your absolute best. The goal should always be just out of reach.
With Born for Broadway, I’ve been told no at every turn. I’ve been told never even more.
Find another route in. Don’t stop. Just do it.
I have a voice. It is my responsibility to use it.
I’ve written about my family’s journey with paralysis. I’ve written about the shameful actions the New York State legislature, led by Gov. Cuomo, tried to gain in order to cut future paralysis funding in my state.
It was a story that needed to be told, so I told it.
And there is so much more to say. I feel it is my job to create a way to bring words and language to create lasting change.
I studied musical theatre performance in college, while interning at a progressive radio network. There is an inherent performance in media. The spotlight can burn, but it can also shine light and attention on the struggles of families like my own.
If I have a mission statement like Jerry, it is in helping shape and focus what we are collectively doing to propel forward.
I hope that my voice can help bring attention to one often enveloped in noise.
That is my quan.