I had the day all planned out. We arrived at Sea World right on time, all thirteen of us. First we could watch the dolphins, then ride our first roller coaster, then later in the day at 5:00pm sharp, the whale show. Everything was going perfectly…until the rain came.
Ten minutes into the whale show, the skies darkened and then opened with a vengeance. The radar showed that the rain would not let up for hours. The show was cancelled and the day, it seemed, was ruined.
The world just lost a great person. Not really. This person was only a fictional character on the series Parks and Recreation, but the character Leslie Knope embodied what it meant to live with passion, lead with purpose, and leaving a legacy.
One of the few shows my wife and I watch is Parks and Recreation. If you aren’t familiar with the show, it’s based on a motley crew of small-town government workers in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana (which might just be the second best known town in the state).
One character stands out above them all: Leslie Knope. Not because of her words or any particular character trait, but because of her actions. Below are five reasons the world needs more Leslie Knopes.
I still remember the first time I saw my dad having a panic attack. It was utterly terrifying. He was rocking himself back and forth on the floor, sweating profusely, trembling from an unknown fear. I didn’t know it at the time, but his heart was racing, his body was numb, and he was detached from reality.
At an extreme level, my dad’s fears were just like our fears. They cause us to tremble, cause our minds and hearts to race, and ultimately detach us from reality.
For nearly a year I watched those panic attacks cripple my father. He’d been wrestling with them for months before I found out. He couldn’t sleep most nights. He seemed distant and depressed. The medications made him feel even worse.
Imagine for a moment that you are twenty-two years old, your entire life in front of you…and you’re headed for combat.
Maybe that’s not hard to imagine. You’ve been that kid headed off to war, scared out of your mind, not knowing what lies ahead. Most of us haven’t and we salute you for your service.
Before you go, you meet with a psychologist. It’s normal to do so. Their job is to prepare you for the horrors you’re about to face and, eventually, the return home. The psychologist tells you that when you return, there are only two options:
Return with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
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This well-intentioned psychologist has pigeon-holed this impressionable kid into forming only two paths in his mental map, average and bad.
We do the same things to ourselves.