I witnessed something truly remarkable and inspiring recently.
And the greatness of the moment was so much more profound because of its source:
Beaming with Pride
My son has been quite a student these past several years, ever since he finally found a school that fully clicked with his personality and abilities.
His grades are off-the-charts and his work ethic is second to none. And while he’s been acing class after class, he has also earned himself a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, taught himself to play guitar, and dabbled in countless other activities and hobbies (including two awesome business endeavors: Custom Mazes and Stock Photography).
And I couldn’t be more proud.
Or at least I thought I couldn’t. Until recently.
The Cinema Project
One of his classes these last few years was cinema. His final project was enormous, and required an immense amount of time, effort, creativity, and organization. And he attacked the task with ferocity… and perhaps a bit of insanity.
There was a period we barely saw him. He would go out to his school to film in the morning, and come back to edit for hours and hours with one of his partners. He was pulling countless all-nighters. He wouldn’t rest while he was putting his project together, so long as work needed to be done.
And he was exhausted.
And to be honest, I was getting a bit worried about him.
He wasn’t getting nearly enough sleep. He was sustaining himself on snacks and Coke. And he was neglecting pretty much everything else one usually deems important in life.
Nevertheless, he persisted. And he was making real progress.
The Unlikely Proposal
One evening he came home with a proposal.
His cinema class was divided into three groups. The class had been going on for three years and the final projects needed to be at least twenty minutes long. Anyone who has dabbled in video production in any manner knows this is no small feat. Most people not yet initiated think making videos isn’t so challenging. You film, you edit a little, and voila, the creation is complete.
Not quite. Those of us who have given it a try know that for a thirty-second clip, you can easily spend hours trying to make everything perfect. And even when you’re finished, you’ll still have what you could do. There really is no end to how much you can continue to perfect what you’re working on. And this project had to be 20 minutes!
And then there are hundreds of additional matters that need to be considered. Lighting. Casting. Scheduling with your actors (in this case, all volunteers). Budget (or lack thereof). Equipment and setting limitations. Deadlines. Working in a group. Transportation with equipment.
So it’s no surprise that when all the smoke clears, and you near the completion of your epic work, you will be beaming with pride and you’ll want to show the world.
So what was his proposal?
My Son on the Big Stage
Shlomo wanted to make a giant program where he would show off the final projects to all visitors. But that wasn’t all. He didn’t want a lousy projector in a cramped and uncomfortable school auditorium in the middle of nowhere. He dreamed of a program where he would show all of these films (and more) on the big screen of Jerusalem’s Cinematheque, “one of Israel’s leading and most influential cultural institutions”.
I’ll admit (head lowered), I didn’t think this was going to happen. I encouraged Shlomo to pursue the possibility, but in the back of my mind, all I could think of were all the reasons it was unlikely to succeed. It cost too much money. The school wouldn’t be supportive. The Cinematheque wouldn’t take them seriously. Not enough time to make it work. There’d be a lack of interest. It would be too hard to organize, making it way too easy to give up. And on and on and on.
But he didn’t even consider any of those possible objections. The concept was already there, and anything less than making it happen was simply not an option.
But my cynicism still reigned supreme. No one would show up. It would be a technological disaster. It would be set up in a way that people were bored to tears with incessant, dull speeches.
I couldn’t be happier how wrong I was. About everything!
Exceeding All Expectations
My son attacked the event planning with the same fervor he attacked his cinema project. In fact, in the same manner he attacks pretty much any task set before him.
And the results exceeded all possible expectations.
There was a good-sized crowd. Every last detail was considered, from what videos would be shown, to the best possible order, to who would speak, when, and for how long.
And despite the fact that I’m the type of person who starts inadvertently nodding off about 30 seconds into most public presentations, I was engaged from start to finish of an unbelievable evening.
And the pride I feel is overwhelming.
What just happened here??
My son, think about what you just did!
Most people will go through their whole lives never planning and organizing a 20-minute film. They’ll never arrange an event and speak in front of a large crowd of friends, family, and complete strangers. And it has not yet been stressed: This was done entirely in your second language!
And you’re only 18!
So, what happened this year? You took more classes than you were supposed to, because you added on an extra Physics class, since the subject matter interested you. You aced everything. And you did all this while staying physically fit, exploring a whole lot of hobbies, and having a whole lot of leisure time on top of it all.
So what’d you do? You decided to put a big ole fat cherry on top of everything and create an epic event from scratch, accomplishing things in your youth many people two or three times your age have never managed to do. And you did it to perfection!
So yeah, the word “proud” feels like it doesn’t properly convey how I’m feeling.
It’s not enough.
And you know what’s crazier than any of this?
I think there is so much more to come. I think you’ve only begun to scratch the surface. I think you’re only using a portion of your potential at the moment.
I can’t wait to see what comes next!