This article has been published in the Youth Today Magazine, a Roman Catholic, bi-monthly magazine of the Foundations for Christ-Love Asia, a non-stock, non-profit organization devoted to evangelization work in the countries of Asia.
As we start the school year 2014-2015, it would be good to remind ourselves about the importance of Reading by no less than a best-selling international writer Mitch Albom who happened to visit us here in Xavier School.
Xavier School is lucky to have been visited by Mitch Albom, a renowned, best-selling inspirational author, who came to the Philippines last February with a dual purpose: to promote his latest book The Last Phone Call from Heaven and to personally visit Yolanda survivors in Tacloban.
High 2 students, together with their mentors, teachers, advisers, moderators and administrators of Xavier School flocked to the Multi-Purpose Center to listen to the inspiring words of the author.
During the open forum with students, Mitch openly admitted that he was not really so much into writing when he was still a teenager. In fact, he was more drawn to music and dreamed of putting up his own band at that time.
“I was not really so much into writing at that time… but I read… and through reading I got into writing.”
When asked what advice he can give to the 21st century students who are generally tech-savvy but do not have much interest in reading, he answered emphatically, “There are no films if there are no stories in the first place. So, listen to your teachers. They are right. You must read!”
Mitch also challenged students to pursue their dreams at all costs even if the people around them may not necessarily be supportive of their dreams.
He frankly recalled how he had to deal with various rejections from prospective publishers who did not recognize his talent as a writer at first and outrightly refused to publish his first book “Tuesdays with Morrie” which eventually turned out to be a best seller with more than 34 million copies sold.
“No matter what it is you are doing, don’t listen to those who stop you from achieving your dreams. It was only because I kept going and believing in my dreams that I realized my dream of becoming a writer. If people tell you you’re not good at it, don’t listen to them. Stick to your beliefs for it takes time for others to recognize your talents,” he said.
Mitch reiterated with much passion his advice to the young people to pursue their dreams amidst struggles, rejections criticisms, or lack of support from others. “If you believe that you are doing the right thing in your heart, then God will protect you. That should give you enough strength to go through life and follow your dreams.”
Personally, one of the most touching quotes that speak volume to me in Mitch’s first best seller book is this: “Devote yourself into something that gives you meaning and purpose.” Many times, we are bombarded with series of activities each day such that we feel our body being pulled in two opposite directions. We try our best to keep afloat by trying to cope with all those things that demand our care and attention. If we are not careful, and we don’t take time to reflect on the purpose and reason whey we are doing all these things and dare ask ourselves why we even bother to do the thing we are doing, chances are we might end up being burnt out and lose entirely our zest for life.
How, then, can we prevent being eaten up by life’s mundane concerns and seemingly pressing matters? Mitch reminds us to dig deeper into our motives and reasons for doing things. Why? Because by doing this, we begin to discover or re-discover the need to prioritize our activities based on their degree of importance. He, therefore, invites us to reflect on the quality of our activities in order to see the things that truly matter and devote ourselves to doing these activities not only because we have to do them, but more importantly because we believe they are totally worth doing.
Whatever we may be experiencing at this point in our life, whatever trials or difficulties we may be facing right now, the question remains the same for all of us: Are the things we are doing right now worthwhile and meaningful?
The answer is in our hands, just as the key to our personal happiness lies in devoting ourselves to that one thing that truly matters to us. Mitch challenges us to discover that one thing that we have been wanting to do, but never really found the time or the courage to do it, and DO IT with our whole being. Then and only then will we be truly happy.