Imagine…if you never had to worry about someone’s opinions on your current diet.
Imagine…if you had no concerns about what you looked like when you exercise in front of others.
Imagine…if the ideal body that popular media tried to sell you had literally no effect on your self-esteem and self worth.
Imagine…if the weight loss struggles you watched your family members go through had no influence on your body composition.
Imagine…where you’d be with your progress.
Many of my readers know that my oldest son, Jackson, has autism.
By many accounts, he appears and behaves as any typical ten year old.
His biggest challenge has remained his ability to verbally communicate with others.
He can speak but he does so very seldom.
When he does speak, it is usually to repeat a line from a movie or a verse from a song. He will frequently loop that line as if it were the skip on a vinyl record.
From time to time, he will speak in a full sentence or he will say just enough words to get his point across if he needs something.
Of the many things about Jackson that I marvel over, I have always been in admiration of his self-sufficiency; his ability to get most everything he needs accomplished without the assistance of others.
His mother (my first marriage) came from a family of athletes. So, it stood to reason that she would get him involved in sports to see what he took a liking to. We discovered over time that he would take more from my side of the family and be more in line with the arts.
We’ve always known that Jackson loves music. He loves to sing and he loves to dance.
So, earlier this year, he got enrolled in music lessons at a studio near his home.
He absolutely loved them and for the first time, we were able to see him flourish in an activity (aside from Legos) that he looked forward to.
His mom informed me that his studio would be putting on a recital, at which point he would be involved in his first performance. The song she wanted him to sing would be John Lennon’s classic, “Imagine.”
Over the last couple of months, Jax would sing us parts of the song which would continue to get better and better as his instructor would work with him on the enunciation of the words. Mind you, the sheer volume of words in this three minute song is more words than you would typically get from him in two days of interacting with him. Not to mention, the variety of words as well.
So, the true test would be: would Jackson get shy in front of an audience and decline to sing or would he demonstrate all of the weeks of concerted effort?
We knew that either outcome would be possible.
The video you will watch below is my big boy coming to life before a formal audience.
It was among the most pivotal moments in his life (and I think his mother would agree.)
I am not certain if anyone in the crowd, aside from family and his instructor, knew that he has special needs. So, to the lay audience, they may not have known how monumental this was.
But of the many things I believe someone like Jackson can teach to others, it is that sometimes (or maybe more often than that) you have to be the truest version of you despite anyone who might be watching. If you want to reach your full capacity as a person (your ideal weight or in your best health), you might have to do so as if no else around you mattered; not their opinions, not their perspectives, not their judgments.
Many of us fear progress because progress can provoke envy and jealously from others. Progress, more often than not, comes with a considerable amount of discomfort.
To see Jackson step outside of his world to be the little boy you see on this stage is the little reminder of hope that I’d like to leave you with this week.
The hope that if you too can “Imagine” a better you to show the world, that you can reach it.
I would end this post normally by adding in our tagline of “We Make Great People Greater.”
Instead, I’ll change it slightly to say “Jackson Can Make You Greater.”
(Turn your volume up, he’s not using a mic)