What would you do?

My fifth grader recently needed to pick a quote that spoke to him for a school project. Searching for Martin Luther King, Jr., he selected a passage from his speeches that dealt with big issues like ignorance. I realized that, ironically, he didn’t quite understand what ignorance was, and urged him to choose something that really meant something to him. So he ended up finding a line from The Lorax about caring. His project made me think about quotes that resonate with me. I often see thought-provoking passages on Facebook statuses, in signatures, and in articles—beautiful words by the likes of Dr. Seuss, Lennon, Mandela, Rumi and Mother Theresa that serve to inspire, elevate, or ground us. But the one that kept coming to mind is a simple anonymous saying written on a pewter paperweight that my friend Shazia gave me years ago. It was a gift of encouragement as I prepared to go back to work for a research organization after consulting from home and raising my kids for five years. The paperweight says, “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” I’ve never told Shazia that I often stared at that paperweight on my desk for the next five years at my office, at times thrilled with my decision to be there, and at other times hungry for something more creative. And I still look at it today, now sitting on the desk of my home office while I finally attempt to do exactly what I would if I knew I could not fail: writing for myself and trying to make a living doing what I love most. I’ve been blessed by the support and encouragement of my loved ones to take the risk, whether they realize it or not. Thanks, Shaz!