Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Magic of Good Mojo

Tribune Photo by
Heather Charles


That bright spring light of the mind and soul. That boon from god that allows us to get up every morning, to hope for a better day, a better vision, a better apple, car, job, song, story, life. Optimism, even when leaning flat against reality, lets us believe that in the end, EVERY LITTLE THING is gonna be all right. Truly. In spite of everything else.

In spite of the darkness that lurks along our paths. In spite of the sadness, fear, hatred, anger that brushes against us. In spite of all those helpless days and hopeless feelings. In spite of all the things we think we could resist outright, if only we were stronger, smarter, better, prettier, more talented, more MORE.

Well, you have to know one thing: optimism goes a long way toward setting the stage for triumph. Just believing in something - preferably your own self - is a shield of courage that protects you as your dare to take that first step of the journey toward whatever new day that has grabbed your imagination.

And when optimism is mixed with a dream and a plan and willing people who know how to help you mix and bake your personal recipe? People who know how to buck you up when the shadows stretch across the path? Well hell. Suddenly, you find yourself much further down the road than your first dreams ever led you to believe was possible.

So, this month, Chicago's Urban Prep Academy announced that every single member of the school's first senior class - 107 of them - had been accepted to college. Young men who came from destitution and swaddled futures. Young men who had hardly dared to dream of much of anything. Young men who doubted that academic success was in their future. Young men who entered the school unable to read at their grade-level.

Now, you can sniff at the uniforms and complain about the demands and other trappings of a highly controlled environment. But before you do, you should ask the graduating seniors if the jackets and ties, the gender segregation, the extended school days, the constant messages commanding FOCUSFOCUSFOCUS, the extra English credits, and the long commutes were at all worth it. Ask them if the ability to call everyone they know to shout, "I got in!" was worth it. Ask them if forcing the shadows on the road to retreat in shame was worth it.

Class of 2010: Go on with your bad selves.