Today has been a day to reflect on legacy.
Today is most notably Martin Luther King day in the US. Today we celebrate a motivated, passionate, empowering leader of colour who finally in the face of hundreds of millions of white people who felt otherwise, said "fuck this, we have value, we are equals, we deserve the same as what you already have" and risked his everything to always make us think and remember that humanity is more than the colour of our skin.
Doctor Martin Luther King was a big inspiration for me as a kid. Although I am white, I knew I was different. I knew people treated me differently because I was different. He empowered me to not give a shit what others thought about me speaking my mind. I've never not spoken up when I had something to say ever since, even when its been at my own detriment. I'm okay with that. Consequences can't be worse than anything I've ever already experienced.
Today, a good man also died. Mike Sloan was a survivor, just like me. He survived childhood sexual abuse, and it left an indelible mark on his psyche. He lived a hard life, but one he made the most of. He owned who he was, every single day of his life. He made mistakes, he hurt feelings, ruffled feathers, but owned every single second of it. He also struck a chord in the hearts of hundreds of thousands with his honesty, sincerity, and sense of humour in the most insurmountable adversity.
He made some huge impacts as a guy who died at 50 with over 20 years of struggling on disability income because of his childhood trauma. It's hard for anyone living on social assistance to even know where their next meal is coming from or if their own housing is stable month to month, let alone do anything altruistic to benefit others.
Despite these obstacles, he still raised $28K and counting for Youth Opportunities Unlimited, an amazing local non profit doing fantastic work supporting homeless and at risk youth. He was in the drivers seat of his own destiny living with stage 4 cancer, right up to punching his ticket on his terms by utilizing Medical Assistance In Dying as opposed to choking to death on his own breath.
By reading the teachings of Dr. King and also interacting with and following Mike for the last few years, I've learned a few important lessons.
#1 - Who you are has value and is good enough. For the longest time, I wanted to be anyone but myself. I just wanted to be liked, loved, welcomed, and accepted. Eventually, I realized that I am good enough and that I do have worth and value and that people appreciate me for who I am, and that I don't need to be anyone else. MLK and Mike Sloan both lived their best versions of themselves every single day, regardless of the feedback it received.
#2 - You can be a hero in life and in death. I want to maximize every day on this earth, and leave an impact on others even when I am gone. Both of these men did just that.
#3 - It's okay to be vulnerable, and to be humble. For a long time, I felt like the minute I started being real and honest about my journey would be the minute people would check out on knowing me. This has not been the case whatsoever. It has actually strengthened existing bonds with a number of awesome people.
#4 - I will also leave a legacy that won't be quickly forgotten. When my dad died in 2016, I started a scholarship in his name for my old basketball team at Western University. He had a genuine, sincere, kind, and honest side to him that he didn't let a lot of people see. I wanted this world to never forget that he existed, cared, loved, and supported the heck out of Western Athletics. My legacy is going to meet and exceed that, and I will be known as someone who left nothing to chance or interpretation, let everyone know how he felt, supported those he believed in, and set a positive example for all, no matter their circumstances.
I tip my 3XL stained fitted Blue Jays hat to you both, Dr. Martin Luther King and Mike Sloan. You both left impacts on the worlds you left before your time was up. I hope to make a similar impact when my time is called. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.