February 10, 2019

The torch we carry

When they played ‘The Last Post’ at the memorial on Sunday.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
I wept.

I wept not just for the young men.
Young men who never knew that I would exist.
But whose very existence allowed me to walk the rising steps of Peace and Plenty that are mine.

I wept not only for the horror and pointless waste of precious human potential.
800,000 Precious Human Potentials never given the opportunity to blossom on England’s Pleasant Pastures.

But I wept also for me.

I wept to think that I could ever forget to say ‘Thank You’ to those who have laid paths and wreaths of Possibility before me.
My ancestors, battling to survive and rise above their meagre circumstances.
My brave Windrush parents.
Teachers and friends and leaders who nurtured me, in spite of me.

And the Young Men.

They expect me to do something with this.
With this Flaming Torch they have handed to me.
This Torch called “Freedom” and “Opportunity”

And they will ask me, when I next meet and embrace them.
They will ask me what I did with that Torch.

And I will tell them.

I will tell them such a story.
A story which is far from complete. Not by a long shot!

I will tell them such tales – of risk, of adventure, of stumbles and rising again.
Of failure and disappointment.
Of joy and reaching and accomplishment.

I will show them that I woke up. And refused to any longer ‘play small’.

I will hand that torch right back to them.
Burning brightly.

And – I believe – they will laugh with me.
Once more.