"I'm the best Fútbol player in Honduras".
When you think back to when you were ten or so, do you remember what you wanted the rest of your life to look like? Do you remember having a very trimmed-down set of priorities? Not because you trimmed them down, but because they were the only things that mattered; they were the only things that were awesome. Do you remember going to school and scraping your knees and excitedly scraping them again the next day? Do you remember knowing exactly what you were going to be when you grew up?
Whether you remember or not, I’m sure over time a series of events played out, reality took hold, and that picture-perfect view you had of your future changed a bit. That list of priorities probably got a bit longer: not because you wanted it to, but because it had to. Responsibility is a slippery slope, after all. You probably had rent due, or you got your first bill and started to worry about money. Really, you just started to worry in general, and since you weren't quite “grown up” yet, you justified getting some other job. Things got less awesome. You began telling yourself that job was a stepping stone to that “something” you wanted to become. But then you blinked, and all of a sudden you were grown up and still working at that same job.
Or maybe you held strong. You stayed awesome. You took the road bumps and the stress in stride. Priority list be damned, you knew you were going to grow up one day, and you kept sight of that “something” you always said you would be. You kept scraping your knees, even though it hurt more when you got older. You never lost sight of the stuff that mattered when you were ten.
Let’s raise our adult beverages to the hope that Alexy will be the latter. I hope that kid keeps scraping his knees and living at the top of his lungs. Hell, on that note I hope he keeps living. Tormenting his mom and siblings, but doing it with a mischievous grin that makes you want to mess up his hair and laugh it off. I hope he does speak six languages one day. I hope he makes the world respect his home, Honduras. I hope he's the best soccer player to ever come from that country. I hope he brings a few World Cup titles back there one day. He already knows he’s the best soccer player in the world, we all just have to take notice. I hope he stays awesome.
Damnit, I hope I can take a page out of his book and keep the pragmatism on the back burner until I’m old.
Alexy is only a sixth-grader, but he’s totally aware of what’s wrong with Honduras. He knows about the poverty and the danger and the drugs, and he knows about the crooked politicians behind it all. That’s why he holds onto his dreams. That’s why he plays soccer every day, and that’s probably why he wants to speak six languages, even if he’s not quite sure what those languages are yet. That’s also why he keeps a smile on his face. He wants to be bigger than it all, ultimately better than it all. He wants to leave and give his country some hope again.
Meeting Alexy reminded me to hold on to my dreams. We went to Honduras to teach him and his classmates about photography and stayed to soak up his wisdom. Talking to Alexy made me realize I’d fallen victim to a slippery slope of responsibility and priorities, I was jealous of the things he didnt know yet. Alexy reminded me to keep smiling, to get back the mischievous grin I once had when I was his age. He reminded me to stay awesome. It’s easy to look past the younger crowd, to write them off; it’s easy to say they're still learning. The hard part is remembering that they know things we all forgot.