We Were Kids
When I was younger, probably around 14, I used to go inline skating with some friends around our neighborhood in Tampa. We lived in a small suburban area of Tampa called Temple Terrace. We played soccer together, but when we weren’t on the pitch we’d meet up and play video games, or throw the frisbee around, or get into shaving cream fights.
On this particular day, we were skating by a church, and something enticed us to skate around the back of the church. There was a sort of Siren call. When we did, we saw a collection of items that fit the quote, “One man’s trash, is another man’s treasure”. We all spread out to investigate like it was an episode of Scooby-Doo.
I say I was probably around 14 because Mortal Kombat was popular at the time, and it was one of my favorite video games – “Toasty!” If Macklemore was around back then we would have probably been singing, “Lookin’ for a come up. This is freaking awesome” as we explored this outdoor “thrift shop”. In the back of the church, I found a partially rusted, rotary saw blade (the round blades that come in different sizes.) My imagination instantly sparked up like a J at a Wiz Khalifa concert. There was no doubt in my mind that I could throw this blade like a Mortal Kombat character.
About 15 feet away, I spotted a giant, dome-shaped, colorful, plastic recycling bin with stickers on it to make it look like an friendly face. And to make recycling more appealing to kids.
I shouted to the guys, “Check this out!” I locked on to my target, and a second before the blade left my hand, and what I assumed would be the most epic finishing move for this…Re-smile-cling bin, my buddy cautioned, “Be careful it doesn’t bounce back.”
Time Stood Still
Now, there are moments in time when we do something and time appears to move in slow motion, or even stand still. Moments when we’re clearly aware of what’s happening, but we’re helpless to react. Comparable to the falling scene in Get Out (not making any parallels to the symbolism of the sunken place, merely the embodiment of it).
Moments like when your phone escapes your grip like a bar of soap in the shower, is seduced by gravity, and plummets toward the pavement.
Or a crystal glass, optimistically filled with a French red wine, slips out of your hand over a white, shag carpet.
Or seeing the earthly deity that is J-Lo in person for the first time (that’s a whole other story).
The release of that blade defined one of these moments.
The blade rotated toward the bin with ninja like precision. My excitement evaporated into unnerving awareness faster than a drop of A/C unit liquid on a mid-summer New York sidewalk. As I watched the blade hit the bin, I’m almost certain I heard the bin say, “Nah, bruh” with as much defiance as Rosa in December of ’55. And, just like that the blade was coming back passionately to kiss my face.
Some might say it was the church. Some might say it was destiny. Some might say it was my reaction time. But, somehow, some way, my imaginative, curious, adventurous boy-brain had just enough time to heed my buddies warning and dodge the blade like my name was Neo.
I’ll Never Forget
There are several conventional moments in your life that might stand out as your favorite memory. Your first trip to Europe. Prom night. Your wedding day. The birth of a child. The finalization of your divorce. For me, it could be meeting Nickelodeon’s Marc Summers in Beverly Hills for a dinner to pick his brain. Or going skydiving for the first time. Or, opening for DJ Khaled (Anotha one!) But, oddly, this experience is one of my favorite memories.
Why is this brush with death one of my favorite memories you might ask? Because at that point in time, during the silence of my shock, the pounding of my heart, and the reflection of my near demise I learned a valuable, life-changing lesson. The lesson was…
…I’m not a Mortal Kombat character. Are you kidding? I was barely a teenager. There’s no way for me to know what the lesson was then.
As I’ve reflected on that moment and woven together this story with dozens of other humbling experiences in my life, I’ve undoubtedly learned that I’m on this planet for a reason. And it’s to abundantly share my gift with the world. We all have a gift or a particular task that betters our personal community or the global community. It could be raising a family, or communicating ideas through public speaking, or innovating an industry. No matter what your gift, you have value that needs to be delivered. All your experiences up to this point have been molding you and preparing you to fulfill it. And if you haven’t discovered your gift yet, live in the belief that when the time is right, the pieces will fall into place, and you will see things clearly. Don’t let fear or limiting beliefs dim your light and prevent you from sharing your energy with the universe.
A Smalls Gift
My gift is to reflect the best parts of people. To be a servant leader. To view life through a youthful lens. To use my emotional, improvisational art to constructively generate joy. To not conform to the status quo.
Ultimately, my gift is taking the energy, the mood, of an individual or a collective and directing their thoughts, words, and actions to a more powerful, connected, positive place. All elements of what I help people discover and call the Charismatic Advantage™.
For more information on The Charismatic Advantage™ visit AaronSmalls.com/Keynote
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog entry. I appreciate you and can’t wait to share more with you and connect more directly…or on social.