When Opportunities Present Themselves

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As I’ve aged my attitudes about life have changed. Maybe this has to do with not feeling so much pressure in thinking that I need to achieve or in getting to know myself better and gravitating more towards the truly important things in life. I’m interested in having the freedom to see and experience opportunities that I’ve unknowingly created by planting seeds along the way. To be able to do this has been a long-term process. It’s interesting to reflect on how we got to where we are now. What happened in the past that gave us the opportunities that are revealing themselves today?

As you know from reading my column, I love basketball. Ever since I lived in India beginning in 2009, I’ve been developing a relationship with the National Basketball Association (NBA). I don’t think I would have done this if not having lived outside of my home country — somehow living abroad gave me the “permission” to reach beyond my comfort zone and seize opportunities as they arose.

Through this relationship with the NBA, been making an effort to get wheelchair basketball highlighted as part of the annual All-Star Weekend, taking place next month in Charlotte, North Carolina. One of my contacts in pursuing this is a senior NBA employee who I met in India, while I was living in New Delhi. The other connection is through an NBA Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) employee who I met in New York and whose parents live in the Raleigh, North Carolina area where I live.

My current job is another opportunity which was created when I started working with people with disability through volunteering with the Indian Government National Trust,  in New Delhi from 2009–12. This continued through wheelchair basketball coaching in Kathmandu, and later in Arizona. Working with children and helping to provide joyous opportunities for them to participate in sports has been so fulfilling. This job took eight years to create.

As a teenager I had always wanted to live in foreign countries. I’m not sure where this desire came from as my parents didn’t travel that much, nor did I know anyone who had. I question, why was this so strong within me? This desire took 35 years to  begin to be fulfilled, but when it did, I felt as if I was home. Through living and working outside of the US, I felt as if I became me.

Opportunities abound throughout our lives, but many times we have blinders on, like those worn by horses, traveling a very straight road, looking left nor right. We think that we have to be a certain way as dictated by our families or society. “Do this, this, and this and then you will be a success.” But rarely does this preset order of things satisfy the inner self. In some countries people really don’t even have the opportunity to veer from the “born into” path, as governmental dictates and other societal “norms” stifle their ability to see and act on opportunities.  

My experiences and memories of Nepal are that the Nepali people are very creative and resourceful, but due to caste and societal pressures there are a lot of limitations. Nepali youth have the potential to go beyond these limits — the more that all youth are provided with opportunities to travel abroad and come into contact with people different from themselves, the more they expand their potential and see things, perhaps right in front of their eyes, that they were not seeing before.

The US is relatively new as a country and culture and in this way can be seen as very different from Nepal. However, there are still pressures on youth in the US to be a certain way: the “go, go, go” mindset and “I have to get this, this, and this to be happy.” But as I look at my children, I’ve seen that they’ve both taken a very passionate and “out of the box” path. Their seeds seem to have sprouted much earlier than mine.

My advice to young people (and all people!) is to jump at opportunities, to give these their all no matter what society says, and to take off the blinders. Then each one can say: “This is me and I can.”

 

 

Position: Director-EveryBODYPlaysNC

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