Many of us think of the "ah-ha" moment and instantly think of Oprah. Merriam-Webster Dictionary actually says it originated in 1939. For almost 75 years, people have been able to identify that moment of clarity and place insightful meaning to that period of recognition. We often think of an 'ah-ha' moment as being a huge, life-altering event that will change everything about us going forward. However, that does not necessarily have to be the case.
I adopted the tagline "adversity & diversity" on my website long before I realized how true that was, especially when a special little boy, my godson, was diagnosed with autism. I wanted to share my godson's story, but in a playful way: through a children's book about a superhero with autism. More specifically, a little boy who pretends he is a superhero and gives reasons for all the things he does that others may find odd and not "normal." The book took on a life of its own and before I knew it, I was an autism advocate traveling to schools and speaking on autism awareness. I never intended to be a spokesperson for autism, but because of my love for my godson I wanted to get out the message that being different is okay and that people shouldn't fear someone due to those differences.
I was standing in front of a group of middle school students when one asked about my writing background. I began to share the story of the first musical I had written that was produced on stage when I was fourteen years old. It was a Halloween story that included a monster in a basement who was sad she had to stay away from everyone because she was...different. Thirty years later, I was still sharing the same message and it flooded over me in such a profound way that I actually said to those present, "wow, I guess I've been telling this story over and over for many years".
That light bulb was a mini 'ah-ha' moment that caused me to look at the way I told stories. 'Adversity & Diversity' as a platform made more sense to me. I have written about topics from equality to foster care to autism. Yet it was that moment in front of those students that caused me to understand this platform had been inside of me since I was a child. It also allowed me to focus in more on what it is I want to share as a writer and as a person.
People are unique and it is that diversity that excites me. Too many times people fear what they don't know instead of noticing the opportunity to learn from it. We've been conditioned to react a certain way either from our upbringing, our surroundings, or our religious beliefs. However to fear someone because they are different removes the possibilities of something great and perhaps we may miss out on a remarkable person due to fear. I'd hate to think someone will miss out on knowing what an incredible young man my godson is quickly growing into simply because they are afraid of his lack of communication skills.
I'm proud I finally recognized that I've had this message within me for over 30 years. I'm especially glad I discovered it while looking at a group of middle school-ers that are forming their own opinions on life with each new story they hear. And I'm thrilled my mini 'ah-ha' didn't mean I had to switch the path I was already journeying on. Instead, it allowed me to zero in on self discovery, figure out what projects are important, and fine-tune the stories I plan to tell in the future.