• Shihan Kendall

A Brave Light

"There is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it. If only we're brave enough to be it."

-Amanda Gorman

Wednesday’s Inauguration Ceremony, as these things tend to do, featured a lot of high-wattage celebrity glamour. But it wasn’t the new President and Vice President that seemed to most catch everyone’s imagination, or the past Presidents and First Ladies, or Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez or Garth Brooks.

Rather, it was college senior Amanda Gorman, the youngest Inauguration Poet in U.S. history. I was transfixed by her poem “The Hill We Climb”, its inspiring message, and the poise with which she recited it. And I know from conversations and from social media that I was far from alone.

So I was blown away to read about how Amanda Gorman has dealt all her life with speech and auditory processing issues. You can check out this article (I right away shared it with Tashi Colleen, a speech therapist at Salisbury Elementary who now as a picture of Gorman on her office wall).

Just think of it: a young woman not yet out of college, who not long ago couldn’t make the “R” sound, gets up in front of the world to recite her poem (at the Presidential Inauguration, it has to be noted, of a man who overcame a debilitating childhood stutter).

But the coolest thing to me is the fact that Amanda Gorman’s story, as extraordinary as the specifics are, is one that our Dojo team has gotten to see played out many times in many different ways. The history of our community is full of people who have had to confront physical challenges and learning difficulties in order to realize their potential as martial artists. These are people who refused to define themselves by challenge or limitation, who were able to see a light at the end of what must have seemed at times to be a dark tunnel. And by doing so, people like Amanda Gorman have become themselves bright lights that set a shining example.

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