Reflections on Opportunity

by Orly Wahba

“Like the sunset, opportunities are fleeting specks of light that vanish within seconds only leaving behind the residue of their beauty with colorful radiant skies. But when seized, opportunities have the power to change worlds and their beauty remains even after the sun has set.” ~Orly Wahba

As I began to think of this month’s theme of OPPORTUNITY – I recalled the passage above from a journal entry I wrote years ago, before starting Life Vest Inside. I loved teaching but something within me seemed to be calling me. I didn’t quite understand how to decipher what that “call” was telling me, but I felt that there was something more I was meant to do. Teaching is a GREAT love of mine, one that I will never ever forget. Perhaps one that I will have the opportunity to go back to at some point in my life. Yet, even though I loved what I was doing and knew that it fit me like a glove, deep in my heart I felt that there was something more. It wasn’t that teaching was no longer for me, but rather that I was meant to use all I learned during those years as a stepping stone to teach and inspire on a whole new level. My journal entry continued as follows all those years ago,

“We all have dreams, but few of us have the courage to pursue them. Too often a person’s passion and dreams are put aside, neatly swept under the carpet, shuffled away deep beneath the heart, in order to settle for the far easier attainable goal. But somewhere in the subconscious that passion continues to burn. As time passes it only grows. For most such feelings are conveniently neglected; after all it is something that serves as a great conversational piece. The “I could’ve been’s” are far more intriguing to people than had they tried to actually attain their dream, but failed. Then there are some who can’t seem to let go. Deep inside their heart festers the ever growing passion, the ever growing dream, the ever growing question – “where did I go wrong?” But where do people go wrong? When does that most crucial moment occur when u are standing at a crossroad? There are an endless amount of stories – This is mine…”

Albert Einstein said, “In The Middle Of Difficulty Lies Opportunity.” Something that I perhaps never shared openly, is that my final year of teaching was laced in difficulty, not because of the sadness of leaving but because of the hurt that I experienced from a couple of parents who crushed my heart and made me feel as though all the years I’ve worked, the heart, the soul, the love I poured into every student, into every second of every day meant nothing. Although I had hundreds and even thousands of positive interactions as a teacher, this negative one pierced me so deeply. Isn’t it interesting that it takes hundreds of positive remarks to undo one really negative one (perhaps, something for all of us to think about). While I can go off on tangents here about how the choice to feel this way is ours alone to choose, instead I simply want to note that it was in large part because of this “difficulty” that just as Einstein said, opportunity arose.

I NEVER thought I would leave teaching. Sure I always had big dreams, but I would never think of not being there the following year for my students in their final year of Middle School, as I taught 7th and 8th graders. However, the pain I felt from this negative interaction allowed me to take the feelings I felt when writing the above journal entry and turn it into action. Something was brewing in my heart regardless of that interaction, but I don’t know if I would have had the courage to pursue had I not been hurt. I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason, the good and the seemingly bad.

So why am I sharing this? Had I never taken that chance; seen the opportunity to channel the pain into something that I dreamed of doing, into something that would impact many, Life Vest Inside would cease to exist. Yes, I’m certain I would still be a teacher until this very day and I would love it. However, I wouldn’t be living up to my full potential.

Make no mistake, seizing opportunity is frightening, but it’s also invigorating. Sometimes our pursuit of an opportunity will be fruitful and there are times when we will be met with failure or disappointment. However, this is actually the beauty in opportunity – it forces you to take a step out of your comfort zone and put a bit more faith in yourself. In my opinion, success has little to do with outcome. Success is simply measured by the choice a person makes when faced with opportunity and whether that person chooses to seize the moment regardless of the outcome.

Oddly enough, I find myself standing at yet another crossroad 7 years down the line and 7 years into my work with Life Vest Inside. I hear something calling to me, yet I’m uncertain of how to decipher it. One thing is for sure, if I trust myself and the voice within me, I won’t be led astray. Here’s to the unknown that always awaits us. Life sure is an adventure!

How will you seize your opportunity? I’m happy to be a listening ear for any and all of you wishing to share.