By Ankur Bora, IP4
Recently I attended an art exhibit, Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants, at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas – it was an exhibition of 43 portraits. Each portrait tells a life journey, a stirring story of how the person was drawn to America by its promise of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and how each man and woman is strengthening the nation in countless ways. As I left, I reflected on the many life lessons I learned from the creator of these paintings, George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States.
The days before I walked into the exhibit, I was in a perpetual hurry, constantly rushing from one activity to another. But that day, as I studied each portrait and read the accompanying story, I felt an inner calm. I imagined how — first with pencils and then with the touch of brushes — the vivid portraits were brought to life. Creating a portrait takes a long time, the painter needs to sit with the subject and get to know him or her. It must have required a lot of dedication for the former president to complete the 43 full-colored portraits and their biographies. I was amazed. As I pondered them, my restlessness and exhaustion dissipated. I once again felt peaceful, happy, energized, excited, and passionate about life. I learned that sometimes I need to slow down to rejuvenate.
That day, those paintings reminded me of the integrated needs of a full life: emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs. A harmonious lifestyle balances all of these. When we perfect them, we can live life whole, passionately. We can fill our lives with contemplation, creativity, and action that springs forth from our essential purpose — another valuable life lesson I learned from the president and his artwork.
Recently, I delivered a Toastmasters speech about Kimberly Mitchell, and her journey from a Vietnamese Orphanage to rural Wisconsin and then from the Naval Academy to Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program at Bush Institute. I recalled how the painting by the president made me emotional, how it made me see life with purpose and renewed hope. Life is beautiful and has a lot to offer.
Dear fellow Toastmasters, follow your calling, inspire your audience, challenge them to think, feel, and see the vivid colors of life.