My favorite opening speech was written from a 32 second floor penthouse overlooking the streets of San Francisco California. This penthouse was graciously provided by a client the night of a speech and fundraiser for the homeless. The stage and room were in darkness with a single empty spotlight shinning on the stage as lights twinkled in the background. I gave this opening for the event as I walked through the tables of over two thousand donors…………………..
Tonight, looking off onto a thousand lights from this elegant penthouse in the sky, I could not help but think that behind each of those lights were amazing life stories waiting to be told, amazing life stories waiting to be heard, but mostly, amazing life stories waiting to be fully understood. As I daydreamed from this temporary perch, I wondered if maybe those lights represented life’s successes and life’s failures. I thought, behind the brightest of those lights were the greatest stories ever told and behind the dimmer of those lights were the saddest moments one could ever imagine. As I looked out onto those amazing lights of untold truths, I was still trying to figure out which light was mine, was it the brilliant light of future successes or was it the faded light of future failures.
Today I walked those winding streets of this amazing but also crowed and sad city. I was awed when I saw success as the rich passed me by and cried as I saw failure as the less fortunate were asking for nothing more than what I had just thrown away. I smiled as I saw brilliance in the form of children playing and I cringed when I saw mental illness in the form of severe homelessness. As I prepared for tonight’s speech, knowing I had the honor to stand before thousands, I understood that I have achieved beyond the dreams of many. When I was young, I left my own failures behind and as I enter the stage tonight, fear is my friend, arrogance is my passion, sad moments molded my today, and happy thoughts mold my tomorrows. My light may not be as bright as that of the rich or as dim as that of the poor, my light may not be as brilliant of that of the smartest or as faded of that of those with mental illness, but my light, bright or dim, represents who I am, who I will be, and who I was when those beautiful lights decide to fade.
Now as I look onto this amazing crowd tonight, I see the glowing lights of the smart and brilliant and the bright lights of many dreams that have gone so very right. All I can think to say is that we should always remember those less fortunate that are waiting for just that one bright light to feed their families, just one bright light for a shelter other than a tent and just one bright light in the form of one dream to pass on for their children’s future.
As we all give to a wonderful cause this evening, I pray that just one of our brighter lights will light the way forward for those who are less fortunate, for those who suffer from mental illness, and for those children who call a tent home. Tonight, let your light shine for those we so often walk by and turn our heads to forget.
Thank You – Wayne Heidle