Every year I give a speech in San Francisco, I wrote this as I looked off onto San Francisco from a penthouse provided from the client. It will always remain one of my favorite opening stories.
Tonight, looking off onto a thousand lights from my 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 my temporary perch in the sky, 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 success or was it the faded light of future failure. Today I walked those winding streets of this amazing but also 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 got ready to leave my rented penthouse owned by the success of others and knowing I had the honor to stand before thousands, I knew that I have achieved beyond the dreams of many. When I was young, I left my own failures behind and as I get on 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 represents who I am, who I will be and who I was when those beautiful lights decide to fade.
Leaving my 40 floor palace hidden in this hotel of dreams and winding through corridors looking for that ever elusive elevator, I could only think about the streets of shame that I had so slowly walked this morning. I could only think about the tents, filth, and mental illness I experienced today while those of us with privilege lived our dreams far above the noise and far above that filth. I thought that we have to find a way to do better for if we don’t, we will have won only by dimming the lights of thousands of the less fortunate.
Now as I look into 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. We must always remember those less fortunate that are waiting for just that one bright light to feed their families, one bright light for a shelter other than a tent and just 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, 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, I am Wayne Heidle