Late Bloomers

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I have a buddy.

Actually, I am fortunate to have lots of buddies.  A buddy knows you, the good and the bad.  Buddies help you accentuate the positive and minimize the negative.  They inspire you, they protect you, they give pats on the back – not too far from kicks in the butt.

One buddy gave me a book.  You know you have a buddy when they give you something, a gift, a look, a comment, that has profound meaning and relevance, now and in the future.  I had not laid eyes on this book in at least five years, yet was able to walk in, and eye it from across the room.  This is a sustainable book, as a gift from a buddy, one that has meaning and will never, ever see a landfill.

This book is called “Late Bloomers.”  On each page is the story of an individual of significant achievement, with a common theme of achieving later in life.

Some you never heard of. If you go to New York City and wonder at the preserved architecture, Margot Gayle founded the Victorian Society to make it always so.

Some, like Colonel Sanders, are household names.  While the white suited and goateed entrepreneur was neither a colonel nor a Kentuckian, his finger lickin’ good chicken started at his filling station with a quick order restaurant, serving his pressure-cooked fried chicken.  He launched Kentucky Fried Chicken in his 60s, and was active into his 80s.

Not until Julia Child was in her 50s did she whip up an omelet on TV.

Grandma Moses had prolific skills in embroidery, until age 76, when arthritis forced her to abandon that art and turn to painting.  She was “discovered” in her 80s and got an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

A favorite of mine is Mother Theresa, and I often use her thinking that she did not want to be invited to an “anti-war” rally, but to always invite her to the peace march.

Abraham Lincoln had his share of failures before becoming president.  In 1831, lost his job.  Then defeated in run for Illinois State Legislature, failed in business.  In1834, he was elected to Illinois State Legislature, but then his sweetheart died, he had a nervous breakdown, and he was defeated in run for Illinois House Speaker and for nomination for U.S. Congress.  In 1846, he was elected to Congress but then lost re-nomination, was rejected for a land officer position, defeated in a run for U.S. Senate, defeated in a bid for nomination for vice president, again defeated in run for U.S. Senate and then was elected 16th president of the United States.

Michael Jordan was, perhaps the greatest basketball player, next to Larry Bird or Bill Russell, hah.  Yet Michael Jordon was cut as a sophomore from the varsity team.

Early setbacks are limiting factors in some people’s eyes, yet society is often wrong, and it might turn out to be the very thing that enables eventual success.  Einstein was dyslexic, Edison suffered ADHD.

So, give me one good reason that any one of us cannot bloom, now or in the future.  I say we are at the tip of the rosebush, as I look into the mirror of my own life, so as to motivate myself if no others.

City Council members may have had success prior to being elected, but a large bank account increased over time does not make one a bloomer.  Each of the seven councilmembers has a chance to be a Late Bloomer,  to do something extraordinary, as none will be remembered for raising mooring fees. But they might be remembered if they develop a solution to preserve waterfront uses to support the marine economy, or satisfy constituents on a solution for Banning Ranch.

A Late Bloomer may be in education, in a career, or in a social context.  I believe you need to know yourself and find your passion.  Write down your ideas and share them.

If you think you cannot do it, no bloom on your  rosebush, then, please, inspire someone else. Be a buddy, and give someone the proverbial 10 fingers of help.  Remember, when you were a kid, and a buddy needed to get over the fence?  You held out your palms, interlaced your 10 fingers of help to form an unbroken bond to help a buddy over any obstacle.

As we emerge from the Great Recession, what magnificent achievements will come from those in Newport Beach?  Don’t give up, Ed Reno.  What glorious achievements lay ahead, Jean Watt?

Who are the Late Bloomers in your community?  Whose bud is about to burst, only waiting for your 10 Fingers of Help?

Jim can be reached at [email protected]

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