Opportunity: The Man with the Blue Eyes


This beautiful man with the blue eyes.

Meeting, to-dos, lists and agendas.   We have them, we operate by them and live our lives in order to achieve. Of course we do. We’re Silicon Valley, and home of the entrepreneur.

Yet the more I live, the more I realize the importance of Opportunity.

I can hear you, and me, saying, “Yes! I need to make opportunities happen, take advantage of them. I am responsible!”

All true.

Yet often it’s not the opportunity we create ourselves, but the opportunity we are open to.

What opportunities present themselves to us?  More importantly, are we open….


Friday morning and I’ve got a lot.  Board materials to go out.  Two interviews for key candidates, review organizational goals; and I am way behind on email. As I head into the lobby I slow down and try to peacefully walk into the HUB, a community I adore.

Something makes me stop: This beautiful man with the blue eyes.

Sparkling, alive and true.

Some type of military hat and military coat, a vibrant blue sweater, jeans, a walker… and those blue eyes. It stopped everything.

I’d soon learn more about this amazing soldier.

“You have served for our country, haven’t you?”

“Yes’m I have, “ he affirms joyfully. “61 years ago in the Korean War. I tried to go when I was 14.  And do you know why?   Because of the Sullivan Brothers.  Do you know them?

“See, I’m from Waterloo, Iowa, and down around there every night there were 5 candles and 5 stars lighting up the window in the Sullivan home.  That means that they lost 5 of their Sullivan boys to the war.  So I wanted to join.

“But the army wouldn’t let me when I was 14; they said come back when you are 17.  But when I was 15, I got a written letter of permission from my mom.

“I joined when I was 15.”

A woman from The Chronicle joined us, as Bob was being interviewed.  I asked Mary Chris, the lovely receptionist, if she would alert me when Bob was done, so I could bring him up to meet my team. We have two team members of Korean background, who I thought might appreciate his service, as well as the rest of the team.

We’re so distanced from war. We’re so far away from actual service, from appreciation of people devoting their lives to the courageous fight for freedom, not only for our country, but for many other people.  Their calling stuns me.

Yet when I got upstairs to UniversalGiving, I got hit with a lot of critical issues, one after another. And then Mary Chris called. I couldn’t go down, but Anne, one of our most trusted leaders and also American-Korean, was so gracious in my request to bring Bob upstairs.  I’m so grateful to her spirit, and our team’s spirit; for it certainly isn’t their job; and I appreciate them being open to giving and serving in all sorts of ways.

Bob came up in his walker.  I brought Yoojung/Amy Lee to meet him as well.  Amy’s native language is Korean, and she seemed very moved.  I brought the entire team to meet him, explaining that Bob had fought to help save our world from repression, and also help the Korean people.

He brought out his war medal. On one side was the United States flag. On the other was the Korean flag and the statement:

“Freedom is Not Free.”

“That’s what we always say,” Amy nodded her head.  “Freedom is not free. You have to work for it, fight for it. We know it well. It is a part of our history.”

Bob stood around us all as we thanked him for serving.  His hands on his walker, he said, “Well, how about a hug from each one of you.”   Tears welled up in all eyes, and he said, “I haven’t had this much love in 10 years. Thank you.”

As I escorted Bob out, what I loved hearing is that his interview at The Chronicle wasn’t about the war.

It was about swing dancing.  “Yes, I established West Coast Swing as the official dance of California.   Here’s my DVD of me dancing.  And I hope you come to our next event!”

Ageless. Vibrant.  Engaged, and loving. This man was going full force in serving, be it through defending the cause of freedom or simply sharing his love of dancing.

I used to swingdance 4 nites a week. Thanks to Bob, looks like I’ll be starting that up again. 🙂   I’m going to his next event; anyone want to join either to dance or cheer on?


Opportunity. We set it ourselves, we determine what we think it should be. Yet the Opportunity to love others, appreciate who they are, recognize service wherever it might manifest itself, is our true joy.

It’s one of the best 18 minutes I’ve ever spent.  And I almost high jumped over it in order to get to “my to-do list.”   Precious, Opportunity, for the man with the blue eyes.


Monday, September 19, 2011 

HUB San Francisco


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