Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Window of Opportunity

Me and my mentor Roy Jones Jr
(Okay,the mentor in my mind)

“There are no missed opportunities”

Most kids had the Easter Bunny, but I grew up with a belief in the window of opportunity. I was told that if I worked hard, lived a balanced life and treated others with respect, then I would have access to the window of opportunity. This window is a space in time when all things were absolutely possible. (I know, this is way better than the Easter Bunny, right?)

 This sounds wonderful, but there is a catch; the window of opportunity opens quickly and closes the same way. To make things even more tricky, no one knows when the window will be open, you just have to be ready for it.

I love this idea. It allows me to be responsible for my outcomes while enabling me to have hope in something outside myself. I believe in God/The Universe/ The Divine Cosmos and I love that everyone gets to believe in their own way and have their own journey.

Too many times in my life I’ve stood by and watched this window open and then close right in front of me. Most times, I am prepared. People who know me often say that I am lucky, that whatever I want, I am able to achieve. All of this is true, but it is also true that I work very hard, I know there is a God and that all things are connected and I am always waiting for the window to open. Sometimes though, my own fear keeps me from moving through it.

I love the sport of boxing. My sister Christine has always been a fan, so one of the few things my siblings and I were able to watch outside of every PBS show was the Friday Night Fights. I grew up with the sport of boxing, so I'll will watch almost any fight. This doesn’t always jibe with my Peace loving friends but I am for peace and I love boxing.

I am also huge fan of Roy Jones Jr. I would record his fights and then watch them over and over again; which is how you had to watch them since most of them ended in the first round. This was long before you could find anything on YouTube, back then, we had to make our own tapes boys and girls. I had a friend make a composite of the Jones Jr’s fights. Before I had to do anything of difficulty, I would watch this tape. I’d slow it down and watch as Roy would dismantle his opponent’s strategy and confuse him with a style he’d made up just for that fight. Boxing is called “The Sweet Science” and a Roy Jones Jr. boxing match illustrates just why.

One day, I was in the Atlanta airport waiting for my flight. I was about to leave my gate when the still small voice we all have told me to be still, I did and just then my plane arrived, with it came Roy Jones Jr. He stood right in front of me and I couldn’t speak. A man who had been sitting next to him on the plane asked if I would take the picture of he and Roy and I did. I somehow managed to ask the man to do the same for me, and I asked Mr. Jones if it was okay; something I would not have imposed on any other person. Having done a short stint in television, I know how embarrassing it feels to be the center of attention like that. I wanted to tell Mr. Jones how much I had admired his work and how he had been an inspiration to me, but I couldn’t speak and before I knew it Mr. Jones was gone.

A few weeks later, I was on a plane seated right behind Roy Jones Jr. and I could hear my mother’s voice saying, “If you work hard enough in life and you do the right things, there are no missed opportunities, the window will open for you again and again.”

I was being presented with the opportunity to do what I hadn’t done before, to tell this amazing fighter that he was and still is an inspiration, but again I allowed my own fear to stand in my way.

The whole Roy Jones things may seem like a simple thing, but your life is never just about you. The opportunities that come to you are really the Universe allowing you to be what you need to be for someone else.

When I was in graduate school, I had many amazing professors, but one year, one stood out. This man was extremely tough and demanding. I worked harder in his class than in any other and I was rewarded with the knowledge that was his own. At Christmas time, I had gotten a card for my professor and inside of the card, I had written about how he had changed my life. His course in Social Movements was not just about history, it was life changing for me and had enabled me to design a path for my own existence. I was going to give the professor the card and letter, but got busy with friends and preparing for Christmas break.  I decided that I would give him the card when I got back, but I never had the chance.

When I came back to campus, I learned that my wonderful professor had died; he taken his own life and had left a note saying that he felt that he was no longer making a difference.

The window of opportunity had opened for me to touch his life, but I was too distracted to notice. Maybe my note would have made a difference and maybe not. I don’t know. What I do know is this, no matter how simple something may seem to you, if you have the chance to tell someone that they make a difference, you must take it.

The window of opportunity is all about getting what you want for life, but it is also  about giving of yourself and it is about sharing with someone what they may need.

·         Take a moment to think of someone you have been meaning to share something positive with.

·         Do it today

·         When you do, feel the difference in the world around you.

An exchange of kindness causes a shift in the balance of power.

Be well, be you.

Bertice Berry, PhD


  1. Bertice,
    This is a wonderful blog site, and reading it here on a Sunday morning the week before Christmas has been inspirational! I have to tell you - and I hope you already know - how much you mean to me and what a lifesavor you were for me when we were younger. Coming from the streets of Detroit in a poor broken home, the transition to college in the South was somewhat overwhelming at times and I rarely revealed my background to anyone. It's funny how we recollect our experiences and interactions with others - we remember certain
    aspects that were important to us, but the other people involved may not
    remember anything at all. You were always there for me in a way that was
    comforting and uplifting, and our talks always took me to a better place. I
    admired and respected you, and I still do. I love you for making a difference in
    my life - for caring when I really needed a "nuturing" soul - thanks for bring there,
    my friend! Greg LaFave