Karpe Diem

Opportunity can come at any time in our lives and when it does, we must be prepared to seize the moment.

Nothing – not race, economic class, or age – especially age — can hold it back. What is meant to be, will be but in its own timeframe.

It’s a lesson that became perfectly clear to me during my recent trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a coast that was nearly obliterated by Hurricane Katrina two years ago.

As readers of this column may recall, I have family in Waveland and Bay St. Louis, Miss., Katrina’s Ground Zero. This was my second trip back since the storm.

Despite having been raised in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, NY, miles and light years away from jambalaya, red beans and rice and crawfish jumbo, I have a particular affinity to Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. I admit, the food has something to do with it, but mostly it’s about the people and the pace at which they live their lives.

Even after Katrina, when New Orleans got all the attention, the people of Waveland, Bay St. Louis and the surrounding towns, the towns that suffered most but the media forgot, picked up their tools and went about the business of rebuilding.

Two years later, while New Orleans continues to complain, Katrina’s forgotten people are well on their way to recovery. The landscape where their homes once stood may have been reduced to rubble, but nothing – not even a Category 5 hurricane – could rattle the foundations upon which those towns were built.

During my most recent trip, I met an amazing woman named Mary Margaret. She is one of the most positive people I have met in my life and she clearly embodies the spirit of the people of the Gulf Coast.

In a cosmic accident that still brings a smile to my face, she sat down next to me during a gathering at the home of one of my aunts and spilled a freshly-filled glass of Coke on my lap. We made an instant connection.

As often happens, the subject of Katrina came up. “Katrina was a blessing,” she said.

It turns out that for years Mary Margaret had been a writer, but her work had never been published. That very same week, her first book was set to go into its first printing.

“I keep a daily journal which I did faithfully after the storm,” she said.

Right after Katrina, a neighbor got a hold of her journal, sent it to a publisher and just like that, a published author was born. The book is called “My Soul Starts with Katrina.”

“The book will soon be available for pre-sale in Barnes & Noble,” she told me matter-of-factly.

But Mary Margaret isn’t going to sit on her laurels.

“I’m planning on getting another book of poetry out soon,” she said.

Did I mention Mary Margaret is 81 years old?

Opportunity cannot be stopped, but neither can it be rushed.

Be vigilant. Be ready to grab it when it arrives, because opportunity waits for no one.

Are you ready to seize your moment when it arrives?

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