February 21, 2010
by Donna Pierce
When I include hearing Randy Pauch’s “Last Lecture, Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” among my life-changing moments, it’s because the televised address made in 2008, by the dying Carnegie Melon professor, served as my high-pitched wake-up call, a reminder that life has no guarantees. It was time to dust off the unfulfilled dream for which I had a decade of research locked away in storage.
“If not now…when?” I said to everyone who questioned my early plans to focus full-time on African-American cooks. But mostly I said it to myself… a lot…when the path seemed scary.
So many blocks seemed to appear when I first rekindled the dream of a website to honor today’s African-American home cooks, food writers and chefs, as well as Black cooks and food writers who came before me, that I would have given up again except for Pauch’s profound second message that still makes me cry with relief when I read it taped to my computer:
“Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. Brick walls give us a chance to show how badly we want something…”
I read the message aloud while on hold when I made reservations for my first hands-on digital conference sponsored by the National Association of Black Journalists in Nashville (Thank you, Sybril and Val).
And several months later, I could recite Pauch’s quote from memory when I stood in
the Michigan Avenue Apple store converting from my PC safety zone, determined to learn everything I could about websites and blogs.
This week, while spreading the news about the launch (the Beta stays up until the family cookbook portion launches) of Black America Cooks website, I’ve heard myself describing the website as a “dream come true” more than a few dozen times.
I don’t take this lightly.
No better phrase describes the process of watching my life’s work suddenly coming together the same way flour and oil magically smooth into a thick brown roux after what feels like an eternity of unrewarded stirring.
I’m well aware that I’m just in the beginning stage of what promises to be a complicated recipe.
But just for the moment, I’ve stepped back from the stove to admire this amazing roux for which I had almost lost hope.
So what’s ahead? I don’t know.
Everyone is welcome to scroll through these pages for a big family feast where we honor our ancestors, preserve memories for our children and continue the tradition of sharing delicious recipes.
I’m writing this today to remind anyone stirring a dream that may at this moment seem impossible not to give up before the miracle comes.
Just remember, before Pausch passed away the July after the lecture, he gave great advice about making dreams come true…
”You can’t get there alone.”
I know this to be true because I just experienced it. Everyone reading BlackAmericaCooks.com during the launch has helped in some way….including clicking to this page. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.