Wednesday, March 4, 2009

3, 2, 1....and we have liftoff

Good afternoon everyone. I thought some of you might find that title a little intriguing for my blog today, and with good reason. Last Saturday, Feb. 28, I made a journey to Albany County to get together with my NSA teammates in the St. Rose chapter. Albany County is home to our state capitol, and many colleges within half an hour, St. Rose being one of them. For this trip was to me another example of growing and learning about stuttering, and sharing that quest with my fellow teammates. The St. Rose NSA chapter had a viewing of the movie "Rocket Science," followed by a discussion about the themes in the movie.

"Rocket Science" is must-see viewing for any teammate who stutters, or wants to know more about stuttering as a whole. These days in Hollywood, everyone is all about "political correctness." Controversy doesn't sell tickets anymore, at least not as much as it once did. Now it's about independent features, these are the ones people remember instead of the big-budget blockbusters. And there's good reason to remember this movie. The protagonist in this movie is a teen who struggles with his speech as a person who stutters....only to be invited to join the debate team. That concept in itself may be enough for a person to wish they had root canal three times over. But he does join, only to fall for the girl who invited him to join. In a cruel twist, she leaves to go to another school, leaving him all alone to find another partner. In reality, she invited him to join so that he would damage the team's chances to win. Regardless, the movie is so important to see because it's genuine. It's raw. It gives a sincere look into what it is like to be a teen struggling with stuttering, as it impacts his life in so many ways.

In the very last scene of the movie, the teen (his name is Hal) is questioning a lot of things, and his father makes a comment "Be grateful for what you have," as the film comes to a close. That definitely inspired a lot of discussion amongst us-does Hal really win? Does he lose? What does he have, but yet most importantly, what do we have?

It's hard for us to wake up many times and accept the world we live in today-financial collapse, win-at-all-costs mentality, text messaging as a complement to regular communication. We cannot control the world around us, nor can we control others who may think less of us. We can only control one person: that's us, as individuals. We can control how we look at our speech. We can control how fluent on a given day we can be.

But what do we have? I know what me and my teammates have: We have confidence. We have hope. We have a power to not let our stuttering come between us and anything. We have passion and desire. And if you have those things, you too can "blast off" and do anything you want. Check out the movie on DVD. It's definitely well worth the investment, and then some.

My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.

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