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  • Writer's pictureMaya Kollman

Remembering a man who used his voice to promote service and nonviolence.

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

This post was written by Maria Shriver. Today on Martin Luther King Jr. day I felt it not only fitting, but beautiful and well said. Thank you Maria, for your wonderful words and having take this time to remember.

If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." —Martin Luther King, Jr.

I've Been Thinking...

Over the last week, I wrote this essay several different times in several different ways. None of them felt quite right.

One essay felt too angry. Another felt too pollyannaish. One felt simplistic at a time when the world feels anything but. I’ve felt so many different emotions lately that it’s been hard to know what to think. At times I’ve felt like I’m living on an upside-down emotional rollercoaster as I watch the news unfold.

Then along came my youngest son who asked me to step away from the news and watch the new Pixar movie Soul with him. He and I watch all the Pixar films together. I even used to take him out of school to go to the theater when one came out, so of course I said sure.

In hindsight, it felt like it was exactly the film I needed to see this week as I watched Americans debate the heart and soul of our country, while also preparing to inaugurate a man who ran on a platform to repair the soul of our nation.

I’ve spent a lot of my life thinking, reading, writing, and wondering about the soul—my own and that of others. I’ve read about anam cara, which is Gaelic for “soul friends” and different from soul mates. I’ve read about my own soul and soul purpose and thought about how it differs from a sole purpose.

I loved the movie Soul for several reasons, but mostly because the overall message was that we aren’t here for one sole purpose or one sole thing. We don’t have to spend our entire lives looking forward to that one purpose, that one mission, or that one love. If we do, that makes us miss all the beautiful things that life has to offer us every day.

I ultimately decided that I wanted to write about the soul this week because we already know what transpired in the news. We already know that history will be made this week when the first-ever woman becomes vice president. I, for one, am thrilled that I’m alive to see it. It’s a sea change in my life.

I really want to be hopeful about this new chapter—this new beginning for our nation—because I’m tired of feeling down. I was feeling really down this past week for lots of reasons. My soul and my heart both felt depleted and tired.

Then I saw the movie and I realized that the ordinary is the extraordinary. The fact that my son wanted to watch a movie with me, that’s the kind of thing that fuels my soul. My daughter driving me to the doctor and baking me cookies this week also fueled my soul. My other son stopping by and bringing me my favorite egg bites and my other daughter sending me photos every morning of her daughter smiling. It’s the small acts in a day that make our souls feel full. It’s living a life of meaning, purpose, and integrity. It’s up to each of us to keep our eyes on our soul’s purpose.

It’s never been easier to get riled up, carried away, angered, disillusioned, and distracted. It’s never been easier to lose hope in our country and/or in those we elect to represent us. But at the end of each day, it’s our lives that we are responsible for. It’s our job to know what moves us, what makes us feel fulfilled, and what makes us feel like we are living a life we are proud of.

It’s easy to yell at the TV, as I did this week. It’s easy to shake your head and complain. But it takes resolve to live the kind of life that makes you proud, that makes your kids proud, and that makes your friends feel seen, loved, and cared for.

We’ve been living in dark times, but anyone who has personally experienced a dark night of the soul knows that the light comes up in the morning. In my own life, the lessons that transformed me were the hard ones that hurt my heart and my soul. They are also the ones that ultimately made my heart and soul gentler, kinder, and more understanding over time. I had to look within, face my fears, and recommit to myself. I had to recommit to my soul purpose even if I didn’t feel like I knew where it was headed at the time.

So if you haven’t found your soul’s purpose, don’t despair. Joe Biden found his at 78. He is about to embark on the biggest and most important chapter of his life at that age. Now think about that!

If you haven’t found your soul mate, don’t lose hope. If you have an anam cara, or a soul friend, consider yourself blessed. And if you believe your soul is made by God, so it goes that everyone else's is too.

I’m excited about this week. I’m excited that Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national day of service, will be the holiday that kicks off this week. It’s a perfect way to begin because in order for us to heal as a nation—in order for us to become whole—all of us will have to find a way to be of service to one another.

Service heals. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is about remembering a man who used his voice to promote service and nonviolence. It’s about remembering someone who lost his life to violence, but whose legacy is one of nonviolence—because violence never heals.

So let’s keep that in mind as we move forward in our beautiful country. Let’s each do our best to bring it together one soul at a time.


Maria Shriver

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