heathcliff lópez (he/him), is just a person who humans as an educator, song-writer, nintendo-player, activist, theatrical performer, optimist, and an avid little monster (lady gaga stan! if you didn’t know). everything he believes in stems from how everyone is a unique person born with something to contribute to this world. humanity is meant to create, and he is just doing his part to help others find their medium. for work, he’s enjoyed guiding young people as a middle school choir director and high school english teacher, and now currently works with adults and students as an instructional literacy specialist with his school district in san antonio, tx.
dear young people, and those fortunate enough to say young-at-heart!,
you know how sometimes there’s that thing that people don’t quite understand the way you do? that thing that you “get” that other people sometimes just don’t? for me, when i was younger, it was often nintendo games and the spice girls. random i know. not everyone around me understood them both in the same ways i did or saw how fun and exciting those things were to me. but the best thing ever was finding someone who shared these interests, (sometimes at the same time!), and just talking about those things for however long we could or sharing what we thought about certain games or songs.
yup, there’s nothing like talking with someone who speaks your language!
nothing like sharing what you think about something that lights you up when you think about it, talk about it, learn about it, participate in it, improve at it, exist in it.
here’s a couple questions i love asking people:
what are you passionate about? what is something that gets a fire going inside you?
nothing like hearing passion in someone’s voice when they’ve gotten all revved up about something!
sometimes, we ignore those things that make us feel most alive because of what other people might think. or because someone else may have even told us it was uncool or not worth our time.
i remember i used to be embarrassed about my love for pokémon, but at this point, i’ve learned to just embrace what makes me happy. sometimes it’s the same as other people’s happys, sometimes not. sometimes i balance my happy with theirs, sometimes i play pokemon for too long. i mean life is all about trying to achieve balance, but mayybe not actually achieving it, right?
okay, here’s some important reality:
your thoughts about things matter, especially your thoughts about things that make you happy. the world around you might understand you, or it might not, but what’s important is that YOU understand that YOU matter. your thinking matters. who you are and what you contribute to this world matters. it may not always feel like it, but that’s the honest truth. i keep finding my voice in new ways throughout my life because deep down, i let myself truly believe that, even when it’s the hardest thing.
how young or old are your ideas? how do you grow them?
if you haven’t already tried, making a quick list of thoughts swirling in your head can help! pick one to explore on any given day and see what happens… and here’s the thing:
ideas and thoughts can mean many things, any thing, some things, or no thing! sometimes ideas are for you, sometimes they’re for others, sometimes they’re missed and forgotten. my advice is to try and recognize them and express them (or their absence!). the best part is there’s endless ways to do that!
i’m someone who likes words so i usually turn to them when my brain’s feeling scrambled. i love to just play with words til something worthwhile comes out. it’s worth mentioning tho that many people’s ideas and thinking are expressed in completely different ways! some are expressed in more mathematical, or computer-based, or physical, or artistic, or mechanical, or verbal, or musical, or visual, or even in sartorial ways! (if you’re not familiar, that last one’s a cool way to say “fashion”! see what i mean about words???)
i think the important part is this: when i finally pay attention to an idea by playing with words, sometimes a real piece of writing starts to take shape. i honor what that idea wants to be. when i do, sometimes more words come to mind. if it’s a song, sometimes it’s melodies or chords. sometimes it’s ideas for how i can change things, sometimes it’s new ideas to replace old ideas.
it’s not always an easy process. actually, it’s pretty intense or frustrating sometimes. but i easily lose track of time while writing because of how big ideas can grow or evolve! sometimes the end product is a verse or bridge that only i might hear, but i won’t deny the same process that’s also produced songs that, to this day, have helped my family heal from some specific grief.
our ideas, when tended to well, leave imprints.
and tbh, sometimes i work and work only to find out my idea isn’t anything too special afterall, but it’s important that i at least gave it a shot. it’s all part of the process, really! even legends reach their status by losing some games along the way, or playing wrong notes, or burning a meal, or misaligning a seam. we have to start somewhere, but what’s important is that we start!
sometimes other people don’t get as excited as i do about an idea. and that’s okay, too! creating and growing thinking around an idea is more of a habit than anything. we just need to keep at it!
one thing to do to make the world a better place is to find what you’re passionate about and express yourself through it. do it! then talk about it, learn about it, exist in it. that’s one of the most powerful things you can do as a human. enjoy the thing allows you to be authentically you, but then go forth and share it with others.
do it today, tomorrow, any day, or every day if you can!
when you let yourself exist in this thing more often, the more the products you create will be full of heart that only YOU can provide. honor your ideas, your thinking, your voice, your creativity in wherever your passion asks you to. creative onlookers come and go, but live in your passion regardless!
nothing like passion that is well-tended to,
ps. if you find any power in my words or letter, i would love to hear what it made you feel and think about! let me know how your thinking matters to you in the medium that draws you in, or share something you’re very proud of and why! one of my favorite things is seeing people express what exists in them! you can email me anytime!