In the past I’ve talked about the pride of being an American walking into the Opening Ceremonies at an Olympic Games. I explained how I was caught up in the hype of the cameras and fanfare until I saw all the athletes decked out in their countries’ colors, and many were waving their national flags. I looked around my own group and saw all the American flags, American colors and American athletes. All of a sudden the cameras no longer mattered, and I burst into tears.
The commitment I had made to get to the games was no longer just about me; now it was about my country. I recognized how fortunate I was to live in a nation that allowed me to work toward my goals. I lived in the land of opportunity, and I had pushed myself to take advantage of that opportunity.
Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to be able to work toward our dreams. I know one good friend who has never taken that for granted. I couldn’t think of a better story to share following Independence Day than one from this successful Hollywood Cinematographer.
George Koblasa’s Story
(Cowritten by Nikki Stone for When Turtles Fly: Secrets of Successful People Who Know How to Stick Their Necks Out)
It’s hard to truly understand how unbelievable it is to be free unless you have experienced life without freedom. Growing up in Communist-controlled Czechoslovakia in the 1950s, I experienced those overbearing restraints. There was constant control in nearly every aspect of my life, and endless days when I felt like a caged animal.
My dream was to escape to Hollywood to pursue my passion of cinematography. But greater than that wish was my desire for freedom. To live free! It was the first thought I had in the morning and the last thought I had at night. I was determined to break the chains that were holding me to my native country.
It wasn’t going to be easy. With every action I took, I was always thinking of how I could escape. But behind every corner were the Secret Police, waiting to knock me back down.