Marty Ruiz, the college’s featured artist for Hispanic Heritage Month, asked the students who came to hear him speak on Oct. 8 what “showing up” meant to them.
He said he believes “showing up” is 80 percent of life. This means simply being present during life’s learning experiences. However, there must be engagement and attentiveness in order to reach 100 percent.
“[If I’m engaged], I’m awake for it; I’m there for it,” Ruiz said. “I get to experience everything that’s going on, and chances are that if I am paying attention, I just might remember something that will help me in my lifetime.”
He explained that art is taking an inward emotion and expressing it with an outward medium. Whether singing, writing or learning how to be a better speaker, he said personal talents are all ways of taking something from the inside and putting it outside for the world to see.
His art, he said, is straightforward. He likes to make people feel good through his art by being positive and using a lot of color. It doesn’t have to be too elaborate; people just have to feel good after looking at it.
“Long after I am gone, which hopefully won’t be too soon, people will still be looking at my art and saying, ‘We met this guy a long time ago. He was a crazy Mexicano,” Ruiz said. “I hope that I will leave a mark, just like every one of you in this room will have the opportunity to leave your mark doing something you love.”
He said we cannot control many of the things that happen in our lives. Using the carpet as a metaphor, he said there was a solid part to his left, a stripe in the middle and then another solid part to his right. The area to his right represented events that are out of a person’s control. This he called E for events.
“Here it is, the most valuable lesson I could teach you about life: Bad stuff is going to happen to you,” Ruiz said. “You’re very, very welcome.”
However, he said that bad things don’t necessarily have to defeat one’s spirit or destroy one’s dreams.
The strip of carpet in the center stood for response. He said when people respond there is an opportunity to think things through, instead of reacting in the heat of the moment.
“It’s how I respond to the stuff that I don’t like,” Ruiz said. “I’m not talking about pretending that it didn’t happen, because it’s a reality. This is where I get to show my own power. Because it is how I respond to this stuff that will change what’s over here [to the left].”
To his left was an area he referred to as O for outcome. This was his complete formula: The events plus the response to those events equals the outcome, which is E + R = O.
The message stuck with many in the audience.
“I learned a new song today,” speech professor Bob Hopkins said while laughing. “It’s Old McDonald had a farm, E, R, E, R, O.”
Students in the audience said Ruiz helped put things into perspective.
“I think that how I deal with things is going to be a little bit different than how I have in the past,” math major Steven Matias said. “I’m going to think more about how I respond to events instead of just reacting to them.”
Ruiz concluded by reminding the students how important they are.
“No matter what dream you may have, no matter how big it is, no matter how incredible, you have the ability to make it real, because your response is where you have power,” Ruiz said. “No dream is too big. It’s never too late to start your dream.”