Watching you and your brother on stage yesterday in Portland, as the "grown-up" that I am, was such a wonderful experience. Young adults gathered in a place where it's okay if you read. It's okay if you like quirky songs about protons and anglerfish. And it's okay that you feel different sometimes.
In fact, you and your brother show them, day after day, not only is it okay, it's actually awesome.
A few years back, there came a point where you and your brother realized people were watching you. Lots of people. And you had choices as to which direction you went. Some may think that choice was easy, but I'm guessing it probably wasn't as easy as they might think.
As I looked out at the crowd, people clutching your book and singing Hank's songs, happy to be among like-minded people, I felt amazingly proud of all have you done. Yes, you write great books, books I love and have loved since way back when I picked up LOOKING FOR ALASKA before it had that shiny sticker on it. But see, that's the thing. A lot of people write great books.
It's what you've done beyond that -- proving to the world that people can do amazing things when they put their hearts and minds in the right place -- that makes my heart feel all squishy when I think of you. And why I teared up at the end of your performance. I know, I'm a big sap, I can't help it!
You chose wisely, John. And today, I just wanted to say, thank you for choosing the path that isn't always easy for you, isn't always easy for your family, and puts you out there more than any introverted author would ever be comfortable with. You chose the path that would help make the world a better place. The path that would help kids across the WORLD see themselves, and others, in a different light. I know you don't feel like you can take much credit for everything that's happened, and it's absolutely a community effort, but it began with a choice. Yours and Hank's.
Like you said today, we choose what we think about every second of every day. And we choose where those thoughts take us. Thank you for being such a good human and leading by example.
With love from my squishy heart,