Both my parents came from towns in Mexico. I was born in El Paso, Texas, and when I was four, my family moved to a housing project in East Los Angeles.
Even though we struggled to make ends meet, my parents stressed1) to me and my four brothers and sisters how fortunate we were to live in a great country with limitless opportunities. They imbued2) in us the concepts of family, faith and patriotism.
I got my first real job when I was ten. My dad, Benjamin, injured his back working in a
cardboard-box factory and was retrained as a hairstylist. He rented space in a little mall and gave his shop the fancy name of Mr. Ben's Coiffure3).
The owner of the shopping center gave Dad a discount on his rent for cleaning the parking lot three nights a week, which meant getting up at 3 a.m. To pick up trash, Dad used a little machine that looked like a lawn mower. Mom and I emptied garbage cans and picked up litter4) by hand. It took two to three hours to clean the lot. I'd sleep in the car on the way home.
I did this for two years, but the lessons I learned have lasted a lifetime. I acquired5) discipline and a strong work ethic6), and learned at an early age the importance of balancing life's competing interests7) — in my case8), school, homework and a job. This really helped during my senior year of high school, when I worked 40 hours a week flipping9) burgers at a fast-food joint10) while taking a full load of percolate courses.
The hard work paid off11). I attended12) the U.S. Military Academy and went on to receive graduate degrees in law and business from Harvard. Later, I joined a big Los Angeles law firm and was elected to the California state assembly. In these jobs and in everything else I've done, I have never forgotten those days in the parking lot. The experience taught me that there is dignity13) in all work and that if people are working to provide for themselves and their families that is something we should honor.
As a teenager，I felt I was always letting people down. I was rebellious1 out－side，but I wanted to be liked inside.
Once I left home to hitch-hike2 to California with my friend Penelope. The trip wasn?t easy，and there were many times I didn?t feel safe. One situation in particular kept me grateful to still be alive. When I returned home，I was different，not so outwardly sure of myself.
I was happy to be home. But then I noticed that Penelope，who was staying with us，was wearing my clothes. And my family seemed to like her better than me. I wondered if I would be missed if I weren?t there. I told my mom，and she explained that though Penelope was a lovely girl，no one could replace me. I pointed out，“Ｓhe is more patient and is neater than I have ever been.” My mom said these were
wonderful qualities，but I was the only person who could fill my role. She made me realize that even with my faults—and there were many－I was a loved member of the family who couldn?t be replaced.
I became a searcher，wanting to find out who I was and what made me unique. My view of myself was changing. I wanted a solid base to start from. I started to resist3 pressure to act in ways that I didn?t like any more，and I was delighted by who I really was. I came to feel much more sure that no one can ever take my place.
Each of us holds a unique place in the world. You are special，no matter what others say or what you may think. So forget about being replaced. You can?t be.
If you put a buzzard1) in a pen2) six to eight feet square and entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of ten to twelve feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt3) to fly, but remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.
The ordinary bat that flies around at night, who is a remarkable nimble4) creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is to shuffle5) about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation6) from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.
A bumblebee7) if dropped into an open tumbler8) will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists9) in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.
In many ways, there are lots of people like the buzzard, the bat and the bumblebee. They are
struggling about with all their problems and frustrations10), not realizing that the answer is right there above them.