In this short video, Greg Corbin shares his story of expressing gratefulness through relationships and finding perspective amidst loss.
“I don’t always get it right, but I do my best to make sure that every interaction I have is a journey into a better world.”
Bright Lights/Young Lives is a special project within our Grateful Voices video series which aims to uplift the personal stories and reflections of young people, aged 16 – 30 years old. The series is made up of short-form documentaries featuring young adults from a variety of backgrounds talking about what it means for them to live gratefully, how they embody this commitment, how gratefulness was awakened in them, and why they believe it matters and can make a difference in our world. The intention of these stories is to demonstrate the reality and relevance of Grateful Living across a diverse, inclusive continuum, and to share the insights, grateful perspectives, and rich sense of possibility that so many young people hold. In this short video, we hear from the producer of the series, Greg Corbin.
Gratefulness to me is being thankful for what you have. Being content. For example, waking up this morning I’m thankful that my eyes work. I’m thankful that I have breath. I’m thankful that I can smell that, that I can listen, I can hear things, right? I’m just thankful for all those things. And I think it’s a lot about finding peace with where you are, no matter what the circumstances are.
I am Gregory Corbin. I’m from Philadelphia, PA. I am a consultant and educator and artist and a leadership coach.
When I am practicing gratefulness, it feels peaceful because I am content with what I have. I’m not running into the future, I’m not running into the past. I’m really looking at everything that I’ve already been gifted with, that I already have, that already is in my life. People, places, you know, I’m just humbled by what I’ve already done and what I will do.
if I had a superpower, my superpower would be, I know it sounds simple, but to fly. Flying, you can see so much of the world if you can fly. Sometimes you’re so grounded, you don’t get to see everything that you would like to see. And I think perspective is everything, right? So if I can fly, I can see so many different things at the same time.
Some of the things I try not to take for granted are just people in general. My relationships with people, doesn’t matter what level it is, doesn’t matter if it’s an associate, doesn’t matter, even if it’s a stranger. My relationships, my interactions with people, I believe that every interaction, every breath, every word we share…all those things are ripple effects in a bigger universe. And so I do my best to make sure that every interaction I have with people is the most kind, the most courteous. I don’t always get it right, but I do my best to make sure that every interaction I have is a journey into a better world.
A difficult time where I had to be grateful anyway would probably be when my father passed away. It’s been almost 20 years, actually. It actually is 20 years now. And my father, he had lung cancer and it was a really, really tough time because it happened so fast. I mean, this one moment I’m playing basketball, taking walks with my father, going for rides with my father, and then the next, you see that your father’s body is compromised. He wasn’t moving the way he usually moved.
Maybe a month after that, he passed away. My best friend comes to get me from the house. He said, ‘Let’s go for a ride.’ Maybe two or three hours later, he said, ‘I know you don’t want to hear this. This might sound too soon.’ My best friend, he came to get me, comes to get me, right? And he said, ‘Greg, some people don’t even get to meet their fathers. They don’t ever see their fathers.’ I was like, wow. He’s like, ‘At least you had a father, like your father was there, Greg.’ And he said, ‘It would probably kill your father if he had to bury you. And I know it hurts right now. I know you miss him already, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be because I don’t know if your father could bear the pain of burying you before he leaves.’ It instantly gave me this perspective where one, I had a father and I had to honor that I even had a father, that unfortunately in certain communities, it’s a privilege to have your father around.
I was able to be there and see how the relationship ended on a physical level, but he’s still here spiritually, in a spiritual sense. He lives with me. My father gave me lessons, wisdom, and experiences that I take forward and I give to my son and I give to my family, and that’s how he lives forward.
Bright Lights/Young Lives has been executed in honor/memory of the extraordinary life of Julia Burke, who lived her passion for life out loud. Funding for the series came from The Julia Burke Foundation. The videos were produced by Greg Corbin and edited by Brandon Holiday. The Grateful Living Team oversaw the project with grateful hearts.
Philadelphian Greg Corbin is a son, brother, husband, and father as well as an educator, poet, writer, healer, leadership coach, and mental health advocate. A Lincoln University grad with 20 years of experience in education, arts, and human development, he strives to innovate and create strategies that amplify holistic community engagement. He is the founder of the award-winning and nationally recognized Philly Youth Poetry Movement and cofounder of the Slam League, both transforming thousands of lives. He is also the former director of Restorative Justice at Mural Arts Philadelphia, where he led the charge for workforce development programming and job creation at the intersection of public art and equity. His latest book, Breathing Ashes: A Poetic Guide to Walking Through the Fire and Coming Out Reborn, is an anthology about navigating adversity and rediscovering purpose through topics such as masculinity, human development, self-awareness and self-care.
Greg has been highlighted as a keynote speaker at conferences and festivals across the globe, and has shared stages with Nikki Giovanni, Tobi Nwignwe, Sonia Sanchez, The Roots, Mos Def, Common, and others. He has also been featured on HBO, BET, CNN, and Ted Talks. Connect with his work at gregcorbinspeaks.com and on Instagram @gregcorbinspeaks.