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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey



May 31, 2021 05:17PM ● By Jared Zornitzer

When I think of role models in my life, it is nearly impossible to focus on one.  My parents, grandparents and younger siblings have all taught me lessons and possess traits which I try to emulate each day. However, there is one person who my mind always returns to and who has had an immense impact on my core values. My middle name is his, so I feel a special connection to him. He is a symbol of dignity, family, and the man which I hope to become.

I have heard stories of the household in which he fostered and raised my mom and uncle. He exemplified a do-it-yourself attitude; he did construction and yard work himself. I admire his work ethic and willingness to get his hands dirty. To me, he found honor in doing things the hard way.  Running the extra mile during my workout, taking on leadership roles in student organizations, putting forth my best effort in school – the thought that I am making him proud by accepting challenges constantly motivates me. I believe that his influence can mold me into a stronger person who can adapt and learn to thrive in uncomfortable situations.

Through learning about him, but mostly observing the amazing people which he created in my mom and uncle, I know that he is the reason why my family places such a high value on genuineness. Whether surrounded by groups of friends or his family, he was always himself. He embraced his differences rather than tried to mask them. He commanded the attention of those around him because everyone knew that this man spoke his heart with frankness and sincerity.  

He was also a man of the seas, a skilled sailor of the Atlantic. Just like he exposed himself to the Earth’s harshest elements on the ocean, he exposed his kids to emotions in their rawest form. In effect, they learned to respond to setbacks, appreciate moments of growth and cherish the euphoria of love, and then passed these lessons on to their children. He was life stripped down to its core with an exuberant energy for navigating its crests and troughs because he knew that out of it he would grow. I see no better way to spend my time on Earth than to uphold his doctrines and experience all tastes of life, from its highs to its lows. 

For several years I have had a picture of him on my desk. When I glance at it, his relaxed, natural smile reminds me to live in the moment. The same fire which motivated him to live life to its fullest is ignited within me. I never met my Grandpa Robert, yet he guides me in all that I do more in tune to the present moment.

Jared Zornitzer is a full-time college student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY studying engineering. An advocate of balancing work and school with exercise and healthy living, he loves hiking, biking, running, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and learning in his classes.