|John Bytheway accepts an appreciation gift from Danette Waite.|
John Bytheway recently spoke to the students attending the youth conference in Ferron. He said he learned early on that his last name was a prepositional phrase and the subject for many by the way jokes.
Bytheway asked the question, "What are you carrying in your backpack? He told of a scout trip while a young boy where they climbed a high mountain. The older scouts told the younger ones that they were going to hate the climb and would probably pass out and die. As the climb commenced the scouts were loud and exuberant, but as the climb progressed it was quiet with mutterings of, "I can't go another step."
The scouts all met together and decided they would go 100 steps and then rest. Finally they reach their destination, a lake in the high mountains. One of the scouts had packed very heavy for the trip, large cans of Dinty Moore stew emerged from his backpack.
Moral of the story is you can't change how steep the trail is, but you can determine what you put in your backpack. "Sometimes the trail is tough, I have spoken to those students from Columbine high school and to Elizabeth Smart's church group before she was found, those situations were tough, there wasn't a lot of laughter," said Bytheway.
Bytheway told the students that they can overload their backpacks with hurtful remarks from others like you're dumb, you're ugly. "We need to lighten our backpacks, don't load your backpack with hurtful words. Don't put a rock in someone else's backpack. Keep trying. We all have gifts and talents."
Bytheway encouraged the students to know the difference in situations they can and cannot change. He told of a girl named Christina from California who had a rough childhood. Children always teased her and called her names. Christina decided she would try out for the Miss California pageant, and she lost. She didn't give up though, she took the things she had learned and used them. The second time she tried out she also lost. But, the third time, she won. "No matter what your life is like when you're young, things can radically change if you keep going up the trail," said Bytheway.
Bytheway compared life to Crackerjacks where sometimes, you have to go through a lot of peanuts and popcorn to get to the prize. Bytheway said that in high school everyone gets labeled into certain groups like bikers, skaters, rodeo, leaders, etc. When you can be a friend to everyone and you don't care about the groups, you are tall enough to see over the walls and that makes you a winner. In a survey of what people remember about high school most people remembered the kids who were friends no matter who they were with or what they were doing."
"If you can't be nice to people, then just leave them alone, don't make it harder for them. Your high school experience is not a forecast for the rest of your life. It's better to be respected than to be popular, popularity ends on yearbook day; but respect lasts forever. Another memory people have is of how mean people were, be nice," said Bytheway.
Bytheway had the audience roaring with laughter and Alyssa Cox even helped Bytheway coin a new phrase for his speech, 'shut-up."
Bytheway said he gave one kidney to his brother, at first he was mad at his mom and accused her of just having him for spare parts for her other children. He told his brother he was getting the best kidney around, it was drug free, smoke free and alcohol free. He said he felt like he'd been hit by a train after the operation and his brother came walking in and looked good. It was the first time his brother had looked healthy in his lifetime. "Laughing hurts after an operation and sneezing will kill you," quipped Bytheway.
He and his brother played games trying to make each other laugh in the hospital. Everyone at the hospital thought they were weird, but they had a good time. Every year on April 26, his brother takes him to dinner to celebrate his second birthday. "He ain't heavy, he's my brother. You are a lot happier if you focus on what you can give instead of on what you can get. Help your friends get the weight out of their backpacks. Make sure you can say this world was a better place because I was here. My safety tip is don't do things that can kill you.
"Live your dreams, you don't learn anything by watching TV. Just remember Madonna says TV is poison. Work on your own dreams, work on something you love to do. Quit watching TV and work on yourself. I wanted to write a book so I began getting up early and I write from 6-8 a.m. in the mornings. I go to bed earlier, but I traded my least productive hours at night for my most productive hours in the morning," said Bytheway.
He told the story of the rattlesnake and how he enticed an Indian boy to carry him from the mountains to the valley, with a promise not to bite him. Upon arriving in the valley, the rattlesnake immediately bit the boy. The boy was shocked, but the rattler told him, 'You knew what I was when you picked me up.' Teenagers can make choices, but you can't choose the consequences.
Bytheway signed autographs for the students and was given gifts for coming to speak. He said he would be glad to come back sometime, he likes presents.