I read, heard, came across the question…”have you ever fully thrown yourself into anything,” and I initially and sadly said to myself NO, I haven’t. It made me sad because I was thinking about this one thing I knew I have yet to give my all to, in spite of the daily tug at my spirit to do so. It made me question my will, my drive, my discipline, motivation, inner fight, gumption, assertiveness, etc; ya know all things alpha male! …those things that make a man stand out, that make him attractive, a leader… Needless to say, the shit can send a brother down a rabbit hole of insecurity that’ll only exasperate the issue at hand. So, instead I took a look in the other direction; a look down my past, a look towards the things I was proud of in myself and started finding nutritious carrots in that rabbit hole. I remembered how I used to absolutely love playing baseball and how I “fully threw myself into it!” I remembered the times I fell in love and how I “fully threw myself into it!” …when I used to rap and make music, the jobs I’ve had, the schools I attended, and presently the family I’m blessed with. That NO answer quickly became a gleeful, “why yes, I have!” And even though I still knew there was that one thing I hadn’t yet fully thrown myself into, that thought sparked the opportunity to do so… to write… to write these very words!!!
I had a dream last night! I dreamt of kids having fun in the sun, playing in gyms, gathering in each other’s rooms, and kids challenging each other to new heights on rock climbing walls. I had a dream last night… I dreamt of adults playing basketball having fun just like those kids; doing playground moves, making up games to include all skill leveled players; and making up plays to put all that they knew into motion. Then the dream shifted to nightfall. The kids weren’t in plain sight, but within peripherals. They were safe enough on the sidelines to not get get run over if us adults had to chase a ball out of bounds, but close within ear shot. I’m now having a bad dream, an aggressive dream, an intense, very real and symbolic dream! See, what was once all fun and games has now become dark and dangerous. Playground moves turned into tests of respect and challenges of manhood. Skills were now being used for survival of life and not to enhance a cohesive, fun experience. The ball turned into a tin can; the kind that gets kicked around and makes a lot of noise…but still gets kicked repeatedly! The court became a bobwired, fenced in war field; and we’re playing a game I was never very good at. But, somehow I’m the point guard on my team and the opponents don’t like me not one bit. I took hard fouls, trash talk, and personal threats until the game was over. As I’m trying to leave, I call out to my children sensing danger was near. The walk towards home turns into a frantic run for our lives. Feeling safe, I stop us for a head count. My youngest hadn’t kept up and was now in the grasp of the evils we ran from. I send the others on to safety with instructions to call for help and I got after my son. I break through glass doors, throw him over wired fences that rip his clothes. That same fence gets wrapped around my throat, but I break the chain with my bare hands. I’m running faster than ever holding his hand and now he’s keeping up with me. I even step in the face of a gun and shield him from whatever that bullet could have resulted in. I dreamt of doing WHATEVER IT TAKES to get back to a place where my kids can once again gather in rooms together and laugh. I dreamt of doing WHATEVER IT TAKES to bring joy, cohesiveness, and creativity back to playgrounds. And I dreamt of doing WHATEVER IT TAKES to make men respect each other, to use each other’s skills to build the weak, teach, and to work together. They say life is but a dream… well this night… I had to dream FEARLESSLY!!!
Embrace Necessary Things
Young Travon Martin had recently been murdered by George Zimmerman!!! If you don’t know the story, perhaps you’re still turning a blind eye to the atrocities plaguing the black community and maybe this will help you open them. I only mention Trayvon’s name to bring context and timeline to this story, but the issues are unfortunately very current.
It was an early spring afternoon when I noticed her walking…struggling a bit, but continuously moving. She was an elderly white woman and hindered a bit, but still able enough to care for herself. I was done making my deliveries in this affluent western suburban area and relaxing in my work truck for a spell when she crossed my path. I watched her toil along for a few yards with her belongings and wondered what her family background was like. She was exiting a retirement home on her way to her car parked in the same lot I was parked in, and I thought to myself where was the help of loved ones she may have. I thought about my mom and what I would do for her as she got older in age. I thought about how she raised me… as a man with values, principles, integrity, and a respect for life in all that it entails. She raised me to respect my elders, to be a gentleman, open doors, and exhibit manners at all times. Then, I took a look at my current self and immediately contrasted all that I was at that exact moment. I was a middle aged black man dressed in jeans, a hoodie, and a scull cap; attire suitable for a delivery driver on a brisk afternoon… but to approach an old white lady, not so much! I’m at a crossroads! Do I uphold all that was instilled me and offer to “help an old lady across the street?” Do I try to tidy up my appearance to ease her fear of danger from a black man in a hoodie and skull cap? Do I now turn said blind eye to an elderly white woman in need of assistance same as white America does the black community? I chose the first option and approached her As I Am, as my my mother and village raised me to be, and conscious of the state of the world as it is. Hello mam, do you need any help carrying your belongings? Much to my surprise, she gleefully obliged. My car is just a little ways up, the yellow one she said. As we slowly strolled ahead we engage in small talk about the weather, her past employment as a receptionist, and how she enjoys the retired life. She encourages me to look forward to the same and we even share a few laughs. See people, we are all the same at the core….PEOPLE! We all want the same things…to simply live and enjoy life. I’m glad I had all my preconceived notions about who she might be, but approached her in spite of. And I’m even more grateful she saw that a black man in a hoodie and scull cap wasn’t a threat. He was a gentleman, a father, and help when she was in need.
Embrace NECESSARY Things
…Shit, I wish it WAS a genie so I could blink myself away from all the madness of the world today! Needless to say… I’m feeling “some kind of way” and its starting to manifest in my daily routines and life in general. For instance, I had quite an interesting dream last night.
Part one: I’m somewhere chilling with a few friends in a den/living room type of area and there just happens to be a tiger lurking around like its someone’s pet! No bullshit!!! And I’m the only one paying attention to it like, YO…you guys are ok with this!!!??? Perhaps the tiger too felt my curiosity to it roaming around so freely because it was looking at me from time to time with the same apprehension. As it paced back and forth, we would make eye contact and our tension grew with every connection. I guess he had enough of the guessing game and decided to go full “tiger” on me and chomped down on my entire hand!!!
Part two: Now I’m in a corridor with a man walking two dogs close by. One was a German Shepard and the other was a Doberman Pincher. For some reason, I felt in danger of this man letting his dogs loose on me, so I made my way around the corner trying to get out of eyesight of him and his “pets!” As I turn the corner, the Doberman was let loose, followed me, and jumped on me in a playful manner…or was it playful? His teeth were exposed, but I wasn’t sure if it was playful or aggressive. In my utter bravery, I stoop down to look it at eye level and kept staring at it until it became friendly and let me pet him. We were now friends, but the German Shepard was still under its owner’s control and I certainly didn’t feel so safe again. This same man/owner then has a young teenage son in tow along with the two dogs. However, his son is now the aggressor! He was teaching him to “defend” himself and was taking pride in all he had learned at the present time. I could tell he was pleased at how the son felt the need to punch me in the chest in the exact technique he was taught. The punch didn’t phase me one bit and after I let the kid know, I even invited him to punch me once more! I’m all solid lil homey and your punches…although swung with great technique, have no effect on me. The father looks at the son with a nod of approval and the little guy then slaps me!!! I look at the father and tell him, you’re lucky you have these dogs close by because otherwise I’d beat the shit out of your son right now!!!
Analysis: I. Will. Not. Be. Silent. Nor Silenced!!! The tiger bit my hand off….but, it was the left hand! I’m right-handed and as long as I can write and have breath in my lungs, I will not be afraid to speak up for injustices! I have some friends who would rather stay neutral in the face of danger, but I’ll take the calculated risks for freedom of speech. I’m willing to be friends with the enemy if we can see eye to eye on our differences! I can tell the difference between friend or foe, no matter who is the owner of your true self! The sins of your forefathers can and will revisit you if you’re not careful! And if you teach hate, those sins can have repercussions on your loved ones if they don’t catch up to you personally!!! And in the eloquent words of Maya Angelou… Still I Rise!!!
Embrace NEGRO Things
There’s a large, lone tree in the magic Forest of Lessons. It’s the turn of the season and leaves still have yet to form on its towering limbs. The trunk looks as though it’s not strong enough to feed and hold up the branches and the grass surrounding it was dying. However, it had a personality that totally contradicts its appearance. It was arrogant, pompous, and quite full of itself to say the least. It had seen better days of positioning and status, but now its fighting to simply stay relevant. One day, a young deer and a doe strolled along and rested under this tree. They would frolic about, eat, and mate in the surrounding area of this tree. They were young and full of promise with boundless energy to bring all their wants and needs to fruition. The arrogant tree would watch them as they grew into a loving pair and admired their camaraderie. There was one problem though! After long days of playing and eating and running around, they would eventually have to relieve themselves and it was often around the base of the tree’s trunk. Enough is enough… How dare you, said the tree! Don’t you know you’re on rich soil!!!??? This is no place to do your business. The deer replied with laughter saying “what’s so rich about this yellowish grass and dry dirt you call soil?” The tree said, you’d show more respect for me if you had seen me in my heyday! Well old timer the deer said, perhaps your time has passed and you can now only hold on to the memories of yesterday’s lore!
Aaaaannndddd, that’s all I got for that story but here’s a shorter story about how that story came about. I’m taking this master class on the art of storytelling by Neil Gaiman and he said that a story is born simply by taking two entities and put them in conflict with each other! It can be make believe/fairytale, magical, real, or anything your imagination dreams of. Well, one day while driving my work truck on a early spring day I notice a tree that had yet to form any leaves yet. And one section of the limbs looked like the antlers of a huge deer! Hmmm, now how can I bring this vision into conflict to form a story? Welp, the above story was SUPPOSED to be a clash between a dying money tree and a deer that was mating with a doe. While in mating season, they would often shit by the tree, therefore providing much needed fertilization for the arrogant money tree; and thus… they all were “Making a Buck!” And the moral of the story was: Sometimes the very people who shit on you, subsequently help you make a better version of yourself!
Should I tell you guys what I’m thinking right now? How would you look at me if I do? Will you think I’m crazy? Will you think I’m a genius? Will you think I’m a bad person…a good person? How often do you go through questions similar to these with yourself over the simplest of decisions or scenarios? How long does that take you when the scenario is complex?
I do this so often and so thorough that it turns into outright conversations with people all in my head. I guess you could say I’m testing the waters; weighing the pros and cons; loading my responses for rapid fire, witty/sarcastic, indisputable bullets straight to your dome! Because, be honest.. no one wants to say a thought out loud and Lord forbid no one agrees with it. Now you have to defend, explain it, or at least try to get people to understand where it originated from.
Now, when it’s a good thought… oh we can’t wait to say those out loud right? It’s going to make us look like good people, smart people, caring people… you know, people who NEEVER have negative thoughts, right!!!??? Riiiighhttt!!!
Oooohhh, your good and bad conscience… Is that simply a conversation with God or the devil? I saw this video from hip hop legend KRS where he broke down metaphysics to some degree. In short, it’s the branch of philosophy that concerns the existence and nature of things that exist! He instructed a room of people to say something to themselves silently. Then he asked them… what was that voice? You heard it, you said it, but no one else did. But, it existed right? That’s your true self, what we see is just the flesh covering of your thoughts!
Your thoughts are not only yours, they are YOU!!! Own them, use them, nurture them, play with them, allow them to roam freely in your head where they are safe. And while you’re at it…
Embrace Nerdy Things
…Just a thought
One day… scratch that, every damn day this guy named Situation appears! Nooo, not that guy from Jersey Shore… but that’s his name nevertheless! Situation is everywhere, all the time, and knows everybody. He’s into politics, religion, relationships, friendships, business…all that. He can be very good to people, extremely bad for people, and quite complicated to people all at the same time or even separately. Whatever the case, Situation ALWAYS runs into Would’ve, Could’ve, and Should’ve! I can’t tell if either of them are male or female because they keep exhibiting the traits of both sexes far too often and with the complexities of genders these days, its safer not assume anything! But, for the flow of MY DAMN STORY… Would’ve, and Should’ve are men and Could’ve is female. Ok, so in my opinion, Would’ve always comes off a bit arrogant and the “know it all type!” They’re always telling Situation how they’d deal with him and even try to make him feel wrong if he doesn’t agree. Then there’s Should’ve who seems like the bossy type. The only problem is; he often has so many regrets it’s hard for Situation to trust anything the guy says. And finally, there’s Could’ve! Bless her heart!!! She usually means well even when Situation doesn’t understand her. She’s been told she has a right to change her mind and perhaps its because she can be more emotionally in tuned than most. Situation is constantly bombarded by these three and has finally had enough. He has listened intuitively to them three and always has good dialogue and conversations with them. However, they always end up going nowhere and never really helping Situation out. So, finally Situation says…. FUCK ALL THREE OF YALL!!! Only God can judge me!!!
Latasha’s alarm goes off at 6am for work on Saturday mornings and she usually hits snooze a few times with the same angst that immediately follows. She bellows in silence: I didn’t get enough sleep! The kids stayed up too late! What’s for breakfast? My God, I need more financial help from my kids father! As she finally silences the alarm, she realizes she has several missed calls and a text from her babysitter Talyiah who was called in to work and couldn’t sit for her this weekend. LaTasha’s day was off to an even rougher start to say the least! She was a single mother of 2 young children and in spite of many odds against her, she was doing ok for herself. She worked as a masseuse in an upscale spa in Yorkville, which generally served the uppity clients of its neighboring towns. Luckily her sister lived close by and though they had been feuding a bit lately, she agreed to watch her kids while she went to work. After dropping them off and grabbing her Grande dark roast coffee from Starbucks, she relishes the peace of the 30mn car ride to work. She is not, however looking forward to again pampering the likes of the spa’s usual clients. They were often rude, condescending, impatient and LaTasha was in no mood to put on a smiling face to appease them this morning. Reluctantly, she pressed on and walked in with a cheerful “Good Morning everyone!!!” Her coworkers were sweet and they all got along well. Most of it was because of their mutual dislike for Angela the owner and operator of the spa. The coworkers gleefully return the “good morning,” but all Angela said was “Hey LaTasha…Contessa had a family emergency and wont make it in so you have to cover her 10 o’clk appointment. Oh no, is everything alright, Latasha replied in a concerned tone? Sort of, Angela replied unbothered. Her dad has contracted the covid virus and needs meds and supplies, but otherwise he’s doing alright. LaTasha had met Contessa’s dad Warren, on several occasions and had grown quite fond of him. Though he was a fairly big guy in stature, she likened him to a cuddly teddy bear and wished him well. Then she asked Angela who was scheduled and she replied… Mrs. Kingsley! Ugh, not her LaTasha thought! She’s the epitome of the uppity clients who favored the spa. In her mind, Mrs. Kingsley’s attitude didn’t match her beautiful face and she’s clearly stressed since she comes in so often. As 10 o’clk approaches, LaTasha’s anxiety grows with each passing minute and the thought of her upcoming appointment. “Welcome back Mrs. Kingsley, Angela greeted her as her favorite client walks in. Hey Angela… how are you, how’s business as they exchange pleasantries? We’re doing well, but definitely worried about this growing virus and wondering if and will the government force us to shut down. We’ve already had a girl call off because her dad has contracted it, so LaTasha will be giving you your massage this morning. Oh wow, Mrs. Kingsley replied! Well I certainly hope all works out for you guys. Thanks hon, said Angela. Have a seat and I’ll go check if LaTasha is ready for you. Angela returns and escorts Mrs. Kingsley to her room where LaTasha has everything prepared for her. Hello Mrs. Kingsley, is there any place I need to give extra attention to, LaTasha asked? Mrs. Kingsley replied in typical condescending fashion; I signed up for the full body package…I’m feeling a bit stressed. No problem Mrs. Kingsley, we’ll work those kinks right out. As LaTasha starts her massage she wonders how can a woman this pretty be so worked up. She starts on her shoulders and feel knots and tension in both. Her back was smooth but cracked at almost every section she pressed on. Mrs. Kingsley surprisingly apologizes for the work she needs and even begins to open up a bit on why she’s so stressed. She tells LaTasha her husband has left her and the kids and she now has a mortgage she cant afford. Her job is threatening layoffs and she and her sister weren’t on speaking terms at the moment. As LaTasha gets to Mrs. Kingsley’s feet, she noticed she hadn’t had a pedicure in quite some time. She then begins to see Mrs. Kingsley in a totally different light. Ironically, her story read like the footnotes of her own life.
Sounds a bit bogus right? Selfish? Downright wrong on all levels, huh? Well, let me explain a little bit. You know the old saying “…if I could go back in time with the knowledge I have now…?” Yeah, well I just took it a step further and wanna go back with a little something extra. (I’ll also explain how the kids will be ok as well, so just let me have my moment, ok….cool)!
Now, I can just imagine how dope I would be if I had started writing poetry and songs in 6,7,8th grade like my daughter. No doubt I’d be an accomplished artist by 30yrs old! What if I had the bone and muscle density my 9yr old son has right now when I went out for my high school football team sophomore year. I was good enough to start at wide receiver but weighing 135lbs had me shook and I quit right before we started practicing with pads on. The lil dude can bench press 50lbs already! And dont even get me started on the leadership qualities my other daughter has… If I put them all together, I’d be captain of a professional sports team and writing monologues to share in the meetings I’m holding while presiding over the screen actors guild, during the off season of course!!!
My wonderful wife feels me too and doesn’t even know it… until til she reads this!!! Lol… RIGHT NOW she’s whining because her back hurts (yes, I did give her a lengthy massage… thank you) and she fears she’s gonna really hate getting old. Not that she’s vain and cares about the beauty that “so call fades,” it’s her fear of the body being succeptable to ailments. I bet she wants to steal our son’s solid lil muscles right now too; or better yet our daughter’s dancer body; or our other daughter’s metabolism! Put it all together for her and she’d be Debbie Allen’s choreographer and a strength and health coach when she’s not a practicing chiropractor!!!
NOW, image how dope our kids would be if me and my wife had ALL their skills first and early enough in life to have time to develop them!!! We’re in a good place now, don’t get me wrong… but, how much further could we possibly be?
Moral of the story… sometimes it’s best to be selfish, to take time to nurture your gifts and talents! If I steal my kids skills, I can give back AND pay it forward at the same damn time!!!
This Lent, I’ve decided to give up something not so tangible as social media as I’ve done in years past. I’m not giving up certain foods cuz I’m in the gym and I need my energy, protein, and necessary vitamins and minerals. And nope, I’m not giving up alcohol because frankly… I could use a drink as I write this right now. Don’t judge me either…hpmh!!! I AM GIVING UP PROCRASTINATION!!!
Yep, for far to long I leant on excuses as to why I haven’t taken the time to write. I lent my time to a host of other nonproductive things that cluttered my days like….lint! So, now, I’m committed to writing SOMETHING for at least 30-60mn everyday of Lent. Some will get posted, some wont… thanks for “Lent’ing” me your time.