Here we are, closing in on the final quarter of the year and yet, 2020 has been around for a while now and most of us are still looking around and waiting for something to begin.
I would like to direct your attention now to the big screen; the heavens, the skylines, the mountainsides, and the cityscapes. I would like to direct your attention away from the small screens, the cell phones, the computers, or the televisions and the news that never says anything kind or uplifting.
I look back and I think man, I’ve come so far and yet, I wonder to myself, “Where the hell have I been?
I think about the times and the days and nights and the paths I took to get me where I am now. I think about the pain and the glory and the glory and the pain, which I flip-flop because reality has a way of doing this to us. I think about the misrepresentations of life and the ideas that somehow; life has to be a certain way.
Before we go any further, I think we have to come to some kind of understanding. There are different kinds of beauty in this world. Not everything is beautiful. Then again, not everything is ugly.
Sometimes the two are interchangeable. Sometimes there is an in-between and sometimes there is a miscalculation of terms. Things we see as beautiful can actually become ugly and things we find ugly turn out to be beautiful. This is all a matter of perspective.
The truth is there is no competition. This is only the mind. There is no me against you or you against me. There is no reason to compare scars or cross examine each other to see which one goes farther or does more. There is no reason to look at people, like say, me or the neighbor.
There is no reason to keep up with the Jones’s or see who has the bigger house or the better pool or the nicer car. The truth is there is no competition.
The weight of the wallet or the title of a job is not the measure of greatness. Educational competence does not always equal cultural competence and many times, educational competence has nothing to do with competence at all. Life is not always what we think it is.
Everyone knew when the lights came on it was time to go home. These nights were nothing like anything we would ever see again. We were living in the best moments of our lives and at the beginning chapters of what comes after young adulthood.
I remember these days both fondly and introspectively. I say fondly because yes, these were great times. There was always something going on; however, I say introspectively because I regard these moments as a timeline of travel. This is when life took on a new shape and speed. I swore I knew it all but then again, who doesn’t know it all when they’re young, resilient, and out of control.
Be advised, this is somewhat of a rant (but not really). By the time this post ends, I will have moved beyond the reason it began. Partly because I want to understand and partly because I believe we are all misunderstood; and partly because I want to improve, partly because I have memories of who I was and used to be an partly because I want to change the misperception of what we think or believe is the reason why I began this trip.
Early morning and I remember. It was summertime. The sky was blue and the world was still young to me. I was still young. I was also the one that always woke up early. Everyone else was asleep. Mom was upstairs. The Old Man was sleeping too. My brother Dave was asleep in his room and me, I was up already and outside in the backyard.
I have always found my town interesting during the early morning hours. The day has started but no one has ventured out. This was especially so on the weekends.
There is a reason behind everything we do. And I am sure of this. There is a science to us all and a pathology to our behavior that stems from an idea, a thought, a feeling, or a need to settle a discomfort.
We all have this. We all look for comfort. We want to feel better. We want to fit in. We want to be accepted, wanted, desired, and moreover, we all want to be soothed, consoled, and reassured. This is primal by the way. This is the piece of us looking for the warmth of the womb or the swaddle in the blanket.
There are stages in life which we all go through. We grow. We live and we learn. We apply ourselves in different ways until we find our place. This is where the science behind our behavior comes in.
I have a drawer filled with little keepsakes and mementos from friends I’ve gained along the way. I have a picture that was drawn of me while standing in front of a roomful of people at one of my empowerment classes.
I have a tie that someone bought for me, which is nothing like anything I would wear but still, I kept this.
I keep things like this because from whichever angle the gifts come from and from whomever remembered me enough to give me something, I see each of these gifts as tiny victories. I keep them because they mean something to me.
Out of anything I hear most, I often hear people comment, “So you like to write books?” which is something that always follows with the same idea.
“I should tell you my story,” and then people say things like, “I guarantee you it’ll be a bestseller!”
I’m sure it will be. The truth is we all have a story. Each and every one of us has a story to tell; whether dull or wild, unbelievable or uninteresting, we all have a story.
I am young now.
In fact, I am younger now than before because I choose to be.
I am a man by my own definition; therefore, I do not concern myself with the definition of others or concern myself with the pronouns someone else uses. I do not concern myself with the way someone else chooses to define me because above all things; I am me and no one else can say or sway any of this from ever being true.
And here we are, two days before the beginning of August in the year of all years, 2020. I am wondering though. I am wondering about the ideas and the dreams of like say, 30 years ago. The idea of the year 2020 itself was larger than life back then. But tell me, where are the flying cars?
What happened to the prototypes of what we thought our future would look like? Is this it, because as it stands now, somehow, I thought we would be further advanced than we really are
There is a longstanding idea that we are born several times and yet, we only die but once. I can say that I have been born in several ways. I can say that I have died several times, only to be born again and brought back to life.
I have seen amazing times. I have been to amazing places. I have taken the risk to stand up and be counted and oppositely, I have chosen to hide at times, both sheepishly and regretfully, because I was too afraid to try or risk the chance that I might just fail.
There is an entire world around me that is changing on a daily basis. Life is truly moving at the speed of light, and yet, no one notices the hour or the day or how quickly a moment can evaporate right before our very eyes. This is life, imperfect and sometimes unjust, but nevertheless, this is all we have. or, better yet, this is everything we have.
There is something inside of each and every one of us. This is more than blood and bones. This more than the lungs we breathe with and the muscles that help us move. There is a soul within each of us.
There is a principle of life, thoughts, actions, desires and the freedoms we strive for. There is a separable existence to us all, which is more than our body. This is us. This is our true core.
This is the spirit and the seat of our true self, our sentiments, our inner being, and when disembodied, this is the part of us that lives on after our body is laid to rest.
Help is not always a pretty thing. In our life and along the way are the warning signs we’ve seen and ignored.
We knew something was up, but yet, we were hopeful. We were looking to crack a deal and get something for better than say, face value. We’ve tried to renegotiate the terms but eventually, there is always someone looking to collect.
We are all tasked at the dawn of our day.
No, really. It’s the truth.
From the moment we open our eyes is a list of decisions that go on until we close them again. Some of the decisions are simple.
What should I eat?
What should I drink?
What should I watch?
It is estimated that we make approximately 35,000 conscious decisions throughout each day. It is said that a child only makes 3,000 decisions in the same time frame day. I suppose this is why we refer to our childhood as simpler times.
The fact remains that we all process information differently. I go back to that word we use so often and mention the word, “Just,” as in when people say, I don’t understand why you “Just” don’t get it.
The word “Just” is used as if to simplify the action. However, this is a word that “Just” doesn’t fit sometimes.
This is life:
You swing and you try. You fall down and you get back up. Even if you fall down 9 times, you get back up 10 isn’t that what they say?
It’s not easy sometimes, right?
But what other choice do we have?
You take the pain. You take the criticism.
You take the bumps and bruises and the frustration that comes with learning your craft and you make your way up from the apprentice to the professional.
You say to yourself, “Something’s gotta give,” which is true.
Something’s gotta give but nothing ever gives when you quit
(or give up).
There is nothing quite like a moment alone when no one else is around and there’s no one else to answer to. The house or apartment is otherwise empty and the music you play is not open for discussion or interruption.
The weather outside is unobjectionable and fine but more to the point; nothing is imposing, and for the moment, the only thing pressing is the moment we’ve chosen for self-care and personal preservation.
She kept her son’s room exactly as it was. She kept it this way to keep his innocence and preserve his memory because there was nothing else left.
Nothing was ever moved or changed. His baseball hats were hung on the same hooks on the back of the door. Posters still on the wall. Clothes still in his drawers, jacket still hung on the post of his bed, and his baseball magazine was placed exactly as it was and unmoved on the nightstand.
This was his boyhood room with boyhood memories. This was her son. He was the lost one that went to something which no one saw coming.
There is an unwritten rule somewhere, although, it’s rarely followed our wishes. The rule is Moms are not supposed to get sick or leave. Dads are supposed to know everything. They’re never supposed to leave. This is a rule.
There is a rule about our grandparents too, like Grandma and Grandpa. They are supposed to have hands with a touch that no one ever forgets.
And their eyes and the way they speak or the way they smile; there is something so powerful about them. There is something about the way the room changes as soon as they walk in.
The Old Man used to tell me there was something I needed. He told me this one thing is the exact thing you need to get through life. He called this stick-to-it-iveness. This means no matter what comes or what happens, no matter the pain or pleasure, no matter the passion or the problem, whatever you choose to do with your life, and I mean what you really choose; you have to stick to it no matter what comes your way. Otherwise, the consequences are severely unfortunate.
I was thinking of a song last night. I thought about the intro of a bluesy riff that began with the words, “I am an old woman named after my mother. My old man was another child that’s grown old.”
Then I thought about the next line which is, “If dreams were thunder, lightning was desire, this old house would have burned down a long time ago.”
If I could do anything at all, I suppose I would start here, right now. I suppose I would start with this and then I could move forward, as in onward, as in better. I suppose the moment we understand the benefits of our ability are often underestimated, we realize our ability is the exact thing that empowers us to move forward.
I have never been sure what happens to time. I only know that it moves fast when you wish things could slow down. I know that it was just yesterday that I was so much younger. The world was a different place to me. The City was like a romance novel with wild, unexpected turns. There was action and suspense. There was drama and tragedy, comedy, thrillers and times when Central Park held a different sense of dignity to me.
I do not believe that we have to conform to any shape or size. In fact, my version of beauty has curves. The idea which believes beauty is flawless is already flawed in itself. Beauty has flaws. This is what makes us beautiful. Beauty has no particular shape which to me, if asked, I will explain that my version of beautiful is not connected to you or someone else’s ideas.
No, not at all. In my case, my version of beauty is beautiful because of what this means to me.
There are these ideas I have, which are important to me, but I keep them a secret from most people. These ideas are nothing more than tiny dreams of mine. I’ve had them for as long as I can remember. I have always had them, the dreams, I mean.
Of course, I have dreams. I’m alive, aren’t I? I believe anyone with a heart has dreams.
In the morning when you wake up after life has turned you around and the aftermath of all that’s hurt you is too raw to think about and when the idea of recovery is too far from the concepts of reality; your mind is flooded with too many thoughts, your body is tired because it’s too hard to find rest, and when the soundtrack in your brain is made up of the conversations that went wrong, the truth is there’s really nothing anyone can do at that moment, except breathe.
I have always appreciated the warm fascinations about little towns and country roads with nothing on them but pavement and the occasional car that drives by on the way to go someplace else. There are towns like this, so small and unheard of, yet, they do exist. They have little stores and maybe a barber shop where the old men gather.
They probably have a diner in town, which everyone goes to and they have pies there, like peach cobbler or maybe even key-lime with a little puff of whip cream swirled on top.
There are details we hold onto, such as the past and the unresolved tensions that linger in the halls of our memory. Tensions like this are the unanswered questions that remain even after the tension is gone. We are products of our past. We are the aftermath of incidents and the remnants of recollections that stem from incidents and accidents that happened during out daily life. Our mind is a recording that plays the compilations of resentments to which, at some point, we become weighed down by things that are long since gone.
Understand something . . .
There is nothing wrong with self preservation. Love is love but sometimes the best way to love someone is to understand that staying away is the best idea.
Make no mistake that life and love will not come with casualties. We all go through our moments of separation. We all experience the divides in relationships and we all have someone that we are not supposed to be divided from, but yet, we are.
What I am about to write is true. This is not an easy subject by any means, but yet, the truth of the matter is nothing is ever easy.
We are very simple creatures. Life itself is really simple.
You live. You wake up in the morning. You wash your face and brush your teeth. You eat a little and drink a little and work, sleep, and maneuver through life. You meet the daylight until nightfall comes. This in itself is simple. Rules are simple in a black and white sense. Yet we confuse them with the gray area, which is created by the emotional mind.
And in the interim, we wait. In between the now and then are the thoughts of expectation because, put simply, we’ve never been here before and we don’t know what to expect.
There were times in school when we would go over history lessons and learn about The Great Depression. We learned about the times of the great plague and quarantines of old days, like black and white stories from the past, and yet, here we are in the middle of something we never thought we would see. No one ever thought we would be here.
But yet, we are.
There is a lengthy argument that comes with the idea of trade workers and white collar positions, in which social snobbery takes hold. Then we somehow give into the social programming that separates us in levels of importance due to financial earnings. Meanwhile, none of this is actually true. We’re all small, little beings, running around on a big ball we know as Project Earth.
There’s not much left of what used to be.
I mean, think about it another way. Today is Monday. We have gone through countless Mondays before but this one is exceptionally different.
As a matter of fact, let’s see . . .
I have been alive for 17,456 days which means this Monday will be my 2,493rd Monday on Project Earth. This means I have taken approximately 376 million breaths since then and walked somewhere close to 254 million steps, which means I’ve traveled 108,204 miles, which means I’ve walked around the world to an estimated equivalent of 43 times.
In fairness, I never thought I would ever possibly word my history this way. I never thought I would see a mental or emotional challenge as a benefit. However, and in fairness to me and others that experienced similar things, the fact that people can and do recover is an ability that belongs to us all. This is absolutely true. It’s not easy by any stretch. But it’s still true . . .
They call it hope.
They say this will appear like a ship coming in on a sunny day. They say there is a means to an end. It is said there is a reason for everything and that one day, everything will clear up somehow. This will all make sense and hopefully, or should I say suddenly, everything before the moments of displeasure, every twitch, every symptom, and all the discomforts and regrettable yesterdays will eventually lose impact. And at last, we can all breathe freely.
Sure, I know about God. I talk to God all the time, although, the truth is I’m never too sure who I’m talking to.
Is it God? Or is this just me talking to myself?
Below the surface is the truth to us all. Deep beneath the smiles or the things we say, which may seem lighthearted to the rest of the world, and there behind the brave face or the personality we try to portray is a truth that we keep hidden. This is our unspoken voice. These are our thoughts that speak to us. There is a part of us which no one else knows about. This is the part of us that no one else can see. Just us.
The ideas we have about you and me or us and anyone else are only as real as we make them out to be. The truth is either way, no matter what we do or what happens next, the sun will continue to go up in the morning and the moon will always take its place in the sky at night. The notion that either you or I will be able to re-litigate the past or change something beyond our control is crazy, but yet, here we are trying as hard as we can to change something we have no control over (like yesterday, for example).
All we have is this, right here and right now. All we have is our energy. All we have is our ability, which is really unstoppable when we use it properly.
There is a reason why people don’t step up to say anything. Their silence is not the same as submission but more to the point, their silence is only fear that keeps their secrets from ever being told.
This can be something as simple as a problem in the workplace. This can be as simple as two friends miscommunication or as easy as a misunderstanding that went too far.
“How can I tell when someone is really willing to change?”
You know where the willingness is when the excuses go away. You’ll know when the negotiations stop.
This is when people are ready.
There used to be music in the room whenever she would nap. The music was quiet with a calm, celestial feel and deep tones to soothe the mind. We played this to act as a lullaby to make her sleep.
There was a little noise machine too, which was a constant hushing sound to act as a cushion and drown out the ambient noise.
Her crib was perfect. Her room was decorated perfectly for a baby girl. There was wallpaper with soft shades of lavender and white. I remember the room, and in my mind’s eye, I can feel the peacefulness of a baby’s breath. She was my little girl, sleeping peacefully, and I was always so amazed that I had the ability of creating something so beautiful.
It starts simple. First, everything is a joke.
People love to joke, don’t they?
People love to see what they can say and what they can get away with.
This is true with bullies. This is true with the people that love to chew the fat from the gossip mills or the rumor factories.
Think about this for a second.
Think about the words, “I was only kidding.”
How many times have we heard someone say this?
Think about the words, “I didn’t mean it.”
How many times have you heard this?
You’re beautiful. You do know this, right?
I’d like to invite you to think about something. What does it mean to be truly beautiful?
We often lose ourselves in comparison to others. This is true, especially when it comes to beauty.
This is so when it comes to both social and personal comparisons.
There is a science to us all. There is a science to the way we live and the way we think and act. There is a science to how we do everything.
There’s a science to the way we interact and a science to the reasons we reach out to certain types of people.
Everyone has a personal science, which is behind everything we do. This comes from our background and our surroundings. Our science is born from our genetics and our social influence. This also comes from our chemistry. In fact, there used to be a billboard that said, “Depression:is a flaw in chemistry not character.”
There are different ways we inspire each other. . . .
You do it your way and I do it mine. . . .
The truth is we’re all inspirational for different reasons. Some inspire to do great things and others inspire in different directions.
Think about the words, “role model.”
This is neither positive or negative but more so a source of attraction. We choose people to keep in our lives. We look to different people for different sources of motivation which again, motivation is only energy. There is no good or bad, positive, or negative. Motivation is only a power source in need of direction.
There is something to be said about showing up. There is more to be said about showing up on a daily basis and finishing the game, win or lose, no matter what.
There is something to be said about the willingness to compete and the drive to stay motivated, even when the outcome is lost.
I admire this.
There is something about looking at the scoreboard and seeing how far down the team is, but yet, the heart of the player is still alive, still beating, and still playing as if victory was well within reach.
There are times (like yesterday) when the sky is blue and the leaves on the trees are as green as they can be. The roads are free from congestion and the upstate drive is calm and soothing. The scene is pastoral and calm to say the least.
There are times when although everything else has gone crazy, the world has gone mad, life took a turn, and although the normal routine has been interrupted by politics and the threat of a virus (not sure which is worse, by the way) still, the world is really a beautiful place.
There are times when the heart is heavy. There are times when pain comes and redesigns the way we interact with one another. There is loss and there is tragedy, yet still, there are still beautiful things we can discover in this world.
There are things I have learned throughout my life that I know are true. Some of my lessons came from an early age. Some of my lessons came from the way I was raised. Some came from the friends I’ve had and some of my most meaningful lessons have come to me throughout the course of adulthood.