“Although our version of the story usually feels better and is easier to tell, a lie will always hurt the one you love more in the end.” – Henry Nutt, III
We have been hearing it for most of our lives. Phrases like, “don’t tell lies, you are only as good as your word and your word is your bond,” etc., but as we know, people lie to one another all the time and without flinching.
Of course we are aware that it is not okay, but it somehow feels convenient and like the right thing to do, at least in the moment. After all, we don’t want to hurt anyone, and in our minds somehow we believe the truth will hurt too much. I have been there done that, and have paid the ultimate consequence in a relationship. The death of it without reconciliation. So I have learned a few things about the path of destruction that is created by lying.
In its simplest form, lying is choosing to be dishonest and attempting to evade the truth due to fear or some consequence that may bring discomfort or displeasure to the one telling the lie or someone else. In a more complex and evasive form, lying is a mask, a covering or distortion of the creed we claim to live by. It misrepresents the liar and deceives the one being lied to. It removes our ability to make a choice, resolve, consult or deal with the liar first-hand with raw truth. And ultimately uninterrupted, it will promote the demise of any healthy relationship like a cancer to the physical body.
During my season of engaging in this destructive behavior, I honestly felt as if it wasn’t that bad. I was trying to (so-call) protect the one I claimed to love. You know, spare her from being hurt. And I know that was stupid! As crazy as that even sounds to me today, that lie was the truth I lived by once upon a time until I was forced to deal with my own actions, alone.
It was a painful time, but equally helpful for my spiritual and emotional growth. I peeled back the layers of my history, including my childhood. Nothing was off-limits. Every girlfriend, marriage, friendship and past relationship I examined. I went to counseling to try an understand how and why I became this man who could lie so easily.
The one thing I found more profound than anything else was in order for me to lie to anyone, man woman, boy or girl, I first had to lie to myself. That was a deafening realization, but it helped me come to terms with my own brokenness and inability to recognize the detrimental convictions that were destroying my once virtuous integrity.
So ultimately there is a breakdown and a decision being made with lying. The breakdown, being the reasonings or rationale we come to, to forfeit the truth over and over. The decision, being the choice to accept deception as an option, because at its core, it is indeed always a choice.
For me it was all things coming to a head. My lies finally catching up with me and having no one to blame, with no excuse for my behavior, but it was my relationship with God, my ability to feel the pain I created and finally, to have a deep remorse without the luxury of closure from a marriage that went astray from my own doing that led me to repentance and healing.
What I have learned is lying is not a shortcut, nor should it ever be an option in any type of relationship, even when you are attempting to spare someone’s feelings. As much as one may feel they are doing someone a favor by lying, they are actually doing them a disservice. An act that has multi-faceted implications, like the breaking of trust, which in many cases takes years to rebuild if even possible.
Lying at its core is a selfish act. It fails to consider another person’s emotions or well-being, and at the end of the day it will always do more harm than good. So when given the option, if lying is still a choice on the table, that speaks volumes to your character or lack thereof, a lack of respect for others and more importantly an indication that a big part of your life is being guided by fear, an unhealthy need to be accepted and a lack of courage.
Let’s begin to honor others by first honoring ourselves. Tell the truth at all costs, swear to your own hurt and face the consequences that come with that decision. Your loved ones may be hurt or become angry with you and still decide to walk away, but at least you will have the (self) respect of knowing you chose to speak truth to power. And that cannot be held against you, for the truth always stands the test of time.
“You are what you do, not what you say you will do.” – Unknown
How many times have your dreams been shattered or the perfect ideal of what you thought you wanted only led to great disappointment? Wait don’t answer that question, because we all have been there to some degree. Whether in great magnitude or on a small-scale. I imagine it’s a definite indicator of being a human being.
So, since we are all pretty much experiencing this at some point in our life journeys, how are we dealing with it? Are we overcoming new obstacles, putting into practice lessons learned, repeating poor decisions, getting it, like really getting it, or are we falling into the same destructive patterns that led us once-upon-a-time into distressing emotional turmoil, depriving physical estrangement or financial disarray?
I know we all want to believe we are growing and getting better as we get older, but the true test falls under the category of, “the life we are currently living”. Quiet honestly not much else matters. Our words are great and have their place, but if they fail to align with our current actions, they simply fall to the ground and hold no barring for anyone, which actually causes us to not look so becoming to those that bother to listen to us.
So, like me you let someone down by breaking a promise. You fell short of the ideal mark. You proved that you were not quite ready for the commitment. You accepted and agreed to deliver without fully understanding the full picture (or perhaps you did and still didn’t care). You failed to consider the cost and said yes anyway, or you simply weren’t ready. Or perhaps you always knew the situation/relationship would fail, but you went through it anyway. On the other hand, you were the recipient of all these. Welcome to the club, but let it be your goal to expeditiously remove yourself from this membership as soon as possible, because lifetime affiliation is honestly not good thing.
My core values fall under the category of perpetual optimist. I inherently believe most people want to do the right thing, even when they do not. This is not to say that I fail to recognize there will always be an element that do not have my best interest at hand. I simply choose to believe the majority will. Call me naive.
That said, after I have endured my own pity party, played the blame game, suffered as a victim and been let down, a few questions still lied before me. What the heck am I going to do now that my heart has been broken or I broke someone else’s? What will my next steps be when my alleged soul mate found someone else or worse, cheated on me? How do I recover when I am left with nothing?
I can say there must be a season of licking your wounds, grieving and remaining to yourself. The length of time all depends on how deep the wound is and what type of help and work you commit to. Some of us bounce back quickly, while others may take years. We are all different and should give ourselves license to heal at own our pace, but we must also be cognizant of becoming bitter, numb and distant, as this is counterproductive to truly moving forward.
For those that fall under the category of heartbreaker, remember that you are also human and subject to frailty. Not an excuse to repeat past poor behavior, but more importantly an opportunity to correct it, own it and make amends for it. This is a lot easier said than done, but nonetheless a critical and mature step. At minimum (and especially when the victim refuses to speak with you) forgive yourself and take corrective authentic action to become a better man or woman.
It is never too late to learn a new thing, only to those that fail to see their impact and power in the world. When we recognize how important and relevant we are, we take quicker action to remedy unfavorable situations. We understand the sooner we heal, accept our failure and own the steps we took to promote the demise of another, the sooner we will be free to live the lives we were meant to live.
The sunshine awaits us, especially the broken soul. Your beauty is radiant and filled with promise. The promise to deliver a message that embraces empathy and encourages hope and promise. Living beyond broken promises and disappointment is a gift. A gift to everyone that crosses our path, because our lives have been enriched with a deep brokenness and pain that enables us to see life in different way. A way that not only sees beyond right now, but offers a real hope for tomorrow, despite the current circumstances faced.
“Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.” – Unknown
Lord knows I have had my share of relationships that did not end well. Whether the demise was instigated by my actions or the actions of my partner, it is something I will never wish on anyone, including my worse enemy. I say this because when our hearts become intertwined with another person, it is always painful to let go, even when it is the most healthy decision to make.
Letting go of love is like letting go a piece of our very person because usually we have invested so much of ourselves into the relationship, and ultimately a hardness had to develop in order for us to finally make the decision. When I say hardness, I do not necessarily mean one has to become cold-hearted to end a relationship, however there is an aspect of closing up that needs to occur to move on with life.
Essentially like closing a door and making the decision to not return to it. No matter how we explain it, there has to be some exposure to hardness in order to pull this off effectively, otherwise that door becomes a revolving one, which typically results in more pain and more heartache.
Now I am not here to advocate divorce or saying it is simply okay to prematurely walking away from a long-term relationship, although it does happen, and sometimes for the right reasons. What I am saying is when one decides to go down this path, it is imperative to search their soul, take lots of time, consult with wise counseling, pray daily, spend quiet time with themselves and God, and then repeat those steps all over again until it is settled in their own heart to leave or remain in it.
So many times we are in such a hurry to walk away, (me included in times past) because we just want to be done. Done with looking at our partner’s faces, their scent, quirks, pretty much everything about them annoys us. But if we allow this major decision to become driven by emotions, primarily fear or anger, we will ultimately regret not allowing ourselves the opportunity to go through the process of real closure. Of course this does not apply to abusive relationships. When safety is at stake, I will always advise one to get out and deal with the aftermath from a safe place, emotionally and physically.
It is inevitable that letting go of love will change you. Just like the love itself from the beginning changed you, (hopefully for the better) but at this stage as we begin to close our hearts and prepare for a journey we cannot fully comprehend what will be on the other side, besides our new-found freedom, one cannot help but go through a personal metamorphosis. And depending on what type of individual work you did/do during this process, including who influences you the most, will ultimately define if you become bitter, better, happy, disillusioned, an unbeliever of love, hate the opposite sex, the list goes on.
We all want to feel good as we go through a break-up, but it is important that we take heed with the steps taken to get there. An ex feeling bad should not be the barometer of the other feeling good. Sure it may bring a sense of temporary satisfaction, but let it be just that, temporary. Otherwise you will find yourself consumed with negatives thoughts and plots on how to keep them down, and inherently dismiss the health of yourself. That is simply too much energy to spend on someone you just broke up with, no matter how good it makes you feel.
Ultimately wholeness should be the personal goal. As our hearts and emotions have been literally split in two, we must regain our sense of self, even relearn who we are or possibly reinvent who we are, and desire to become. Again, another process, however a process that can provide a pathway to new and better beginnings, new hopes and dreams, a more informed perspective on life, and a holistic approach towards relationships and love.
Letting go of love does not have to relegate our lives to a future full of misery, shame and disappointment. It could possibly become the birthing of your ultimate purpose and destiny. You have the power to influence that as I did. After two divorces and a host of other broken relationships, I continue my journey to wholeness and new discovery. I am certainly not the man I was in the past. In many ways I am better, and in others not so much, however I continue to grow, remain open and trust in the power of love and it’s influences on my life.
“Your mind will always believe everything you tell it. Feed it faith. Feed it truth. Feed it with love.” – Unknown
Today is Father’s Day and if you manage to find yourself celebrating this American tradition, you along with millions of others will take the time to honor the men in your lives that are called fathers. Whether biological, distant relatives, or simply great role models. Honestly, I try not to get too caught up with these type of man-made holidays, especially for my children, because as a kid it added so much unnecessary pressure on me to spend time on a purchase, versus spending the time honoring the one(s) that impacted my life in a meaningful way. So I choose to celebrate the day reflecting on those that made a difference in my life and pay less attention on what I can do for them.
Regardless of my personal stance with the “day”, I cannot help but to take a moment and reflect on what it means to me to be a father. With the insurmountable statistics that negate the positive influences that black fathers like me have in the world, today it is important to acknowledge those that still struggle, yet are trying to do the right thing.
I read something today that sparked a thought, and that was the many invisible accusers we have as men and fathers. Many of us have not done the right thing along our journey as men, (and some never will) but some of us bloom later in life and finally figure it out, and want to do what is right. And even though we are not always sure what “doing right” looks like, our hearts are pure and ripe for wholesome interactions with those we call family, especially for our children. One thing we must consider, is good intentions do not necessarily equate to a good outcome, so patience, good counsel and consistency is important during this time.
What we also need to recognize are the many voices in our heads that speak doubt, fear and promote insecurity. These are such big deals for us, even if we choose to not admit it. Our worst enemy lives inside our heads and reminds us of our past failures, poor decisions and inability to simply get it right, however for those of us that choose to not live in the past, we are seeking new revelations, new beginnings and pressing towards a new future that is not defined by who we were, once upon a time.
Contrary to popular belief, old things do and can pass away, but unfortunately many (included you and me) will not ever see the manifestations of what it looks like to live a different life if we fail to own this for ourselves. I mean like really different! Where authenticity has become a part of your new DNA and you will swear to your own hurt even if it means doing what is honorable and right.
The invisible accuser will always attempt to live in our heads. Accept that as a way of life. We have gave him much ammunition to tempt us, deceive us and get us off track, but once we connect with who we truly are we become a threat to those voices. It is in that place where are intentions need to align with are actions.
This in not the time to faint, but stand strong on the convictions of your spirit and soul. Walk in humility (strength in control) and live a life of integrity. This will pay dividends towards your future and current relationships.
I will never be perfect, but I am here. Living a life that will ultimately encourage a positive legacy despite my past, and what others have to say about who I was. My proof is in the current relationships I foster daily, for they speak volumes to who I am (versus who I use to be) like nothing ever will.
Everyday (thanks to my newness in Christ and choice to grow) I am getting better everyday and I defy the invisible accuser. I am more than my past as you are. Happy Father’s Day!
“The best way out is always through.” – Robert Frost
Life can be complicated, unpredictable and sometimes just hard. Being married has its own set of issues as well as being single, and when you add children, (young or older) work life scenarios and family dynamics to the mix it can get even more complex. At times things can become overwhelming, where our only option seems as if we should run for the hills and hide out. I have been there and I am certain that you have as well, but through the years of learning lessons, understanding my triggers and gathering more insight on my on level of emotional intelligence, the consistent thing or good advice I have received has been to work through it.
Now because I am kind of an analytical personality, I cannot just use that term without also giving an explanation of what it actually looks like. After all, it is the question that I would ask or demand more clarity if someone were to drop that phrase on me. So what does “working through it” actually look like? I will give a few examples of what it is for me and what it is not to help describe it in more detail.
1. Take an unbiased stance on what the situation is. – When we decide to truly work through something, we need clarity of thought and mind, so having an unbiased view is essential. That said, we will probably need a trusted friend to help us navigate through what we cannot see due to our natural prejudices.
2. Develop a game plan to move through it. – Nothing really works well without a plan, so once we understand the real issue, now it is time to make it happen. This process may include quiet time for reflection, counseling, prayer, journaling, hard conversations and much more, but however you choose to move through it, the various stages are necessary for an effective outcome.
3. Do the work. – This is the hard part. Now is the time to put action to our words. Expect to fall several times before you get it right, but keep working through until you begin to see change. Keep in mind the change you are looking for lies in you, not someone else. That’s the challenging part. The actual work has many levels. There may be a season where you are only focusing on your childhood. Then you may move to your past relationships or dramatic situations that require a deeper look on your decision-making skills during that time. The key in this stage is to face yourself and bring reality into why you are, who you are.
4. Analysis and Self Evaluation. – This is not a time for self-judgement, although it will be easy to do. Be careful not to simply come down on yourself during this time. Sure there will be many issues that may come to the surface that point directly to you, but so what. This whole process is not to blame yourself. Taking responsibility is one thing, but blaming should not be the focus or objective. You may come to a point where deeper work beyond your means is essential. Hopefully you will be able to continue down that path and receive the help you need.
5. What it is Not. – The one thing I can say “working through it” is not, is to over simplify the process or issue. Quick fixes that neglect the core issues only perpetuate the problem. When we fail to address the real matters of the heart we only set ourselves up for future failure. Now is not the time for surface work. We must choose to go deep, but if we are not ready, it is better to understand that and wait until we are. Otherwise we are wasting our time, seeking results for something we have not yet properly invested in.
I am not the expert in this area, but I am a man who has seen and experienced his share of turmoil. Some self-inflicted and some not, but I am committed to myself in such a way that I will never be satisfied with surface results. I want to better understand why I do what I do. In some cases it will be fairly obvious and in other times it will take much more work. I am committed to doing the work. It has become a part of my life journey and I am better for it.
“Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams.” – Unknown
Anything worthy of experiencing or having in life usually takes time. In most cases that time will fall under the category of what we know as a journey. You know that place in between the beginning and the final destination? That is where the magic happens, real life unfolds and often where we discover who we really are, or desire to become.
Sometimes what we discover is not what we initially sought out, but once the dust settles, if we can muster the courage to continue on and press through the hardship of raw facts and painfully transparent friends and family that (if we were lucky) ever so delicately placed the ugly pictures of who we are and who we were on a canvas like a meticulous artist, on the other side can be an amazing opportunity of new beginnings.
As painful as it can be to revisit the past, it is where we find many of the answers that we seek, whether consciously or subconsciously. I say this because most of us do not consider ourselves as super heroes, where we knowingly place ourselves in inherent danger to seek the truth out no matter what the consequences. No, we are typically cowards and afraid of what we will find, so it is usually safer to just let things be as they are. Dull, but not in a boring kind of sense, more like a in a un-sharpened knife kind of a sense, that pierces through our skin. After all, it is the path of least resistance, which makes it safer, easier and requires less effort, however this path also leaves us empty, broken and often confused because we now realize that there is more to what we thought we knew, and left unanswered this will drive us crazy or worse, drive us to continually repeat the past like a highly executed math problem.
As I mentioned before, nothing worthy comes easy. For me love has been my mission. Not that I have always went about finding it in the best way. Like I do not advise three marriages and several preceding broken relationships to get there, but I will say true love is worth the scars and pain.
My journey has not been for the faint of heart. I had to finally come to a place where I acknowledged my part in the demise of several broken relationships. It was not them, it was a me. My inability to see, own and understand my specific responsibility was my failure, and not until I decided to journey within was I able to get it. Like really get it!
So of course this does not make everything perfect, but It has helped me make better decisions, focus my energy in the appropriate areas, (especially during a disagreement) become more self-aware of what I am feeling in the moment and to be a better listener. All things that were once far removed.
My attempt to find love again was nothing more than my innate existence of being a hopeless romantic. I would never stop pursuing it, however my natural desire to no longer experience deep pain on a continuum motivated me to travel on this journey with more wisdom (from outside sources) along with an open mind.
My only option was to become bitter and old with a mouthful of disdain from the mere mention of “true love”. This was not going to be my story, so I journeyed on and on and on…
On the outside it looked foolish I am sure to many, but again it was a worthy cause to me. My past did not necessarily have to dictate my future, and chance had nothing to do with it. It was purpose and a commitment to myself for a change.
My journey back to love actually had nothing to do with anyone, but myself. It was a choice to learn from my past, understand it in a more profound and dynamic way, which is a nice way to say I needed to do some work (with a counselor), introspection (with a plan to action) and actual application of what I learned along the way.
I have not arrived yet, but I am on my way to a life of authentic truth-telling and truth living. No more shadows, lies or niceties that attempt to keep peace at all cost. I am me. That is what I know, live and declare beyond with just words.
“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.” – Steve Prefontaine
I have never met anyone who does not appreciate receiving a gift, whether a small token of appreciation or something grand. When we take the time to acknowledge someone for anything, whether small or large it usually speaks volumes to their souls.
I have always tried to teach my children that being thoughtful with what one has will always be greater than trying to buy what one cannot afford. That said, I have taught them to not worry about buying me a gift (when they were younger) for my birthday, but instead make me a card or do something thoughtful (to me) that cost them only their time.
We live in such a fast-paced world where sending flowers or any type of gift is just a click away, and although I appreciate a nice surprise in the mail, nothing will ever replace the intangible gifts that come along with human interaction and connection.
Because we yearn so much for human connection, even receiving the best gift will be meaningless without the essential act of being thoughtful, concerned or showing love, so if and when you deliver that awesome gift to a friend or loved one, make sure a bit of your personal touch is a part of the exchange.
As we grow older, wiser and more settled with our lives, we begin to realize that the most important gifts are the ones that cannot be purchased. The intimate conversations amongst friends and family are surely to be coveted, and often come far and few between, but nonetheless when they come they bring so much of what we long for and need.
I can recall sitting with someone who I hardly knew a couple of years back at a family function. Somehow we sat next to one another and begin to dialogue about life and the people around us. Not only was it easy to share, but we both found ourselves being transparent and honest about very personal issues we were facing in our lives at that time. There was no judgment or angst about diving head first into the various subjects. Just two people sharing a moment in time that proved to be helpful and rewarding for us both.
When I think of someone giving away a gift, it is those types of moments that come to mind. It is those types of moments that bring on life change, impart heartfelt truths and have the potential to leave an imprint on our minds that can carry on for years. I suppose it is the type of gift that keeps on giving, at least for someone like me.
What gifts have you given away lately? The ones you cannot purchase online or in a store. The ones that may require your time, undivided attention and ability to really listen. For some this may not even seem like a gift, but I can say with some certainty that the ones receiving it will, and their lives will be better for it.
I have been blessed to have wonderful friends and family that share the truth, in love. As they do this, they give away something meaningful to me each time. Something that I can hold onto, something that is timeless, and more often than not something that fills a void and answers a deep question within.
These are the types of gifts that my heart longs for, more than anything other kind. They are refreshing, renewing and quenches the thirst of my soul.
For some, the idea of giving gifts this way will draw a blank stare or create confusion, but for those of you that get it, you know what I am talking about. I encourage you to continue giving your best gift away. The world is a better place because of you and life simply is no fun when the givers stop giving.
Of course always do it with wisdom and without obligation, but more importantly do it with and in love. That is your best gift!
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist” – Oscar Wilde
Birthdays are always special. To acknowledge and celebrate the birth of someone is pretty significant. It is even more special if you are able to witness a baby take their first breath. I have been blessed to be a part of this miracle with all my children.
It is equally significant when someone leaves this earth. Experiencing the death of a loved one is never easy and it will always be an event that brings people together while simultaneously identifying the fragility of humanity.
Although the miracle of birth and the gravity of death will remain significant and monumental aspects of the overall human experience, what occurs in the middle of those two events will always matter more, because the life we actually live represents something even more special, meaningful and remarkable.
I believe that this is primarily true because when you think about someone’s legacy; the things they will be remembered by, it will always be what they did while living, no matter how significant their birth or death was.
So what is in the middle for you? What are you becoming, have become and what are you doing right now with your life? What kind of legacy will you leave? Will others want to follow you or learn that they should not, or discover what choices not to make? I have come to learn that it is never too late to grow, impact others in a positive way or become the best you. It really is a matter of personal choice once we decide to remove ourselves from the excuses that hinder us.
Life can render us many unexpected circumstances, ones that can test us at our core, or equally strengthen us to endure more. It all depends on how we choose to look at it and take action. The perspective can either be our demise or victory waiting in the wings.
When I consider my middle, I cannot help but acknowledge my three marriages. I use to say, “this was not supposed to be my story”, but later I learned to embrace it and look on the brighter side of things. One, I never gave up on love, two, I never gave up on myself and three, I never allowed myself to become bitter. And thankfully I have no animosity towards anyone from my past relationships. I have genuinely moved on and accept the failure that occurred, without pointing blame towards them or myself any longer.
The decision to not give up on love, myself or become bitter is not a given, accomplishing one is a feat, even for the strong at heart. I never would have imagined my life would have went this direction, but then again no one does right? It was up to me to decide what to do with the rest of my life, regarding relationships, my dignity and how I share my failure with my children and family.
For me that matters, not that I need to explain myself to anyone to feel justified or affirmed (well once upon I did), but the lessons I have learned are invaluable, and if I can share something that I have learned during the hard work to help someone else overcome their personal trials it will be all worth the struggle.
Life will always be measured by what we did. No matter where we were born or how we died, what will be remembered is what we did in the middle (the dash in between the start and finish dates). That said, live your life with purpose no matter the circumstances and hardships you have faced. Someone is watching what you do next, so never quit where you are. Keep living with expectancy until the end. Fight the good fight and never give up hope.
What truly matters is what you do. Keep living, keep learning and keep giving your best. Even when you fail to understand the “whys”, do the work to discover who you are and what you have to offer. It’s in the middle where life is to be led and experienced. Your best is still yet to come. Just keep living, like the older generation use to tell us.
“You are always one decision away from a totally different life.” – Unknown
A number of years ago a wise friend told me that life is like a song and a dance. Initially I was not sure what he meant, but he explained that in the first stages of our lives we our learning new concepts, formulating ideas and more than likely we are being influenced by the confines of our household structure, families dynamics and the immediate communities that we reside in. There is no judgement, it simply is what it is, good, bad or indifferent. Here lies the song being played.
The next phase as we grow into maturity and begin to make personal choices for our lives, whether relationally, socially or professionally is the dance, and many times without even being conscious of it we make decisions based on the (figurative) music we have heard for our entire lives. It is as if we are trying to stay on beat to what we know, understand and are reasonably comfortable with. Many times we will even defend our position, even when it is possibly the worst thing for us, but this is the power of the song we have heard.
To further illustrate my point, think of a friend or family member that you have attempted to help in the past. No matter how much you have tried, nothing seems to work or get through to them, or he/she just seems stubborn to change, listen or learn from the countless poor choices they have made. As much as you may want to say, “Are you just stupid?”, you know better than that (hopefully) and realize that it would be completely counterproductive to rectifying anything positively or effectively.
However, once we begin to understand more about “why they are” versus “what they are”, we place ourselves in a position to not only become more of an empathetic friend, but also one that can give sound advice or counsel that will resonate with them as well.
Now if we could only harness the courage to take this a step further and discover this truth about ourselves. It would not only allow us to better understand why we do what we do, but possibly get the support we need prior to falling into another self-perpetuated trap.
So have you taken the time to think about the song(s) that have been playing in your own life? Have you considered why you find yourself in certain predicaments that prove to be detrimental to your overall growth and well-being? Is there a theme or pattern to it? I know for me it was, and on the surface it seemed obvious to most people what my issues were, but little did they know there was more to my story.
Just like with you, there is more to your story, because you are not the sum of your failures, or even your successes I might add. You are beautifully human that lives a life with curves and bends that turn at times unpredictably, and it is in these moments where we can discover what song we are dancing to. Is the song helping me, does it give life or is it tearing me down to a place I have been trying to escape from? Only you know the answers to these questions and ones like it.
So ultimately we have some decisions to make as we embark on a new year. Will we continue to allow the triggers unbeknownst to us, continue to dictate our emotions? Will we allow family members and those close to us, continue to have control over our thoughts and actions? Will we allow familiar circumstances continue to drive us into depression, sadness or frustration?
As we have often heard that insanity is doing the same things while expecting a different outcome, let us not fall into those situations that bring us grief and despair, but let us begin to seek new ways to heal from our pain, recover from our broken hearts and respond to our haters. Ways that do not necessarily ask for permission from those we typically seek it from, ways that empower others to have authority when they should not, and ways that sympathetically apologize for decisions we believe in or feel good about.
If you can imagine a song playing that everyone is dancing to and suddenly the record scratches, stops and the DJ puts on another song. Only today you are the DJ and you have changed the music. We must do the same with our lives. Change the music and dance to a new beat. It may seem uncomfortable at first and take a little time to adapt to the new beat, but you will catch the rhythm eventually.
The real message is we must take authority over our own lives. We cannot allow the past (the old song) to define our future. We must begin to recognize that there is more to us than what we see now, our voice matters and life is too short to live under the shadows of anyone, event if we respect them. Become your man or woman. Change the music and dance a new dance for the rest of your life.
Keep Pressing and Happy New Year!!
“I know more than I say, think more than I speak and know more than you realize, so don’t underestimate me.”
So the other day I was traveling from Vegas back to the Bay Area. I called for an Uber like normal and waited the few minutes it typically takes for the driver to arrive. Upon his arrival, the driver pulled up and I waited for him (it was a man) to open the trunk of his car. He did not get out of his vehicle and I asked if the trunk was opened. He acknowledged that it was open, and immediately I coped an attitude with him for what I thought was poor customer service. As I entered the vehicle, I thought about my brief yet fairly consistent experiences with Uber drivers. They have all (including female drivers) gotten out of their vehicle, pop the trunk and assisted me with my luggage, whether I require the help or not, but not this guy.
I have come to appreciate and expect this type of service, so my bad attitude stemmed from the lack of that normal experience. As we began our trek to the airport I thought to myself, “You are getting 1 star Mr. Uber driver”, but once I was inside the car for a few minutes my attitude began to quell and I asked my driver (whom I will call John to protect his privacy) common questions amongst strangers or better yet Uber and rider.
After a few moments in the car with John I quickly learned that he had been an Uber driver for only three weeks, served in the military in 1944 and quickly asked me to guess his age. I was thinking seventy-ish, but I was off by twenty years. So this guy (John) was a ninety year old man driving Uber as a supplement to his social security. He certainly did not look his age. He was quite alert, witty and even worked as an illegal gambling runner in his recent past prior to Uber.
After a few moments of talking to John I quickly realized he did not get out of the car to retrieve my luggage because he was too old to pick it up, and probably thought, “You’re a man, get it yourself.” I could not be mad at that quite honestly, but my first thoughts were, “how rude.” By the time I arrived at the airport we were chatting it up about life events and as I was getting out of his car to retrieve my luggage, John reached out with his fist and gave me the pound and said have a nice day. I smiled and wished him the same sentiments.
I learned an interesting lesson last week from meeting John. Not only is it wrong to prejudge people, (which we are all aware of) but it can actually become a hinderance to our ability to acquire knowledge, gain useful insight about people and how their stories connect the dots to the overall human experience.
So I get that everyone has their biases and they can stem from something as simple as ignorance to a complex learned behavior over time. The unfortunate thing is many of us will die with these biases and never really get to know the person or people for who they truly are. I find this very troubling especially in this day and age where division has become so prevalent in almost every aspect of our lives.
My purpose with this post is not to speak on racism necessarily, but more so the human experience. And although my human experience has been tied to many forms of racism, I still have a greater purpose with writing today.
A few weeks back I had the privilege to sit in a conference with “Emotional Intelligence” being the topic of discussion. As the facilitator dived deep into the subject matter, he also broached on the topic of Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace. Being the only black man in the class I decided to take a risk and touch on the whole race topic, but from a different angle.
I talked about how easy and comfortable it is for us all to remain in our safe zones, with our same set of friends and communities than it is to branch out into new territory, and although there are many that choose this route due to hatred, there are still many more (in my opinion) that are simply not comfortable with change or connecting with the ideas and people who do not fit in their definition of normal. Unfortunately even with the best intentions, the lack of movement towards breaking this cycle results in the same conclusions we see so prevalent today. A people divided and many without true knowledge of the cause or the why.
Like every other human being I have my own set of biases. In most cases they lie dormant for years or decades until a particular scenario arises that thrust it right to the surface of my circumstance. It is in those moments that I have a choice to make. Will I allow my uneasiness and ignorance shut me out of any opportunity to learn a new thing, or will I allow my heart and mind to open and hear or experience something different, something new?
It may seem that I am oversimplifying this, because if it were that easy the world would already be a better place right? Well change is never easy and for whatever reason the path of least resistance tends to fall in line with what is not always good for us. This is true in relationships, diets, learning, etc. Just a fact that real change requires real work and if we decide to remain in our safe zones (which always feels better), we equally become a part of that thing which hinders authentic connection within our communities and critical diversity within our places of work.
And although I may never see John ever again in my life, I will certainly meet many more like him. My experience with him shed some light and made me aware of my own prejudices, but thankfully I chose not to stay in that place. I reached out and experienced something positive that I will carry and pass like a baton in a track meet.
If you are reading this, the baton is now in your hands. What will you do with it? Will you allow your fear or discomfort to paralyze you or will you reach out to your fellow-man or woman and connect with the human experience? We really are not that different, however what does make us different is what makes us beautiful and worthy of sharing our own story. We just need to recognize that and listen, like I did on my Uber ride.
For you John ***** (Five Stars) and a pound. Thanks for the lesson!