This segment originally aired earlier this month on Chris Lenois’s Green Mountain Mornings. Though by many standards it is yesterday’s news, I share because it is one of many things happening right now all over the globe. In my book, this incident is not something to just gloss over but I bring attention to it during a time when a number of individuals in our country are in an uproar over the infamous red Starbucks Cup.
This segment talks about how we play the blame game with victims focusing on the incident that involved a young girl in South Carolina and a police officer. You can see the full clip of the CNN segment I reference by going to by going here. While this incident has come and gone from the press, it still remains that we play a blame game with victims. At what point do we stop blaming and start asking the right questions?
The piece was inspired by a friend who took a chance to drive from the east coast to California to live and pursue her bliss. She had no plans but just took a risk. I still wonder about all of the ways more of us can learn from this story by taking the courage and necessary risks needed to go fetch our bliss.
Why is it important to choose your company wisely? And I am not talking about any superficial labels of “good” or “bad” but making the proper choice for yourself. It is important because those individuals and arrangement of experiences encourage you to be more yourself….
especially when you forget and we all in fact suffer from temporary amnesia in which who or what we are goes missing or is kidnapped.
Mohammed Ali, a well-known former Professional American Boxer talked about impossible as a state of mind and being. In his opinion, whatever was described as impossible was temporary.
Hip-Hop star Jay-Z once included a lyric in a remix to the Kanye West song Diamonds Are Forever stating “Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week…”
Whatever your musical tastes are and/or your views about boxing, there is some wisdom to this concept of what we view as possible and what we designate as impossible. What are you doing or not doing because you have categorized certain things as impossible and out of your grasp?
Perhaps there are unopened invitations through people and circumstances for you to travel to a new place and risk getting lost,
explore a new project and risk not knowing where the end result will lead you,
embrace a new talent that you’ve not formally studied….but you view these as “tasks” “daunting” or perhaps you said you can’t.
Last month it occurred to me that perhaps it isn’t the concept of impossible but that fact that we are using difficult and impossible as interchangeable terms. I had to call an organization and ask about one of their upcoming deadlines for securing a license for something as I was warned “But the deadline is this coming Friday.” As I started to ask a series of questions, I couldn’t help but to ask “Is it difficult or impossible?” My specific inquiry encouraged laughter with an answer “Difficult, not impossible.” After the short banter I hung up the phone still laughing but pinpointing the difference that most of us forget–difficult is not impossible but just means that there are a few hurdles. And in fact, difficult is an invitation to a challenge.
So ditch the can’t and break up with impossible and dare yourself to go do something today, this week, this month, or this year that expands beyond the realm of what you thought was not possible. Dare yourself to be and do the impossible.
If for no other reason than for the maintaining our intellectual agility, it is key to question or challenge the things we hear or repeat often. Personally, I always appreciate revisiting or challenging clichés and other various uses of language. During a recent phone call on an ordinary day, the opportunity to revisit my feelings about our various uses of the words/phrase “settle down” as it relates to ourselves and relationship presented itself.
It was a Tuesday afternoon and I was on the phone in an unpaved parking lot. After a few minutes of being on this particular phone call, a truck came speeding through kicking up small rocks and a pile of dust. Somehow, the dust it aroused from its rest was more interesting than my present conversation. I started to hurry the conversation along so that I could observe the unsettled dust. Long after truck left the parking lot, the dust stayed floating in the air-not for seconds but minutes. Each particle found its place as it separated from the cloud or the gang we refer to as dust. But it did this in its own way as the once thick cloud dissipated as each particle of dirt chose not to just settle but find a place. Even then, the idea of rest of just temporary as other vehicles entered the parking lot to disrupt the so-called settled dirt.
I share this short vignette because I always had trouble with the phrase we use about settling down as if to imply a fixed permanent point or the ending of movement/shifting/growth. Yet, I found some comfort on this particular day by observing something both simple and common-dust repeatedly awakened and never becoming fully “settled” as it was disrupted by each passing vehicle. It was within the most unlikeliest of places (an unpaved parking lot) that I was reminded of all of us. Individual, dynamic, colorful and resilient specs of dirt constantly becoming and unbecoming a part of some bigger whole through disruption.
Though not always welcome and sometimes painful, the constant state of being awakened and unsettled presents an opportunity that we don’t always see unless we get a moment to notice the new reconfiguration caused by the unsettled state. As I returned to my to-do list of the day, I wondered if we could allow ourselves to remember what it is like to be that dust surrendering to the various tires, foot-traffic, or other things that unsettled it. I continue to hope that we all could adopt a piece of that gracefulness of becoming and unbecoming within the whole that inevitably happens in life and relationship.
And if you get a chance, watch dust become unsettled repeatedly. It might inspire you to rethink the illusion of settling.
“Everyone may be well acquainted with that Rolling Stones song with the lyrics “You can’t always get what you want…..you get what you need.” There is a rough road between what you think you want and what you truly need. And if you are lucky,
you happen upon blessed souls who nurture and guide you in your confusion of these two things & your perceived loss of your want as you navigate toward that ocean…..
the ocean of need.”
I was not going to comment about Bill Cosby. In full honestly, I withheld my insights or thoughts due to a disbelief of what I was hearing in regards to the sexual assault allegations while cradling questions about how or why we placed Bill Cosby on such a pedestal.
My path of disbelief and disenchantment with Bill Cosby began many months ago as many of the victims started to speak out. While buzz continued to question the credibility and validity these women, my questions remained internal. Occasionally, one of my questions would find its way into one of my phone conversations with a friend, “Do you believe what is coming out about Bill Cosby?” Often my questions were met with a pause or a response “I don’t know…” as we had a short discussion about the fact that so many women were coming forward so it must be true.
These questions co-mingled with fond fuzzy memories of The Cosby show. Most weeknights for many years, my family and I planned our evenings around seeing Bill and Claire Huxtable with their children appear in their Brooklyn Brownstone on Primetime television. The Huxtables were an upper middle class family allowing an ease and escape from my own family dysfunction as I fantasized myself into their lives. I remained hopeful that perhaps they would one day extend a hand into our living room to invite me to be a part of their family. Perhaps I could replace Rudy Huxtable or enjoy many of the perks of being one of the Cosby kids. Despite the lack of reality and the smooth manner in which family issues were resolved within the record time of 30 minutes (as with most shows then), the life of the Huxtables was idyllic especially the role of Bill Cosby who was a gentle, firm, comical and lovable father.
What I longed for while gazing through a screen was the dynamic of family as presented by the Huxtables but Cosby was not necessarily a surrogate father figure. In fact, my father was present in my home but that was not the situation for many of my peers. For many in the black community, it was (and still is) key to see positive representations of black family especially favorable images of fathers. But our societal disenchantment with Bill Cosby extends beyond that. In his later years, the jokes stopped as he used his celebrity status to address some of the issues within the black community. Cosby refashioned himself from being one of America’s favorite dads/Jello-man to the tough love father who wanted better for his community.
Given the these nostalgic images, it is easy to see why we are all in shock. We all seem to be undergoing a serious mourning of the image of the Bill Cosby we thought we knew and loved. At the same time, I’ve previously written commentary on the fact that we have foolishly placed these celebrities upon unrealistic pedestals only to realize that they are human and fallible. But perhaps we are having such a hard time about Bill Cosby because so many of our fathers and mothers have physically and emotionally gone missing, especially in communities of color. We have become orphans who’ve set out to look for replacements in the form of celebrities a.k.a. strangers who devastate us with as much ease as our familiar loved ones. And of course the only cure from such a thing comes from the wise advice of Eve Ensler in her recent article “Eve Ensler on Bill Cosby: Let the Mythical Daddy Die” it is time to stop infantilizing ourselves and break ties with our father figure fantasies.
Beauty is not really in the eye of the beholder though we say it is.
Beauty is in the eye of the group, norms, society, anxieties, and other isms’ that surround us at the moment. Those who behold beauty outside of that on their own terms are the brave ones.