Sunday, January 18, 2015

We're All Experts Ya'll

Upon entering Lake Forest College as an English major, one of my first assignments was to write an essay on the Herman Melville novel entitled ‘Moby Dick’. I titled the discourse ‘Moby Dick And Its Relevance To The Black Community,' and likened the large white mammal to the great old U S of A, while rendering Captain Ahab as the maligned yet formidable Black American population. The professor,  graded the paper with a big red ‘F'. He commented that my analogy was totally out of context, and remarked that it had nothing to do with Mr. Melville’s literary intent. My disagreement notwithstanding, I had to concede that the professor, regardless of his aesthetic leanings, was correct in his assessment simply because he was recognized and accepted as an expert in the literary arena. 

A number of highly unproductive years later, I signed up for and passed a skilled trades apprenticeship test. After having registered for training, my initial class was ‘Tools and Equipment’. At the onset I developed a sense of racial inadequacy, because most of my Caucasian counterparts were well aware of the utilization of the material being discussed. I knew a little somethin somethin about hammers, screwdrivers and the like, but on the other hand, the tools and equipment being  presented yielded nothing to me but a total blur.

Getting back to the Moby Dick experience, it did coerce me into changing my major to Sociology and Anthropology, for which I am eternally grateful. It was a fellow apprentice that put my intellectual discomfort in perspective however, when he inadvertently shared that beginning at the age of seven, he had worked for several years with his father building garages. What an epiphany! Of course he was more familiar with impact wrenches, tig welders, and the like because an extended exposure to anything can create at least an unconscious assimilation of knowledge. And if you like, or feel obligated to learn more about what it is that you’re exposed to, then the sky’s the limit.

What about you? Ever been in a situation where the other person seems to be such an authority on a particular subject, that you envision yourself as an idiot. Well don’t be dismayed. The only difference between you and them is exposure, experience and possible dedication to whatever it is that they’re discussing. By the same token, you know about some stuff that they’ve never even thought about. From designer clothes to luxury cars, from professional sports to video games, hopscotch to double dutch, rocket science to quantum physics, we all got some information to give to another that they might not already have.

My suggestion is that we all garner as much expertise as we can, on whatever it is that we have a passion or preference for. Let’s then be humble enough to graciously share this knowledge in a non-condescending manner, and be open-minded enough to listen to and at least consider the input of another. After all, there are no big I’s and little you’s, there’s only the one ‘WE’ looking to survive and to thrive.

There’s a vast universe out there ya’ll, and it contains an infinitely unfathomable amount of knowledge, and no one of us will ever acquire it all. However, if each of us becomes willing to share what expertise we do have, and to accept that which another is willing to give, we can all leave our every interaction with more than what we came. After all, no matter how we choose to look at it,  it’s ultimately all about us.

I’ll holla…

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Trying To Be Where We Are

I don't do New Year resolutions any more because I only employ them for a couple of days. The intentions are all very good of course, but the follow up is extremely lacking.  Why is that? Well my contention is that it's like going on a diet. You feel, subconsciously mind you, as if you're going to have to go without, that something is going to be taken away.

One resolution I recall was the promise to exercise more. In retrospect, the thing that I inadvertently felt was being taken away was my precious time. I felt justified in believing that there were a lot more enjoyable things to do with my time other than grunting, sweating, and straining to attain a muscular body. Besides that it was winter time. Why not pick it up in the spring and be ready for the summer when there'll be a better opportunity for others to look at me and have some degree of awe and appreciation for all the work I've put in. As you already know, that particular resolution, after about January 10th of that year,  didn't receive further consideration until the following New Year.

What's the solution. For me it's all about perspective and attitude. Referring back to the diet analogy, the key is not to think of what we do as a temporary occurrence, but to see it as a life altering opportunity. A diet should not be a weight loss endeavor but a food transition. As for my muscle building strategy, it should have been viewed as the beginning of a continuum of health and vitality, rather than an attempt to get the coveted attention of others. Whatever the case, resolutions are important components in our attempts to do or be better, and the key is to look at them from a standpoint of saying "I'm doing this until" and not setting a specific, possibly unattainable goal.

Yesterday I asked myself and a couple of family members the question "Why are you here?" My personal response was, "To be of service to others." My wife Nicole replied, "To attain self-realization through playing music and having relationship with others." My mother Madeline responded with, "Because I have something to do." My big sister Pat answered with, "To be all that I can be." The question was a spur of the moment inquiry and allowed no time for contemplative assessment. Because of that, the responses were spontaneous, and if you'll notice none of them contained or even implied a time restraint. Each and every response was comprised of starting now and going on until.

I'm sure you all would have answered that question "Why are you here?", in pretty much the same manner that my family members and myself did, and I'm positive that we are all optimally efficient when we are not constrained by time and/or worried about doing stuff right. We are all here because we want to help. We all want to know who we are, so that we can be all that we can be, in order to figure out what it is we have to do. It's a process ya'll, it's all about trial and error, and right now, we're exactly where we're supposed to be. Discomfort is the motivator here, and a birthday and the first day of the year are the ultimate catalysts for reminding us it's time to make a change, a time to do things a little differently.

The New Year is upon us, and of course our desire is to be better than before. We make resolutions with sincere intent because that's where we are on January 1st of any year. Days or weeks later we're beating up on ourselves because we haven't kept the promise we seemingly made just moments ago. What's wrong with us...nothing. We're simply being all that we can be at the time we're being it. What we can do is accept that and either don't make promises we can't keep, or don't be alarmed or upset if we can't keep the promises we made. No one of us is here to change the world,  but each of us is here to facilitate a change in ourselves if need be, so that the entire universe can benefit in our collaborative  process.

The focus should be on the effort ya'll, not the outcome. It's all about continuing to do what we do, as best we can with what we've got, and doing something different if we feel that it ain't enough. When, where, and how we do it is up to us. What's most important is that we try, we keep trying, and then... we try again.

I'll Holla...

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Monday, January 5, 2015


Isn't it amazing that we are all we can be, we have everything we need, yet in so many instances we feel that we've fallen short and/or been shortchanged. How many times, in the course of a day, do we look at ourselves and say things like: "I don't like the way I look". "Why won't he/she look at me more lovingly"?  "Did I do something wrong'?  "Why are they treating me like this"?  "I need a new pair of shoes".  "When am I gonna heave enough to do what I need to do"? Any of this sound familiar? Of course it does cause all of us, eight to eighty, blind, crippled, or crazy are  going through it each and every day. Why? Because we keep forgetting we got the hook up.

What's the hook up? It's the means available that enable you to attain whatever you need or desire. You had the desire to read or listen to this blog, so if you're doing so then you had to have the means available to you..i.e. you got the hook-up. How does that theory apply in other areas? Let's revisit our initial suppositions.

If I don't like the way I'm looking, and I don't think the object of my attention is giving me any rhythm.  If I don't have the money to get my 'do' done, and if I can't make somebody like or even look at me if they don't want to, then where's the hook? You've got to go in to find it my friend. If we're made in the image and likeness of the Creator, then the beauty is there. We just have to keep in mind that we're the ones concentrating on the zit, or the wrinkle, or the seemingly unkempt hair do. Everybody else is checking out our total countenance, and if we're not feeling good about ourselves then that's the image others are seeing. Not getting any rhythm? Maybe the person you're trying to get it from ain't got none to give right now. You don't know what they're going through at the moment, and they might just be afraid to give of themselves for fear of of not getting anything back.

Did you do something wrong? Naw. You could have done things a little bit differently, but if there was no malicious intent, then it wasn't wrong. If there was, you need to check yourself and do the best you can not to repeat that particular behavior. Why are others treating you in that manner? Because that's where they are right now. They're not able to accept where you are right now, and a lot of times envy is their reason for not being able to do so. Their seemingly negative treatment is actually an opportunity for us to meet them where they are, check to see if their treatment of us is similar to the way we've treated another, and then being about correcting our own future behavior.

Need a new pair of shoes and still waiting for your ship to come in? How well have you taken care of the one pair you already have? When was the last time you dusted them off, let alone put a little cream or polish on them. And what are you doing to bring that ship into port. What about that change in your purse or pocket, that 20 or 30 cents you can put in a jar every night. Might take a minute but if you do it long enough, you can get them shoes. I know thrift stores might not be your thing, but they are a means for acquiring your desire.

I know when I was shooting dope I'd wake up early in the morning and tell myself, "I don't know how I'm gonna do it right now, but one thing I do know... I'm gon get high today", and most of the time... I did. That's the hook up ya'll, knowing who you are and what you got. From dope fiend to guidance counselor, from homeless to heaven bound, we all got what it takes to get it done. Maybe you're not pleased with who you are right now, but be excited about you know you're capable of becoming and work on that. You might not have all you want right now, but be happy that you got all you need to get it. Maybe it won't come when you want it, but you have to keep in mind that things only come to us when we're ready to receive them. Just keep getting up, knowing that some how some way "I'm gonna make it through this day cause I got the hook-up".

I'll holla...

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Real Women, What Ya'll Gon Do?

For those of you who know me and how I roll, this blog should come as no surprise. I wrote a blog week before last entitled 'Real Men, Where Ya'll At'? Being true to who I am, this is the sequel...'Real Women, What Ya'll Gon Do'?

Genesis 2:18 in the King James version of the Bible reads, 'And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him'. For me that statement implies that a real man cannot be of maximum benefit to others by himself. He needs a real woman who can meet them where he is. Not where she thinks he should be, or where she feels he's capable of being, but exactly where he is.

You see, most of us men are initially and primarily drawn to a woman by her physical attributes. Most women look at us from the perspective of what they feel we are capable of becoming. Not to say, in  either case, that other components don't factor in, but to point out that we approach our potential mate from different perspectives. Neither manner should be considered right or wrong. However ladies, if we're to 'meet' on common ground, you must take how we roll into consideration before expecting more from us than we’re capable of delivering. 

Now once  a woman sees a prospective mate, sizes him up, and makes a decision as to whether or not she willing to give him a chance, all this in a matter of seconds, the real challenge comes when she or the brother makes the move. In order for her to meet him where he's at, she must understand that to bat her eyes, hike her skirt, or put a little more wiggle in her walk is no longer necessary because he's already been enticed by her appearance. The key now is to allow her modesty to take charge, which does not mean playing hard to get but enabling him to see that not just anybody can get with her.

Later on, after some discretionary dating and some meaningful conversations, both of you are at a place where  things are getting serious. You haven't met the momma yet, but you're not sweating him, because you understand that he just ain't ready right now. You, as a woman, intuitively feel that the time is right. However, we men want to be sure that our willingness to commit is in conjunction with our mother believing that you're the one we should be committed to. Should we be so concerned with how our mother sees you? Maybe not, but after spending our childhood years with the woman who demonstrated an “I'm in charge because I know more about life than you do” attitude, we want to be able to prove to that woman (our mother) that we're right this time, so we don't want to make our move too soon.

So now, months later, the two of you have become an 'item', and a potentially life long commitment is on the horizon. The precarious question "Who you with?" needs an answer. If you've proactively researched and responded to his behavior, you should know now whether or not you're with a 'real man'. You should always keep in mind however, that what he does from time to time might not reflect that 'real man' status. His overall character might not transform, but at times your initial  concept of his potential might be substantially altered. Don't be alarmed however, because change is the only constant that exists. It's going to occur in him and in you, no matter what. So remain aware that your future happiness is contingent on how well you both adjust to the changes that will inevitably come about.

Being a 'real woman', you've already set the parameters for yourself that are conducive to  your mutual growth. You're still going to remain the modest and understanding woman he met for the very first time. You've committed to meeting him where he is, no matter where that might be, and you're humble and courageous enough to accept that what ever occurs between the two of you is not a matter of right or wrong, it's an opportunity to reassess who you both have become, and an opportune time for the reaching of a consensus on "Where do we go from here"? Always remember that being real mandates rigorous honesty, and if meeting him where he is, is not where you're willing to stay...let him know that, and give him ample time to change before you make a decision to go elsewhere.

Being real ain't easy, but it's simple. We complicate it by trying to please somebody else, in the hopes of making them all that we know they can be. That’s working from  a position of expectations that might not be met ya'll, and the more than likely result will be a big mess. Just do your best to be you, allow him the opportunity to be the best that he can be right now, and be willing to lend a hand when he falls short. The 'real men' are here somewhere 'real women'...what ya'll gon do when you either find them or realize you already have?

I'll holla... 

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Monday, December 15, 2014


About 10 years ago I saw the caption 'No God...No Peace on the front of a tee shirt , and 'Know God...Know Peace' on the back. This past Saturday I was invited to the 'Peace Summit of the Americas', held at a community center in Carson, CA, and sponsored by The Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light. A Korean War veteran  and religious leader, Mr. Man-hee Lee, founded the organization in 2009, in the hopes of uniting the people of the world, in spite of their differences, for the purpose of establishing planetary peace.

At the summit, Mr. Lee, through an interpreter, asserted that wars are caused by religious differences, and proposed that religious leaders come together to reread and reassess  their respective scriptures, then find and focus on the common thread that exists in them all, rather than the differences that bring about denominational conflicts. Because of the difficulty inherent in translating words verbatim from one language to another, I'm not going to discuss whether or not wars are caused by religious differences, but I will say that religions are used to justify them. In terms of religious leaders coming together, I totally agree and am grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of that first discussion to be held at a later date.. 

Getting back to the captions 'No God...No Peace /Know God...Know Peace', I must say that no truer words have ever been spoken in regard to our quest for harmony.  I also assert that God and Peace are one, and that their quest begins and subsists from within. We must first know God, not from someone else's interpretation, but from the one on one interaction we have with the ONE SUPREME BEING we choose to call______. Once we develop and live to maintain that relationship, peace is inevitable. From time to time we might lose our peace of mind, or that peaceful interaction we've had with others, but as long as we can re-establish our connection with the ONE... it's all good. Knowing however,  is not predicated on saying we know, it's based on and sustained by living like we do.

Christian ministers, Jewish rabbis, Islamic Imams and all manner of clergy must practice what we preach. If world peace is to become a reality, we cannot justify preaching from a 30 million dollar edifice, when we are not adamantly pursuing employment for our jobless parishioners. or not seeking equitable living conditions for inhabitants of the third world countries that Christian missionaries promised would experience peace on earth and good will toward men. We cannot condone supporting an Israeli government that is still doing to the Palestinians in Israel what second generation Americans did, and are still doing, to the native Americans in this country. There is no way we can accept that the Islamic belief in complete submission to God is being practiced, when the age-old atrocity of slave trading still exists among some who claim to be muslim. No matter what our denomination, we can claim to know God, but if we're not living like we know the One Who created us all, then we're only participating in a demonstration of the adage 'No Peace'. 

What we gon do? In every war ever staged, the majority of the soldiers were the youth. Back in the day the leaders fought alongside them, but today they lead from secretive and secure 'war rooms' located as far away from the conflict as possible. I say we participate in this quest for harmonic co-existence from the participatory perspective of..."I'm not going to just tell you how it's done, I'm going to show you." We can start by not allowing our own material assets to outweigh our spiritual condition. We can then refuse to gauge the merit of someone's message by the number of people who listen and adhere to it, rather than by how we have personally questioned  the God of our understanding as to their validity, and heard the response 'That is my child, in whom I am well pleased"

None of us is perfect, but we will 'Know Peace' when we are honestly seeking progress from the process of trying to 'Know God'. Each of us has got to go inside ya'll. We can only find peace in that place where 'GOD IS'...and then...and only then can we share that peace unconditionally. Not only with ourselves mind you, but with all with whom we come in contact. 

I'll holla...

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Real Men...Where Ya'll At

He's my rock!! My superman (after God of course) He loves me unconditionally even when I don't deserve it...

It's been a minute that I've been intending to write something of this nature, and I just want to thank LaToya and Ricky (cited caption) for providing an example of what I want to talk about. My congrats to those of us like Ricky, who are serious about being 'real men', and are not necessarily trying to act in the way that we think other people say we should. Our every day struggle to be real is influenced by the mores and values of a society that depicts manhood as a hard, independent, no-nonsense state of being. For too long we have been afraid to display our emotions, admit our shortcomings, or give in to what we see as the demands of our significant other. And now, with the advent of an acceptable open gender society, we certainly don't want 'ot seem 'gay'. So strive we must, it seems, to be the man who might not be real, but is nevertheless the man we believe others want us to be.

What, you might ask, is a real man. We'll let's start with what he is not. A real man is not fearful of being 'found out', because most of his time is spent being honest with those around him, and especially with himself . He is not concerned with how others see him, because he is too busy trying to improve by giving more and expecting less. He is not displaying the fabricated images of who he wants us to think he can be, but he's sharing his gifts with us so that we will know exactly who he is. A real man is not dressing and finessing for the express intent of pleasing others, he's doing it because that's how he rolls.

What a real man is consists of responsibility and accountability, compassion and empathy. These traits are not predicated on what he's supposed to do, but are driven by the LOVE he has for others.
He takes care of his children because he wants to and not because his baby's momma is 'sweatin' him to do so. He discusses with rather than hollas at his significant other, because he cherishes her input and support, and is not overly concerned with her submission. A real man wants his loved ones to know where he's going, so they don't have to be shocked when learning from another where's he's been. He cares about how others feel, and thereby directs his conversations and actions from the perspective of treating another in the way he would like to be treated. A real man does what he does without expectations because as LaToya asserts about her man..."He loves me unconditionally...even when I don't deserve it."

Is it easy being a 'real man'? 'Hell to the naw'. You see when we interact with others we have to deal with their issues, in addition to our own, and all at the same time. Then we are so prone to living from the bogus whims of outside influences, and the incessant whimpering of a damaged ego, that we sometimes we start acting like emotionally charged children rather than God-Inspired men. Our conceptions of what a man is did not start when we reached 21, but began with our first exposure to misconstrued information and societal propaganda. A 12 year old male once asked me if I had ever killed a man. When I inquired as to why, he said with conviction..."Cause you ain't a real man until you do." He'd never heard the real definition of manhood ya'll, and he lived in a media-charged society that promoted and glamorized violence. It's hard being a real man when all you have to work with is false information appearing real, but it's definitely doable if we have genuine examples at our disposal. It is my contention that we must become real, if we aren't already, because our future depends on showing our progeny what it looks like.

There's a basic formula for acquiring and maintaining this 'real man' status, and it's simply doing our best to remain strong and sensitive. Be strong in your conviction to be real, by simply being sensitive and responsive to the needs of those around you. That's it that's all ya'll... and Ricky and myself welcome you to the club of those who are giving it our best shot.

I'll holla...

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ferguson Missouri and Keepin Em Separated, U.S.A.

The outcome of the trial in Ferguson points out that we're still prone to reacting and are still not taking a proactive stance in addressing the inequity and disparity that continues to plague our collective well-being. In response to the anticipated reaction of the Ferguson residents, President Obama has expressed that they not throw bottles and smash car windows in retaliation to what some have deemed as an unfair verdict. My question is...Why not and/or what else can we do?

Everybody is responding in a way that is indicative of how they feel, and in most cases these feelings are race related. From Travon Martin, to OJ Simpson, and all the way back to the Emmett Till travesty, our judicial system concentrated on the racial aspect of  its findings and we responded to the outcome of those trials from an ethnic frame of reference. We are reacting to what comes across as a white vs black state of affairs, but what is really a world wide capitalistic endeavor to maintain the status quo. We should be formulating a means for correcting the economic disparity that is produced, promoted, and maintained by this money/power hungry faction, but instead our feelings are hurt and we are seeking recompense for the anxiety and stress we have experienced as a result of being involved, sometimes vicariously, in these seemingly race-based scenarios.

It's said that power corrupts, but even a semblance of power can destroy. The only real power is LOVE, and any power outside of that is a facade, facilitated by fear. We have given in to the illusionary power and succumbed to the underlying tactics of the so called powers that be, because we are reacting to the fear that stems from concepts that are not based on truth. The shared fear is one of not enough, and the dichotomous fears are on one side..."White folks don't want us to have nothing"... and on the other... "Black folks want to take what is ours." We thereby feed into and concentrate on this white vs black scenario, while unawaringly giving power to the entity that created it. The power of Love is thereby transmuted into a love for power fueled by the acquisition of more. We're focused on race and the ones we've given power to as a result, can concentrate on acquiring as much as they can as quickly as they can. The gradual eradication of righteousness, sadly enough, is the only inevitable outcome.

We must let the president know that we've heard his thoughts on what not to do, but we want answers to what he and our governmental representatives are going to do. We feel threatened and without power (LOVE), so what are ya'll administrative folk going to do with the power we've relinquished to you? We must all demonstrate our collective support, by communicating with each other and following through with an implementation of positive and proactive ideas into a collaborative reality. We must not allow our differences to override our commonality. We must stop looking at the small photograph depicting the fear of lack, and start observing and accepting, as real, the panoramic landscape of more than enough. Whatever is to be done, in order to be beneficial to all, must be done and accepted by all. That is the only way the Power (LOVE) can be shared by all the people, the result of which allows us to bask in its righteousness.

Idealistic as it may seem, keep in mind that we live in a world of limitless possibilities and we can still develop and implement a means for peaceful coexistence. As it stands, our only other choice is to continue to react and respond to situations that are designed to keep us apart. "What you gon do?"

I'll holla...

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