If tomorrow is not promised and life offers no guarantees, why do we live our lives as if we’ve got time? One of my favorite memes floating around social media is the Buddha quote below:
We worry about things over which we have no control yet don’t act on the things we can control. We worry about the past. We worry about what others think. We even teach our children to worry because we are worried that they do not worry enough.
An uncle who was deeply loved by our family is being laid to rest today. The first thing I read after waking was a poem my cousin wrote in response. It reminded me to be grateful for everything our elders gave us, that I would not be who I am without them. Last night I performed at the Blue Note Jazz Festival with master pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs and the last song in the set was entitled “Thank You”. Lines from the first verse of the song I wrote with my creative partner –
inner-light started to flicker/skin got thicker/soul got richer/now I see the picture/down but not out/quiet tears followed by shouts/through screams streams/visualizing new scenes/new ways, new means/manifesting old dreams/Never thought that right could feel so wrong/Never thought that these lessons would keep comin’ on/Never thought that I would even live this long/Never thought that I could ever be this strong
I parked at a meter last night so I had to get up out and early to avoid getting a ticket. After getting gas, I found myself at a Caribbean food spot on President Street and Utica Ave ordering callaloo, boiled green banana and white yam. It’s quite different from the grits, eggs and bacon of my childhood and what I might have eaten at Uncle Maurice and Aunt Norma’s home. It’s a reflection of not only where I live but of where I have been. From the Bay Area to visiting 40 countries, living 12 years in D.C. and in July 14 years in New York minus the one year I spent in Philadelphia. My comfort food breakfast provided the comfort I needed as I sit in my room wondering if I should have gone home for the services.
Then I remember that thing about time–not having much of it, not wanting to waste anymore of it on worry and sadness. I am right where I am supposed to be. I think about poets Sekou Sundiata, Jayne Cortez, Amiri Baraka and Maya Angelou. These were lives lived so fully that their words, their legacies will breathe life for many years to come. My guiding thought today: What are you creating, completing, giving birth to that will breathe life long after you have gone?
It’s way too easy to make proclamations about living fearlessly while we’re in the midst of grieving the loss of a loved one who has died, but I am crystal clear about what my life shall represent from this day going forward. I’ve had a breakthrough in gratitude and on the subject of living. It’s the kind of shift that will serve as a filter for bullshit- my own and that of those around me. It’s that keep-it-100 whether anyone is looking or not kind of shift.
Loving fiercely was a commitment I made for 2014. Getting over myself and this habit of perfectionism, worrying what others think, and not being able to say no were also a part of my new personal manifesto. I am fronting less in my relationships and allowing others the space to be uncomfortable as they adjust to my new vulnerability skills. My friends and loved ones understand that when I grow, “we” grow –together. Oh, our lives are so much richer because of it. Now, we have more energy for things that really matter.
The biggest reminder I’ve gotten from recent events is that the only moment we really have is this one right here. It’s a reminder to hold your loved ones tight then release and to not fear loving. I am focused on breathing deeply while inhaling love and exhaling fear, resentment and worry. List your top five dreams. Then go for it. Stop making excuses for why you cannot lose the weight, cannot start the business, cannot take the classes, cannot have the kind of relationship that you want. Do the work. Begin with the inner-work and get into action. Once we surrender and get out of our own way we often realize that the only real problem is that we think we have time.