As a child, you always know that one day, you want to hit a game winning shot. You’re afraid because you’ve seen the look of defeat of those who have failed. The agony of missing out on an opportunity is deflating and the mere thought of the alternate possible outcome is even more painful as you know that you must bare the albatross of dreams deferred.
At the same time, you’re dreams still live as you grow up seeing people, even friends, enjoy their shining moments as their title changes from contender to champion. You ask for advice on you can make your dream come true. As you would imagine, they all tell you that you just have to practice and IF the opportunity presents itself, BE PREPARED.
Season after season, opportunities are missed and your spirit begins to break. You start skipping practice, not giving 100% in games, and more importantly, deep down inside, you start to believe you’ll never make it…
Life goes on and after some much needed motivation and support, you get back in the gym. You start giving your all in practice and 110% in the game. You start to regain your shot, your skills, AND your confidence. With not many games left, you know that you have to take any opportunity that you can.
It’s the championship game and your team is down by 2. You’ve played hard all game and the competition is fierce. They are throwing things at you that you have never seen and you are seeing your game actually improve from the beginning of the game to now.
There are 7 seconds left on the clock. You’re palms are sweaty and you’re nervous because this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting on. As you bring the ball up court, you daydream of this moment where you hear everyone chanting your name. “Shoot it! Shoot it!” they exclaim as you hoist up your shot. You snap back to reality only to hear familiar voices saying “Don’t do it! Pass! Pass!”. You look into the crowd with confusion as you are now unsure of what to do. While you feel comfortable with the amount of preparation you have put in, you’re confidence is somewhat shaken as your fan club continues to chant.
You lay in bed that night thinking about the shot that could’ve taken. Wondering if you should’ve taken it. Then you think about the cheers and jeers and ask yourself, “why would the people closest to me not want me to shoot?”
After seconds, minutes, and hours of tossing and turning…pouting and pondering, it finally dawns on you…
…maybe they thought you’d just miss anyways…
Can This Be Life…Part 1
Today is our Anniversary, not the first and not the last,
In all these years and tears of joy, time seems not to pass.
As we celebrate the time we’ve shared, I always stop and think,
How all of this could have never been, at just one eye’s blink.
Today is our Wedding Day; not just yours but mine as well,
With family and friends gathered together, we wish our old selves farewell.
Candles and rings symbolize the union that we have made,
From here on out, no more lonely nights, just beautiful days in the shade.
Today is much different from any before and any that come after this,
Because on this day, I proposed to you and sealed it with a kiss.
From the moment I met you, I knew my life had changed,
I vowed to marry my friend, my love, through clear skies or stormy rain.
Today is the day of our first date, how nervous you must have been,
While getting dressed and doing hair, imagining the journey you would begin.
We were friends first, which is always best; this was no blind date,
I do not believe in love at first site but at one glance I saw my soul mate.
Today is the day that we first met, nothing fancy or special at all,
You were a friend of a friend, what else should you have been called.
Beautiful, smart, and down to earth, you caught my eye – but it was just that,
But how Amazing it is when you’re not looking for something, what God will put in your lap.
Today…oh today…it feels like any other,
You don’t know me, I don’t know you. We’re strangers to each other.
Today is the day we never met, so not knowing you shouldn’t matter,
But it makes sense that my heart should break…into pieces…for it to just shatter.
Today is the day that I wrote this note, thinking of how we always joked,
About not being able to live without each other: those words we always spoke.
But now I see that living without you is different from what I thought,
Being alive and living without you, is like being a plant in a drought.
Because that rose or ivy plant knows what it needs to survive,
Walking this Earth without you, love, is existing…not being alive.
I woke up this morning, this day in July, thinking of my future wife,
Knowing that I’ll have to live without you, I wonder…”Can This be Life?”
OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Invictus by William Ernest Henley
Now, some of you may be familiar with arguably William Ernest Henley’s most popular work, Invictus. This poem was written as Henley lied on his death bed. I’m not sure if you could feel the conviction that he wrote in every word but the meaning of it resonates in my soul for many reasons. For one, William Ernest Henley was not a man who fell on hard times. He was not some rich guy who went broke or some star athlete who lost a step. “Out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole. I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.” He was born in 1849 and as a child battled tuberculosis.
Throughout his whole life he met obstacle after obstacle which came with no warning. Yet, in his darkest hour, this physically crippled man was thankful
“Under the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not wince nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance, my head is bloody but unbowed.” Throughout his life, as despair turned to sorrow, and sorrow turned to misery, he understood that his situation(s) would not get better if he did not approach each day with the outlook that today is mine, there is no tomorrow. Can you imagine!? Some nerve! To live each day to the fullest!? Foolishness, of course. Surely I can finish that assignment tomorrow, surely that project update can be done tomorrow…or maybe more realistic…surely I can call my mom back tomorrow, surely I can send that thank you card tomorrow…surely I can say I love you tomorrow???
“Beyond this place of wrath of tears looms but the horror of the shade. And yet the menace of the years, finds and finds me unafraid.” The key to life is to treat each day as its own day. In this world…this cruel world…we have seen in our short lives enough pain to fill a lifetime yet it is important that we do not become merely a product of our environment but instead become a catalyst to it. It is my job and your job to be nothing less than amazing…nothing shy of influential…everything except unafraid.
“It matters not how straight the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Has it become so rare to be extraordinary that we only see it on television and old books? Has it become common place to settle for what life is handing us instead of demanding what it has to offer? Is being bold and daring the new out of the norm?
I implore you to, everyday, strive for greatness in everything that you do. I’m sure I saw this on some bumper sticker or something but I think its kind of catchy. “To give anything less than 100% is to sacrifice the gift.” Be it a sales rep, a marketing director, a police officer, a mother, a father, a son, a friend…do all that you can because in the end, that is all that will matter. I have always been a proponent to the concept that God makes people equally unequalbecause my talents may be your weaknesses and your talents may be my weaknesses but the ONE thing that we all have in common is our WILL. The intangible desire to succeed…to accomplish.
So with all that said, on your next day…better yet, from RIGHT NOW…take hold of the reigns of your life! As I close, I leave you with a line from one of my favorite poems…”If you can fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run, yours is the earth and all that is in it, and which is more you’ll be a man my son.” The poem“If” by Rudyard Kipling is full of statements that if you digest it (yes, digest), you will find is very applicable to some part of your life. What I gather the most from this poem, specifically that line, is that if we stop viewing life as one long minute but instead think of it as 60 individual seconds, your impact…our impact will be more lasting, more memorable, and most importantly…more fulfilling.
The “C” word….
Can’t you see that I’m the one who understands you?
Been here all along so why can’t you see?
You belong with me
Have you ever thought just maybe
You belong with me
You belong with me
- Taylor Swift
Cheesy intro but hear me out…
As human beings, there are somethings that we can’t fight. One of those things is complacency. As much as those of us who claim to be ambitious or my personal favorite, DRIVEN, we must admit that that desire doesn’t exist in ALL aspects of our lives. The ability to become merely “comfortable” is very visible in some aspects of society.
Think of your hometown. How many different Mayors did you have while you lived there? Odds are that you didn’t have too many. Statistics show, the incumbent in Mayoral races wins over 90% of the time! That is astounding! You’re telling me that every 2-4 years this guy (or gal) put on stellar campaign after campaign with new and intriguing propaganda? Surely not. People simply decide that things, and people, are doing “fine”.
Settling for “fine” is something that we do almost subconsciously these days. Whether we are talking about business or relationships, “good enough” is keeping people in bad partnerships. Just as people say that “good” is the enemy of “great”, complacency is the enemy of potential. Potential is one of those things that doesn’t have any actual value until you’ve reached it (kind of like an unvested 401K).
The idea for this blog came while I was on a business trip. I was visiting a customer and as they told me that I was not their primary source, I begin to sell myself on why I should be. Of course, my customer gave their reasons for sticking with their current supplier: “They’ve been there whenever I needed them” “We’ve been working together so long” yadda yadda yadda…but that’s expected, right? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for loyalty in a relationship but sometimes there comes a time when you realize that people are put in your life for a reason…and sometimes, it may only be for a season. As cliche as it sounds, we try to hold on to STUFF and PEOPLE even when we realize we’re not still growing WITH in that partnership. Whether we are talking about business or pleasure, it is important to assess your value. Understanding your worth is one of the most common factors in people getting complacent.
Decisions are life changing and we each have to deal with them…just thought I’d throw in my 2 cents. It’s food for thought...
Flash forward to some undetermined point in my life, or yours. A familiar voice greets a congregation of our peers. “We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of a great human being, a parent, a good friend, but most memorably…a real person.” The words to follow that sentence are the most important words of your life. Think about it. Have you ever really stopped to think about it: The Legacy that you will leave behind? I do. I do a lot actually. But then again, don’t we all? When you say, “I’m going to have that quote or ETA back to you before lunch”, or when we promise to attend an event but on the night of decide, “they won’t notice that I’m not there,” we’re building our legacy. We’re building our obituary.
As career-men and women, we all know the most important document that we will ever write: our resume! Resume’s are so important that some colleges and universities have made semester long courses completely dedicated to resume writing and resume building. By why is it so important? That answer is simple. A resume is a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience. When a potential employer is considering you as a candidate, they need a way to easily level the playing field while considering the strengths and weaknesses of all applicants. As we strive to be “The person” who gets hired, we think about all of the potential positives that someone could consider. As a Freshman in college, your resume may contain activities like Beta club, Homecoming Committee, etc…but if you look at the resume of a person moving from their 4th job to their 5th and is in the mid 30’s, you would naturally expect to see less activities like that.
So I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I know you’re sitting there wondering,” what is the biggest difference between a resume and an obituary (if you weren’t thinking it before, you probably are now)?” The biggest difference is WHO sees each.
As you craft your resume, you build it to put your best foot forward. The only people that see it are the people you send it too. Point. Blank. Period. You, though not personally written by you, craft your obituary, crafted by you day-by-day, hour by hour…minute…by minute. When you think of an obituary, you think of the physical article that is printed in a newspaper but when your friends, and my friends think of me, long after we are gone, they won’t think of those 220 characters in the city newspaper. They’ll think of the time that you loaned them money from your 401k to help them pay they mortgage after a layoff, or the big party that you skipped out on, after talking about it all year long, just to pick them when they got a flat tire 2 hours from home. But these memories won’t always be positive…some may think of the time that you abandoned them when they needed help most. See, that’s the thing about your life…your legacy…YOUR OBITUARY! – It will be different for each person that you touch and each person that you come into contact with.
Irish author Brendan Behan said, “there is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.” He understands that the mark that you leave will not always be a pleasant one but at the end of the day, when your closest friends and most common acquaintances weigh the pros and cons of having been a part of you life, which side of the scale will tilt? What are you doing….to build your obituary?
Chivalry: “She Got Her Own”
“I love her ‘cause she got her own
She don’t need mine, so she leave mine alone
There ain’t nothin’ that’s more sexy
Than a girl that want, but don’t need me
Young independent, yeah, she work hard
But you can tell from the way that she walk
She don’t slow down ‘cause she ain’t got time
To be complaining, shawty gon’ shine
She don’t expect nothin’ from no guy
She plays aggressive, but she’s still shy
But you never know her softer side
By lookin’ in her eyes
Knowing she can do for herself
Makes me wanna give her my world
Only kinda girl I want
Independent queen workin’ for her throne”
-Jamie Foxx ft. Ne-Yo
Now I know that as a man, we like to think that we need to be the rock, the support, AND the bank. The thing is that we CAN be the first two without being the third one. The key to this is for a male to understand his role in both a relationship (be it boyfriend or husband) as well as his role in a household.
So let’s do some math, shall we:
Hair & Nails Done: $160
Gas in HER car: $35
Going out and shopping money: $200
Overdrawing your account to prove a point: Priceless + $35 NSF Fee
Guys, we all know we have damn near overdrawn our bank accounts to look like the “Balla” for our lady. Its not that we like being broke or anything but we like being able to DISPLAY our ability to support someone. We think its MANLY to always pay for dinner, always pay for the movie, always pay for EVERYTHING…and to be honest, some chicks like that [DISCLAIMER: If you are one of those girls, you can stop reading now]. But what I am seeing more and more in my short 23 years on this Earth is that women like having the ability to pay for things from time to time. I swear, if I had a nickel for every time I heard something like, “Man, can you believe Crystal tried to pull her purse out at dinner?” - I would be moderately well-off financially.
A friend of mine was reading the July 2009 issue of ESSENCE the other day and she was telling me that a guy (occupation: Photographer) said plainly that when African American women are the breadwinners in a relationship, they try to take charge of all the decisions that would usually be left up to a man (not quite sure what those are but I digress) and he in turn feels emasculated…so he doesn’t bother dating a female who makes more than him. Interestingly enough, 85% of women surveyed said that they would date a man that makes less money. So what does all this mean?
Simply put: Some men find it easier to use their income as a reason to be a leader in their household. In a time when African American women are attending college at a higher rate than their male counterparts, it is natural to see that women will be making more money today than they were 30 years ago. As men, we need to understand that HER having HER OWN is not only necessary but inevitable. The fact of the matter is that you’ve found a GOOD woman when she can can think for herself, care for herself, AND support herself.
So Gentlemen…if you take nothing from this post, take this…Chivalry is not dead, it just evolved. For centuries, we’ve always thought that Chivalry and Equality could not co-exist but chivalry seems to be more alive today than ever. People everywhere are reevaluating the things that are important in their lives, and they’re rediscovering the virtues that the code of chivalry stands for — hope, kindness, respect, integrity and courage. They are discovering that they can still be inspired by a hero, and, best of all, they’re realizing that when chivalry and equality stand side-by-side.