What are You Building?

I know we talk and think a lot about building wealth, building our lives and securing our future. However, sometimes we forget to really check in with ourselves to find out why we are doing all of this. Is it because it is what we should be doing or is it because we are trying to, “keep up with the Joneses?”

Is the foundation on which we build our lives shaky or is it firm? Are we operating from a place of genuineness or jealousy and envy? These are questions that we don’t want to even think about let alone try to answer. But we must. We must, because once we start making progress and begin to see the manifestation of what we worked so hard for it is too late to go back to sure up the foundation, and we know what comes next:

Beetlejuice Falls Off Of Billboard GIF | Gfycat

Now, going back to the issue of building. Building our lives is important, but what that is, is going to be different from person to person. We cannot build off the energy, ideas or lived experiences of others, but from our own knowledge of who we are, what we can accomplish based on that and what we have to work with. This idea came to me literally as I was minding my business by minding someone else’s – a terrible human condition – and came across a bible scripture. Now the section that really caught my attention and took me off someone else’s business and onto my own, is Psalm 127: 1: Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it. From that verse I started wondering how many of us really think about what goes into the base, the foundation of our lives. When we make decisions that affect the rest of our lives do we think about why we are making those decisions and can we even be truly honest with ourselves about that. Are we building to be validated by others or are we building because we see ourselves as valid enough to operate from a place that is at the core of who we are?

Pray Your Own Prayer

I have come to realize that it makes no sense to see someone else and desire what they have. Take social media, we all know that what we see there is often times not real. The lives presented to us are not real, the situations are not real and the bodies often times are also not real. Yet, we fall into the trap of desiring what we see there. I was recently watching a YouTube video that pointed out that some of those popular fast fashion sites cater to a particular body type. Yet, you will still find women who buy those clothes to look like the models on the site. These same persons will then proceed to berate and discredit themselves because they do not look the same in the outfits that were never created for their body type.

It is the same in many areas of our lives. We may see a popular personality that spreads sunshine and roses. Who tell us to just be positive and pray real hard and one day your live too will come up smelling like roses. But guess what? It is okay if you find another path to happiness that does not mirror that person’s path. It is definitely okay, if you do not end up with the same results after seeming to follow in their footsteps, because you my dear, are not that person. You are not them and will never be. Secretly, There may be too many among us, who fall into the trap of living vicariously through those who seem to have reached the spot they one day want to occupy.

Some persons begin to think of all they can do to reach the same place as those they see as having succeeded. They get all the advice they can get, or, watch all the videos they can watch and seek out those experts who can give them what they don’t have. And yes some want to pray the same prayer/s that got those persons what they have. But here is the thing, you have to find your own way. You cannot encroach on some body else’s vision and plan for their life. You cannot go to the places they have been to or do the things they have done. You cannot pray that person’s prayer because it is specific to that person. You have to find your own way. Find what works for you and take the path that you can travel. You cannot pray Ciara’s prayer if you are [insert your name here].

Life is too short to be chasing someone else’s dream and trying to live someone else’s reality. Take a look at yourself, know yourself and love yourself enough to work on living a live suited for who your are, and not what you think you should be. Have dreams yes and work towards realizing them but make sure it is being done because and not in spite of who you are. We all need to be reminded of this for time to time. So pray your prayer but make sure it is your own unique prayer

Waiting Behind Walls

Hear me out for a minute. Sometimes we may feel we are being strong, resilient even defiant when we dig in our heels and refused to be moved. This calls to mind the African American spiritual song, “I Shall not be moved”, I shall not, I shall not be moved Just like a tree planted by the water I shall not be moved… I am sure it is meant to call to mind the strength of the individual to remain firm in the face of overwhelming obstacles. And while traditionally, it carries a positive message, let’s consider it another way.

Sometimes we have to move. Sometimes we have to uproot ourselves out of that water that has become infested by all manner of pollutants that threaten our true selves, our very lives. We cannot be rooted in places that offer no nourishment, that shrink us instead of making us tall, that compromise our potential instead of making us flourish. At that point we must move or be removed.

But, I wanted to go to the idea of walls. I have always found solace in hiding behind walls, after all aren’t they there to protect us? So we build walls to keep bad things out and the good in. Overtime we develop a false sense of security, we believe we are untouchable because we have the wall there to keep us safe. We start forgetting how bad things can get and we sometimes forget to recognize those things that are used to deceive us, we forget the evil and what it looks like and the fact that it can take many shapes and sizes. However, walls are never impenetrable, they can be breached. And when they are, will we be ready for the consequences?

How far can we go to have the lives we want for ourselves, in a space with innumerable pockets of potential disasters? This is not an easy question to answer and certainly cannot be answered by thinking or philosophizing about it, but by doing, taking action. However, there is one thing that I see as sure, sitting behind those walls and waiting things out makes us sitting ducks for those pockets that can explode and destroy those walls and breach those imaginary bubbles.

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance

Should I sit or stand
mi caah bother
speak well
look well
be well
you are your own master.
got to stay in the race.
to be a tough rock or a tender grass
"oh what a rat race, yeah!"

"Got to be true to myself" - 
but be like everyone else. yes?
Got to get up 
when told
so people will see
that I am good at taking orders.
I will be free but maybe...
maybe to much freedom is dangerous?

I must cry!
I must scream!
I must set the place on fire!
I must whisper or whimper
Spit my Seething displeasure
vomit up howling disappointments.
Be calm and say nothing - 
remain respectful
all the time...

I am hurt
I am a monster
beautifully made
blinded by a light
that makes me see

regurgitated slugs hang suspended
mouth ready to devour
spare a prayer...

scabs at all stages
across picket lines...

incandescent beauty
illuminates Gossamer
A web of lies
like a butterfly's fragile wings.

"Oh what tangled webs we weave"
until we have no silks to hypnotize
but regrets borne from grieve.

Look Deeper

For someone who has introverted tendencies living in the world today can be so challenging. What matters to most are first impressions, what people are most critical of is the outward appearance. Not everyone is born an introvert. There are certain traumas in life that can create a figure that is isolating and distant. One who carries little warm on first glance and who seems to repel the brightest rays of sunshine. But looks are deceiving.

Sometimes, we have to look deeper at those seemingly cold persons, we have to take a second glance and stare. We may even have to get into action and remove the veil they are hiding behind to uncover their warmth and their beauty. However, you have to be willing to look and many persons, sadly, do not want to take the time to look. As a result of this, we miss those wonderful experiences we could have had with those persons. Instead we leave them having assumed that they were never worth our time anyway, “stuck up much!” But did we really take the time to form an accurate impression of that person? Did we really give them a chance to thaw?

We are easily permitted to be quick to judge and slow to show grace, we do everything at lightening speed, so why not form an opinion of someone the same way? The answer, it can be dangerous. It can be dangerous when we have decided that someone is unequivocally the way we have perceived them to be. We need to be kind and not and not the #bekind which has been seriously misused by some. But truly authentically being kind to each other and that means being willing to give someone a chance and the time to show their true selves. I think especially of this today, Women’s Day. Some women are too willing to tear other women down in order to build themselves up, to judge on sight and to condemn based on prejudices. Instead what we need is to take a closer look to see that there are threads of connection that pull us together that tear us a part. Do not be naïve, but also do not become harden by life experiences. When we take the time to look closer at someone we maybe helping them to remove the mask that has silenced them and one that has hidden them from the world.

The Inconvenience of Convenience

It’s easy to sit back and let others take charge. You may not be the type who likes to appear aggressive or forward. You are not the type to thrive by being uncomfortable. Or, simply when someone else does the things you find unpleasant it makes your life easier. However, there are many dangers lurking just around the corner, when you get too laid back. Many dangers when you decide to allow others to make decisions about what you eat, what you wear, who you like or don’t like, what you do, and what you think. We think our lives are easy because everything is at our finger tips, but we do not know that we have to pay a price for it and sometimes that price is the loss of our voice and the stunting of our potentials.

Convenience can be the a gilded cage for many of us, who like the bird, must live with permanently clipped wings never knowing the joys of soaring high. We are fed information on a need to know basis and while we think we are living meaningful lives we do not realize that things have been constructed in such a way that we do not come to the truth of how little we truly experience life. Consider someone who does not have to worry about how to sustain themselves, cook, wash, clean, pay bills, or make any hard decisions about their lives. They seem to just have everything handed to them, they glide through live. However, that person is imprisoned by his ignorance of what life is about and if they are removed from their cage they cannot thrive. Others decide for them and determine what happiness should be, what the truth is and how much they can test the limits of their strength. Of course many make this choice because they think t is easy, better and safer. But as many of us know easier does not always mean better.

Consider convenience food. We all love them because they are so easy, in no time at all, presto! We have food! However, they come with their own set of problems. They have consequences for our health both young and old. They can lead to developmental issues for children, and lead to diseases such as diabetes, but we love them and we are encouraged to consume them, and we do not knowing the full story of their impact later in life. So, it is easy to be led, to be told and be inspired because it is all convenient but we lose the art of being free thinking and being creative, to make new discoveries and experience different ways of being and experiencing life. We think we are excited about things but we may not be because everything has been pre-packaged and shipped to us for our convenience. The pandemic has made it even harder for us to explore beyond what we are fed on social media. We spend so much time consuming truths that have been prepared to engage us, we depend on them to make us happy, laugh and find meaning in life and rely less on out tenacity and natural zest for live. We forget the steps we would have taken beyond those monitors that would enable us have experiences and not just view them though a glass pane. There is no longer the thrill of realizing that our efforts can yield pleasant surprises because we have forgotten what it feels like to enjoy the journey, of realizing that inconveniences hold many precious life gems that can enrich our lives. Instead we are bombarded with microwavable experiences filled with bland and unappetizing mush that has been mass produced for our enjoyment. And we are told that is what we like, and so we consume it with enthusiastic chagrin.

As a teacher of literature I see the harm of convenience in the attitudes of my students, who do not want to take the time to enjoy the experience that a novel can give. Instead, they want to pass the exam, but they do not want to engage with the work. So, they find all the summaries and videos they can and miss many live lessons and insights on human nature. They miss the opportunity to have their humanity challenged and if compromised, restored. Many persons, just like my students, say they do not have the time nor the patience to try, the courage to face challenges nor to explore beyond their predetermined ideas of what people are and what the world is like. We don’t want to struggle, we don’t want to fail, so we bury our heads in the sand, accept that this is all we know and become slaves to conveniences, a life created for us with much of our input.

Maybe it is that some do not want to enjoy the journey but the destination. Maybe it is that persons’ lives have been enriched by the modern conveniences available to many today. And yes, it is true that not all persons can and do have access to all those modern conveniences. But, where we may realize that we have become dependent on conveniences not vital to living, there is nothing wrong in questioning or being alert to how we can be lulled into inactivity by the pull of convenience.

Pretty Lies, Ugly Truths, You Choose.

We all care about he aesthetics of things. Though we are often told that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”, we all like to be surrounded by things we and society deem beautiful, even lies. In many instances we have allowed ourselves to be led, to see false narratives as the truth, untainted, because it pleases “me” to do so. We are quick to see beauty in things that have been made to look so, an optical illusion that hides many many ugly truths. The truth is too real and too painful for too many and so many are willing to cover it, stifle it or kill it in order to live lives of lies. We accept the unspoken rule that some things should never be spoken because they are unpleasant and too many turn away from the ugliness right in front of us to stare at mirages that spring from our imagination.

Lies become beautiful, seemingly harmless nuggets that attract the sensibilities and lull us into a false and piteous sense of security. You see lies hold prominence because so many want to be convinced of them, they want to hold tight to them and so they are whispered time and time again until they are in grained in many psyches. However, they are fools gold that rust easily when correctly challenged but many of us are not brave enough to look the ugly truth in the eyes – many of us would not survive such exposure. This of course does not stop many from flirting with those lies, because they are so tempting, many reflecting and aligning with many of our desires.

So, on one tables lies a buffet of tempestuous lies, disguised as very tempting morsels that will delight the palette and beside this are only the bitter pills of truth that may hurt and cause acid reflux; Which will you choose. Whether we spread them or we believe them sometimes lies are hard to reject because they have become the basis for how we exist in this world. Each day, each lie that we accept makes it less likely for us to understand how far we have sung in a web we may have helped weave to trap ourselves in. But, we must be willing to finally break free from that web, to be honest enough to see things for what they are and not what we always wished them to be. “The truth will set us free” they say. There is nothing more freeing than not living within the bounds of pretentious smiles and fake interests. From returning the cult membership of being on trend with the lies we tell ourselves because we want to fit in somehow.

Now, what will you choose? Will you choose to embrace those pretty lies that may lead to more complications down the road – but not right now of course – or, truths that paint a realistic picture with all the gore and grime that lies never truly erase, but instead covers for consumption later, much later? Each day we have a choice to make, to go along to get along or be the truthsayer and disrupt those false narratives.