April 26, 2011

Brokenness can be scary, even off-putting. Broken people often get pushed to the outskirts, for fear that they will cut others with their broken shards of life experience; and yes, this often happens.

We are all broken, really; forever seeking that glue that can make us whole, and put us back together. Some people never find that glue, and continuously injure others with their broken pieces. Others have learned how to make sense of the broken pieces, putting them back together in a way that makes sense to them. Some even take it further, and use their experience to guide others in working their puzzles of broken pieces.

But we are all broken.

We should embrace that brokenness within, along with the broken people around us. Empathy is recognizing the brokenness in ourselves, and not being scared of the pain of getting cut by others’ broken shards during a loving embrace.

We are all broken.

But in sharing in our brokenness, we will find that we all have bits and pieces to the answers that others seek. One of my broken pieces may be that rascally missing puzzle piece that you have been looking for to complete your puzzle.

We are all broken. It is up to us what we do with the broken pieces in and around us.


Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

April 24, 2011

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

No On-the-Job Training…

April 19, 2011

Imagine with me for a moment, you got a new job…

It’s a pretty important position, and everything is riding on it. You’re not exactly sure what qualified you for this position, or what exactly you’ll even be doing, but you’re determined to give it your best shot. You show up to the first day of work and there is a note on your locker. It reads, “Hi there. You will be responsible to create different formulas, that will in turn create different outcomes, either resulting in success or failure. There will be no on-the-job training, but I am sure you have some skills that might help you with this position, you just have to figure out what they are, and how to use them. Good luck! Oh, and don’t fail! Be productive!”

You break out in a cold sweat, and look up from the note in absolute horror. A sage, older employee slams his locker shut and scoffs, “At least you got a note kid! I didn’t even get that on my first day!” His comment doesn’t really help at all, and only makes you feel more insecure. You put your lunch bag in the locker, and go to the main work room, an enormous warehouse-type, spacious workspace, with all different types of men, at all different types of work stations, doing all different types of random work.

You stand at the entrance, waiting for instruction; someone to guide you, tell you what to do, heck, even someone to reprimand you. Nothing. Eventually the sage old employee looks up from his work and says, “Kid, you’re work’s not going to do itself. Get at it!” Before you can ask what you’re even supposed to be doing, he looks back down, and carries on with his work. Suddenly a loud siren goes off and red lights begin to flash. All the employees look around in fear.

Leroy, a rough-looking guy wearing baggy clothes and thick gold chains, throws his hands in the air and shouts out, “Yeah, I did it again! What?! It’s not like I ever had anybody to show me what’s up!” Leroy stands on the table of his work station, takes off his shirt, and bangs his chest. Some of the employees cheer in Leroy’s support and praise, while others just continue working, trying to ignore him. All of the sudden, men dressed in all white uniforms come busting in the back entrance, armed with batons and tasers.

Leroy tries to make a break for it but one of the uniformed men shoots a taser that flies through the air and connects with Leroy’s back. He falls to the ground and convulses. The uniformed men stand over Leroy and hit him a few times with their batons. They handcuff him and drag him out of the work space. The flashing lights stop, and the siren turns off. Everyone continues to work. Now you are really scared.

You go up to a work station with a nice looking man, who seems to be hard at work. He sits in front of a computer, typing frantically. Every few seconds the computer makes a ding noise. Curious, you ask him, “What’s that noise?” Without looking at you, and continuing to type like a mad man, the man answers, “Success.” You stare at him in awe. Ding, ding, ding, DING! You ask him how he became so good and he smugly replies, “Oh I had an excellent mentor who was there from day one. He was the best in this field and taught me everything he knows. Now I’m the best.”

Surprised, you ask, “Wait! On-the-job training?”

He looks at you, completely annoyed, “Yep.”

“But I had a note that said there’s no on the job training.”

He rolls his eyes, “Not for you, I guess. It’s different for everyone.”

“But how am I supposed to know what to do?”

The man stops typing and sighs, “Don’t ask me! That’s your problem. But I suggest you start trying to figure it out, before they come for you!”

You look over at the red lights that had flashed not so long ago, and then down at the work space. Gulp. The table is filled with different tools. You pick one up, and the man shouts, “No! Not that one! You can’t use that!” You put it down quickly. You are completely overwhelmed, and it doesn’t get any better. And without any guidance, or help from your fellow employees, you begin to fumble your way around, trying to accomplish tasks that you are not fully sure how to do, or if you are even supposed to be doing them in the first place. It takes years and years for you to fall into a comfortable work flow, still never fully knowing if you are doing what you are supposed to, but always aware of your successes, and even more aware of your failures. That underlying insecurity never leaves.

That job would suck, right? It would be terrifying. I could not imagine it even being real.

Now imagine with me for a moment, a young boy coming into his teenage years, with no dad around, and no positive male role models in sight. This young boy basically has the same task as the person in my previous scenario, but this scenario is unfortunately way more real, for way too many young kids. What are we doing to ease their suffering?

L.A.S.E.R.S. – Manifesto

April 15, 2011

I love Lupe Fiasco. He’s one of my favorite MCs. I like him because he has managed to break out into the commercial rap game, without compromising his message and lyrics, though in many interviews about his latest release “Lasers” he complains about having to compromise because of the record label. Well, in that case, even his “compromised” album stands miles higher than everything else that’s out there.

There is no question he is one of the most conscious rappers in the commercial industry. Lupe’s lyrics speak for them self, but another aspect I appreciate about him is how much thought he puts into every aspect of his album. For instance, Lasers is actually an acronym that stands for, “Love Always Shines Everytime, Remember 2 Smile”, and before creating the album he developed a manifesto, with a projecting-guiding ethos. The manifesto is incredible to me, and I think it should be adopted by everyone, above and beyond the Lasers album. Have a read,

“To every man, woman & child… We want an end to the glamorization of negativity in the media. We want an end to status symbols dictating our worth as individuals. We want a meaningful and universal education system. We want substance in the place of popularity. We will not compromise who we are to be accepted by the crowd. We want the invisible walls that separate by wealth, race & class to be torn down. We want to think our own thoughts. We will be responsible for our environment. We want clarity & truth from our elected officials or they should move aside. We want love not lies. We want an end to all wars foreign & domestic violence. We want an end to the processed culture of exploitation, over-consumption & waste. We want knowledge, understanding & peace. We will not lose because we are not losers, we are lasers! Lasers are revolutionary. Lasers are the future.”

Little People, Big Universe…

April 6, 2011

Humans are so arrogant. We not only think everything revolves around us, but we also think we have all the answers, to everything. Before we get too caught up trying to simplify the most complex mysteries of the Universe into easy, cliché answers, maybe we should take a minute to see how small we actually are, in the grand scheme of things. This is truly spectacular.

What if I could formulate everything I’m feeling today into a beautiful blog?

April 4, 2011

That would be cool. But alas, I cannot.