Monday, May 9, 2011
Nothing Is A Given - I Gotta Get Mine
A few weeks ago when I visited Atlanta there seemed to be a central, underlying message fighting to be transmitted. It kept coming at me from different angles, yet I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Until I did.
I stayed at my father's home and although my father has been out there for over 10 years, the Brooklyn in him is still as evident as the day he left. They can take the boy out of Brooklyn...you know the rest. The house is in a small town on the outskirts of Atlanta, but if I didn't know any better I'd think I was on Marcy and Myrtle somewhere. One morning I 'd woken up at about quarter to ten. My father was on his way out for the day and he called me into his room. The exchange went something like this:
Daddy: I'm about to head out. You want that thang?
Me: Nah I'm good.
*He pulls the thing out* (Disclaimer: it's official and registered...I mean, ya never know)
Daddy: You know how to use it?
Me: Does it have a safety on it?
Daddy: Do YOU know how to use it?!
(If by now, you haven't figured out what "that thang" is, I can't help you.)
He then launches into a full blown tutorial. Keep in mind that I'd been up for less than 10 minutes. He goes about his day, no doubt leaving me with the thing. I laugh to myself and call up a few of my friends to joke about how crazy my father is. When he comes back home I rag on him, and tell him as much. He gives me a "girl you so naive", look and proceeds to pull up an app on his phone with all the registered sex offenders, in his neighborhood alone. He goes on to tell me about a time he was caught sleepin', that was the only lesson he needed to stay on point.
I still give him grief about it, but when I had a quiet moment to myself, I remembered how I always go in on people for sleepin'. Sleepin' meaning, off your guard. Being on point is always essential. One moment is all it takes to go from good to bad, or bad to worse. I'm thinking, This is a nice neighborhood, I'm chillin'. Who goes that hard? But the real question is, what happens to those that don't go that hard? Being in a nice neighborhood and being safe are not one in the same. Being safe is not a given.
The same weekend, I was there for a wedding. Let's just say I haven't seen "Jumping The Broom" yet, but it was probably pretty similar. Warring mothers, blended families, cha cha slides, cupid shuffles, and what has become normal...family disfunction. Again, displaying shades of my naivete, I'd hoped this would be a weekend where love would prevail. We'd be all barefoot from sore dancing feet, and feeling nice off the spirits by night's end. I figured that it was a given that such a momentous occasion would be nothing but a good time. Truth be told, we had a fantastic time but I guess haven't learned as much as I thought regarding where assuming will get you. That's when it hit me...
Expectations will always get you somewhere you aint got no business, quite frankly. A few months ago, I'd had a conversation with a girlfriend about the expectations we put on men. The weekend taught me that it isn't just about men, but people and life in general. Great expectations can often lead to grave disappointment. I could argue that to expect, is to take yourself and your ability to affect an outcome, out of the equation. That's the first mistake.
Clearly, I like to write my own stories. When the words start going off the lines, I'm in charge of how fast I realign them. The lesson was so great, that I thought about how it applied to the rest of my life. Success, happiness, good fortune, - I could go on - aren't givens. They're rewards for what we put in. We all need help, true. But what we want, and how hard we're willing to work for it starts with us. It may seem crazy how I got all of this initially from my G'd up father, but didn't you hear me? I take my lessons and whatever else I want anywhere I can get 'em! Nothing is a given.
What are your thoughts? Are some things a given? Should they be?