Category: life

The Eternal Optimist + The Capitalist

america, life, thinkpiece August 23, 2020

Once upon a time, a Black man lived in America.

Originally from a ‘small island’ in the Caribbean, he was in awe at the wealth of opportunities up for grabs in the new country he made his home.

He found himself in the concrete jungle of New York City, which excited him to no end; the idea of working on Wall Street put more life in him than God ever could, but he settled for medicine. He enrolled in a two-year Physician’s Assistant program at Touro College in New York, and worked as a security guard and taxi driver to put himself through school. He had guns held in his face on more than one occasion, but he never folded.

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Sans sufficient emotional support, he tried to be everything he could be, for himself. He seldom made it to class, but in the end, he got his degree, and immediately got to work, as he always had; Touro College, on the other hand, changed its rules on attendance requirements immediately following his graduation. He worked hard, so much so, it left him with little time to think about anything else in his life, but he always made it to the gym, and on Sundays, to the parkway with his little girl.

He breathed life into his community by seeing anywhere from 40 to 80 patients a day,  six times a week, until recently, when he scaled back his schedule to five days a week. He worries when the government cuts Medicare and Medicaid because he knows it means life or death for some of his patients. He has cared for the ill, trans, and the deserving from Rikers Island, New York, down to Albemarle, North Carolina. He truly cares about people’s wellbeing, whether they’re his patients, or someone he’s just crossing paths with; I had seen him do this throughout my life, but his latest, un-billed diagnosis happened at the gym, pre-COVID, when he urged a man working out next to him to get checked for sleep apnea, which he did, and confirmed for him that he had it. Currently, he weans addicts off of opiates, among other things; all in all, his life revolves around saving lives. Every. Single. Day.

The man I speak of is my dad: the eternal optimist, and the capitalist.

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…And, perhaps, the person I am most similar to–sometimes, to both of our detriment. Fortunately, he was the first person to teach me about mindfulness, the value of energy, and the freedom that can come with detachment. He was the first person to sit down with me, an 8 year old, at the time, and openly contemplate God’s womanhood; in fact, he’s the only man who has ever posed the question to me. He was the first person to teach me about the erasure of ancient African deities and belief systems. He was the first person to encourage me to question ‘what if?’ again and again, and yet, he is unable to believe in anything other than the system that wears him down, keeps his beloved patients sick, and begs his children to sell their souls.

I’m asking him, ‘why?’ very often, pointing to the system’s brutality, its intrinsic racism, and its false promises. But, my father’s opinion won’t budge, and luckily, neither will mine: this system is killing us, and only we can save ourselves. Reform is a bandaid that we can only wear for so long, and even then, we are lacking enough public servants in positions of power to make the kind of reforms that we so desperately need.

The writing is on the wall: capitalism is failing us; only our imaginativeness and resilience can save us. I mean, seriously, if we can ask, ‘what if?’ in regard to nearly everything else in this life, why is it so hard for us to begin to ask ourselves,

“Is Capitalism the Best Option for All?”

25 Things I Learned Before My 25th Birthday

events, happiness, life, love, me August 9, 2020

As of yesterday, I am twenty-five years old.

It wasn’t a particularly Earth-shattering event, in fact, I’m currently waking up in the same bedroom I was dreaming in, crying in, and generally, being bratty as fuck in from age 10 to 18 . It has been a cool 7 years since I’ve experienced the stillness (and mania) that comes with this long of a stay at your childhood home (but I am enjoying the perks, like the six-layer, rainbow, explosion cake that my mom made me.)

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And with that comes a lot of time to reflect on how I’ve spent my life, where I’m at, and where I’m heading.

Here are 25 things I’ve learned about life:

  1. Treat yourself like an asset with appreciating value. You are your longest relationship, so treat yourself kindly for the long haul! Furthermore, not treating yourself this way just increases the likelihood that others also won’t show you the respect you deserve.
  2. Trust in the divine, and your angels. No matter what that divine looks like for you, they’ll never lead you astray. My God is a faceless, nameless God that I believe in without books, or any other rhyme, or reason; my faith has been tested on several occasions, and I’m happy to know that my God is very much so walking with me through this life.
  3. Cut all the bullshit, and expeditiously! Call yourself on your own crap (limiting beliefs, biases, and unhelpful habits), cut out fake friends, lousy partners, and unsupportive family. You cannot reform anyone’s hateration other than your own, so when you see that someone’s heart isn’t in a place that feels good to you, leave, and expeditiously!
  4. What’s in your head and what’s in your heart will always take you farther than what’s in your bank account.
  5. Celebrate who you are–especially if you’re seen as “other” within your community. Your mind, your heart, and your vision are very needed in this world.
  6. Don’t second guess yourself, and don’t let anyone make you feel like you should start doing so.
  7. Set BIG (and sometimes, seemingly unrealistic) goals; go for what your heart truly wants–it always knows.
  8. ….THEN, pair that with setting achievable mini goals. Whether it takes you 2 days, 2 years, or 2 decades, your big goals can happen when you commit to working towards them little by little, every. single. day.
  9. Stay curious about yourself, others, and human nature. Nothing stays the same; allow that to excite you, not terrify you.
  10. LOVE LIKE IT’S GOING OUT OF STYLE. This goes for all kinds of love, not just romantic!!! There is SO much love to experience in the world, keep your heart open to giving and receiving it whenever you can.Processed with VSCO with p5 preset
  11. …BUT, give your love with discernment. Loving people unconditionally is unrealistic because healthy relationships, whether they’re romantic, platonic, or familial, are reciprocal.
  12. Express yourself with your entire chest. Do not say something behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t have the courage say to their face; my mom taught me this at a young age and it has helped me avoid A LOT of conflict.
  13. You *really* don’t have to be friends with everyone. And honestly, you really can’t be because not everyone can offer you the same support.
  14. Give without expectation. Whether it’s a good deed, a monetary donation, or your freakin’ heart, pour from a cup that is full.
  15. Tell people how you really feel, always. You owe it to yourself to be transparent about your feelings, no matter if they’re reciprocated or not.
  16. Validate yourself on YOUR standards. What makes a good life is wholly subjective; believe in your vision and your vision alone.
  17. Most things are black and white, but the grey area is OK too. Sometimes just accepting things as they are is all you can do.
  18. Give your time and energy to people who celebrate you. Without question, no matter what–even when they don’t completely understand your life.
  19. ACCEPT YOUR FUCKING BODY. It is beautiful the way it is, no matter how “other” you are. Having a body that does what you need it to do (contain your insides) is much more important than how it looks.Processed with VSCO with p5 preset
  20. Your words have energy. Everything that you say is possible and can become true. Seriously! My grandma and I watched Oprah most days after school, and she always said, “T, I wanna see you on TV one day,” and it just so happened that I shared that vision for myself too. I kept believing in it–no idea when, or even how it would happen, but I kept putting energy behind it, declaring it, and shaking the hands I felt would lead me to it. Then, BOOM, 3 TV appearances later, I do not mess around with what comes out of my mouth. There’s no room for negativity, or speaking out of anger.
  21. Have some tact!!! Churchill was a real POS, but he told 0 lies when he said “tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”
  22. Failure is just an illusion if you look at each one as a lesson, and give yourself some grace. Perfection IS an illusion, and nothing will change that.
  23. Taking accountability will improve your quality of life in every sense. It will not kill you to admit that you’ve been wrong (I have), have hurt others (who hasn’t?), and need to look in the mirror (it’s part of life.)
  24. Stay playful. Life is everything and nothing all at once; it’s tiring, yet fleeting, but we are here to make the most of it. Keep laughing, loving, and accepting the lessons learned from the bad days, because better days are always coming.
  25. You will find someone who loves everything about you, but before then, the universe will send you lots of riff raff. As my Angel Reader, Ivette, says, “focus on having an abundant, joy-filled life, first and foremost, and the right person will be happy to join you for every inch of that journey.”

In conclusion:

All the glory onto God;
I will never be ungrateful.
God blessed me in real life;
I don't fear demons nor enemies.
I'm protected by the most high.

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