straight from the heart

Archive for January, 2016|Monthly archive page

Experiences, Homlessness & Sometimes Why 

In Society on January 28, 2016 at 11:08 pm

Everyday on my way to work, as I exit the train at Penn Station and join the heard of others dragging their behinds to work, one can see an unfortuantely high amount of homeless and sometimes mentally unstable individuals roaming about.  Some are sleeping on the sidewalks, asking for change or meandering about, as we make our way to our final destination.  It’s a daily observation and one that is both disheartening and frustrating. This morning as I was walking to work, I overheard two obviously more fortunate people blasting what appeared to be a homeless male who they had to sidestep. I overheard them say a few vile things, obviously judging this person rather harshly.  I wanted to share a story with them, if only time permitted, but they hurried along, not caring too much about why this person was the “way he was”.   I shook my heard as I remembered one evening when I was in 9th grade, I was on a the train heading back home to the Heights.  I had just finished wrestling practice and had picked up a turkey sandwich and some warm donut holes from the comer deli next to the school. The deli owner knew when I was in training I usually had to cut weight before my match, but as a treat, every Monday, he would save me a dozen warm ones.  This particular day I only ate half my sandwich and closed the bag. Out of the corner of my eye I observed a disheveled man staring at either me or my bag of goodies. I asked him if he wanted the bag of food, but he politely responded “no sir”. Taken aback by his politeness, I urged him to please take it as I was not going to eat it. Shocked, I remember him saying “really??  Are you sure”, all the while I am thinking – no biggie.  When I walked over and handed him the bag, he took it and ate it so fast, I am not sure he even tasted it.  I sat back down, thinking nothing else of it.  Maybe ten minutes later this same gentleman approached me, profusely thanking me for what he described as my “act of kindness”.  I tried to tell him it really wasn’t much at all, but I could tell he wanted to talk.  He went on to explain how it had been a long while since someone had been so nice to him. “Usually”, he said, “all I get are looks of disgust.” “I was not always like this” he explained.  I nodded my head, really just to placate him, but just wanting to return to my newspaper, when he showed me an old ID badge with his picture on it.  Apparently he was once a VP at Lucent Technologies, which at that time was a huge corporation. He went on to explain how he lost his wife and two children to a drucken driver and couldn’t cope with the grief. He was lost and spiraled into severe depression.  He lost faith and didn’t want to deal with life anymore.  He had lost faith in people and couldn’t deal with life as he knew it. According to him, my unsolicited small act of kindness made him “hopeful”. He told me he appreciated it and walked away. That interaction, left a deep impact on me; it help me realize how tragedies sometimes shape the course of someone’s life and how profound the saying not to judge a person until you walk in their shoes is. This man taught me a valuable lesson, several really.  Yes we can learn from everybody we interact with.  Not everyone we see laying in the street are drug addicts, lazy or bums.  Some might just be former executives who could no longer cope with life after a tragic event.  Perhaps they need some mental help, a hot meal or just a good morning. Since, I have often wondered what became of him. Did he recover?  I know it’s never pleasant to be approached, to have to walk over or move out of the way from these less fortunate individuals, but if we could just empathize a little and realize sometimes shit happens in life, then just maybe we can learn to be a kindler people. 

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity. 

– Simone Weil

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Disappointment, Heartache & The Perils of Blind Loyalty

In Family, Friendships, Relationships on January 23, 2016 at 4:46 pm

This has been building for a while.  I tried to ignore, work around and just hoped I was wrong. To hell with it, the world is full of them.  People who take, take, take- but give very little.  They smile in your face, talking ’bout how “we boys” and “there’s nothing but love”, but in reality they are nothing but bitch ass people who use your “blind loyalty” to fuel their needs, but rarely, if ever, reciprocate.  I was recently told by an outside observer, who was privy to certain moves or comments made by some of those I have held dear to me for many, many years, how I have to seperate emotions and personal feelings from people or business.  He explained how most people “love you” when they can gain from you.  When they can prosper by either your various forms of generosity or word, but have little want to give back or help when their number is called.  The truth of the matter is, these people “don’t give a fuck bout you” and you need to recognize that.  Felt like a ton of bricks just fell on me.  The truth is, deep down – I always knew this.  I am not stupid or naive, but yet I refused to believe or give credence to their blatant tells.  I found myself rationalizing their behavior or actions, refusing to believe the continual small betrayals.  Nah – not my boy – he’s not like that!  Known the brother for 30+ years – nah we family, I would tell myself.  Shoot, even family fall into this category.  We all know those who congratulate you, tell you how happy they are for you when they see you progress some or attain some recognition, but sadly wish you fail deep inside.  They get a sense of joy when things go wrong for you.  Man – that’s some shit right there.  I have loved my folks since I took my first breath.  Helped many of them out in all kinda ways!  Some of ya’ll are reading this right now.  It hurts and angers me to see, hear and/or feel the betrayal, backstabbing or downright disloyalty when it occurs – small or big, it doesn’t matter.  The aforementioned person tried to soften the blow by expressing how much he respects and admires my sense of loyalty to folks, how I try to blend the personal and business aspects of life for win-win situations. But sadly, all he sees is my growing frustrations, disappointments and reactions.  “You gotta stop” I was told, “that stuff will hurt you, kill you even.  People don’t care – only when they can get something from you, when they can’t or don’t like it when you have to correct or call their attention to something, they are quick to turn on you.”  He was being real with me.  The sad truth is – this ain’t groundbreaking news.  The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies.  I’ve been seeing this shit for years, continuously from the same folks; people I have cared about, those held dear; yet I wouldn’t stop assisting, wouldn’t stop helping when I could.  All that I received was a growing sense of resentment.  My fault I guess because they never earned my loyalty.  I have to realize that just because we grew up together, we are family or we have some perceived kinship, doesn’t mean they deserve the blind loyalty, which should be reserved for those who have exhibited it in return. The only people I owe my loyalty to are those who have never made me question theirs! Recently people have said to me, Rog – bro, you’ve changed! You’re not the same!  Someone even told me I used to be the “helper” or the person that took care of things.  Well, where the hell is my help?  Where is my call to see how the hell I’m doing?!?!  Where’s the appreciation??   If I didn’t change, I’d still be knocking people on their ass for less then this. But emotional survival is a battle.  Truth of the matter is, it’s my nature to be caring, to help, to be all in.  I have always tried to see the world as full of opportunities.  Also true is how it’s also in my nature not to sugarcoat things, my opinion being how does that help anyone?  What matters is my heart has always been pure. I keep it 100. I guess people prefer the bullshit to the truth sometimes.  A long while ago someone told me how relationships were all about how one person makes another person feel, what void they fill in the other person’s life or what they can get out of that relationship.  Man, I thought that was the most selfish shit I had ever heard.  Maybe he was right….

There’s something wrong with your character if “opportunity” controls your loyalty….

– Unknown

The Barber Shop, Lessons & A Lasting Impression

In Education, Family, Love, Parenting on January 16, 2016 at 3:16 pm

I arrived for my haircut appointment like any other day, hoping my barber was on time, checking my emails & reading my news.  Luckily my barber was only 2 minutes late, which was a small victory in itself.  My barber and I have a pretty good relationship.  There’s a respect factor we had from the onset.  He talks to me about many things, personal and not; we go back and forth and I try to provide him with my insights or opinions when requested.  The barbershop was alive and the conversation ranged from sports, to what they did the night before, to who the best rappers were; the usual harmless fun barbershop banter. It was fun debating certain comments with them and listening to them state their cases.  While in the chair, a brother walks in with a young girl, maybe 12 – if that.  The young girl is carrying  a rack displying bracelet beads as the male with her walks station to station peddling the “homemade jewelry”.  When they arrived at our station, the brother begins to converse with my barber briefly.  I initially thought to myself, damn, another interruption – I gotta go.  I look up at the young lady and can tell she was a bit uncomfortable or shy about approaching folks while carrying the merchandise.  Thoughts were running through my head, you know – was this some sort of street scam, who would use his daughter to peddle items just to make a buck, were these really home made?  But within seconds, I thought otherwise – more like who cares and I focused on the obvious lessons being taught.  The brother appeared quite humble and respectful as I asked the young girl if she made the jewelry, which she replied by smiling and nodding her head yes.  Her dad smiled too and said she made each and every one of them.  He would glance at her,  trying to cajole her into verbally selling her creations, but you can tell she was new to this.  A deep sense of respect hit me.  Here was this guy, in my humble opinion, teaching his daughter entrepreneurial traits, confidence building tactics and survival skills.  Here was this young girl, tagging along with her dad, willing to learn and deal with the ups and downs, the rejections and the triumphs, each time she tried to sell her creations.  Her smile was bright and her eyes, while unsure, still twinkled.  Her dad, well his eyes showed pride and even admiration toward his little girl.  I was moved.  I have been at the barbershop hundreds of times, many of which included interruptions from people selling all types of items – most ill begotten.  Not this time, this time it was simply a daughter & her dad, striving together to succeed.  Small victories each time, but lessons nonetheless.  Now all this occurred within 2 minutes – maybe.  I purchased two of her creations, telling her to keep them for herself – cause she earned it.  Her dad very surprised, looked at me and smiled.  We nodded at each other with mutual respect and they went bout their business.  I went bout mine, smiling, happy and full of hope.

“Picture jewels being handed to an innocent child….”

– Tupac Shakur

Excuses, Explanations & The Thin Line Between Them

In Self-Improvement, Society on January 10, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Whenever something happens where the outcome is less than desirable or completely different than what was expected, there no doubt is always a reason as to why, an explanation.  Something outside your control, an unforeseen circumstance, someone else flipped the script – it happens.   We fix it & move on.  Those explanations are usually one & done, the situation is corrected & the outcome is as close to desirable as possible.  Now when a person continues to fall short of expectations, the outcomes are continuously weak or the “dog ate my homework”, well then those become excuses.  We all know those to whom there is ALWAYS a reason why things do not go as planned, expectations are not met or their situations are always dire.  Those, my people, are full of excuses – whom  try to camouflage them as explanations.  “I am just explaining to you why I couldn’t do this” or “It was not my fault, all these things happened…”  When this becomes a chronic situation, either at work or in your personal life, then guess what – they are excuses!  I am so very tired of people always making excuses as to why their situations don’t improve or why they keep doing the same things; of them passing the buck onto others or outside forces.  It is much easier for these folks to pass the blame, then to really look in the mirror, into their psyche and realize they are the common denominator.  They are quick to keep telling you what they can’t or couldn’t do, while rarely, if ever, telling you what they CAN do; never providing internal solutions  to remedy the specific situation or chronic behavior or outcomes.  When brought to their attention, they get very defensive, usually just shutting down, too busy thinking of more excuses to make their point and less listening to possible solutions or different ways of handling future instances that may help provide a different outcome.   Character flaw?  Maybe, but it doesn’t mean it can not improve or slowly begin to tip to a more productive side of you.  There is a fine line between them for sure.  We can all justify why something did not get completed or why we can not achieve certain things.  There will always be outside forces making things challenging.  It’s when we decide not to let these things sabotage our goals, or find ways around them, with concrete plans and outside the box thinking, that we begin to turn those excuses into non factors.  If left to its own devices, these continued excuses will continue to derail people from their ultimate wishes.  It’s a correctable problem, but before it can change, it must be acknowledged.  So for those of you this speaks too, raise your hands and admit “Yes, I am an excuse maker!”

“Open your eyes & that will quiet your voice.”

-Willie Mays

A Hiatus, Reflection & The Rebirth of a Voice

In Self-Improvement on January 2, 2016 at 11:08 pm

I know, it’s been a while.  Took some time off from writing to focus on other things.  My lil sunshine has kept me quite busy & work is non-stop.  I expect big things in 2016 – I hope.  But mostly, I took time to step back & reflect some.  2015 seemed to fly by & I lost that want to write, to verbalize my thoughts.  Things happened, some good, some bad & often I would think of commenting, but never had the will to sit & cement my opinions for all to see.  I began to wonder who the hell cared about what I thought or had to say anyway, even though many would ask when I would write again.  Although I appreciated the inquiry, the urge seemed to have gone.  Recently however, that want returned; that will to communicate my thoughts – a release if you will.  I sat back & re-read some of my older stuff & felt some kind of way.  I keep thinking of my lil sunshine, who just turned 2 yesterday, and figured if something was to happen to me, this can be a way for her to someday read my writings & get a deeper understanding of who her daddy was, what he was about.  As for my other kids, it still gives me a way to reach them; to touch them “silently” with my words.  Hopefully, as they continue to navigate through this world, it can provide them some food for thought, some guidance.  Mostly tho, I decided to do it for me – as a way to quiet my mind; put some thoughts out there while releasing the bottleneck of ideas and opinions that infiltrate my dome.  A way to express my joys and frustrations, my victories and defeats, my happiness and pain.  I exercise to work my body; this will help work my mind.  It’s also a way for me to look back as well through the upcoming years and gauge my hopefully continued growth.  Did my thoughts change?  Did I see the world through an evolving prism?  Did I become wiser?  I am positive somethings will never change with me.  My code is my code, which I am proud of, but I am sure some opinions may change or evolve; how I might begin to see things from a different set of eyes.  The trick is to remain true to self, to your core & then blossom around it.  Therefore, I am gonna let my voice go and throw caution to the wind. So the hiatus is over; the reflections are ongoing, and the voice….ahhh the voice is back!

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

-Nelson Mandela