At the “tender” age of 31, I have realized that what mattered will not always matter. I used to be worried about being some “big shot” within a Fortune 500 company or becoming the next male version of Oprah (a la Tyler Perry to some extent). But I have let those aspirations go. Honestly, I never really pursued them. Instead, I chose to pursue something deeper. I am cutting back unnecessary expenses and creating a plan for a brighter, more stable, less stressful future. How am I doing that? By focusing on the things that matter most to me, here is my list:
That’s it. The name brand of my car, clothes, or loafers does not matter any more. How quickly I can become wealthy does not matter anymore. Buying a new limited edition watch or drinking Starbucks every day (although I am presently there) does not matter any more. Buying every Apple product that has been released within the last 12 months does not matter any more. As much as I love the internet and technology, I loathe social media. There are too many individuals fighting for a miniscule amount of attention. Everything that is wrong with this world is heightened and respected on social media. The evils live on.
What does matter is my relationship with God. I swear to you that I cried when I heard Bishop T.D. Jakes’ sermon (sorry I did not get the exact title) where he said “You weren’t stillborn for a reason. You survived that accident for a reason…God has a purpose for your life.” I felt that God purposefully had me listening to that podcast at a time when I needed it most. Through all of the chaos of being a professional, a graduate student, a husband, a father, a writer, and everything else that I pretend to be, it was so easy to lose sight of what mattered most. It is like…no matter how many good things I do or bad sh*t I am in, he always pulls me in. I feel a gravitational pull toward God. My soul is deeply connected to this powerful entity. I could be in the middle of a bar surrounded by people, throwing back shots (unlikely but follow my imagery), laughing and dancing, but I could feel so alone. In the middle of chaotic situations, it feels like time is slowly down. I feel like a mutant. I feel like I have inherited special powers that allow me to deal with bullsh*t with abnormal patience and calamity. Companies do not scare me. Bills do not scare me. A lack of love does not scare me. The government does not scare me. Nothing scares me except God. I pray everyday for God to heal me where I am broken and for protection over my family. I am mentally and emotionally in the grey area of being jaded toward everything and being overtly calm toward pressure. This is a strange dichotomy.
My wife irritates the hell out of me sometimes, but I love her. I want her to be happy. I want her to be safe. During an infrequent Instagram-browsing-session, I came across a photo posted by r&b singer Omarion. I cannot remember the photo, but the caption punched my gut instantly. The caption read “The most important thing a father can do for their child is to love their child’s mother.” Damn. So through all of the bullsh*t that relationships tend to brew (like a hot cup of french roast), I am down. I am down for the cause. I am down for the intention. In America, we do not see “Black” love. We do not champion it, we do not advertise it, and we certainly do not write about it (at least not on a large scale). People only quit when things do not go as planned. When we get uncomfortable, we seek the quickest escape from that situation. That is why love does not last. People enter relationships expecting everything—expecting everything to be flawless and perfect. When personalities and ideologies clash, we fight, we argue, we swear, we run. But if you make that commitment (in the form of marriage), how can you honestly “un-commit” yourself? You cannot. You have to see this thing through to the end. I recognize that this idea goes against human nature especially in Western culture. Relationships change much like anything that lives. A relationship is an organism. Just like when a child grows up, their needs change gradually. “Black” love does not grow, because we fail to pay attention and act upon those changes. Sex might start a relationship, but it will never grow it. Money might start a relationship, but it will never grow it. Good looks might start a relationship, but it will never grow it. I have quit a lot of things in my life, but I am not going to quit something I seriously committed to. There is a such thing as false commitment that I will explore in a later post.
Nobody owes you anything—happiness, love, wealth, security, stability, etc. Those things, whether abstract or concrete, are created, valued, and sustained through you. For example, think about money. We all know how to earn it; offer a service, skill, or product and execute for the exchange of currency. But do we know how to grow it? That is what has been missing from my life in particular. I have love, but do I know how to grow it. I do not. But now that I have objectively dissected my love, I know what the problem is. Now I need to use this Jimmy-Neutron-sized-head-of-mine to investigate and establish a solution. I know how to earn money, but do I know how to grow it. Sort of—I feel more confident about money than love. That is a problem.
But see the beautiful thing about this life, is that we have the opportunity to change sh*t before it gets worse. Packing on pounds? Go outside and exercise. Feeling depressed? Go see a professional, exercise, read, and surround yourself with positive people. Ideally, for most of our problems, there is always a solution. The solution may look different in separate situations, but it solves the problem. We have an opportunity to get off the mat, when we get knocked down. We have the ability to learn from our mistakes and become better because of them. And because God is love, and I was created by God for a purpose. I know my purpose is to love and grow. God, family, health, and career are my focal points. Everything else is side chatter.