Expectations are a hard pill to swallow. I put forth effort and expect to be gratified quickly. This occurs in my writing, music, exercise, meditation practice, and so on. I always seem to excel at work though. It appears to be the forced discipline of having to be at my desk all the time. When I am at home or wandering about the city I become scattered among the myriad of choices. At work I get done what needs to get done. When I am not producing I take the time to build processes that tweak the experience. Then if I am lucky enough to have time left over I use it to take a personal inventory, expressing myself through exploring the inner chambers of thought and feeling.
At home I get sidetracked, losing whole hours before realizing the day is waning. Simple tasks such as housecleaning or surfing online balloon into major time-consumers pushing the A-list items of my to-do list to the margins. This pattern takes place often in my life and yields frustration. I dislike running on the same ground over and over. This is the cyclical spin Buddhists call samsara.
Joseph Campbell in his book Hero with a 1,000 Faces talks about going in to the interior depths, resolving life’s great mysteries and return to the outer, physical world to complete the heroic impact. I never was a big fan of the word hero. In street language heroes are zeroes. This brings to mind when a friend of mine, Kev got confronted by a man attempting to stop him from breaking the window of a storefront. Kev hit him in the head with a hammer putting the man in a coma. The only thing that prevented Kev from a murder rap was that the guy held on to his life.
Telling that story pains me to think of such senselessness. What does someone get from breaking windows except acting out aggression better suited to feeding your higher self? Why did somebody who was doing the right thing have to get cut down and taken away from their family? To wrap up the story Kev went on to become a total gangsta after his time in jail. When I saw him later on he had adopted a full hood persona, replete with young sycophants. He told me he was doing real well, and counseling troubled kids (which seemed odd because I knew he hadn’t straightened himself out.) Later on I heard he moved into some heavy dirt. Then many years later my boy Stone resurfaced and told me Kev was gunned down by police in a raid at an after-hours joint.
It is time for a deep breath. I don’t like rehashing this stupid street stuff I chose to turn my back on so forcefully once I hit my stride in my late-twenties. These streets really eat you up. That’s why they say, America eats its young.
Oh how circuitous my writing becomes. As a writer I see the need to increase my focus and then carry it into the discipline of life. This is an integral part of my 21 day experiment, taking the lessons off the page, and into the world.
A few days ago I ran into a guy from my meditation center whom I hadn’t seen in awhile. He told me he had a book of mine, Geoffrey Canada’s Reaching Up for Manhood. Canada is someone that never gives up on the kids of the urban wasteland. In his book he recounts his growing up tale on the troubles of poverty, and hard living. He then tells about rising up, and transcending circumstances. Instead of moving out of the hood and living the excesses of success, he mentors kids in need. That is the hero Joseph Campbell talks about. It made me happy to be reminded of the work of Geoffrey Canada, and to hear my friend has chosen a similar road helping youth in need of mentoring.
I am pained when I think about our forgotten youth, shoved under the rug, or thrown in jail. This system is broke as we lock up ourselves to protect us from ourselves. We isolate people in ghettoes to kill each other while police swoop in after the fact to count bodies. Our legal system rewards arrests and convictions over prevention. Ambitious prosecutors are rewarded for how many people they pull into their dragnet whether guilty or not. Some cops are willing to break the law to get the “bad guys” feeling the end justifies the means. The sickness of the system plays out in countless examples so I will not grow exhaustive in their telling.
A quick flip through the television dial shows how pervasive this crime element is in our society and media. Look at hip-hop, the once proud music of rebellion for disenfranchised youth turned into a crass display of gangstas, pimps and hoes. My Orthodox Christian teacher used to tell me that the new trinity is guns, money, and sex. The rapper Paris referred to BET as nothing but muscles and tits.
I don’t feel like saying anymore about this topic right now. I must release from the misery played out in the theater of this page.