This moment in time was a critical part of my personal journey: I finally realized that I spent 20 years in a relationship with someone who was clinically depressed; an alcoholic who suffered from anxiety. I spent 20 years loving someone who could not love herself. Someone who was verbally and occasionally physically abusive, but being a “man” I couldn’t imagine that I was a victim of abuse. I told no one what I was dealing with. I was physically bigger than she was. When you combine that with someone who has your heart and is hurting and YOU can’t fix that it, it then becomes a certain recipe for your own demise. I knew when I emerged from that moment in my life that I had lost my focus. I was focused on someone else’s happiness instead of my own. You can’t be responsible for someone else’s happiness.
I desired life. I desired a good life. I wanted love that meant something, that was reciprocated. I wanted the rest of my life to mean something more than just my work. From that point on, I was determined to regain my center. To vibrate, if you will, at a higher level. I needed to find my spirituality. I needed to change how I did business. I had to find the me that I was supposed to be, and unlearn bad destructive behaviors that had attached themselves to my psyche that could lead to my early demise if I didn’t get that in check.
I used to feel that some of this was touchy-feely-Oprah-Winfrey-transitional stuff only for women. But we men really need these principals more so, I dare say, because of how we are raised and the expectations that society places on us. It is intrinsic to want to be our “best self” for our own survival and the sustainability of the people we love.
For my own survival, I created a “mash-up” of beliefs and feelings that help me stay sane in the midst of insanity. I really put it to work after the “election from hell” and realize that I would need to elevate myself (and therefore those who come in contact with me) by being a force of positive energy and repelling all negative and destructive thoughts. I am nowhere near perfection but I am working really hard to attain my own personal nirvana.
We are “beings that are made up of different energy levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Each of these levels has a vibrational frequency, which combine to create your overall vibration of being” (1,). I have read many different frames of reference and find the similarities in thought in Rastafari, Hinduism, and Buddhism that bring me great comfort as to how I need to be aligned. Take away the labels when you read this, just keep in mind what they are telling you to do to be centered:
1. Root Chakra — Represents our foundation and feeling of being grounded.
2. Sacral Chakra — Our connection and ability to accept others and new
3. Solar Plexus Chakra — Our ability to be confident and in control of our lives.
4. Heart Chakra — Our ability to love.
5. Throat Chakra — Our ability to communicate.
6. Third Eye Chakra — Our ability to focus on and see the big picture.
7. Crown Chakra — The highest chakra represents our ability to be fully connected spiritually.
I have chosen to utilize the Heart Chakra as my center and radiate from that point outward. If I respond to people who dislike me or situations that give me discomfort with love (even in some very aggressive confrontations) it always works out in a way that is always beneficial to me. Eventually, stress, anxiety, pressure, and depression tries to catch up with us all but only we can choose how we respond to it. The choice that has lowered my blood pressure is to let it go. Don’t overthink it, and take none of it that seriously. Even if there is money on the table in a business deal, I never pick one where I don’t feel I can’t walk away from the deal if I feel compromised or that my ethics are at stake.
I try to extend the same rationale to employees and business partners. I empathize, I try to understand people outside the realm of just our business interaction and I make decisions in a way where everyone feels respected, have had input and are really part of a decision-making process. If I have to make a decision that’s contrary to others, I do so with kindness and thoughtfulness.
Based on the lessons I have learned, the path I have chosen, if you seek to complicate my life, I won’t let you. If you seek to bring me darkness or drag me into the darkness of your life, I won’t let you because I desire to stay focused on the light. Ever look on a beautiful sunny sky after someone you were once close to has died? The sun looks brighter, it looks stronger and higher than every sunrise you have ever seen. Almost as if God put it there just for you. Some of us, due to our choices, do not appreciate the high simplicity and beauty of the simple act of looking up at the wonder and saying “Thank you, God”. My Uncle James used to say, “I woke up this morning and didn’t see a toe tag, so it’s a good day.”
As men, we need to have some things to ourselves for our emotional and spiritual self-growth other than a beer and a scotch. I went through a rough patch when someone I thought I was close to died suddenly. In fact, it was the woman I was married to at the beginning of this essay. When she passed from this life, I sought to understand where I might have been part of the equation or could have done more.
I immersed myself into the wonderful world of my 11-year-old niece, who had no cares, who only enjoyed the laughter of her friends and school. Who asked me probing questions about my day. I chose to see the extreme beauty of her life and to not focus on a life lost that chose to exit this realm for another. I chose at that moment happiness and hope; I buried darkness, depression, and worthlessness. At that specific moment in time, my niece is what mattered, and in turn, unknowingly, she helped me by shining pure innocence in potent doses.
Growing up, I was always fascinated by Gordon Parks. A modern day Renaissance Man, Parks was a highly accomplished photographer, writer, filmmaker. As a man, he was the preeminent photographer of the Civil Rights movement and of emerging fashion. He was a lover to Socialite Gloria Vanderbilt (for you young’ins, that’s Anderson Cooper’s mom) and the filmmaker behind Shaft (the film that started the Blaxploitation genre in filmmaking). He filled his life with art. Within the art, he also addressed Civil Rights, the human condition, and beauty. He captured the beauty in life and the beauty of struggle. He found his rhythm and everyone who came into contact with him whether it was with him personally or through his artistic endeavors, were touched by his existence, even after his death.
I dare to envision that while he was creating his art, his writing, it was for his desire to create, nothing more. True greatness never plans on it, it stems from passion, from a desire to live and express oneself. Understanding Park’s, made it ok for me to be a painter, photographer, writer, musician and lover of emerging businesses. I love how they grow, how they are fueled, the passion of entrepreneurship and how I can surf that wave in the very early stages of ideation. I relish when an entrepreneur I work with is thankful that I took the time to assist them with bringing their dreams to fruition.
Staying focused on quality of life and the quality of interaction with those who choose to live fully helps me understand that time is our most precious commodity and that we should only spend that time with the people we love and want to nurture. These same people that nurture our own souls and who truly have our best interest at heart, are the people we should seek to spend our most precious commodity with. As adults, it is incumbent upon us to leave the children that we have in our orbit with good memories, with hope and promise and with the expectation that they can launch into further greatness based upon the love lessons that we provide for them.
I have chosen to remove from my life the people who take from my spirit. People I don’t feel good about interacting with, I dismiss. If it’s someone I have to work with in any capacity I try my best to respond with Love. If it’s a family member, a parent, a sibling…don’t immerse yourself in unhealthy behavior. It’s not good for your emotional and spiritual health and growth. If you must interact with them: leave the discussion early, or let it go in one ear and out the other. Internalize NOTHING that doesn’t enrich you.
My center demands that I continually learn and respect all people and all religions. My center demands that I elevate the people I love thereby elevating myself. By be worthy of love by being that spirit that when it departs, it has left love in its wake. I seek to repel the darkness known and unknown (yet recognize what the darkness is, so that you can be a first-strike repellant against it). My center has taught me I have to care for the mortal framework that was given to me by my God, Allah or whatever you choose to call that guiding spirit and continue to be worthy of the breath that I am allowed to share daily. I stay grounded now, by staying positive in the face of what derails others. I have set fear aside and have embraced my own light and that of others.
Photo credit: Pixabay