2018: The Year of Living


My mother and father were very much the stay-out-of-grown-folks-business parents. They felt that children should maintain their innocence by being ignorant to the plights of adulthood. While my brother and I may have heard them argue, as kids, we were rarely exposed to the details of those arguments or the challenges they faced maritally or individually. I appreciated not having to bear the burden of their troubles, however much of their business—and their unwillingness to share it—related to their family stories as well.

The notion of secrecy and keeping your business your business, goes back generations in many black homes; especially mine. So it was both surprising yet incredibly welcoming when I spent 3 hours today listening to my father share childhood stories. My mother also began sharing her story with me a few months ago—brief, but necessary. 

My father, who was born and raised in Rocky Mount, NC in the 40's, shared tales about the town's segregation, his childhood jobs, how he ended up in CT, and his first and second marriage. He shared stories he never told me about his parents, his teenage years, and his first heartbreak. He spoke about his most memorable fights, and the origination of his attitude (of which I have adopted).

I listened to him for hours share amazing stories about his life; I interrupted often with questions I'd been waiting years to ask. I listened—both in awe at his memory and intrigued by his story. Though I knew my father lived a lot of life, being that he's roughly 70 years old, I never considered how much he lived. How fully he's lived.

As my father rattled off tale-after-tale, I knew one thing for certain: I want to live my life. I want to have stories.

Many of us have admittedly become so caught up with making it to our destination in life, that we forgot that the journey of life itself is the prize, not the end result. We forgot that it's our journey that makes our story. That it's the culmination of life experiences that make us who we are—and intrigues other people enough to listen to us. Nobody cares about where you are, they care about how you got there. When people are intrigued by you, it's because of your story, not your title. And it is up to us to live a story [life] worth telling.

I listened to my father tell stories of his losses just as passionately as he told the stories of his wins. He was just as profound a narrator for the bad memories as he was for the ones that brought smiles to his face. In that moment I knew that I wanted to make better use of my journey. I no longer wanted to avoid what God was bringing me through, but I wanted to truly live through it. I wanted to embrace it and have a story to tell later. I no longer wanted to run from life, I wanted to live it.

I listened to my father share his life, and wished I had stories of my own to share. Some that were just as captivating. Some that would warrant me to stand in the kitchen until the sun went down, sharing them with him. So this year, as I dedicate it to wholeness & becoming, I find it necessary to also dedicate it to living. To not playing it safe (all the time). To letting life happen. To not having a plan for everything. To arguments and rekindling friendships. To random trips out of the country, and late nights in the city. To bad dates and drinking too much wine. To staying up late on a work night, and calling out of work to go to a concert. To brunches in DC, and pool parties in Las Vegas. To mixups and setbacks. To triumph. To victory. To living. To no longer rush through this process, or this journey, but to fully embrace it. To feel life. To see life. To live life.

I hope the same for you. Whatever this year brings you—good or bad—I hope that you live it to the fullest. I hope that you embrace every part of this year's journey and hold onto every lesson it offers. I hope you clench onto every moment and never try to repress a memory again. And when the time comes when your children (or godchildren) are old enough to hear them, I hope you have an arsenal of stories to share.

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