Today I’m going to sing like I’m in concert, and it don’t matter who’s listening. Today I’m going to dance like I’m on the set of the Thriller video, and it don’t matter who’s watching. Today I’m going to smile like I’m advertising toothpaste, and it don’t matter if I’m the only one smiling. Today I’m going to look you in the eyes and say hello, and it don’t matter if you greet me back. Today I’m going to speak broken English, and it don’t matter if you have a problem with it. Today I’m going to be happy for no damn reason other than the fact that life is beautiful, and it don’t matter if you get irritated with me.
Today I’m going to do some un-American things, like give thanks to God instead of my country, read the Qur’an and the Bible, turn off the TV and embrace life, be kind without ulterior motives, write an unstructured poem, converse with a homeless man or a woman without judgment, walk fearlessly with my head high and my heart on my sleeve, and be thankful for a freedom that came from God and not through drone missiles or military force. Today I’m going to say In God We Trust and Mean It.
Today I’m going to tell the world that you can’t be free if you live in fear of our children, of the terrorists, of the big black man, of my long bearded turban wearing Arab brother, of the white supremacist, of the Mexican mafia, of poverty, of not having a bunch of consumer goods we don’t need, of failure, or of being alone… If it is, it’s because God wants it to be.
Today I’m going to love you, even if you don’t love me, even if you don’t love yourself, even if you don’t understand what love is, even if you don’t want to be loved… Today I’m going to love you without expectations of reciprocity or the condition that you need to earn my love. Today I’m going to give my love for free because I’m free.
What are you going to do today?
Today is the day to stand with my family and to pay my final respects to my sister Tamara Brown. I am happy that your bout with breast cancer is over and you’ve finally found the peace that hopefully awaits us all. For now, I’m here still fighting the good fight.
Today is the day to stand with my brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. as men bound together by friendship… and of course a touch of that Omega oil.
Today is the day to expand beyond the comfort of our boxes, to be bigger than the chains of our hate, to be too happy to be brought down by our sadness, to be faithful in our direction, and to be resolute in our struggle.
Today is the day to greet strangers with smiles, to uplift hurt souls with kind words, to make new friends and reconnect with old ones, to share laughter with one another, to tell stories like the Afrikan Griots we descended from, to move our bodies in unison with the beat of the Universe, to step out of the negativity of America’s shadows and become “Love” in its infinite fullness and beauty.
Today is the day to be Love: Parent to child, child to parent, spouse to spouse, friend to friend, brother to brother, sister to sister, brother to sister, sister to brother, stranger to stranger, child of Christ to family of Islam, Jehovah Witness to believer of Hinduism, Buddhist to Catholic, human being to human being.
Today is the day to get out of the darkness and stand in the rays of God. For today has been reserved as a day to stand with one another in the light.
Let us stand together, today.
As a black man in America, one of my more difficult challenges in becoming the human being I was placed here to be has been learning to differentiate between God’s purpose and my personal ambitions. Coming to grips with the fact that being gifted mathematically doesn’t mean I’m supposed to be a math teacher or labor in a science or engineering field, that being gifted with the pen doesn’t mean I’m supposed to be renowned poet or author, or that being able to eloquently speak in front of people doesn’t mean I’m destined to be a politician or minister standing at the pulpit.
This struggle of understanding my purpose is especially challenging in the land where we often confuse success, as defined by man, with the favor of God. Like many others, I have told myself that wealth, high paying jobs, nice houses, and fancy cars are a reflection of God’s favor… often ignoring the fact that the pursuit of these things has left me feeling unfulfilled and that my happiness has been elusive.
Over time, and with the help of my elders combined with a heavy dose of eulogies delivered at untimely funerals, I’ve began to open my eyes, to reflect on life, and to shift my thinking accordingly.
Today, I can’t say I completely understand my purpose, that I know where I’m going, what my future challenges will be, or that I even understand which of my many gifts God wants me to focus on. I’m not sure if I will end up wealthy or broke, whether my life will be celebrated or forgotten, or how much of a difference my life will make on the lives of others. What I do know, is part of my purpose is to love and be kind, to understand and be empathetic, to move forward, reach back, lift, climb up, fall down, and then get back up again…
…for now, I understand enough to keep moving forward and listening as I go. I’ve been through enough to be faithful in my understanding that the rest will be revealed to me in due time. I’ve rushed myself into failure enough to know that I need to be patient. I’ve allowed man misguide me enough to know I need to be mindful of what I allow to enter my mind, my heart, and my soul. Most of all, I’ve learned that I need to enjoy and be present at all times in the journey that is called today. Here’s to the journey…