So you wanna be a winner? Stop being a loser!
It was that sort of early life advice that had me realizing that the answers to personal success were not going to be found anywhere near my zip code. I grew up in Harlem, NY where success was defined on two levels. To most, success was staying out of jail and off the smack. My success in that regard was preordained. I lived in an area where the village very much strove to raise the child. If I stepped out of line anywhere in a ten block radius my mother would not only know about it but would be told in a cheerful way by someone who wanted to quickly remind her that her shit did indeed stink.
I was that shit.
The other level of success in Harlem felt way out of reach to just about everyone. Those who made it still walked among us, but it was clear that you reached that level of success by having a unique talent or coming from old money. If that talent was not readily apparent then you were tracked into a mundane existence. My mother wanted me to be a garbage man. The kid who lived across the street and played his drumsticks nonstop on the top of a bucket, he was told to shut up and learn a skill. They told him that everyday. But Larry had a unique talent and it took him somewhere.
We had a place around the corner called Striver’s Row. It was all fancy looking brownstones down one narrow street. These houses–and they were houses–had small backyards and nice cars cluttering the narrow street. These were the doctors and lawyers and folks who were in many ways Harlem royalty. These were the ones who had something and took it to the top.
I grew up next to all of this, noticing what it was like to see success but not be it. It hurt me a little, I suppose, because when I finally tasted success I rested on that for a long time and lost all momentum. Now, I’m in a spot where success is almost invisible in the rear view. I’m living off the dying glow of work I did years ago and there is no new kindling of the imagination to strike a match to. Changing that will take time and effort.
- I think the primary problem between me and the rest of the world–especially the love of my life–is communication. Namely, I have trouble really hearing and understanding what people are saying. I often spend that time interpreting what I think is being said and not said. Unlearning is taking a while.
- I miss Obama. I miss the cool collectedness of the one time leader of the free world. He didn’t create problems. He fixed them.
- I missed the obvious 211 reference yesterday.