What do you want? What do you really want?
Years ago, Marianne Williamson confronted me with this question while listening to one of her audio lectures and it has not only stuck with me, rocked me, resonated within me, startled me, comforted me, defined me but it is one of my most powerful weapons in my Teacher Tool Kit to confront students with.
Do you want to be successful? Ok, first we might have to define what success is for you. Recently I was writing in my journal, trying to distill down what I was going through, perceiving and what I truly wanted and I was able to narrow it down to 3 things:
I Want To Be Free:
I've spent years learning to listen to my own inner voice. Learning that neither my family nor my friends nor partners nor children nor pets nor job/career nor religion or ideology defines me. I want to choose what I want to do, to be, whom to keep company with and believe. Lots of times I glance through Facebook (or listen to friends and family) and see people complaining about how other people are, how other people affect them, or the popular, dealing with the concept of "haters". Hilariously enough I believe negative energy is useful; that drama and challenging people are God's gift. It's how you deal with them. What success do you possess if you can't handle negative situations or relationships? I believe that part of the life cycle of growth is to learn how to handle challenges.
I am intended by the Universe.
My mother's womb was a 1 in 3 shot at survival. Whatever I may be, fundamentally, to the core of my existence, all the way up to orientation, gender, color, ethnicity, culture, religion, faculties---I was and am intended by the Universe. Period. It's not up for discussion, debate, contemplation because it simply Is.
I often listen or read (I have the benefit of facilitating lots of groups of all kinds of people around the city, sometimes as many as 1000 a week, so I get a full spectrum of humanity) to people who aren't sure, who doubt, who have been maligned for their existence. You can't be Free until you know you are intended and have a fundamental right, like gravity and light and trees and water, to be here and be what you are.
But know this when you see me or approach me and we're talking about books or Jell-O or my funky red sneakers or that TV show I just did or the aliens that just landed in Times Square o matter how big or small or tall or cute you may be, that calm, solid, power in my eye, at the tip of my tongue, weighing invisibly onto my words is I am intended by the Universe.
I Want To Be Stable:
I have a terror of instability. On buses I generally dislike them because I'm always teetering and trying to right myself. It's not that I'm inflexible or even afraid of falling/failing but I need to be able to establish to myself that I am okay. Now honestly sometimes it's been two nickels, a coat and snowstorm between me and the abyss. There was the night in Philadelphia I purposefully stayed outside after work in Center City to overcome my fear of homelessness---I wanted to move back to New York City and was terrified that if I did I would end up homeless. I challenged myself to be homeless for a night to prove if it came to that I could survive it. And I did. Wandering around Philadelphia, the only rule being that I couldn't rent a hotel room. I went to the movies, wandered around the pier, wandered around the mall until it closed and then eventually napped at the Greyhound Station and went to work a little earlier the next morning.
I've lived in some really nice apartments, homes and coops in New York and other states. I don't ascribe to luck, so I won't say I've been lucky, I've worked hard and done some smart things (and a few times some not so smart things) and had to throw out best friends, parents, even once a millionaire because they threatened the stability of my home. I believe that luck is when opportunity and preparation meet and I'm often in stages of preparation with projects. Family and close friends know I've got my eye on a certain real estate property in Manhattan, cleaning snow and debris off of the steps; telling loitering people to keep it moving, sometimes sitting on the porch simply investing my energy in the building. I've returned to school for another 3/4 of a decade sojourn for multiple degrees, really invested in developing my small business, all because I want my spouse and children to have/inherit not simply property but equity in tools to enhance their futures.
Yeah, I ain't playing. I'm in it for keepsies.
I Want To Be Loving:
I don't simply mean the intimate relationships or family or children, I also mean I want my work, my integrity to have been a good thing, a useful thing to people. I want to think and work hard or from creative inspiration, and come up with something that is poignant, loving and elevating to people. Whether it's the television show or this writing or my teaching work, I want it to be constructive towards my ultimate aim which is to free my people.
Now my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents are African American (from the upper North and South), American Indian (Narragansett), West Indian (by way of England), Scottish and Irish. This brings me to the question: who are my people? Well, honestly-----everyone! My work then is for everyone on some level or as best as I can deliver a level of access to my work. I believe that the assignment of those who arrive at some level of Free is to immediately turn and relay to others how to free themselves, what freedom feels like, explain the balance of the costs of it; to free others. I am not special, I am not interested in being anyone's messiah or savior, I am simply someone standing in line ahead of you who turns around and says to you: "We don't have to stand here waiting, let's walk." And I start walking......now what you do, well that's on you. Free people can't be responsible for the message and the mechanics of others freedom, that's dysfunction, that's codependency.
Now, back to the original question: What do you want? What do you really want?
Thank you for reading,
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