We all agree that laughter is the best medicine which is why we cherish our social gatherings even during Covid. Zoom meetings and now more in-person get-togethers are helping us cope with this ongoing pandemic.
The camaraderie gained while in the presence of others helps us embrace our humanity. As the saying goes, “No man is an island,” so we look forward to those times when we can enjoy the company of others.
Here are a few things that have made me laugh lately. On the morning news, some school children had stolen a sink from the school and then posted it on social media. Normally, we hear of Chicago expressway closings due to shootings but when I heard that some loose cattle had shut down a busy expressway, I had to laugh out loud.
The other day, I listened to YouTube interview with a former beloved music professor who shared a funny story. He said that he discovered that his students were caught bringing the music lab piano back to its rightful place. He responded, “Bringing it back?” He said that he had no idea that they had been rolling the piano down to their dorm for extra practice time. Hilarious!!
Also, the things that people write in the ‘Comments’ section on the Internet can truly tickle the funny bone. Read the news feed and see what We the People think about either the person or subject. The crude trolling, disdain or back and forth can evoke a laugh as they comment on some celebrity who strives to stay relevant. Every now and then, there is some new insight into a situation that offers added information.
On many mornings, as I wait for my next project, I enjoy listening to Wendy. I laugh! Her sharp wit may be biting to some, but I hear myself letting out a loud laugh on quite a few occasions. She calls it like she sees it, and some may say that she shoots from the hip. She is rarely pretentious nor too serious. Her show is light and entertaining, and I can listen while I engage in other things.
During these often grave and disconcerting times, laughter still works. It adds a bit of pep to the step, and it helps us temporarily escape from all the things that concern us. Zora Neale Hurston said it best when she said, “I love myself when I am laughing.” I totally agree with her!
In light of the loud demonstrations of last summer, which protested unfair treatment, many answers to my years of questions unfolded right before my eyes. It became exponentially clear that many invisible roadblocks had been strategically placed years ago to deter, stall and eventually stop people of color in their tracks.
When I embarked upon this brave, new world with my newly minted college degree in hand, I enthusiastically walked out into the new frontier. I felt as if I was equipped to handle whatever presented itself and immediately fell into teaching to fulfill a teacher’s scholarship obligation. It was a rich and gratifying experience but a after six or so years, I wanted more.
I completed another degree in hopes of entering some aspect of media. I visited printing companies, knocked on several television studio doors. I even tried advertising places and publishing companies to display my wares. Though the doors were cracked wide enough to look inside, they were not open. I heard, “Nope.” “Not today.” Or simply, nothing at all. As one acquaintance said, “What about no response?”
Yet through the tears, confusion, and disappointment, I was led to a variety of sages who held my hand and offered me hope. One former professor continually answered my letters and once reminded me that the butterfly is often illusive. I did not understand his meaning then and I still work to interpret it, but I think he meant that life does not always offer pat answers nor work in a straight line.
Then, my sages begin to appear through authors of the printed word. Wayne Dyer’s YourErroneous Zones crossed my path and I studied it in-depth. I read several of his books as I clung to his positive outlook. I was even blessed to see him peeking in a door at a conference in Rosemont, Illinois, many years later. It was as if he too was holding my hand along the way. He reminded me to always bless my shelters and every traveler needs to hear that!
Quite by happenstance, I was introduced to Florence Scovel Shinn while browsing at Oxford Bookstore on Peachtree in Atlanta’s Buckhead section. Her book, The Game of Life and How toPlay It helped me immensely. Her advice assisted me in drying my tears when things appeared bleak while the hunger pains and fear were overtaking my better judgment.
And just in the nick of time, Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World landed in my hands from an Atlanta friend. Every copy that I have owned of this jewel of a book has ended up being tattered, torn, and coming apart at the seams from constant use. Most pointedly, he taught me to persist until I succeed from his ancient scrolls.
The list of encouraging sages who have invisibly and silently held my hand is exceptionally long and I could never list them all. However, I absolutely must add Maya Angelou whose small and powerful book of poems found me at a bookstore in Delaware, Ohio. She taught me that I was indeed a phenomenal woman that needed to keep on rising.
Hindsight is 20-20. I am glad that I was unaware of the dark intentions that were set up to thwart my dreams and discourage my visions for my life. As the saying goes, “God makes a way out of no way.” Michael Jackson reminds us to hold hands in Whatever Happens. Enjoy!
After seeing the movie, Respect a second time, I am finally ready to weigh in on this artistic piece. This biopic lies close to my heart for multiple reasons.
First, I was living in Detroit in the 50’s, when the movie actually opens. Two, I remember where I was when I heard the song Respect for the first time. I spent my teen and young adult years listening to Aretha Franklin’s music. And three, Jennifer Hudson and I share our Chicago roots. I recall the day that Mayor Daley proclaimed a day in her honor after her Dreamgirls movie debut.
Having said all of that, I am somewhat peeved about some of the critics’ comments about this movie. Many of them do not understand black life and they do not get it. They have not lived it and they misunderstand black life in all of its myriad forms. Yet, I sigh and take a step back as they have their rightful say.
First, it would take a week to tell all of Aretha’s 76 years of living on this earth. Respect is quite like a short story. It is not the whole enchilada. It offers its viewers a slice of life.Respect covers a twenty-year span of Aretha’s life and it does it quite well.
It takes risks because it touches upon topics that most people would rather not deal with and certainly not view. Sexual and physical child abuse and exploitation are never comfortable subjects. She endured all of these and most often by those people she trusted the most, as a motherless child.
I compare Aretha’s life to that pearl that evolves after much wringing, aggravation and irritation that goes on inside of the oyster shell. She was initially powerless to fight back against the powerful men who sought to control her. But, she took the reigns of the horses’ carriage and galloped on into greatness leaving them all gasping behind in the dust.
This pearl of God lives in the hearts of all. For those who are faint of heart, don’t see Respect and miss seeing what shaped this iconic gem. Those people should just go to YouTube and search for an Aretha concert and be entertained. But for the true thinkers and reflectors of life, go see Respect and see a grand piece of art on the big screen!
It is our charge to accept people as they are even when we do not fully understand them. Perhaps they do not fit into our spheres of operation, but it is our duty to remember that it is what it is.
Maybe we perceive them as slippery fish, busybodies, gossips, smooth criminals or tag them with other labels, but they are all still God’s children. Folks come in all shapes, sizes, and colors while dressed in a wide range of personalities. It is, not our job to change them; however we may positively impact a few along the way that are receptive to the tools we share from what we have learned along the way.
So, it is simply best to observe others. If we find their antics overwhelming at times, them look at the pathos and theatrics and seek the comical and humorous. Remember that laughter is still the best medicine.
Here is a poem from my novella, A Golden Leaf in Time Revised that Phoenix, the lead character, wrote after an emotional encounter.
“She calmed herself and reasserted her power to move forward at the guided and given time. She took solace with her pen and paper and wrote the following verse:
Who’s Foolin’ Who? Traveling on the expressway of life, I had another unexpected blowout. But in this world of sorrow and strife, I won’t sit around and pout. People have crises that run deep ’Cause they don’t know God at all. So they try to make others leap Or keep them blind ’til they fall. Then they can feel that all is well And not take responsibility for a solution, So they try to shut out those who may tell Of their sadness and sick pollution. But if eyes are of deep perception And hearts are of love for God, Then those with the crises are in deception ’Cause no one can harm a child of God!