Waking Up

Yesterday, I spent a long while talking to another library worker about life. It’s fall. Louisiana is finally getting cold. It’s not the cold that exists in the Northern and New England American states where it’s more likely to snow and roads are almost always covered with black ice.

This cold is the kind that make you unsure about whether to choose a long-sleeve shirt or a hoodie jacket or both. It is a windy cold that blows hard and seeps in around and under your socks and shoes. It a cold that leaves you with sinus infections because tomorrow could be twenty degrees warmer.

We don’t have real winters here. When it does snow, the city is at a stand-still because there are no snow plows our government has paid for. If we had a snow plow or street clearer it would be used once every decade. This morning I woke up to a drafty home that has no central heat. But I was grateful for a roof that keeps most of the elements out. The roof is awesome given the years of hurricanes my grandmother’s house has seen.

Once I bathed and got my head on straight, I walked out to greet the finally turning auburn pecan tree in the yard.

I saw my cousin “stoop-ing”, perched on the step gazing into her iPhone. I decided to go over and talk to her about her day.

She is like a sister and she’s struggling through her 20’s just like I was. Although she’s a young woman she has that same cocky, curious, strong-willed spirit I had when I bore my college 20’s

She is trying to awake to the life around her. And she is wondering who is going to be consistent and listen to her. She is very unimpressed by words. She notices human patterns much faster than I did. She looks with urgency on the word and examines if speech connects action. She asks: What will you truly do when I help you? Will you fall away like the shedding leaves? Or will you be there? Will you judge me or will you teach me how not to fall back?

Fall or Autumn is a falling way. Trees shed like furry dogs trying to renew themselves with a touch God’s grace and environmental elements.

I worry more about my cousin as I join other adults in the circle of life. Am I walking worthy of the blessings God has given? Or am I like the colored leaf in the driveway?

Have I despite my effort failed at waking up to the fresh hell in my own backward?

In her falling, there is the sea of love. The erotic, the ethos, and the energy is a Charlotte’s Web of choice-points. There is the sea of ignorant men who tell her she’s pretty just so they might fool her with charm and status.

As she is growing into a tree that might not be moved, I look into her eyes. Her eyes speak volumes about the stress of being a woman. I have had to learn through her how not to use my maleness to treat her with nothing less than grace and elegance.

It is not easy to do. For I have fought. And I still fight the PROGRAMMING of my male community. I scream back to a persistent, gruff voice that says women are to be used for upward mobility.

And I have had to re-program my mind and heart toward gentleness. I am still falling way from a brotherhood that taught me that women are not deserving of real trust. I am falling away from a program that says women are only child-bearers, burden-bearers, saviors of men, and problem-fixers.

For in her eyes, her mother’s eyes, her auntie’s eyes, her grandmother’s eyes, I found my true essence of manhood.

I would hope that she knows that in my mind learning to value women like I value myself wasn’t some easy transition that I just happened upon. I have needed black women, white women, all kinds of women… to understand myself. I finally get what my own story should be. But I needed women to throw me about, to mine my heart for pure gold.

I learn to respect women only when I understand that they are gifts and not people to be owned or experimented with.

Only when brave, outspoken women awakened me to how I became a tool for sexism, for homophobia, for machismo, for false strength could I began a hard shift.

A woman inspired my librarianship. A woman taught me what a life without feeling is.

And women are my team-mates. And while I’ll never understand women… I don’t need to. I need to listen. I need to show mercy. I need to forgive. I need to shoulder weight. AND I NEED to wait.

Autumn leaves have their purpose. I can only hope that I continue celebrating the women who give me the ticket to my own authentic self.

The lens: thoughts, sights and fear

If I view Baton Rouge through my own lens I see education. When we do “schooling”, the idea is to bring out and bring forth something.

And Baton Rouge through my glasses is not always bringing forth the right emotions or lessons in me. Learning to hope using the lens I’ve been given is no easy or enjoyable task.  

If I peer into the frames of education’s walls I see: Baton Rouge Community College, FORTIS, Camelot, Remington, Delta, Southern University, Grambling University and University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Students are Colonels at Nicholls State, Lions at Southeastern, and War-hawks at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Louisiana is a slew of thought sloping high on plateaus of discussion, dialogue, knowledge and experience.

Racial bias or racial awareness taught me previously that I needed to use my lens to place one college, institution, or “thought-bucket” higher than the other.

They said: “Prize the more African-American leaning seats over the predominately white ones. You’re black and verily the black schools need all your energy.

But I cannot do that. You’d be shocked to know that I have no favorites. My lens is mixed up. For black people were not the only professors and counselors that propelled an educated, yet biased me, past the tired idea that the world turns on how predictable I am within the group.

If a lens is a transparent reflection, I must face the fact that life that there were just as many black, white, and red influences that shaped the new lens with which I stare at Baton Rouge each day.

The same lens shows me running like Sonic the Hedgehog away from news organizations that tell me to be “proud of Baton Rouge” without understand the source of my pride. I should be ever so sentimental while I see my black people killing other black people and threatening me with aggression because I willing choose education over the popular “thing of the day” that swirls around in the vast hurricane of trending topics.

What are our learning places bring forth? Are we bringing forth substance abusers who believe that the myth of Kanye West is the way to freedom? I see rap through a lens of negation. Surely, rap can be a positive art form. But I always see it fanning the flame of anger through my black brothers and sisters. This anger drives them to shoot and kill each other as well as the next person that says that they might be out of line.

I cannot let my lens believe that a single group is the enemy of me just because one man decides to mock and vandalize American society.

If a lens is your reflection, it takes a persistent and altogether different person and force of nature to convince you that your lens is so scratched up by the outside turbulence that you need new glasses.  

I should be proud of our city although I waited until after graduation to see Governor John Bel Edwards celebrate fixing the road fixed near Thomas H. Harris Hall, the place responsible for the English coursework that eventually got me a Bachelor’s.

Or should not I look deeper? My lens is a lens that finds me navigating life with Cerebral Palsy. I looked deep enough to find that a library was more than just stacks of books in an air-conditioned room waiting for someone to take them home.

I learned that a school is not just a building with classrooms of people that cheer for teams, games, matches, and letterman patches. Schools are ideas. And it humanity’s role to decide what looking glass matters the most. Are we just being program to use the clout of the network?

I’ve learned that the path toward a brighter, more vibrant and dynamic lens is examining one’s own energy.

My cousin said the other day: I don’t need your energy.

My energy has not always been filtered through a lens of shared responsibility. My energy before the journey of higher learning was selfishness, shame, and anger.

I believe that through the lens of my own disability, people owed me their sacrifices. I was so sheltered in this former life that I was scared to crack the protective coating of my lens and make a new one with which to see the world.

She doesn’t need my energy. What energy does she mean?

Is it my energy to listen to her concerns, the problem? Or perhaps it’s the energy to forgive her when I see falsehood and sabotage staring me in the face.

I needed someone else’s energy to call “foul” on my own stupid choices.  I needed a professor who had the energy to fail me until I could learn the proper value of a well-researched argument.

I need the energy of tireless women who told me every hour in their presence that the prescription in my lens was counterfeit.  

If I look at the energy of Audre’ Lorde, she’d say:

 Harold, your silence will kill you. I can no longer sit quietly and stare with a foggy lens at anyone who willfully chooses to complain about things that are changeable.

With a sober mind, I can’t say that “my energy” is always the right kind.

But as a story-teller and observer, I must take heart there will always be idiots that want “my energy” when agreement is easy.

And while schools have a direct effect on the power of confused people to do great small things, the lens through which trauma shines is a garbled, anxious mess of hurting people that co-op the peace of others because they are alone, unloved, and just too freaking afraid.

Worth and Cerebral Palsy

I don’t know who said this. But I’ve heard it several times from several different people and in several different, separately unique stories. Someone said: Make peace with your past swiftly because your enemies and fair-weather friends will bring it back to your remembering at the most inopportune time. 

Maybe, he or she or (they) — if they are gender-non conforming) — never said this with the right grammar rules applied. But this idea was always implied, inferred, suggested, underlined, and highlighted in my life experience. 

Accept your past… (the great spirit said) for it will come back to your remembrance at odd, WEIRD times.

So when I write ANYTHING… the sole purpose is usually excavating and mining the peace from my past. I write because I believe that personal stories matter. I write looking deeply for WORTH.

My Cerebral Palsy, a disability that I came out of the womb with, has been the adversary’s weapon. It has been closely associated with my ideas about WORTH.

I ask myself everyday what is this condition I have WORTH?

Cerebral Palsy is my past. But wait…It is also my present, My now… my (in the next ten minutes) and my “as long as I breathe.”

And when I’m done living on planet Earth, I will have lived a life with Cerebral Palsy in the present future tense. 

I did not always have peace with this disability. As a child, I fought against it. And for a significant period in my 20s, I believed I could make deliberate choices that might help me deny Cerebral Palsy and its pressing relevance to my success and failure. 

People today still are great at using Cerebral Palsy to attack my worth.

Yes, the same disability that made me adorable to doting grandmothers, well-meaning religious adherents, and “people just trying to help” also worked as a mechanism to keep me silent.

I’ve been gender mis-identified, sexually misfited,  called “too quiet”, deemed mentally-retarded, and these are just a few episodes of the ever-evolving narrative. I was always made to question how worthy I was. 

I was also introverted when I didn’t know what “INTROVERSION” was. 

And so there was for a long time… the idea that I’m in trouble if I acted, and then in just as much trouble if I kept quiet.    

If I stopped and tallied the number of instances and experiences that have amounted to  “keep silent because your life isn’t important enough”, I would already be rich enough to have my own home, at least one well-kept car, and one manuscript on the New York Times “Best” list. 

To go back to what I just said: I write to get peace with my past. And my past is very indicative of verbal abuse. And I let other people tell me what my “WORTH” was.

 
While some of the verbal abuse was characterized as “tough love” deemed to shake me up so that I might craft some arrogant speck of newfound bravery, most of it was unhealthy, unwarranted, and eventually toxic to the overall development of my own self-worth. 

What is self-worth? 

Sometimes it is rejection. When we develop a good sense of self-worth, we learn the difference between being used (for one’s resources) and being valued.

When you’re USED. You are the good time person. For as long as you are the life of the party, you are called upon. USED people are only good for the life of their product cycle, the second your product stop being good, people discard you.

But when you’re VALUED. There is worth generated on both sides. The group or person that values you gives you the space to change your mind. More dialogue flows through. Communication is a joint deal. And when both the giver and receiver get VALUE, there is less opportunity to feel scared about stating facts, even when those facts are hard to digest.  

So worth begins with a PURPOSEFUL rejection. The rejection I am talking about is of the graceful kind. It is a REAL and deliberate weighing of what is really VALUABLE. and asks Is my action, task, or motivation (valued enough) for me, for others, for society’s betterment. 

How does this rejection relate to making peace with your past? 

In my past, I relished the role of sidekick. I was the sidekick in a movie where the film’s purpose is forever shrouded in mysteriously vague theming.

 Sure, you can act the part. You know your lines. You’ve anticipated when the characters in your movie do what they do. But after several months of production and executing your role, you’ve accepted interviews and accolades and still cannot understand why you agreed to play the side-kick. 

Cerebral Palsy made me the sidekick to myself. In the service of others, I lost myself.

And when I tried to make peace and find myself. The word arrogance kept coming up. When I stated my needs and tried to talk about achieving balance, I would get an argument about why what I asked for was not worth a discussion… and there was NO compromise.

COM- PROMISE (com) means TOGETHER , promise (agreement to do something)

But I really don’t think that people know the meaning of arrogant. To be arrogant is to claim yourself. Sure. But when you’re truly arrogant… the root is altogether NEGATIVE. You claim yourself with no space for another person’s point of view. 

In order to find my “WORTH”, I needed to work on learning to limit, manage, or classify the various points of view that were webbed into my own environments. Maybe, that’s why I’ve grown to appreciate keeping records.

Maybe that’s why I started reading so much. To read well, I had to limit how many people… and how many viewpoints distracted me.

For me, worth is refocused as strength.

I’ve noticed that whenever I speak authentically about worth, guilt always shows up around the corner. But I can no longer use guilt to frame my road ahead.

Silence really does equal death. The longer I allow my worth to be determined by a well-meaning person that is fearful of listening to the facts, the more I cut myself and my community off from evolving, growing, and learning.

I do have a physical limitation. But if my worth is only shaped by my physical limitation, how then can people who have never experienced Cerebral Palsy understand the prejudice that reveals itself in a structure that says you’re only human based on what you’re able to do?

I must continue rejecting ableism. I must reject your idea that I am “helpless”. I must re-frame the notion that I should fade into the background. There is no “I hope that you get better.” Because this disability does not “get better” in the sense that I’ll be “ABLE” like you.

And I am a person of faith. I tell God everyday that I’m glad to live this life.

You are incorrect to assume that because my Cerebral Palsy is “happening” that I cannot pray enough, or serve God enough.

I’m sure that most of you don’t realize that your assumptions about how “worthy” I am at life are not always about making me feel inferior. But sometimes they do.

I am worthy enough to be me. You are worthy enough to be you.

Tip: The next time you tell a disabled person (like myself) why don’t they just break your legs? Ask yourself how you’d feel if the doctor simply decided to break your legs.

Just because my Cerebral Palsy is uncomfortable for you to see… that does not mean I am always uncomfortable. I have gone from torturing myself about my worthiness to choosing when and how to start a conversation.

And while conversations about disability are difficult and awkward… it beats staring at a person (that is staring at me) and waiting for them to say something offensive.


Bully


I find it fascinating that bullion means “gold” . Supposedly, the Anglo-French built a word family around boiling, skimming, and trimming.  The next two terms in my digitized Collins Dictionary are “Bull-ous” and it means “blistered

And then there is the word “bully”. 

If you need context about any word, a worthy dictionary often includes basic knowledge about a word’s country of origin it’s related language sisters and brothers. When I was an undergrad, it was really important to know how words were built. Every language builds words a bit differently. 

Still, I knew the word bully meant long before I looked it up.   

In  case you’re wondering…

A bully is a person who hurts, routinely bothers, threatens, and weakens someone else. I never needed to go to school even to know what a bully was. 

So maybe a bully is the golden boiling down of a weaker being’s essence. Yes, a bully is a blistering heat striker in the poetic sense. 

My first bully was often an elder. Usually, it was an arrogant person who gave me an order. And because I did not always feel worthy enough to be curious, I complied most urgently. 

Many elders of the (old-school), men and women that grew up in the 40s, 50s, 60s and before, were products of bullying. If you were lucky enough not to have terribly rough parents, you had rough neighborhoods to harden your resolve.. 

My point is: intimidation got results. 

My adolescent years are filled with memories of adults saying: “If I have to tell you one more time…” 

There were clauses like: 

“I’ll beat the black off of you… 

   Man, I’ll punch you 

                                    I’ll slap you

                                   Don’t be a wimp, or a girl. Be a man. 

When you’re a boy growing into a man. Men learn early or hallmark job is to dominate or subdue. 

Men are either at the seat of honor…. Or we’re pawns in a cycle of generational abuse that we’ve been taught to emulate. 

Paul’s Roman letter talks about confession and how confession is part of salvation. 

Have you ever read the 10th chapter of Romans slowly and really thought about what it means? 

Somewhere about the 9th or 12 verse… you’ll come to  faith comes by hearing. 

I’ll always believe that we believe what we hear about ourselves from others, more frequently than we believe other facts about us that have never been said. 

There is power in confession. 

So if a person is surrounded by bullies for many years, the trauma from years of threats, cut-downs, assaults, and wars will be difficult to overcome without the proper support. 

When your a person of faith and spirituality, you’re often bombarded with message of how positive and abundant faith is supposed to be. But there are two or three sides to every developing story. And bullying is a persistent reminder that evil is always just as present as good.

A bully is good at making sure a low or more sensitive person develops “a bad hope”. 

Your brain is “programmable”. And bullies that are threatened by your unique abilities will find a way to produce content and shows with your shy or sensitive mind frame that tell you that your talents are useless except in the frame that works best for your “bully”. 

It’s as if you’re the golden ticket, and your bully is Wonka telling you that you’re denied access unless __________ or _________ happens. 

As a disabled man, I am constantly changing my mental programming to match my growth potential. I noticed that within the last several months. I have edited down the amount of television I watch. Because the stories on most network television shows are not matching the level of curiosity that I have about the world around me. 

This is what I mean by changing your program. A bully is set on the weaker person’s shame. 

The “stronger” bully will use a subversive program to get you away from the things that drive your mental and spiritual growth. 

Recently, I have been keeping track of the (hate speech) that I’ve thrown at people. I notice that when I heard programming—-music, stories, films, and other media—that lacked purpose and insight, I was more likely to bully myself and my neighbors with negative talk. 

For me, when I did not spend time evaluating the purpose, intent, and emotions of my routines and choice-points, I would fight to dominate the conversations, stories, and tastes of other people. 

And men are socialized into being bullies because we see it in very small ways across a vast amount of platforms everyday in contemporary media. 

Recently, I have scratched the surface about how I became the very bully that I was fighting hard to avoid. 

Because I was constantly sharing space with men and women who were “bull-ish” and aggressive in the leadership styles, I once believed I had to be like they were to achieve my own version of success. 

It is terribly important to ask ourselves about our self-talk. We must ask ourselves about the conversations we allow ourselves to participate in. We must be aware of what happens internally and emotional when we allow a bully into our cone of influence. 

A bully is subtle. A bully will not always appear to be harmful. A bully is not always identified by success. Sometimes bullies are “golden”, a rock caught in the cog of progress.  

I am a man who used to bully people with my words because I got bullied. It’s a fact. 

I would judge others more than I listened. I would be so motivated by self-interest that I could not account for the times when I shut authentic support out. 

The flattering person can very well be a bully in disguise. In my reconnection with own introversion, I am learning the subtle pitfalls of bad actors. 

Sometimes bullion is a rock painted gold. 

ELIJAH

I have never been to Baltimore, Maryland. I have never seen Elijah Cummings in person. I have never met his family and I cannot imagine the gravity of mourning his friends and colleagues are facing. However, when I saw him on my television presiding over a very tense committee of Democrats and Republicans once, twice, or perhaps three times, I stopped in my tracks. 

Here was a man that reminded me of the power that under-girds an African-American father’s love for his children. Cummings had children that did not always look like him. His children did not originate from the same social strata. 

I think it helps that I had not seen him as a student of political science, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, or a lawyer primed from the foundry of Howard University. 

I’m elated that I did not know he wrote a newspaper column.

The knowledge of his past accomplishments might have stoked arrogance in me: the same arrogance that arises when a seedling of a pupil tries to use his knowledge as a false substitute for life experience and surety. 

 A week ago Congressman Cummings wrote about how rising drug costs make it nearly impossible to receive life-saving treatment when you’re an elderly American. 

Among the bills Cummings supported was H.R 448, the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act.

This bill if passed could cut the amount of money I’d pay out of pocket if I need a drug I cannot afford. (448) is a concept law that would allow negotiation and grants to help low-income people like me have the ability to get treatment. 

I recently became eligible for Medicare given my status as an adult with Cerebral Palsy. I only recently learned about how expensive health insurance becomes once you age out of the service cap that exists mainly for youth and children. 

When I saw the Honorable Mr. Cummings preside, I remembered singing the hymn: “Elijah Rock, from my choral days in school. And I got happy because I knew that Mr. Cummings was stating ideas that I had been thinking. 

It was beautiful to see him speak clearly and precisely about his reservations about the nefariousness of the Trump Administration. I can only gather that he had the pride and discretion of most people I know that serve others during a major illness. 

Elijah Cummings lived to be 68 years old. Sickness seemed not to deter his drive to serve his fellow Americans. I have known many elderly people living with sickness who bravely attuned themselves to the needs of others. Psalms 90 speaks of the futility of human plans, how our days are ordered. For 70 years lived is a graceful victory. 

He made it, sans two of them. If anything Psalms 90 is painful reminder that we should not spend our lives without God’s mercy. O, that we know that we don’t have to be doing whatever it is we are doing!

I find that it is often challenging to live with Cerebral Palsy and serve the patrons of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library System. But Elijah Cummings as an orator and human being reminded me that service to others has less to do with how you feel about them, and more about the will to search for the good in troubling situations. 

I learned from the small minutes and moments in between strife and contention that television only tells the story we fantasize about… and not the story begging to be discovered underneath. 

I can only hope that as I continue gaining ground in public service that I number my days and people see my professional life going forward as an extension to focus on what I have in common with others versus the ocean of disparate details that drive me ever closer to enmity. 

Thank you for your public service, Mr. Cummings. You made me proud to be a Black American man. I would hope that I can use some part of your example to increase dialogue between people fighting for survival in our complex and passionate nation.

About Mental Health and Suicide: My Journey

I had considered suicide. When you’re born with a neurological disability and placed in a world that pays so much attention to appearances, it’s difficult to get the right feedback about whether your life has value. 

My first thoughts of sucide attempt began when I was 13. I think this may have been when I discovered binge-eating. My grandmother placed much weight on making sure that I got enough to eat. In fact, she even could be accused of giving me an overabundance of food. 

In her defense, she shared later that her generation was different. She was terribly worried about everyone eating well because things were not always this way when she was growing up. 

I always loved my grandmother’s cooking. But I had gone from eating portions of food, to eating huge spreads of food in one or two sittings. This ebbed and flowed for years after she adopted me. 

Food was the way to the heart. One day, I ate one plate of red beans rice and cornbread. Or was it sphagetti and chicken with french bread. It’s hard to remember which dish it was. Grandmother was a champion at food preparation for many people. 

 Anyway. I had what I thought was a reasonable helping of the dish. And I  was done eating.

 My grandmother took this to mean that she was counterfeit because surely I didn’t like her food anymore. I was customary that I ask for more. 

 Surely, she was to blame for why I didn’t want more food. 

When you’re in Louisiana or maybe any Southern state,  it’s an insult to refuse cooked food when it’s offered. Elders believe it to be sacrilegious because it’s a point of connection. The idea is: 

“If you cannot eat with us, you don’t like / love / or accept us.”

 Because there were times when my grandmother used food as a method of control and manipulation, I began either starving myself or waiting until the wee-hours of the night to get food. 

With food and community came chores. If you had the nerve to eat at the table, you cleaned and cleared the kitchen, table, dishes, floors, and whatever else was used in “preparation”. 

I believed that if I ate more, I’d bulk up. When I didn’t bulk up, I believed I was not a worthy enough person. After all, my dad was a corrections officer. My uncle became a firefighter. My step-father painted homes, My grandfather steam-cleaned houses. 

I was disabled, rail thin… and not very physical. I associated my male-ness with the men I saw around me. They all very physical, tough people. And I wasn’t tough enough. 

So I considered ending my life. I didn’t think anyone needed me enough. My grandmother seemed to only appreciate me when I fit her standard of who she wanted me to be. My dad only seemed to care about me when I was perceived as LOUD and SCARY. 

Beyond a song, a great poem, a speech, or a recitation, what could I truly contribute to the sea of people around me who seemed to have it all together. 

When I first heard Avril Lavigne’s Ordinary, I became serious about suicide. I identified with the verse in the song that spoke about “feeling danger just to feel alive.” 

I was going to write a note and take some sleeping pills. I had been left alone so much. That I was sure I could get away from the world without being noticed. 

How did  I save myself? 

The truth is: I didn’t. I did not know that people were praying for me. I didn’t know that my mentoring teacher and English teacher, librarian, and guidance counselor had seen me. I didn’t know that many people saw what I’d gone through without needing to know everything about me.

I didn’t know that in my writing there was a future story I’d tell. 

The journey of faith hasn’t been easy for me. I think my life changed the most when I almost lost my life. 

I was dating someone who was my polar opposite. Blinded by my “love”, I was not aware of how destructive our relationship was.

When a speeding drunk driver knocked me unconscious in the Spring of 2011, I decided to trust God. I only had to get killed once to understand that my life has to matter to ME. 

I WAS UNCONSCIOUS according to the people I had been with … for 7 minutes. 

When I came to… I knew I would CHANGE my heart. I knew I would refocus on God.

There are many people in the world entangled with risky people. These people don’t truly value life. Or they wouldn’t purposely endanger themselves. 

Hunter Hayes writes: “Soul be still. Stay where you are. And take the time to take a breath and count the stars. “ (Wild Blue, Part One ) 

The Los Angeles Times wrote in June 2019 that suicide rates are at their highest since the 1960s. That is almost 15% per every 100,000 people. I’m glad that I beat suicide. But it took a community of people who saw me differently. It took a person willing to look deeper and change himself.  I am learning to take a breath and renew my own strength. But it has taken an exercise in knowing that others are struggling just like me. I have to know that I cannot give up on myself. 

From Yellow to White

For the past several weeks, Blessed are those who mourn has reverberated in my head. When I distract myself with tasks, it whispers clearly once the chaos settles. Matthew 5:4 just dwells.

By faith, I might make 35 years old in the coming December. I thought I was done mourning. But God has said no. Today again came: Blessed are they that mourn. That pesky verse from the Sermon on the Mount does not relent.

And with it I pause and see the word “suffer” as though it is written across the top of my forehead. In many ways, Cerebral Palsy has branded me with that word.

Suffer…. then mourn

Then suffer again.

Very few can conceptualize why internally I project as though I am fighting against the grain of my reality. I took a moment today and looked around the memories of my grandmother’s old home.

The home that sheltered me from Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, and Rita. The home that was a stream of drunkeness, ridicule, hard conversations, and card games. This home is and was the seat of sibling rivalry, spiritual gathering, worldly pursuits, and dirty secrets.

For all the blessing such a home gave, it remains a solid shell of the season to come. In its walls inhibit the tears of a clown, the heartache of divorce, the shadow of death, and the breeding of new growth.

I woke up from slumber today in the waning light of the sun. The light makes walls look like a pungent yellow. The only yellow that resembles it is the color of cloudy urine. It’s a yellow that browns like craters, lingers upon unclean counter-tops, a ghastly yellow like the nicotine droppings upon edges of a newly printed storybook.

That some color blotted the cleanliness of a New York home in Baldwin’s mountaintop story. And I realized that yellow even with new fixtures, boards, plaster, paints, and wall coverings might never be totally gone.

I mourned about that yellow as I poured cheap coffee in the East Baton Rouge Parish Library mug that I had received for reading books, words of life on slates of promise.

And I sat down smiling at God for the little bit of faith I had that brought me to this Monday.

Success with the library system is a gift that comes directly from the worried sadness I feel constantly. I made myself a tuna sandwich and a spinach side salad and listened to a song by Jordan Feliz. The song was called “Never Too Far Gone.”

When I get quiet in the silence of my own mind, I don’t value the persistent hum of speeding cars pulling aimlessly into driveways, whirring lawn equipment washing away the leaves of a timid season, or striving rifts between men and women who have already pledged in their tones to talk at each other rather than addressing their grievous feelings.

I have faith that God has not forgotten me. When I added my picture among the billions of images that inundate the Facebook and Instagram servers, a bit of suffering lingered behind my smile.

Yesterday was World Cerebral Palsy Day. This is a day I try and remember as hallowed because Cerebral Palsy has been how I got educated. Cerebral Palsy is how I got humiliated. And it’s also what I am first…even before I realized the full weight of being black and male.

I used to scorn Oprah’s character in The Color Purple. I used to tell myself she was ignorant for sharing how often she had to fight within her sectioned off Southern world. But for a long time, I was Sofia and I could no longer mock her because I finally understood her pain. I finally realized what a life of anger and pain does to a fragile heart.

I used to believe that all my suffering was made manifest in arthritis, in the immovability of joints, the tremor of veins, the stiffness of palettes.

I thought it was in being alone. Now I know that suffering is simply part of the joy of life.

I had to become acquainted with the different seasons of suffering before I had the knowledge to look deeper. I now understand that my suffering is not about yellow, the bloody ruddy orange of release. My suffering is a condition of understanding that peace is present in releasing things.

I’ve released people into the atmosphere realizing that I can matter without needing to court them. I am learning how to travel light, to dream beyond the yellow wallpaper, to seek my own vessels.

I have become content with watching the train pass. And I have boarded my own car.

Mourning and suffering is a process we should not run away from. Because I did not release my sadness properly, God has allowed it to show up in triggers, songs, tales, and stories that connect the cord to his grace.

The strum of information does not stop. I have stopped myself. I need to pause, to process, to cancel, to consider, to connect with God more than I connect with the trouble of the world.

In my English, I find him. He sits there explaining to me that information is power. In my streaming music selections, I see him telling me to appreciate his grace. In my shifting opinion, I see Jesus orchestrating my perfection.

I am in the midst of a purge. I do have Cerebral Palsy. But I am slowly and steadily aware that some people I once valued cannot join me on this new journey. I am being made new in this current season.

There are different pieces to THIS puzzle, pieces propelling me AWAY from my comfort zone. And I cannot simply forgo worshipping God just because one person is not ready. I’m ready to go and live in the light. I take no thought whether I am followed.

God does allow suffering. He does allow mourning. But through the tears, he will turn putrid, stained yellow into white. He takes my weathered eyes and releases my triggers. I have anxiety about what is to come. But God is my balance beam. And I must spread myself upon the new plane.

I must scatter my bread upon the water and chase authenticity. For one full connection is a thousand times better than three frayed, wiry fragments.

For a fragment of suffering is poison for a season of complete sentences.