20 Lessons Learned in 2015

Being human doesn't mean perfection. it means you live and learn and love and grow into yourself a little more each day, and pray you get as close to getting right as you possibly can. Word up.
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I. It's okay to love someone from a distance; to give them space and allow the time to heal at their own pace.

II. There is no love if there is dishonesty. You can't shield the folks you care about from harm by hiding things or being selective with what you "think" they need or want to hear. In the long run, you are potentially doing more harm than good.

III. Let people surprise you. I've had the tendency in the past to put certain expectations on people based on behaviors I've witnessed in the past. That's all well and good, that keeps us safe and this kind of rationale is what kept us alert back when we would hunt bears and shit. But, the moments when I've let the expectations go, and allowed folks to flourish in the present moment, I always left feeling better about the exchange.

IV. It's okay to be good at multiple things, and to pursue all of those tenaciously and with vigor. That "focus on one thing" shit is for el birds. and I'm not talking multitasking...I'm talking about taking the time to write, audition, sing to your daughter, record some music, work out, write a screenplay, work on a book, build creative shit like Ashley Simpo, make Golden Girls coasters like Alicia Lenae, run Delaware like Shefon Nachelle...whatever.

V. Which leads me to this: discernment. Discernment over everything. Because wanting to do all of those things is a beautiful gesture, and the actual doing of those things is more beautifuller...sure, fine. But, when these things are distractions keeping you from dealing with your reality of a failing marriage or broken relationship with your children, or a dysfunctional work situation, then it really isn't beneficial.

VI. The intentions behind the love you give are just as imperative as the actual love being given. You won't get it right all the time because, human. However, you increase your chances for leading a life worth telling your babies or puppies or Chia Pet about if you're leading with that value system in place.

VII. The love for a child, for your offspring, will forever surpass any kind of love you will ever feel. Even now as I type this, my 5 week old little one is in Texas for the holiday, and even though I'll be there in a matter of days, the minor moments being missed are just a reminder of how vast that kind of love is. It traverses time and space and logic. Nothing like that.

VIII. There is no path. There is no right way. There ain't no road map, no course of direction or action that will get you to whatever promise land you dream of. You, as a singular being, will discover that at your own time, at your own pace. You live your life and crash and burn and flail your arms, but you will also grow and become resilient as fuck because the choices you will have made will have been your own and no one else's, and there is a certain type of freedom and glory in that.

IX. The older you get, the easier it becomes to just settle into who and what you are, or aren't. You start sensing what feels good to you, and you tend to gravitate to that more. You seek it, and then it finds you, if you're being open and honest about who you are and what that means. Meaning, you're not your behaviors and habits or actions. Your "self" changes every day, and embracing that makes living a helluva lot more heart-warming and welcoming.

X. God is whomever you want it, and not want it, to be. Sometimes, I see God in my mama. Other times, my daughter. Often times, in trees and the wind. Frankly, God shows up in my mirror. Some don't see a God at all, and that's dope too.

XI. Also, shut the fuck up and let folks believe in or not believe in whatever they want. Unless said opinion or thought system is destructive and could ruin the world (i.e. Hitler, Darth Vader, Cobra Commander...Donald Trump), you don't have to sway folks into agreeing and thinking that your beliefs should be there's too. Because that's what is so damn wonderful about being a human being: free choice, free will.

XII. Human beings are the most wonderful species on planet earth.

XIII. Human beings are the most destructive species on planet earth.

XIV. Differing views and opinions doesn't mean there is a lack of love or appreciation for the person. Prime example -- I went to a holiday party and met Jack. Jack was just married with a bomb demeanor, and lived out in D.C. We had cool ass convo and laughed and such. Later, we would follow each other on Twitter and found out he was a Republican. Normally, I would have to catch my vomit, but I caught myself. Because a political affiliation, a religious choice, heck even being a Panther or Cowboy fan (Giants forever), does not dictate the humanness of the individual. I learned a valuable lesson: to stop devaluing a person based on what or whom they identify themselves as.

XV. The learning never stops. Had a good convo with Joe, an early 60's former veteran with a heart of gold. Recounted a story to me about how he learned how to be open about a situation he had recently went through. I was blown away. I guess I was always under the impression that once you reached 50 you got on your Dalai Lama, Yoda shit and all the answers of the universe fell in your lap, but nah. The learning never stops.

XVI. Stop clinging to shit. Like, stop. Work for things, love what you do, believe in the process, but if it doesn't go the way you wanted, move away and let it go. Easier said than do, and is a constant practice, but a practice worth observing.

XVII. Talk about race: with White friends, Black friends, Asian friends, all of 'em. Don't be scared. Because Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, because clocks can be bombs, because #BlackLivesMatter.

XVIII. Admitting you're wrong is so damn healing. It frees you from having to prove yourself, and it allows the other individual to breathe a sigh of relief, because they too can now be as vulnerable as you are.

XIX. It is so alright to be who you are, and to stick to your guns. Clinging and attachment is different than being fluid in your living, but aware of your value system, and honoring that. Dave Chappelle's father once told him, "Know your price upfront". True that, Dave Chappelle's pops.

XX. "Being your best self" won't happen every day. You get a cold, you get laid off, you lose someone you love. Give yourself room to be in those spaces. Being human doesn't mean perfection. it means you live and learn and love and grow into yourself a little more each day, and pray you get as close to getting right as you possibly can. Word up.