In Which the Point is not Arrival

I think I can talk about tattoos all day. All day, everyday. Tattoos are awesome to me. Some tell stories, some don’t. Some look like an one-eyed inmate with cataracts did them and other’s look like they cost thousands of dollars for a celebrity artist to complete.  But ultimately, regardless of meaning or appearance, all tattoos go through the stages of itching and swelling.  Which is one reason why you probably want to make sure it looks the way and means what you want it to because you’ve got to do some suffering in the process of it retaining it’s permanency. I’ve currently just got two tattoos, a fact I’ve stated before so I apologize for my insistent redundancy. I want more, but I’m trying to save money right now so ink is currently at the bottom of my list of necessities.  Since mine are visible, as they are on my forearm and wrist, I get a couple of ink admirers who will compliment them. And most often I hear, “I want one! But I don’t want to go through the pain.” I usually try to calm their nerves and assure them that if their pain tolerance is high that they should be okay, but most often I think, “if you can’t endure the process, you can’t get the results.”And that’s true for most things in life.

We are a very destination oriented people. My pastor calls us the microwave generation. We’re in a hurry to get what we want, with less work. So instead of throwing those frozen chicken pot pies in the oven to cook, we’ll put them in the microwave though we acknowledge that they taste better fresh from the oven.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing because our generation is continuously creating systems and inventing technology which does things faster and more efficiently. I remember dial-up internet with AOL. God, that was a dark period in history….Ma used to fuss at us everyday during the summer because she would be calling the house to check on us and couldn’t get through because we were on the internet. Doing what? God only knows. I can’t even think of any useful or entertaining things that we had on the computer back then. But other times, faster and easier isn’t always better. Yet and still, no one likes a journey. NO ONE. You. Yea, you right there. NOT EVEN YOU! I can think of a thousand things I would like to do which require patience and practice, and it’s the patience and practice part that gets me every time. I’m currently trying to learn to play guitar and chord transitioning is eating me alive. My fingers start fumbling, my chords are distorted, I can’t move fast enough. It’s even more frustrating than when I took piano.  But I also realize that if I want to play guitar like Lianne La Havas then I need to continue to practice. God didn’t see fit that I should be a musical prodigy (thanks for nothing 4-C Jesus!) thus I have to hang in there and keep practicing.

Maybe our issue is that we can easily see the success of our peers on social media. We look at their Mercedes or their budding careers and can only see their achievement or their “arrival.” But rarely do they allow us to see their journey.  Some of them struggled in school and failed a class two or three times.  Some worked low-rung jobs to pay for school. Some may have dropped out and then re-enrolled without anyone knowing.  These are things that we often do not witness. And quite honestly, we ensure that no one knows that we might be scraping along in our journey, too.  I’ve never posted a job update or school update on Facebook. I rarely talk about my personal struggles on other outlets because you always have someone who comes along with a shady post saying that people should stop crying on Facebook about their problems. Or worse, once they hear about someone’s struggle they use it to demean or berate them. So we internalize the feeling that not arriving is shameful. While I’m not advising anyone go out there and start stripping to pay for college, I tip my hat off to women who do.  I don’t have the stamina, flexibility, or upper body strength for that so I probably wouldn’t make enough money to buy a 6-piece nugget from McDonalds. But they work a legal job, save their money, and use it for their books, rent, daycare funds, tuition, whatever it is they have to pay for. And I can’t look down on their arrival because their journey did not fit my idea of what I thought a journey should look like. I very much look at common illegal activities such as drug dealing the same way. Yes it’s illegal and no I wouldn’t advise it. But some people are doing what they can to get what they need. They just want to keep their lights on or help their parents with the mortgage, and they don’t have access to a job for whatever reason (because note that the largest portion of drug dealers who are busted come from lower income neighborhoods with poor school districts) But sidenote: if you deal with drugs and you get a certain amount of money, take a portion and invest in stocks or a business. This way you can let your money make money without you being involved in a dangerous illegal activity.  So there’s that. But the issue also stems from our society being so focused on the goal. We see all sorts of wealth and riches flashing before our eyes on television or on the internet. Yet, the same society that exposes us to the “American Dream” doesn’t provide everyone with the proper, legal avenues (journeys) to possibly attain it. So you end up with crime for survival. That’s my sociology tidbit for the day.

All in all, we all have to start somewhere to end somewhere. It would be nice to start at the finish line, but it’s impossible. And yes, some people are fortunate to start closer to the finish line than you, but it doesn’t make them better than you. And if they arrive earlier it doesn’t mean you’re inadequate.  We should accept that much of life is a process. Very little in life doesn’t require waiting. So instead of yelling at the cashier working the register or the CSR who picks up after you’ve been on hold for thirty minutes (mostly because it’s not their faults. And if it is, still be kind. Don’t make people’s life hard just because you’ve got your panties in a knot) understand not everything is immediate. And don’t judge someone else’s story or journey. If they’re still working their way through the muck and mire that is adulthood, then strap on your rubber boots and help dig them out. Or encourage them. Pray for them. Share your journey with them. Let people know they are not alone and that they have nothing to be ashamed of.  And don’t be shady about it either. Don’t get on social media talking about your new car and how you worked harder than everybody and they’re still struggling and “hahaha look at me now!” Don’t be flashy about your arrival. As much as I think Black Youngsta is the funniest person on the planet, I think he needs to watch himself carefully. It’s okay to relish in your success, or even reveal the extent of your achievement so that your peers who had similar struggles will know they can make it too. But don’t use it to down others (especially women. I dislike when they use “bitches and hos” so much. We understand you don’t mean all women. But this misogynistic culture has got to stop). And please…PLEASE….if someone shares their journey with you, intentionally or unintentionally, don’t be the nosy neighbor who has to find out every detail. If you see scars on someone’s arm which probably means they used to self-harm don’t ask them a thousand questions or stare at them. It makes people self conscious. And don’t think you’re entitled to every detail in their lives if they do share a bit with you. It’s weird. Stop it.

So that’s all for today.  I’m off to do literature and algebra before I watch my cartoons.