Once upon a time I was led into a Brooklyn basement in the name of enlightenment. One could also refer to this as curiosity killing a cat. But I, the cat, apparently had nine lives, so the journey was par for the course. I was looking for something new, something to change my life, a new machine to be a part of. I was young then, and like most young people, my first order of the business was to run away from the things I didn’t understand. I had grown up in protected spaces. I spent a lot of my time in the Baptist church, a lot of my time in studying and school activities and the rest of the time in places and spaces where my parents either knew that I would be safe or where they always had access to me. There was no imminent danger. The door never got kicked in. The lights never went out. But I still didn’t like the way it made me feel. So I went looking for new parents.
I found actors willing to accept those roles, but mostly for their own selfish purposes. For them, as is the case with most parents, I was either clay to be molded and developed, or a battery nurtured to help run their own machines while keeping me powerless. While there had always been love at home, these people synthesized a bootleg version of it, a magnet for the certain set of iron filings within that I barely knew existed. The next thing I knew, like Eddie and Martin in that so-so effort I think we’d all wanted more out of (due to the super hype in the collabo) I found myself trapped in a box of sorts, consorting only with other cohorts and felons guilty of the same crime, seemingly for life.
One you spend enough time in a box you stop seeing the walls, the limitations on what you can do and where you can go. The blockages become limits, the amount of space you’re given for the rent you pay each month. Whether you realize it or not you start to feel that not only do you need the limited space, but the space also needs you. You become happy with it because it’s yours, no longer thinking about the world outside of it, until time, or circumstances, or intervention, sets you free. God, as is true of all things, invented the blessing in disguise. So when I learned that the world where I lived, one where I’d been given a window seat for the glamour and glitz on one side, and consistency, safety and security on the other, was not enough for me.
Sure my job and my friends and my relationships had allowed me to appreciate a certain kind of status, keys to certain cities and the knowledge that I was someone who people liked knowing, someone who they wanted to be around. But what I didn’t firmly see was that they were getting much more from me than I was from them. They were fang marks on either side of my neck, surrounded by my own dried blood. Thus the only course of action was that there was some staking to do. The cleaning of house was involved and took a long time, but when I was finished my one-bedroom apartment had been transformed into an empty townhouse that I owned the deed to. The next course of action was meditating on what I needed to fill it with.
Which pieces went where? Where did I sleep? What and who truly contemplated the space? With the answer to each question I found myself with a new part of myself, one that had always been there, but that I’d covered over with doubt and fear and a misunderstanding that my enemies had some kind of a grand plan. They lived their life like bumper cars, never trying to get around the track, but merely to collide with others to keep them from doing the same. It wasn’t personal. They were just people. And the more time I spent thinking that it was more complicated than that, the less time I was spending making things better for myself.
One of my best friends is father to an eight-month-old boy. From time to time I have watched his son when there wasn’t a sitter. I remember him from the time he was the size of a football, to the agile, teething handful he is now. In his journey to understand the world from a crawling position on the basement floor, he is instantly attracted to the very things his parents want him to avoid: the cords to pull on, the shiny expensive things that he only knows how to pick up and then slam down. He does not like being left to his own devices in the play pen, but loves watching and touching whatever I watch and touch. It’s because interesting because I’m interested in it. He wants to know what to be. And during those given points when I visit, I am the only person there to show him.
Children are both joy and hard work. The joy comes in their innocence, their ability to move intuitively and act and communicate without judgement or bitterness. And they are always evolving. So when we go away and come back something about them has always changed. At some point, when our bodies stop growing, we let our minds and our experiences do the same thing. We settle for the boxes we build for ourselves and settle into our subdivisions and neighborhoods and cities because they are all we know, all that we’ve taken the time to explore. Remembering that I was once a four-toothed child whose needs were always provided for, I came to take a larger look at my role as a ‘self’ under God in the universe. I might not like certain kinds of confinement. I might miss certain kinds of comfort. But, here, I’ve gotten all the things I’ve needed to grow, to comprehend and to hopefully be a better and more developed person than than the souls and DNA that created me.
With my specific set of urges, tendencies and issues I needed to let the Divine step in and steer me out of the wilderness where I’d wandered, a dark wood filled with shadowy creatures either in search of their next meal, or others to hunt with. The team you choose says everything about you. But before my rescue I had to learn how to pull back the bow and release the arrow towards the opposition, and to farm what I needed to heal and grow. Months ago, when frustrated by where I was and the lack of movement I seemed to experience, I had a dream where a woman asked me if my current situation was “a gift, or prison”? Now I know the answer. And I’m pretty damn appreciative of the box with the bow on it.