Monday, August 31, 2009

"Superman High" PUREMUSIC REMIX by Verbal Kwest



Click link below to download (then, click "Download File" on that page, for my elementary users)

http://www.zshare.net/audio/6493722233ca7883/

Enjoy! This one is nuts. Breeve got on and crushed it, sent it to me, and here we are. Just a lil something to wet the pallet until "Batman & Batman" drops. We're about done. Lov.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Summer Requiem: "Heroes Eventually Die"


I spent the past couple of days at a monastery in Conyers, Georgia, as my frenetic and explosive summer came to an end. Without question it has been the most developmental summer of my life, and I have grown better at many things. Through my experience though - certainly not forgetting the social and spiritual backlash of some of my errings - I've become a better man. The guy who carries out my destiny looks a lot like the guy in the mirror now. It's exciting.

I went to Atlanta, Grand Rapids, Charlotte (and Raleigh, smh), New York, and Rome. I was reaffirmed that the awareness of a bigger world CAN shrink the ego. That's always good.

I told friends things I never wanted anyone to know. I became transparent and vulnerable (something I simply DON'T do). And it was good to share, to release some things that held me down, to people I trusted to tell no one.

OF COURSE THEY TOLD. When all else fails, "discuss someone else's business." I couldn't even be mad. I expected people to suddenly become who they weren't.

When I told friends things, they wanted to know more. Suddenly my autobiography of Triumph and Brokenness became a reality show for other broken people (it's easy to consume others). I was writing an album, and after writing insights in my journal for 2 months it became clear to me I wasn't writing an album anymore. I was venting. I was growing. I was shedding an old skin that haunted me, while visiting churches and finding new sites/people that were certain to join me in my next phase. I was becoming the me that I always was.

I spent my youth being many people's hero. Sure, I was a colleague and a boyfriend, a student, a leader, and J.Kwest (well, Kwestchild back then)...but I was a HERO. I was counted on and always given the benefit of doubt. I was the MAN. I went to Morehouse and found what all college freshmen find: Hero's Poison. I drank and found an ugly, undiscovered self lurking in the shadows. Soon I recovered, and graduated, as a hero.

The Outkast song, "Aquemini", says, "Even the sun goes down/heroes eventually...DIE." That's what this summer was about for me. Heroes stand in place of people. When the people are ready, heroes HAVE to die.

I intended to study the church and ended up studying myself. I had just enough time alone to sit with every meandering question of my existence. It was painful, but necessary. I found fear, selfishness, pride, lust; you know, nothing of particularly great value and everything THE MAN would want to hide. I made a different decision though. I wasn't going to hide them, I was going to embrace them as I dismissed them. Overcoming each would mean coming a step closer to my "invisible destination."

It also meant for EACH I would have to confront the person/situation that had been it's catalyst (we're in the "not a game" territory now). It meant some people I truly care for would probably be hurt. THE MAN doesn't hurt people. And there comes a time when you stop trying to be THE MAN and start being A MAN.

I hurt myself a lot this summer, and many summers prior, and many people in 26 years...but heroes die.

I had to deconstruct years of insecurity and find silence from those I wanted so badly to please...but heroes die.

I had to talk to myself about the things that would hurt anyone else to understand...a hero was dying and he had to die alone.

*I'm rambling*

My project directors for FTE are The Good Rev. Ellen Purdum and The Right Rev. Melissa Wigginton. A year ago they committed without knowing to being my guardians, and they have LISTENED me through the lean times (because listening is the virtue our generation simply fails at the most). Today as I was preparing to leave, reflecting on the sheer magnanimity of God's grace and thinking of how I would find a way to EARN it without a hero's costume on, Melissa and Ellen sat next to me and asked me a series of questions. All good questions, but their significance suffers under the weight of perhaps the most important question ANYONE has EVER asked me:

"Is this the best you see for yourself?"

(silence)

It wasn't a judgmental question. She didn't know the answer. She didn't feel like she needed to know the answer. She wanted me to know the answer, and she was willing to listen me to it. That, my friends, is the type of wisdom Solomon asked for.

The question is simple: Is this life you are living right now/this decision/this plan/this circle of people/this faith/this WHATEVER...the BEST you SEE for YOURSELF? If so, ask God for ways to make it even stronger and more focused. If not, pick up a piece of paper RIGHT NOW and figure out what of the past/present/future is out of place. Commit to an immediate change. You will save yourself a lot of everything. You may even save yourself.


Sure, it was Doomsday for Superman over here, and a hero over there will soon pass away, but before you ask the questions or embrace the insecurities of an unknown (and possibly alone) future, simply ask yourself:

"Is this the best I see for myself?"

It's the ultimate searching question, and you may be surprised at your own answers. Lov.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

When in Rome...(Highlights...ENGAGEMENT?!?)

Io ritornai da la santissima'onda
riffato si come piante novelle
rinovellate di novella fronda
puro e disposto a salire a le stelle.


I returned from the holiest wave
remade like new plants
renewed from a new leaf
pure and ready to climb to the stars.

-Dante, from "Paradiso"

I should say more, and about some different things. The first is the city. Rome is CROWDED in the summer, but as "bella" (beautiful) as any city in the world. Modernity and antiquity often have a weird mix in European cities, but not so much in Rome. There aren't many bright lights but for a history buff like me it was rich in everything else I wanted (c. Bernini fountains, old churches that feel like God was actually THERE at some point, the Vatican, etc.). Speaking of "rich", one liter of water was about the equivalent of 6-8 USD...EVERYTHING costs too much.

(I should thank the good people at Fund for Theological Education for funding this trip for me, and the good folks at Trinity UCC/Chicago for making it possible that I could bring along a friend. My loyalty to BOTH is undying)

Her name is Mallorie, and in 6 years of dealings we had never been on a plane together. We all the way changed that.

Pictures above will tell the story, and I'd be more than glad to trade insights whenever we may be blessed to share the same space again. Suffice it to say, it was an awesome trip - one with little sleep, wandering the city lost at night (Rome is INCREDIBLY safe), plenty of pasta and pizza, the most walking, and getting to know a woman who -by my own selfishness- I had given only pieces of me for quite some time.

My favorite area of Rome was Piazza Navona. I knew it would be once I saw "Angels and Demons" and the Bernini fountain "Quatro Fiumi." Breathtaking imagery and symbolism. Being around Bernini and Michelangelo was inspiring in a way that most artists will understand. It's almost spiritual to witness the work of someone at their best (word to "Kind of Blue", "Songs in the Key of Life"). Being in that space made me a better writer.

International travelers will feel me here: it's easy to get caught up in a particularly Western way of seeing the world and one's self (read: arrogance). To sit on a plane for 11 hours and end up on another part of God's planet is incredible. It reminded me often of two things: 1. We as individuals are much smaller than our egos would like. Being swallowed by a city is a good feeling 2. Sometimes we need to CHILL and sometimes we need to VACATE. I needed to Vacate.

Not as remarkable was the Vatican, which although it houses the bones of the Apostle Peter and is (directly or otherwise) responsible for ALL of history, also provides a stark reminder of how Institutional Power can be over-, under-, and mis-used to create and stabilize systems of injustice. I was struck especially at how much graffiti I saw on the streets, and after asking about the church's influence on youth one friend responded, "None. The church is not present." I stared in awe at the Vatican and its stupendous museums and catacombs, only at times to find its largesse somewhat superfluous. More can be said here.

NOW FOR THE REASON YOU ARE READING THIS:
We had been there a few days, and had endured only a slight disruption in our happiness before I knew the time had come. Around the beginning of the summer I knew I would propose, and after settling all matters of significance I decided that Mallorie would accompany me to Rome. It would be a simple proposal, and when the time was right I would "know." We were at dinner in Piazza Navona, the sidewalk violinist was playing, we ate, and I got on one knee. I am engaged now, and I couldn't be happier.

The most common question is: "Are you ready for marriage?" with an emphasis on "YOU"...I can only answer that I am ready to abandon a deep and abiding selfishness and fear that has kept important people at bay for so long. Mallorie has hung in there with me, and I am finally ready to ENGAGE. Preciate the support of the "Five Families" (@thewholehood). A new phase is beginning. Rome was the spark, but you were the laboratory.

Manhood feels good. Being home feels better. You've taken the time to read. Might as well say something. Lov.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Wooooow!

Another 7 year old steals a car...TO GET OUT OF GOING TO CHURCH!