#MLK DAY: A Story and A Dollar + 1

Today, we honor the legacy of the man Martin Luther King Jr. He said a lot about many things in his lifetime, and his words still resound with folks everywhere. For me, one of such quotes from him is on service – one of my core values.

Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

And like Martin Luther King, I am a dreamer…

I too have a dream

I (too) have a dream…

…about many things. I often revel in idealist visions, one which permeates the “I have a dream” speech, which I’m currently watching again to commemorate this day. This vision of his leaves no one out.

added: After I had finished writing this post, I remembered that this speech was played to us on the 3rd day of LeaderShape conference. This was meant to inspire us to create our own visions, vision being “mental pictures of what we want to create for the future.” These pictures often seem impossibly difficult to bring to reality, and it might take time – sometimes, the original dreamer might not even live long enough to be a part of it. Well…

I too have a dream

…that one day, I’ll travel across the world, telling and sharing stories (of mine and others) as an echo of that ideal sense of brotherhood among all men.

I have a dream

…to use these stories I tell to connect us all.

It is in light of that, in an effort to be an active participant in this putting together of the strands of our stories to make a collective whole that I listen unreservedly while others tell theirs.

I love strangers, mostly because they have the most exciting stories.

On Friday, as I approached the stop to catch a bus, I saw a man sitting by the curb playing a guitar. From my rough assessment, I would say he was probably homeless. I struck up a conversation with him and asked him how long he’d been playing for. He said 40, 12 of those years he stopped, and just began playing again 8 years ago. There is something for me to learn in that, as a dreamer:

to be relentless in the pursuit of my dreams, to not give up (at least not completely – to still come back to them even after I might have stopped for 12 years )

I told him one of my goals is to learn how to play an instrument before I die; I started learning the piano a while back but stopped 😦 I asked him to play some popular songs, and he obliged. He played Jackson’s “I’ll be there”, Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour”, and a song by Roberta Flack which I wasn’t familiar with. It was then he told me his age (59), and we started talking about the music he grew up on. And then we talked about my accent (who doesn’t?), and where I was from…

…And then, the bus came. There were still a lot I wanted to talk to him about though. I wanted to hear more of his story.

In retrospect, I think it was in the spirit of service that I lent my ear to listen to this man. As I was thinking about how to compose this post, I remembered THIS POST by a fellow blogger that motivated me to include, in the list of my goals, a random act of kindness.

Maybe this was it.

While we were chatting, I kept thinking about the lyrics from this song, I Need a Dollar:

“If I share with you my story, will you share your dollar with me?”

Luckily, I had two.

As we stepped inside the bus, I told him, “It’s not much, but you can use it for your bus fare.”

Advertisements

…This Close (Guest Post by @KarlNova)

Below is a guest post by a friend, Karl Nova. He blogs here at: http://karlnova.blogspot.com/ and from time to time, he brings up interesting topics for discussion on twitter: @KarlNova

The reason he’s posting here is because he’s a fellow dreamer. You can go ahead and ask him what he does…don’t tell him I sent you though!

Like I said (I wish!) posted somewhere on this blog:

“You, you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one

I hope some day you’ll join us…And the world will be as one” – John Lennon

…And he’s decided to let me post his piece on here as it relates to dreams, and disappointment. If you’ve ever dreamed, and attempted to take the little steps towards that vision, you probably do know what it feels like to be disappointed or discouraged. As you might have noticed by now, music is a significant part of this blog. I’ve posted songs, or lyrics on here…and the title of this piece is part of a line from a song I already posted here as a theme song for one of my core values – service; and I thought it was a befitting title for this piece.

It’s so frustrating when you’re…’this close’ – Alim Kamara

And I’m sure you do agree!

____________ . ___________ . __________________

Karl Nova begins:

Disappointment is a hard thing to deal with.

I hate being let down and I hate letting people down but both have happened quite a lot in my life and even though it sounds pessimistic, I know it will still happen again because you know that’s life innit?

Some who are more eloquent and loquacious than myself will tell you with more grandiose verbosity than I care to muster that “every disappointment is a Divine appointment with destiny” and I do believe that, it’s just that when let downs happen, it takes more than eloquence to numb the pain though it is helpful to be reminded that if we look closer it all could be a blessing in disguise as our wise mothers tell us with comforting tones and encouraging hugs.

The more disappointments happen, the more you try to protect yourself from them happening and what we do is lower our expectations or even walk around expecting let downs to happen even when there is no sign or hint of it. One might even start to reduce their hopes in the name of being “realistic” and one who was once a dreamer about possibilities over time hardens into what they call a “realist” and to be fair one must keep it real and try to be objective but like an old song by Les McCann says “trying to make it real compared to what?”

The thing is we can’t live like that and deep down inside we know this, even the greatest cynic knows this. The late great comedian George Carlin said:

“Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist”

…this is very true. If you ever meet a person that comes off as very cynical about everything, just dig deeper and you might probably unearth a story of someone who has been let down a lot in life. Either that or they have been around people who they have seen let down and seeing all that has affected how they see things generally.

Like I said we can’t live without hopes, dreams and aspirations even if sometimes those things seem like the proverbial carrot dangling from the proverbial stick leading us on. Yes indeed some dreams do seem like a mirage in the desert that you never seem to be able to reach but everyone needs something to aim for or you just live aimlessly with no purpose. No one can live for long like that, even if you don’t know what it is, you sense you were born for a reason. You sense that there is something more than the norm that you are seeing around you that you are here for.

Besides all this, there is the day to day survival that is happening regardless… and you are here, right in the middle of it. Everyday you wake up and life goes on. You are on a journey regardless. As long as you are breathing the journey continues. So my prayer for you and for me as we live is that God will guide us all. I pray that God will heal hearts that have suffered setbacks and that somehow by grace we turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

Yes I know it is not easy, yes I know it is easier said, tweeted, facebooked, instagrammed etc than done but we must do this. This one life we’ve been blessed to live on earth has no sequel here. Yeah YOLO and all that but that is not an excuse to live reckless, it is more of a call to treasure every moment you have. You can’t crawl back into your mama’s womb, you can be reborn into a life that extends into eternity though but hey that is a whole other blog 🙂

* * *

Ayo’s Note:

Granted, there are those who might stumble across this – who don’t believe in a god or don’t find prayer helpful in any way, but I do believe (nice word choice, right?) there are lots of things you’ll find helpful in what has been said so far!

I’ll close with these words that resonated with me:

“Everyone needs something to aim for or you just live aimlessly with no purpose. No one can live for long like that, even if you don’t know what it is, you sense you were born for a reason. You sense that there is something more than the norm that you are seeing around you that you are here for.”