Are you sure you want to do that?

Over this past week my wife has witnessed two apparent crimes, or at least incidents that looked like something was awry.  Both times I was with her but not paying attention or looking in the direction she was.  Both times her first inclination was to call the Police, and both times I cringed and cautioned her to think carefully before acting.

The first time we were on our way home from church when my wife witnessed what she described as a carjacking.  I was driving, my wife was next to me in the passenger’s seat, with our three children in the 2nd row of our minivan.  I heard tires screech and looked in the rearview mirror just in time to see a woman standing in the road looking visibly shaken and exclaiming that someone just stole her car. Her vehicle did a 180 and drove full speed against traffic in the wrong direction.  One of the nearby motorist invited the woman in, and they sped down the road in pursuit.  All of this took place in the span of 10 seconds or so. My wife, who saw more than i did, brought out her phone and cried out “Someone just stole that lady’s car!  I’m going to call the Police!”  She repeated it two times afterwards, which got our oldest son anxious.  He said he was scared and started crying.  Now I was upset because he was now effected by this incident.  I’m trying to calm him and my wife down, without conveying my growing anger towards her at the moment (we talked it over later on that day and I apologized for being insensitive at the time).

As calmly as I could:

Me: “What are you going to tell the Police when you call them?”  Did you see the person who supposedly stole the car?  Did you see a scuffle or an exchange?  Did you get a make/model/tags?”

My Wife: “No”.

Me: “So what were you going to tell them?”

My Wife: “I dunno; just what happened.”

This afternoon, we were both sitting at our dinning room table which is adjacent to a large window which overlooks a major intersection in the downtown area.  Again, my wife sees something that I don’t.

My Wife: “Look at that!  Look at those guys running!  They came from that car, and they threw something over the tracks (train) and are running away from that red car?  I think the stole it!  I’m going to call the police!”

Me: “What car.  Oh I see.  Those guys ran from that red car?”

My Wife: “Yes!”

Me: “How do you know they stole the car?”

My Wife: “They left the car right there and ran.  The trunk is open!”

Me: “Ok.”

Half an hour later or so, the red car with the open trunk was no longer there.  Someone must have moved it.

I love my wife, and I trust her instincts.  She is more pure hearted and optimistic than I am.  But in these instances, I cautioned her.  Put aside the events of the past 24 months involving the Police.  As a person from Alkebu-Lan, I have always had to think twice before involving Law Enforcement in any situation I’m a part of.  I could only imagine the interview/conversation that would have ensued had she gone through with her intentions, with the little info she could provide.

The Police serve a purpose, just not in these two incidents.

Black-ish played it safe

If you haven’t heard, ABC has a new comedy series out called ‘black-ish.  It’s about a upper middle class family who have ancestral roots from Alkebu-lan.  I like the show.  It’s a bit on the nose, but a change from the standard family sit-com is always welcome with me.  But Black-ish missed a golden opportunity to change the game for real last night.

Airing yesterday evening, the 5th episode of the young series focused on the younger son Jack’s proclivity for hiding, which lead to a great deal of anxiety for his parents.  Warned first by his mother Rainbow (cleva name for Tracee Ellis-Ross’ character) and again by his father Andre (Anthony Anderson) not to do such a thing anymore, Jack decides the fun of sending his family into a frenzy is too good to pass up.  After hiding once more, and not coming out when he hears the panicked cries of his family who is searching for him, Andre drops the hammer: for his misdeeds, Jack has earned a spank.

The rest of the show is a build up of tension and emotions as Andre and Rainbow belabor whether to follow through or not on the threat to dish out some corporal punishment.  This is a particularly hot issue in the wake of NFL Super Star Adrian Peterson’s pending child abuse charges.  Publicly most people claim to be against any form of spanking or physical punishment for their children, but those same people often share different views behind closed doors.  Most folks were given a spanking every now and the while growing up, and we all turned out fine right?  (except for those of you whose parent’s took things too far).  These days, spanking is taboo, almost as bad as bringing an undeclared guest to a wedding reception.

Although I had hopes for the best, in the end Andre chickened out and elected to tell his son Jack how “Disappointed” in him he was.  Apparently this is the new form of spanking, because Jack left his father’s room repentant and crying.  It was a cop out, but an understandable one.  The show is brand new, and they can’t afford to have the kid worshiping segment of society coming for their heads just yet.  Even a show as revolutionary and cutting edge as “black-ish” apparently isn’t about that life.

Still a funny episode; I will continue to watch.

Revisionist History

I want to introduce you to someone: his name is Clay Jenkinson.  He’s the guy in the revolutionary attire participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Mr. Jenkinson is also, among many other things, historian who host a weekly syndicated public radio program called the Thomas Jefferson Hour.

What Mr. Jenkinson looks like normally.
What Mr. Jenkinson looks like normally.

Each week, Thomas Jefferson (Jenkinson) and his co-host talks about events and happenings from Jefferson’s life and time as one of The United States’ founding fathers.  Later in the program, Jenkinson jumps out of character to discuss what he spoke about earlier, while in character.  I have caught the program on a number of occasions, and I can’t help but laugh to myself whilst shaking my head.

I didn’t have high expectations for the show.  I have listened to discourse on the weather in Paris while Jefferson visited, to the quality of that season’s tomatoes from the garden at Monticello.  I will assume that the subject matter has been more substantial on other occasions, but I’ve not had the privilege of experiencing it.  What I would like to point out is the manner in which the show sets itself up.  The premise is a leisurely conversation with one of the greatest human beings ever- Thomas Jefferson.  The 3rd President of the United States, Jefferson is portrayed as a warm, kind, fatherly, almost angelic being of the highest moral standard.  The listeners are made to feel a sense of gratitude, awe, and wonder as you listen to the sage words of this infallible man.  The Jenkinson gathers a great deal of pleasure portraying the Jefferson character.  It comes across in the way he roars his oratory and monologues across the airways.  This man is proud of his President, so much so that we went to great lengths to become Jefferson.

It makes me realize how powerful (and dangerous) it is to re-write history.  Even the most staunch Jefferson supporters should blush at the way his legacy has been delicately preserved.  But preservation has turned to cleansing, as not so endearing facts about his life are vehemently criticized.

Master of the Mountain

Mr. Wiencek states that none of the information presented in his text is in fact new, but one wouldn’t know this based upon to reaction to his, and other less than flattering works about Jefferson.  The problem is that over time, some have decided to dismiss the baser aspects of the man, whilst maintaining the Legend and Prestige.  This is disingenuous at best, and at it’s worst nearly criminal.  The goal of history is for present and future generations to look at events from the past, and learn from them what we can, in an attempt to repeat the good while being vigilant to prevent the bad.  But if we are unwilling to acknowledge that which we are not proud of, can we say an honest attempt at self-reflection and learning has been made?  I would like to see more movement in this direction.

You think you’re being held back, but you aren’t.

I think Seal is one of the baddest dudes out there.  It’s not just the fact that he’s a Grammy Award winning international Pop Star.  Seal gets love all over the world because his musical sound is unique and never compromising.  That voice; so distinctive, his music often causes me to consider how I view things.

The other day I was listening to his first album, track number 4, a song called Crazy.  

Seal (When he was wilder, younger, with more hair).

The bridge of the sound goes like this:

In a sky full of people only some want to fly
Isn’t that crazy
In a world full of people only some want to fly
Isn’t that crazy

I played the song a second time.

I listened to the bridge again:

In a sky full of people only some want to fly
Isn’t that crazy
In a world full of people only some want to fly
Isn’t that crazy

Earlier, I had delete a few apps on my phone, cleared numerous hyperlinks from my internet capable devices, as well as my Netflix queue.  All these things were time sinks.  I was beginning to regret the decision, fearing I would be bored of nothing to do.  But then I realized, this was the pattern of my own self sabotage.  

Why wouldn’t I want more free time?  Isn’t this the excuse I give for not pursuing all these great ideas in my head? 

The safe and easy thing was to continue to allow addictive tendencies to rob me of the one true resource we have, which is time.  The safe and easy thing was to continue to waste countless hours (and I do mean countless) playing video games, watching movies, lurking message boards looking for cheap laughs, and window shopping on eBay.  The safe and easy thing was to continue to make excuses, instead of facing the truth; I didn’t want to fly.

No more.

I want to fly.

 Isn’t that crazy?

Overcoming Fear

It's only water, right?
It’s only water, right?

A few weeks ago I took Kay-Kay to the Y to begin kindergarten swim class. Every Saturday morning for the next two months he will learn the fundamentals of swimming: how to properly enter and exit the pool, fully extending his legs while kicking, the art of floating, and whatever else can be covered in half an hour. (Full disclosure: it was my wife’s idea; I cannot take credit as instill haven’t learned to swim…yet). To say My son doesn’t like water is an understatement. During bath times even the slightest sprinkle of the wet stuff on his face will prompt a pause in the action, followed by a request for a towel. When the decision to enroll him came along, I had my reservations about how he would fair, but we’ve been working on courage for some time. This would be a great opportunity to see how far we’ve come.

At the first class, Kay-Kay was apprehensive. Although the depth of the pool would only reach his mouth (he’s nearly 4 feet tall) that provided little solace. I sat a few feet from the pools edge as the instructor beckoned to students to attention. I made sure to maintain line of sight and eye contact, ready to give a reassuring smile whenever Kay-Kay looked my way with concern.

The experience has provided me the opportunity to think about the process of overcoming fear. Fear is an interesting thing: it possesses it’s greatest power when the least is known about it. My son was apprehensive of the pool and water in general because he’s unfamiliar with it. The wet liquid is sometimes hot, sometimes cold, still or raging, welcoming and foreboding simultaneously. It is too much to process, which leads to the mind labeling it as a danger. In my own life i see the same. The things I feared were virtually unknown and uncharted territories. Switching careers, moving to a new area, even starting to write this blog. Here in lies the enigma: what to do? It would be easy to simply say, “conquer your fears”. I’ve never found the transaction to be so straight forward. It is important though to question the root. Often times it is not fear we are experiencing, but an aversion or reluctance to new experiences. This is pivotal self-discovery that each individual who wants to live to their fullest potential must achieve. You may fail, but at least you’ll learn the water only reaches your mouth.