Monday, March 26, 2007

Life's Little Pleasures

Did you know that the littlest things can bring unspeakable joy? I'm talking the kind of joy that you can't contain and makes you look as silly as I do in this picture.

This eruption of unspeakable joy was ushered in this morning by the new CD from Gordon Chambers, "Love Stories." I uploaded the songs onto my iPOD weeks earlier, but for some strange reason the files disappeared. Lo & behold, the files miraculously reappeared this morning and the biggest grin engulfed my face. I danced my way to work and along the way decided to find out what other little pleasures were there for my enjoyment. Here's a brief glimpse of what I discovered:

Little pleasures like...

  • smiling at the tall, regal woman stepping with a quickness along 5th Avenue this past weekend. I watched her, clad in a brown herringbone pant suit, chocolate hat tipped just right to allow her silver mane to flow in the haste of her pace. She embodied the Harlem Renaissance, and I have no doubt that those beautiful, brown hands stitched every single thread of her suit. To my beautiful, brown sista ~ wherever you may be today ~ thank you for making me smile.
  • remembering my first seamstress, the loud and talented Ruthie Harris. She's the reason why I can say with certainty that Ms. 5th Avenue was a seamstress. She's also the inspiration behind the name, That Johnson Boy. After all these years, she still calls me "Johnson" and I appreciate it. She is my reminder that we honor our ancestors when we carry our name with pride, honor and dignity. Thank you Ruthie. I promise to always beam with pride at being called That Johnson Boy.
  • looking out into a room packed with knowledge seekers at Clark Atlanta University. I challenge anyone questioning the merit of Historic Black Colleges to visit Clark Atlanta. There's no shortage of bright, articulate and ambitious future leaders walking the campus. And in true HBC fashion, y'all KNOW your fashion game is sick!!!
  • Meeting the Diva of all Divas, Diahann Carroll. Her show was incredible, but it's how she received my sister and I that made meeting her so special. We stood quietly watching as she did the meet & greet thing with the Park Avenue social set. When she walked to us, sista exhaled (as if kicking her shoes off) and said, "Can I tell you...". Our conversation was as warm and familiar as Saturday morning conversations in the Johnson Family kitchen. Thank you Lady Di for making me, along with every man in the building, smile profusely!
  • Smiling with joy as one of my budding superstar writers gave birth. I was working late Sunday night when I received a call from one of my writers, Latavia Parker. She asked "can I play a song for you?" She turned on the track and began singing the lyrics in my phone. Sista was singing her heart out and the song was bangin! God must've known that I needed a special treat, and a very special treat is what I received. Have you any idea how difficult it is to put your work before people for critique? Yet, here she was breathing life into her words (& Ms. Parker can sang too!). Thank you Tay-Tay for letting me come into the delivery room and for making me smile!

Lastly, to the singer-songwriter whose music jump-started my day, thank you Gordon Chambers. I'm dedicating a blog to your new CD in the very near future. Until then, thank you for blessing this world with some incredible music!

As for the rest of you - you do know what's next, don't you? Life's crazy, hectic, challenging and everything in between. But, do us both a favor and take some time to meditate on those little experiences that make life so wonderful. We all have them. You just may need to slow down long enough to enjoy the view.

Love always, That Johnson Boy!

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

An Unforgivable Breach of Heart

"...tell me (since you think you know so damn much) how I can keep my heart supple when every time I look in the mirror I see a damn fool. That's what love has done to me. Tell me something before I do something that I'll regret."
(emailed response to my Valentine's 2007 post)
I'll never forget this email. Never.

I received over 60 emails in response to my Valentine's 2007 posting. This particular email remains stuck in my consciousness. Her words show up uninvited every morning. As much as I advocate that we must keep our hearts supple and loving, her question is a valid one that demands answering.

How do we do that?

I woke-up early Wednesday morning with her email pestering my groggy head. Even worse, the incessant chatter set off my own bad relationship flashback -- I'm talkin' the kind of flashback that makes ME nervous that my middle initial is O, last name J. Come on Johnson... detour 'cause that's a dead-end street. Ya feel me?

I grabbed my blackberry in search of my daily inspirational email from Joel Osteen. His emails usually arrive like clockwork. Nothing! I lazily rolled out of bed, got down on my knees and attempted to pray. Have you ever muttered a prayer so weak that the entire effort seemed pathetic? That was me. Frustrated, I resorted to old faithful... the Lord's Prayer and even that felt weak and contrived. Still I continued on cruise control until I heard my voice say...

And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us...

Did I just asked God to forgive me in the same measure in which I forgive those who cause me harm?
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us...

Forgiveness? God, are you trying to tell me something?

Is there anything more physically, emotionally and spiritually debilitating than unforgiveness? Reflect for a moment on how your entire being contorts at the thought of them that cause you harm. Not pretty, is it? Consider still that the mere recollection of their unforgivable act is oft-times as painful as the original misdeed. That's pretty scary. Of course, you would never spend time dreaming up acts of revenge or wishing ill will for their unforgivable acts... would you? Nope, not you. But, the rest of us have done just that!
For their crimes against us, we banished the guilty party to the prison of our unforgiveness. Lost in the emotional turmoil is a simple truth. In banishing them, we unknowingly sentenced ourselves to a life imprisoned. You do know that a loving and supple heart is a liability in prison, don't you? Here we are locked away in this prison of our choosing, all the while our unforgiveness clogs our spirit like bad cholesterol. Left unchecked, the arteries harden and block off life-sustaining flow to all of the vital organs. Without this flow, the heart dies - plain and simple.

My friends, we can't script a life devoid of relationship drama. Our ability to exercise forgiveness may be God's prescription for keeping our hearts supple and spirits warm and loving through it all. Now understand me, practicing forgiveness is a mother...! Easy to speak, but extremely challenging to live by. Yet, if we are the sum of our habits, then we must habitually condition both mind and spirit to making true forgiveness a lifestyle.
As for those occasional bad memory flashbacks, know this: you can alter their course. Bad memory flashbacks are like bad television. You can sit there and be consumed by it; or you can stop everything and change the channel immediately. Simple as that - change the #@#* channel! When we stop dining on the anger and hurt, we eliminate the crap that feeds the crippling spirit of unforgiveness.
And while you're in the forgiving mode, do yourself a big favor and begin forgiving yourself. In fact, that's a wonderful place to start. Promise?

Almost forgot: at 9:08am, my pager finally received the daily devotional from Pastor Joel Osteen. His message?

"But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father
which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."
(Mark 11:26)

So what is the best prescription for maintaining a supple heart? Forgiveness. Let's commit to embracing the spirit of true forgiveness as if our very lives depend on it. Truth is, nothing could be closer to the truth!
Having been confirmed and affirmed, That Johnson Boy is signing off. But not before bidding you a wonderful day!

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