6.03.2010

Driven: Life Ain’t No Crystal Stair



Langston Hughes' Mother to Son
Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
Bare.
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
This is one of the pieces I read when I need some motivation. For those times I just need to suck it up, shut up, and keep it moving. A reminder that there are many people who have achieved MORE than what I have achieved with MORE obstacles that I may have had. It also triggered a question in me: Do we perform better when we have more obstacles?




 

African Americans have endured and overcome a lot. It seemed that historically, every major act of oppression was met with an even stronger and more intelligent resistance. Any race that you can rip of its culture and language that are then able to learn your language, encode it, and sing the plans for escape in your face without you knowing it is miraculous. The Tuskegee Airmen had to learn how to learn how to fly EVERY airplane whereas others only had to learn one to be certified as legitimate. Even the free lunch program of today was birthed from the Free Breakfast for Children Program started by the Black Panther Party (#EducateYourself).

I say all of this to say that it almost seems to me that everything's at a point where it's felt that something is owed. Now, I'm by no means saying that it's not. What I am saying is that that same "You owe me" mentality validates the ideal that someone else should or has to provide for the individual. It cripples. It instills the idea that the hand that's been dealt is too much for the person to conquer. It's like this Oliver Twist "Please saah, mey eye haave sum moooor" mentality, and it has to be overcome. Realistically, the generation of today isn't even the generation that endured the "hard part".

There is more access to so many things and opportunities that were unheard of before, yet it seems like the dependence mentality has erased passion. It's like that the artist who drops the most talented, passionate, skillful first album but then follows up with a lackluster pointless follow-up. They've gotten to a place where success doesn't seem as inaccessible anymore, so the urgency of pushing forward with the same intensity has gone.

Why?

I honestly don't know.

But I do know this. I know two people who have went through almost identical obstacles early on in life. One of them has for the most part is dealing with it and is constantly working towards achieving their goals.
The other is still a victim, still using the situation as a crutch… and an excuse… as to why they can't become powerful beyond measure.

The pain from the splinters isn't as intense when you understand that life ain't no crystal stair.

64 comments:

BeSqrd_Leads said...

Mother to Son has always been one of my favorite poems. It clearly articulates the work that we must do to be successful in life.

Good choice...great post!

A. Shuler said...

The fact remains, life is meant to be difficult. We are supposed to encounter obstacles. If we didn't, we would have everything we need. From personal experience, I believe the difficult times are when God is speaking to us in a profound way. To struggle, means that we grow and develop. Our freedom fighters without hesitation sacrificed their own life on a daily basis.

As @UrbanArglye stated, the new generation has fully captured the struggle of our people. As a young African American professional, we are told the "world is at our fingertips," but at the first sign of fire, we run. We are supposed to appreciate the struggle in order to capture a glimpse of what our freedom fighters died for.

If we can't be motivated by the struggle of our people, then what? So if we are encounter an obstacle that stings, we must mirror the faith of our freedom fighters and push through. There is nothing we can't accomplish through faith.

IamPoetry said...

Complacency is a disease that some people are resistant to, able to conquer or welcoming it with open arms.

To respond to your "owed mentality," your right. Everyone feels as if they are owed something, but as you grow older, you either learn that, "the world doesn't owe you anything, the world doesn't care about you, so why should you care about it?"-Nana
Your right, it does cripple...when you are complacent, you are waiting for something to happen to you because you feel entitled, thus your lack of fight to earn anything. Or you become comfortable, as in the example you gave about the artist who's first album was great than the second was awful.

The world we live in is a particularly funny one, contradictorily, it has no humor. You have to be careful and smart about how you handle your successes and achievements. Humility is the yang to Complacency. When you are forever humble, you will always feel the need to move forward.

As for your friends, we all choose to deal with life differently. Sometimes, you have to allow for people to move in their own waves, not having them trying to catch one. You never know, the friend that's going through right now, may do a 360 and the friend who's kicking butt can be something different. Never know....

Peace.
-DKDC

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