Tuesday, January 28, 2020


Ball up a wad of paper. Aim for the trash can. Shoot. Shout his name.

In this modern age of the viral, this simple act was just something that kind of happened. Even if you weren't a Lakers an it was a ritual practiced offhandedly by a whole generation. I know I've done it and I have seen it done. For no good reason at all except that is just how it's done.

Kobe Bryant's play was phenomenal, a game that relied on artistry, ability and a deep well of confidence you could feel in the cheap seats. In the NBA Finals with his big brother Shaq in foul trouble, Kobe looked at his teammates, patted himself on the chest and basically said to the world I got this. And then he went and got it. While we argue today over who the best NBA player of all time was - Michael or Lebron, the Black Mamba has a resume that makes you wonder why his name is never brought up. Championships, gold medals, MVP awards and the list goes on. Magic Johnson, who I would argue is the best player of all-time called Kobe the best player of all time.  

And he passed some those genes down to his daughter Gigi. I watched the clip of her play, and she'd already started to adopt some of her father's mannerisms. Her fade-away was already a smaller version of his dad's, which wasn't good news for future opponents. We'd only just met her, but I already thought she'd be one of black America's little sisters, one of those little girls we all look out for just because.

Retired from the game, Kobe's second career as a storyteller had already netted him an Oscar. I can only imagine if he had been able to bring his legendary intensity to bear on his new path what works he would have wrought. He wasn't about to fade away, but only just begun to find his new footing. But as they say, tomorrow is never promised.

Ball up a wad of paper. Aim for the trash can. Shoot. Kobe!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Dr. King would have....

I'm of the age where I now know that anyone who uses the phrase "Dr. King would have..." is usually about to frame this legendary icon's quotes or phrases to fit their own limited viewpoint. But I in turn remember the words of Abraham Lincoln, "don't believe everything you see on the internet."

Reddit - by bigtomisin

It is tiring to hear Dr. King's quotes used by people who don't understand them. Weirdly, these aren't ancient quotes or words spoken where we have no context, they were spoken with the lifetime of a good number of us. Had he lived he would be the same age as Barbra Walters, a founding member and still frequent guest on the morning talk show The View. It is in many ways sobering to realize that Dr. King's contemporaries still walk among us. Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, former aides, etc. In real terms, change only just happened. His personal secretary who is still with us and has many wonderful stories about the actual put your pants on one leg at a time man, not the myth. I understand Dr. King had a great sense of humor. I also understand that the man was as sharp as they come with a cue stick in his hand.

And while he was a Republican in his politics, the party that he was a member of isn't even a ghost of its former self. Those people who were called Republican in Dr. King's time would be considered middle of road Democrats now. So when I hear men who would have personally egged on Hoover's plans to discredit this civil rights icon try to manipulate his legacy for their own ends simply because they share the name of Republican,  I am appalled.

Once again history rises up, and beckons our call. Last time men like Malcolm and Martin answered. Who will it be this time?

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

What I learned 2019

Life is what you make it.

Ten years ago I did not expect to be where I am today. But then that's not an unusual statement. Ten years is a long time to try to make a prediction. And any one five minute period along the way can drastically alter the path you thought you were on. Our decisions combined with the outside forces influencing the social constructs that are our lives make predicting the multiples upon multiples of possible outcomes almost impossible. As such to survive we have to develop an outlook that includes the future and the now. To learn to plan but still live in the moment. To extend our reach beyond our vision into the ether while still holding on to the solid. Or...just to close our eyes and leap. 

That last can be interpreted as fearlessness. Or recklessness. When it's successful, we remember it as a much more reassuring concept of confidence. Framing is everything.

That's the key, that 'framing.' We all like to re-assess our lives in the best light. It's nearly a survival mechanism. Sometimes when things don't go right it's that framing that allows us to find the flaws and start over. But it is the improper use of that frame to shape the idea "that life is what you make it" allows us to wallow in our own failures.  Or lie stagnant when we need to move forward.

Early last year I was eating healthy, getting my steps in, reading more, writing more, and planning for future advancement in my career. Got started on that necessary internal work that a lot of us avoid using attitude, alcohol and materialism. But I finished last year falling back into old habits, diet terrible and hours lost to pointless activity and professional procrastination.

I try to frame it as "I deserved a break." This is a lie.

This is not to say taking a break is bad. I once went five years without using a vacation day, which is the say the least objectively terrible, so I'm all in favor of the off day here or there for personal reasons, even if the reason is the sleep in. Which may be why I've framed this period this way. This is a break after a long period of labor, this time four years. The problem is it shouldn't be this. It should be I need to get on the stick, that I've been slacking and I need to tighten up.

Maybe it was the milestone of middle age that got me. I have reached an age I always thought of as far off, where things change, supposedly. It's the middle of middle age. I thought I had more time. I like to believe I have so much further to go, so much more to accomplish. I'm not talking about the dreams of youth, but the ideas of just that space of ten years ago. And I'm concerned that I'm not there yet.

But I'm not going to re-frame it.

As much as that framing of our situations to see the better of them is necessary, what is also required and more often neglected is the need to take a long hard look at ourselves and then admitting to ourselves what is really there. Not a comparison to the glory shots of social media, but a very real assessment of a our real selves, by ourselves. We know when we're eating too much sugar, or haven't exercised in a week, or have started procrastinating. We just have to be honest with ourselves.

So this year, be honest with yourself. As we used to say, "if you scared, say you scared." Many of us have 'framing' down to an art form. Anti-social is being 'tired of the fake', a lack of tact as 'just being honest' or whatever other fiction gets you through the day. That mixed with brazen unearned self confidence can make those ten years seem like nothing. Because if you have no impetus to change, be it repair or just to improve yourself, then there is a strong chance you're in the same place you started, only the time will have passed. And you won't end up where you expected to be for other reasons.

Things I've learned 

Things change. All things change, even if it's just everything around it changing.

If you don't actually start, then your dreams will always just be dreams.

If you truly love someone, it's really all about them more often than you'd like to admit.

Exercise everyday. Create habits that work for you.

Get enough sleep.

Just because you're prepared doesn't mean you're ready. 

Stop trying to make the first draft perfect.

Cell phone games should be illegal.

Procrastination is still bad. Do it now and get on to whatever comes next.

Love your people. Because as we get older they get older.

Eat to live, not the other way around. Diet fixes so many other issues.

Bacon is better in smaller portions (I keep telling myself this, but still...)

Treat yourself from time to time. Be it a day off or a nice thing.