Rest in Prose

I have never read anything that touched me as deeply as The Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. Nothing. The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo is the nearest piece of writing… and that is brilliance.

Song of Solomon was more than brilliance. It was the story of African-American generational curses that Nova Bordelon could only hope her fluffy book of family secret telling could be. It was, for me, that one singular piece of writing that sparked my interest and inspired me to pick up a pen and tell a story.

Now I’m not a fiction writer… but neither, in my humble opinion was Morrison. Her stories were steeped in history and tradition and frankly narratives that were very much real, played out by characters that mimicked people we all knew and loved. She set their souls on fire, made their love bigger and grander, made their hurt and pain bleed off the page, and gave their poor lives rickety stairs to walk down and their strong spirits horses as mighty as oxen upon whose back to ride. Most importantly, she was dedicated to the Black ancestral storytelling tradition. She passed on our history; She was a griot. She colored in our identity; She was an artist. She taught the masses that we loved, hurt, felt, sang, danced, and wrote and our story was worthy to be told; She was a teacher.

She wrote Black characters with the universe in their spirits, the sounds of Coltrane and Aretha in their souls, the moves of Cab Calloway and Katherine Dunham in their feet, the kindness of Martin and the by all means necessary of Malcolm in their freedom songs. She wrote us free, whether we were bound and gagged or footloose and fancy free. Our freedom of mind and heart was paramount. She gave us voices that spoke words of eloquence and pulchritude like Baldwin, with the virtuosity and tenderness of Nikki Giovanni…

“then I stood…

… and laid me down…

to sleep.”

She showed us what a sense of true self looks like…”You are your best thing.” -Beloved

She showed us what grief, and more specifically, loss, with it’s many faces, can look like… “It was poisonous, unnatural to let the dead go with a mere whimpering, a slight murmur, a rose bouquet of good taste. Good taste was out of place in the company of death, death itself was the essence of bad taste. And there must be much rage and saliva in its presence. The body must move and throw itself about, the eyes must roll, the hands should have no peace, and the throat should release all the yearning, despair and outrage that accompany the stupidity of loss.“-Sula

She showed us what kind of trauma can result from hatred, particularly racism…”those eyes that held the pictures and knew the sights-if those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different.” -The Bluest Eye

She showed us the deep levels of beauty, passion, and creativity that is present in the least of us…”The visionary language of the doomed reaches heights of linguistic ardor with which language of the blessed and saved cannot compete.“-Paradise

She showed us that if you wanted to be bigger and better, you had to be free…

She also showed us, that we have work to do, as a people, and that we can, in fact, just be… without explanation… who tf we are… “It’s important to know who the real enemy is and to know the very serious function of racism, which is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining over and over your reason for being.” -Morrison on Black Artists in Portland, 1975

I salute you Queen✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿… time to take your rightful throne, give ’em a bit of heavenly hell, and show us how to fly while being fly!

And I… I will write… that’s my work!

First Corinthians

I did a short series on Love Is… the series and the topic. Go back and read it #shamelessplug. But recently, I have been reminded more of what love is not, than what it is.  And like the modern day griot that I am , I thought I would share my lessons with ya’ll.  You ready to learn?  Grab a seat…

At the age of nine, I went to catechism, an intense Bible study before Catholic baptism, for those who don’t know, and it solidified I am a heathen. I always ended up doodling or designing dresses or something other than listening to that woman with post nasal drip and dirty spectacles. But anyway… we read the Bible, Exodus to The Book of Revelation, and out of all of those, the lesson I recall most, and probably the only bible verse I can quote like rap lyrics, is this golden nugget from First Corinthians…

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4–8a

First Corinthians was written by Paul to his struggling church. At the time, Christians were struggling with how to exist together, resolve conflict, live in goodness, and bestow mercy upon one another. This letter speaks to the soul of these men and women, and gives them a blueprint of how to love one another and ultimately live in harmony and righteousness.  Basically it is Take 6… “More love is what we need” in thou shalt nots! It is not just about love of thy neighbor, but it encapsulates all forms of love and the process of being in relationship with another human being.

Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee calls the soul, the “part of us that is one with God”, and since God is love, the soul must be the place in us where love resides. Most say it’s the heart, but the heart beats and gives us life, it is the conduit to living soulfully. And a life of soul is a life of love. Think of every soul song you’ve heard… from Muddy Waters “She’s my life I need her so” to John Legend’s “Love your curves and all you edges, all your perfect imperfections” and the Queen of Soul, Aretha’s “How can I give you all I can if you’re tying both my hands!” … what is that if not love. You knew it really did when Rose Royce claimed love “don’t live here anymore.”

“I think I love her…”

The soul is the place that interprets the real meaning of art, music, and color. It gives our dreams wings and puts our voices in front of the choir. It is the place where love is cultivated, planted, grown, nurtured, harvested. The soil where the vision for our life is grown.  So what it is and why it is, are essential to properly gifting and receiving its ultimate gift…

When two people who care for one another seek to unify, in whatever way they define that unity, both people usually enter the ring with protective gear on, and slowly remove that protection to show their true selves. Over time, they trust in their partner to become a tag team. However, where there is impatience, envy, pride, anger, tit for tat behavior, and distrust… people tend to get thicker gloves, knee pads, elbow pads, and get ready to rumble.  But eventually the fight isn’t worth the reward, so people part.  Souls part.  Two people who once shared life and experience, but have not quite learned the power of love, cannot properly give or receive it.  Broken souls cannot be anything other than what Paul teaches us love is not.

“Gucci you don’t love me…”

I recently had a situation where the man I was dating with intention, started to show signs of insecurity.  About everything.  His finances, my finances… sir my finances, other than my basic  stability, are none of your concern… my dreams, my desire to remove myself from stressful situations, my dealings with my child and his father… like I said, everything.  He found a way to take issue with everything I said or did suddenly, and time has taught me that usually only gets worse.  Plus, I don’t have an MD in insecurity, I could not cure it.  So, after a bit of trying to coax him back to reality, as all of his insecurities were rooted in fantasy, I decided to move on.  His insecurities had nothing to do with me, they were remnants of his broken soul… and his broken soul could not possibly love me properly.  Hell, I’m a handful to my damn self.  More than one person outside of our relationship said he was envious.  Envious that I wasn’t struggling, of my dreams, of my ability to dream, of my NERVE to dream big King Kong sized dreams, and of my ability to see myself beyond the moment.  Love… does not envy.

Similarly, my girlfriends and I have had relationships with men who we were some sort of conquest to, and our decisions to partner with them, nothing more in their minds than a conquest won.  What we did, how we looked, what we wore, the degrees on our wall, awards on our desk, and titles behind our names were all moments they could use to show how accomplished they were in the relationship department.  Which in turn they credited to themselves, us having them in our lives… albeit a short time, cuz… They were only serving self and being arrogant. My accomplishments are not tools for the braggadocio and his hubris.  Loving others is not about you -🎉SURPRISE! 🎊! -it is about others. Love is… showing others the love that God gives us. Love does not boast and it is not self-seeking.

Anyone that will only do for you when you have equally done for them, regardless of your ability or need. Love is not self-seeking.

Anyone that rushes or forces you into a situation or is unwilling to allow you to move at the pace best needed for your mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Love is not impatient.

Anyone that cannot keep their hands from touching and tongue from lashing out in anger, ridicule, disrespect, and hurt towards you. Love is not easily angered.

Anyone who holds your faults and flaws against you to attack you with later, or is simply unkind in word or in deed. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love is kind.

These people are incapable of loving you in the way that God loves you, and therefore incapable of sharing their soul with you as is.  You are Otis Redding and they are Ozzy Osbourne… two completely different individuals, neither better than the other, neither right nor wrong, both singing, just different.  But only one with real “from the diaphragm” soul! (No shade Ozzy…)

Love is also not unsure, inconsistent, doubtful, or painful.  It is unifying, connecting, where the two ends meet and everything comes together, full circle.

No one taught me that, but experience.

At nineteen, I read what would become my favorite book of all time, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison during one of my few months off from college. One of the characters is named First Corinthians.  Her character is the first born daughter of the family at the center of the novel, and she is born into wealth and education.  However, despite her own education, she ends up working as a maid and falls in love with a porter.  Corrie, as they called her, never found favor with the life of excess she was afforded, as it was broken and soulless.   She is a story in unity, a story in soul, a story in love.  When I first read this book, I was drawn to her character, but I really had no idea why. But over time I recognized she and I were a lot alike.

Like First Corinthians I want to be unified in my relationships, of every kind, and I would rather enjoy the what is than the what it can be, the soulful over the mindful. What is rational and logical is a mix of looking to the past for guidance and looking to the future to apply it. An application of issue, reasoning, analysis, and conclusion that does not fit the bill. While we have to be level-headed and smart… and I’m smart than a mug in these intellectual streets… real love cannot be explained by the Pythagorean theory and the soul is not a science project to dissect and diagram. Its the seventh sense. The ninth wonder of the world. The 13th member of the Wu-Tang Clan.

“ I’ve often said love, could open any door, but I wish we had much more…”