Monday, May 11, 2020

What Surviving "Tha Rona" Can Teach Us!

Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.    ~Simon Sinek

That “Rona” is wrecking lives across the globe. All of us know people who have endured economic hardships due to the virus. This adversity presents us with an opportunity to challenge some of our previously held beliefs about money and wealth accumulation. There are people learning the hard way that income and wealth are different.

Wealth is an abundance of assets, property and money. We work for income, but wealth works for those who have it. A lot of responsible and well educated people have found themselves on the outside looking in. Many of them were already drowning in a pool of debt tied to their education and lifestyle choices. Having a steady income allowed them to avoid the economic reality of their situation. There are people coming to grips with the fact that they weren’t rich or even securely middle class.

The ideological trappings that lead to "economic Darwinism" are steeped in superiority complex. There are people for whom having a comfortable life isn't enough; they need to chase the Joneses or become them. 

There's nothing wrong with wanting more, but when this mentality becomes pathological and causes people to see economic hardships or poverty as moral failings it becomes toxic. 

My hope is that once Covid-19 is behind us we won't lose sight of the shared economic anxiety we felt. I know this is myopic, but maybe we can end the selfish “I got mine so forget everyone else” mentality. Maybe we can become more sympathetic to the plight of others.

We all know people who are working to the bone, yet barely getting by. Inflation and stagnant wages have doomed a majority of our country to a perpetual race against the bills due on the 1st and 15th. Yes, there are people who make bad decisions that add to their financial struggles, but that subset doesn't represent the larger group of working class people. 

If the Corona virus forced you to restructure your life to survive an emergency, why can't you use that same energy to pursue work, a career or goals that fulfill you? 

There are people who will lose everything and have to start over; there are people who will be forced to change careers; some will spend years trying to recover, but there will be people who thrive because of what they've learned about themselves. All of the death and pain caused by this virus will be in vain if we don't challenge ourselves to look critically at the way we were before and during this crisis. 

Friday, April 17, 2020

Real Talk: Some Things to Ponder.

The last time I knew it all I lost it all!

Be appreciative of your struggles. It's funny: when God delivers you he doesn't ask who your parents are? What schools you went to? What social class you belong to? All of those things come from us. We use these elementary classification systems to "place value" on each other's life.

In every religious text wisdom is the measure of maturity. You can measure smartness, but you can't measure wisdom. Smart makes someone born on third base think they hit a triple while wisdom humbles them into their blessing. 

As a society we have collectively turned a willful eye towards the spectacles of our culture: me included. There was a time when the circus was a place we went to, then one day we woke up and decided to put the clowns in charge of everything. 

We need a 21st century Renaissance more than a revival or revolution. There's a chance all of the spiritual musings we see are in vain and what we really need is a new era of critical thinking. 

What if we are so empty that our worship of money and unfettered and unregulated markets are all that truly unite us? What if our consumption is all we have? 

When I hear people wantonly push for markets to reopen and life to get back to normal all I hear is desperation. There are people whose desire to have more is worth more to them than the life or lives of those around them. 

This season of quarantine will pass and some of us will be in better positions because we had to slow down and reevaluate what is important to us. 

In the end we survive everything we encounter until one day our time here is done. All we can safely control is how much time and energy we focus on ourselves, our loved ones and our goals.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Don't Wait! Start Now!

When was the last time you told yourself you would do "it" later? How many Mondays have you designated as the beginning of a new chapter? I bet you have a history of incomplete New Year's resolutions. Congratulations! You are a procrastinator. There are a lot of us.

I use to chalk my procrastination up to a lack of time and energy, but the truth is: I was afraid of failure. I was terrified of failing in a public way. I was, and to a certain extent still am, a prisoner to public perception. This reality caused me to waste a lot of time.

Failure sucks! The fear of failure is so powerful that after a while we convince ourselves it's easier not to try. Here's another hard truth for those of you waiting for some mythical cheering section: No one has to support you or your dreams! Coming to grips with this is liberating. Life is too short to allow fear to steal what time we have. 

We are solely responsible for setting and accomplishing our goals. Along the way there will be opportunities presented and opportunities denied, but no one can do make us take the leap. I truly believe it's better to fail miserably than to look back and wonder what if? What do you have to lose?

My advice is cliche, but keep pushing! Fail trying! Die living! Don't waste today because of what someone may say tomorrow. Don't live the "bad faith" Sartre wrote so eloquently about. 

There's nothing wrong with prioritizing your aspirations. You can't fail if you love and respect yourself. Try to keep the promises you make: especially the ones you make to yourself. Keep Grinding! Don't wait till Monday!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Kobe Bryant: He Touched Every Line

I sat down to write about Kobe's life and contributions to the game, but a blank piece of paper kept staring back at me. I struggled to find the words to express the shock I felt. Watching the crowd in New Orleans pay respect to Kobe was emotional. Seeing the tears in the eyes of Celtics players was tough. I felt a sense of pride after seeing teams take 24 second shot clock violations. Trae Young's inspired 45-point performance while wearing the number 8 made me a fan of his for life. Those images are worth more than any words I could ever write.

Sports fans are hurting. We share a love for the game that non-sports fans may never understand. Sports are a huge part of our lives. I love all sports, but basketball was my first love. I learned to respect and admire the grace, strength, hard work, and passion it took to excel at the highest levels. Kobe did the work. His tenacity was legendary. In a league full of Alphas, he was a boss.

The game is better because he played it. The game is better because he had the courage to openly chase Jordan. There’s a generation of players who are better because of Kobe’s work ethic and sheer will to win.

I came of age during the Renaissance of Basketball. I saw Magic, Bird and Jordan in their primes. I saw Kareem and Dr. J at the end of their careers. I remember Olajuwon, Ewing and Shaq dominating games in their own way. I watched Iverson cross up Jordan. I enjoyed seeing Kobe and Michael go after each other. These battles will live on forever.

Every generation has its stars. Every generation debates the greatness of their era. This cycle makes the game we love better. Kobe cemented his place among the pantheon of basketball Gods. What he left us is on film.

The debate over who's the greatest is as disrespectful as it is futile. Every great dared to be great. Every legend spent thousands of hours chasing the legend(s) that came before them. They all touched every line. They might have employed a number of “veteran tactics”, but they never cheated the game. They all started out as kids with a dream. Sports fans care so much because we watched him for the better part of 25 years. We remember hearing about this high school phenom. We watched him grow up.

Sports are more than little kids pretending to be their heroes and old men vicariously living through young men. Almost 40 years after going to my first basketball game with my dad we still watch and attend games together. We are shareholders in a tradition worth passing down. A.I., Kobe, D. Wade and Lebron begat K.D. Steph, Kawhi and Giannis. Debating who is the “G.O.A.T.” kills time, but it doesn’t matter. They are all great. All of them are mourning the loss of someone who earned their respect.