World Service.

One of Nelson Mandela’s quotes on “Our Deepest Fear” is oft quoted by people who are either striving to seek their own potential or need the reassurance that expressing themselves and their individual talents is acceptable in society.  However, I’ve recently had a bone to pick with the quote; the issue isn’t with the quote itself, because I think it’s a marvelous encouragement, but it’s with the idea of the quote.  As someone enamoured with the ambivalence of human thoughts, Mandela’s exhortation immediately caught my attention.  Perhaps in Mandela’s day and experience, this quote would have made perfect sense and have been perfectly applicable to unlocking untapped potential within those familiar with the quote.  However, modern society has become warped to the point where it is simply too difficult a task to “let our own light shine.”  Some may scoff and call me cynical, but looking at it from an experiential point of view, how many times have we felt insecure about doing something outlandish yet totally self-expressive?  It is not a natural tendency to feel insecurity; we should, as he said, manifest the glory of God within us, yet the shackles of society have prevailed over our individual freedom to express the gifts that God has endowed us with!  In today’s world, the easiest way to succeed is with subtle tact.  By neither showing too much of one’s talent nor too little, one can safely gain the connections cardinal to one’s intended goal.

For instance, if I were to make exhaustive use of my entire vocabulary in a piece of work, it would end up being more harmful than productive.  Sure, one may make the case that it is a good way to flex my literary might as well as find more ways to improve on methods of employing overly complex diction, but it would most likely portray me as pretentious and snobbish in the eyes of the general audience.  It sunders any chance of really connecting with the reader, no matter how relevant the message is to his life.  And so I plod on, using whichever words seem correct at the moment that I’m writing and praying that I haven’t gone overboard.  It is because of this tact spent on wording my thoughts that I have garnered praise (some of it fake, to be sure) for my writing ability.  Yet I have not made full use of my potential; do I encourage my peers any less to attempt literary exploits of their own?  It may be, in fact, the opposite when they realize that I am just an average person capable of orchestrating work after work with diligence and composure.  There is no need for me to fill myself up with braggadocio and claim the heavens for myself in recognition of my own talent.

However, this is not to prevent anyone from declaring their works before the foundation of the universe.  We each have our own brand of achievement and some of us were, indeed, born for that kind of stardom.  If actors, rappers, and teachers didn’t have that firm confidence in their own achievement, who is to say that they would be as successful as they are now?  Mandela was one of these bright lights, doing phenomenal works in the humanitarian vein.  He was but one; we each have our own potential to live up to, our own gifts to utilize, our own passions to embrace, but how we approach it is the key to  blossoming or wilting.  There are cases where I do find it necessary to flaunt my persona and I can safely say that there are also instances where doing so led me down treacherous paths.  Mandela had the right heart when saying these words because of his own life’s experience, but in a chaotic world where emphasis of individuality is met with either applause or distaste, I do believe tact, paired with the light within each of us that we do indeed fear, is our greatest ally.  The world is capable of serving itself, having done so for many years without modern civilization’s hand wreaking havoc upon it.  What truly makes the difference is how we serve the world with our words, our thoughts, and our lives.  Playing small may not serve the world in some instances, but in other instances, playing small is just enough of a role to preserve the balance in life’s rotation.


All I See.

I once heard a story about a fall from glory

a prince become slave whose end was kinda gory.

Young genius shown at the age of twelve

and into his dad’s work did he choose to delve.

All by himself with the teachers of the temple

showing them miracles and the God they resembled.

He was the best man at a later wedding

Turning water into wine and guest’s lips he was wetting.

But this great man encountered teachers who had floundered

each speaking against him, man it was a downer.

So downward he descended into this realm of mortal beings

Speaking of the great things that he himself was seeing.

Soon twelve friends appeared at his side asking

for more of his glory, for in it they were basking.

They were not full in wisdom but had hearts to follow

Little did they know he was a man full of sorrow.

In that final hour, he took his last breath full of power

and with his sacrifice did upon humans shower

blessings incomprehensible and somewhat invisible

rising three days later, he proved to be invincible.

A gospel to spread, he now sought out his friends

who each had a strong message to send

in the form of letters and addresses

telling of God’s Son and how He blesses.

Their message reaches out now to modern ears

blessed are they who receive what they hear.

I see a world plunging deep into darkness

devoid of true life and full of dread starkness.

With reason they combat the invisible truth

with all the fibers of their arrogant youth.

But that which is seen is made from that which is not

so put away all the battles you have fought.

Redemption at hand yet it is casually dismissed

the world wreaking havoc with religion as a cyst.

But to follow the Son is not even close to religion;

it’s the cause of a spiritual decision.

Labeled blind for trying to seek out the righteous,

I pray for the world should it try to incite us.

Blind? Nay, merely looking with split vision

as I admire the works of God and His solitary mission:

He came not to judge but seek and save those who were lost

yet it is hard to do when they don’t believe in the cost.

The price of your life is worth more than you think

from the shirt on your body to the rock on your ring.

Your life was paid for in full by pure, untainted blood

a love everlasting and mercy that does flood.

Dismount from your throne of “knowledge” and look God in the face

for it is then when you will know the truth of your deservéd place.

Summer Nights.

A summer night with a breeze so very calming

does my heart good with its gentle embalming.

Yet realization comes piercing within

alarming as it is when I look for each friend.

We are like the summer breeze, youthful and bright

each with peculiar tastes, interests, delight.

Yet together we are strong, an actual hurricane

Helping build each other up, ignoring all the pain.

When we leave, who knows what will be of us;

will we still be close, still be people we trust?

Or does time disfigure each person’s own image

until all that’s left is a physical visage?

Do hearts true remain through paths traveled long

or do angels weep at our loss in their eternal song?

Home is where the heart is so why do we leave?

Is it to learn more or our poor hearts bereave?

We all have our plans, our own aspirations

our goals, our jokes, our own exclamations.

But will we, as the summer wind, the same remain

or will society try and poison the brain?

New friends we make, but old ones we treasure

hold them in high esteem without any measure.

As for pleasure, there is no lacking there

for when we see our friends, we release every care.

Every woe, every thought, every insecurity

is loosed upon the world in pure tranquility.

The comfort of the presence of people we know

allows us to continue to act in the show,

the great tragedy, drama, comedy of Life

where great mirth may mix itself with eternal strife.

God above us watches our moves now

wondering what we choose and if we choose, how?

No doubt in my mind remains when I think of Him

for He opens the gates for us to enter in.

So as the summer nights dwindle and the breeze flounders

the basketball falls in the hands of rebounders

the summer breeze does blow its steady course

and when it returns, it will cheer itself hoarse.

Great love amongst friends, more love between brothers

as boys and girls become fathers and mothers.

Time does change us, but only as much as we want

because our own colors we will forever flaunt.

Sing with all the colors of the wind with greatest of ease

Friends, when you leave, don’t forget “us,” please.

Once More to the Keyboard.

Growing up, I didn’t realize how much I was actually immersed in the world of English.  From the beginning of my time on a computer, the first game I played for an extended period of time was a keyboard practice game.  Back in the days of one-finger technique, the game provided a way for me to gradually get accustomed to the employment of all ten digits in the art of typing.  It started with the letters, of course, and soon it became words, then paragraphs.  School had made its way onto the keyboard as well, allowing me to type the majority of my assignments on whichever word processor I had at the time (most likely Microsoft Word 2003 with the little paper clip assistant).

Looking back on my time in the revelry of computers and their nifty keyboards, I realized that the imprinting of my thoughts onto electronic sheets of paper began, in a way, to usurp the process of actually handwriting works on real sheets of paper.  For a while, it bothered me because handwriting (especially cursive) was something that I was critiqued on and worked to improve on in my tender years.  However, I have come to the terms with the fact that even English is not spared from the “eat or be eaten” mentality and that if one is to thrive in the English community, he must be learned in the ways of typing.  However, something about typing poisoned my attitude towards writing because it seemed like it made writing the piece that much easier.  I wasn’t free to make mistakes because Auto-Correct would catch them and I was free to write to my heart’s content (or lack thereof) without worrying about the pencil smudges on the ring and pinkie fingers.  This relative ease compared to the actual task of handwriting allowed me to become languorous in my habit of writing.  Although it seemed to take much effort to even gather a sheet of paper and a pencil and begin to write, I was always pleased with the end result because I felt like I had made a kind of connection, both physical and mental, with the paper.  But with the keyboard, it took just as much effort to lay my fingers upon the keys and I didn’t even receive as much pleasure as I did from writing.  In a sense, the keyboard causes the writer to lose his identity; our handwriting is what distinguishes us from one another, and is also an area in which psychologists enjoy spending their free time.  The calligraphy of each person is unique in its various idiosyncrasies and the various strokes taken meticulously to arrive at the final product.  The beauty of handwriting is often masked by people who say, “Oh, I have chicken scratch” when they actually have a unique brand of expressing themselves.

Though handwriting is, perhaps, one of the easiest ways we can express our innate individuality, it simply is too easy to get on the laptop and type up some thoughts for the world to see and discuss.  It is this ease that especially appeals to the younger generation which is obsessed with inordinate levels of efficiency ranging from cell phones to music players to any of the multitude in between.  It is also this ease that terrifies me because it may very well lead to the demise of handwriting as we know it.  Why exhaust expendable material like wooden/mechanical pencils when I can simply type on the computer and just post it?  Just as in E.B. White’s “Once More to the Lake,” the vision of the romance and beauty of writing is fading as memories grow old and that the mortality of handwriting is definitely a looming presence.