Archive for January, 2012
As a child I was always told that I had the memory of an elephant because I could remember anything, and for a long time I agreed with that statement as I did remember everything that happened. But recently I’ve come to renounce that trait of having a memory of an elephant and I’ll tell you why. One of the characteristics of an elephants memory that is used against them to this day is they not only remember everything that happened, they also remember the emotion, experience, and circumstances associated with their memories.
Take for example the elephant’s that are domesticated. From a very young age they are tied to a stake in the ground that they cannot escape from no matter how hard they try. This conditioning is repeated over and over again so that once the elephant is massive and not only has the power to snap the stake in pieces but trample over their masters who have domesticated them, they don’t do it. They don’t do it because they remember every detail of what happened to them when they previously tried to escape from that stake and the memory of their previous defeats become more powerful than their current power and future potential.
I never realized that I’ve been like that in so many areas of my life until recently. Anyone that has known me, I mean really known me from the age of 12 and up knows that I’ve struggled with my weight and body image, and up until recently I didn’t realize how much some of the negative things that were said to me as a child that I thought I’d already dealt with had still been like the stake in the ground of a fully grown elephant.
Anyone that’s known me, I mean really known me since 1996 when I came to Connecticut for school know that I struggle with my potential musically as some of the things that have been said and done (between people trying to verbally and mentally beat my dream out of me along with so called “famous” jazz musicians that have purposefully sabotaged some great opportunities for me) have still stuck to me this day. And anyone from the Hartt/Hartford Jazz scene that is aware of even a hint of what I’m saying know all too well how true this is. I came here with a dream to be the best musician that I can be and after I graduated from school I gave up for almost 2 years of playing because like the elephants stake in the ground, the comments and actions have had me believing that it’s not possible for me to succeed unless I fit the mold and do exactly what someone else says I should do and be. Thank God I don’t believe that anymore and that I’m working on becoming the best me that I can be!
So while I’m blessed and happy to have a great memory I also know that if you don’t resolve the emotional/psychological damage that some of these memories can have on you, you will be like the elephant that is big, strong, and powerful enough to break free and march into freedom but consistently held captive by memories of defeat that cloud your present and place your future in the hands of anyone else except yourself. I choose to be transparent and use my life as an example of many of these post because I hope that they help someone who may be going through what I’ve been through and (in some cases) and learning to deal with today get out of the dark places that they’re in and into something better.
Sometimes it’s very helpful to know that there’s someone out there that understands a little bit of what you’re going through or been through and that’s coming out or has already come out of it so that you can see for yourself that it is possible for you to do the same as well.
As I was listening to a Christian Radio station in Connecticut yesterday I heard a lyric that said, “I don’t look like what I’ve been through.” This particular lyric first made me laugh for the choice of words, and then it made me think. Really think. I started to think about all that I’ve went through over the past 12 years since moving out of New York and I started to realize that I too don’t look like what I’ve been through and I’m glad about it. Some of the things that I’ve gone through have been really good and some have been really bad. I’ll highlight some of the good and bad now:
Good: Graduated College; Moved out on my own; Got Married; Became a Minister; Bought my first new car; Bought my first house; the Birth of My Son; played in 3 jazz festivals in 1 year; played music in 3 different countries; played with some of the musicians that are on my list of musicians that I want to perform with in my lifetime; lived in Germany.
Bad: Became unemployed for the first time in my life and plunged into debt; after climbing out of most of my debt becoming unemployed for a second time and going back into really bad debt; my mother died; my family began to fall apart after the death of my mother who held a lot of us together; almost lost my faith due to a really bad “church” experience; worked for a manipulative person who laid me off causing me to be unemployed for the 3rd time with a young child and mortgage to worry about causing me to go back into more debt; coming near to getting divorced; having a 10 year dream shattered (but not broken which is the important part) as a result of selfish actions of others; losing a chance at dream job due to the selfishness of others; one of my older brothers died very unexpectedly.
I could go on and on about both the good and the bad but I won’t because I think you get the point. The point is that I really don’t look like what I’ve been through and to be honest even if all of the things that I’ve been through were good I wouldn’t want to look like all of those experiences. I believe that the writer of the song that I was listening to wasn’t speaking of a persons physical appearance, I do believe it was speaking of your mental/spiritual appearance as your experiences shouldn’t play into how you physically look (although for some they do) but they should play a part in what you think and how you carry yourselves. I’m glad that, especially in more recent times, that what I’ve been through has not determined what I look or feel like and this is the case because I’ve learned to choose so. This doesn’t mean that I never have any negative things happen to me, but I’ve learned how to work through them and not allow them to run my life.
So do you look like what you’ve been through or are you better because of what you went through?
A new day can be a new beginning or an old ending depending on how you look at it and those who draw conclusions before having all the necessary facts usually have nothing more than undecipherable scribbles on their pages of nonsense. Life is for living not crying and death is for a new existence not dying however the existence you get after death depends on which Jesus you met. Was it the one with smile and embrace or the one with tears and sadness on his face?
Just because you have a job doesn’t mean it’s a career and a paycheck and income are 2 different things. I know today will bring A New Days Sunshine and tonight will remind me of A Sentimental Stroll but only Time Will Tell What Tomorrow Holds. The only thing I have left to say in this post is that self-expression can help a lost person find direction when they need it most but be careful not to boast yourself over that thin line between confidence and conceit.
Today I’m in New York, my birth state and hometown to attend the funeral of my brother. I still can’t believe that I’m going to be at his funeral today. This feels so unreal. I’ve been to far too many funerals in my lifetime and I’m not happy about going to this one but I’m going to try my best to do what I know my brother would want me to do and that is live, be productive, and enjoy life. I’m going to try my best today at his funeral to celebrate his life and laugh as much as possible instead of crying because I know he would rather me laugh at good memories then cry at his body. I’m going to do my best to play music with all the passion and fervor that our discussions about jazz were about because I know that will honor him for the rest of my life. I’m going to do my best to be there for my family as well as myself.
But most of all, I’m going to do my best during this service to get people to remember to be happy about all of the good times we had with him so that we can cry when needed but spend more time laughing, smiling, saying I remember that as well as discover some good things that we collectively may not have known about him. So to my brother Jeffrey Tyrone Richardson, I love you, and will do my best to honor you and your memory for the rest of my life.
I’ve been quiet on the blogging front as of late being that I’ve suffered a death in my family. This would be the death of one of my older brothers, something that none of us saw coming and the timing of when he died as well as how we found out is on the 9th anniversary of our mother’s death. To be quite honest I haven’t known how to feel and if I had to describe how I’m feeling right now, it would be mostly numb. I had a little bit of feeling yesterday morning when I had some inspiration to write some music. Other than that, I’ve just been trying to occupy my mind be it with mindless entertainment, work, or something else, but there’s one thing that I am both remembering and re-learning throughout all of this. You cannot under any circumstance bottle your grief or sadness in, doing so sets you up for destruction.
This is a hard time in my life, the life of my family and of my brothers 2 sons. While this will be harder on some than it is on others, I would encourage all of you that may read this post to know that you need support, you cannot live this life alone and the support you need isn’t just from your fellow man, but from God. I am a Christian, I’m not ashamed to say it, and I’m not ashamed of my beliefs, and I firmly know that God is really helping me to keep myself together right now in a situation in which I feel like I should be much more of a mess.
But you also need support from your fellow man. Understand that you need to be selective about who is in your”inner circle” because those are the people that will be there for you the most when you have need and will always love and care for unconditionally. While I love and miss my brother, I do know that with the things we had in common, he would want me to keep living and keep on progressing towards a positive life, so that’s what I’m going to do.
If you don’t love someone don’t lead them on, keeping them thinking there’s hope. Those who who ask for what they themselves will not give are usually most miserable and the greatest manipulators. Pursue your dreams with all of your might and you might find yourself living them. Never allow people in your life that are constantly withdrawing more from you than what they deposit or you might find yourself overdrawn and bankrupt.
Love is a choice, an emotion, and a way of life.
Have you ever felt like you were out of place? Or that the life you are currently living isn’t the life you’re supposed to live? Did you ever feel like you picked the wrong job or career? If the answer to any of these questions is yes then I have another question for you. What are you willing to do so that you feel in place; are living the life you should be living; or are in the right career for you?
More importantly, are you going to allow the emotion of what your feeling be the guide to how you live your life or are you going to take control of your emotions so that you can figure out your next move? Always stay true to who you are and not who people want you to be or say you are. When you do that, your integrity will take you to places that money can’t buy. Understand what it is that you need and want so that you can find a way to get it.