The Dangers In Looking Back

Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt after looking back to see the catastrophe she’d been delivered from. I heard that story growing up in church countless times, but now at Twenty eight it’s making a lot of sense. Let me tell you why, and yes this may take a minute.

In my post-fuckboy world I realize that I passed up on a lot of smart , beautiful, and sincerely kind women all due to my inability to understand I had some deep seeded issues that needed to be sorted out before I could really appreciate them. The prototype of the man I was building wouldn’t ever function right because I needed more work. I embrace and fully admit that now, but that didn’t stop me from looking back. Lot’s wife and I had that in common. Looking at where you’ve been is so much easier than facing forward. It’s comforting, it’s familiar, and it takes so much less work; or so I thought.

I, like other cliched villains, returned to the scene of my love crimes hoping that those same aforementioned women would take me back and let me be better. In my mind that’s what love looked like. It was leaving, learning, and returning better. I would try my damnedest to find my way back into their good graces so I could earn back lost time. Happiness I was sure would follow. But, as you can probably guess, it didn’t. Most of these women moved on and found someone who truly appreciated them. Others paid me no never mind despite my attempts, whilst the remaining patiently wait to see my soul burning on that Holy Day of Reckoning. Even facing such loathing I still looked back.

It took some years but I’m finally seeing why. Wale in his wisdom wrote a song, The Break Up Song (ha), and it has a line that’s been ingrained in my mental notebook. “Most times darling the sequel sucks.” Until hearing that I never thought about relationships being like movies. The first movie (pre-break up) tends to be much better than the sequel (getting back together after)  and it’s rare for that not to be true. Over the course of the last few years I’ve tried to apologize to some of the women I hurt. Some apologies went easier than others, but all came from a genuine place. I didn’t want to get them back, I just want to acknowledge that I learned my lesson and hoped for some form of closure (yep the simp in me won out).

From these apologies I’ve learned a lot about friendship and forgiveness. But it’s also taught me the dangers of looking back. Most relationships worked out how they were meant to. Even more so if you believe in amor fati. Life pushes and sometimes drags you forward so you can grow into the person you need to be. Looking backwards can hold up that progress. Our pasts made us who we are currently. Each mistake teaches us something that inevitably changes us, and holding on to past baggage is like an anchor that sticks us firmly in the ground till we accumulate dust, dirt, envy, and a myriad of other shit. Maybe that’s why Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt. Looking backwards and holding up our growth combine to make a slow form of death by poison. The kind of poison that kills slowly by ticking seconds off our lives. I don’t want to live like that, hopefully neither do you.

Life in its complexity doesn’t leave room for us to look back too frequently. Sure unlike Lot’s wife we can and should remember where we came from, but the caveat comes from wanting to be back there. Being a man in the midst of my hoe phase was fun, and the thought of it at times does seem rather  appealing (full disclosure giving no fucks was beautiful) in as much as being a kid again does when you think about a life without bills. But when that brief nostalgic moment is over and I come to my sense I’m happy with who and where I am now. You should be too.

None of us have reached perfection yet. Our prototypes are no where near completion but we go forward still, even if we may blindly do so. The past we survived is behind us, while right now is at the door and tomorrow beckons.

I’ll admit this post wasn’t for you per se. It was more catharsis for me than anything, but I needed it. Maybe you did too.

EP.

-As always,

T.L.

FYI: A Listing of Things Grown Men Wish You Understood

Men and women aren’t the most effective communicators when it comes to each other. Men moreso. We rather just ignore things than speak to it, but today on this glorious Sunday a group of men dare to do something different. We came up with a list for you the women around us. Hooray for communication!

 

1. Women without successful friendships with other women are red flags.
2. Sometimes a hello, is just a hello. Not every kindness should be taken as a statement of interest. Some men were raised right, go figure.
3. The worst moment in dating is when we realize why you’re single. This moment is even worse when we realize it mid-date and it’s too late to leave.
4. The best sex happens when you’re the most comfortable and relaxed. When you’re not trying to be sexy or sensual and you’re just you it takes things to a new level. Toss in some slight shit talking and you just may be onto something.
5. There’s a least one friend of yours we don’t like. The chronically single or bad relationship having one who likes to give you advice on how she thinks we should go. Yep, she sucks.
6. It still blows us when you don’t have any suggestions where you’d like to eat. Make a list of places you like and just toss one out every once and a while.
7. Waking up on the edge of the bed because you want to be close is cute, but selfish too.
8. After a certain point in the relationship, sex isn’t a gift (pretty early on if you want to be honest) anymore. If we were to just give you sex for a gift there’d be a side eye waiting. Be fair, especially if you wouldn’t accept dick in a box.
9. Women who have whole conversations with themselves via text because they haven’t gotten a response yet are bothersome. It comes off very needy and bored. We don’t have to respond to you immediately because you want it and writing more messages won’t inspire that to happen any faster.
10. I’m not here for your entertainment. Sure we can entertain you, but not be your dancing monkey.
11. A properly positioned thank you is a game changer. When and how you say thank you for basic behaviors pay off. Chivalry, while expected, is still something that deserves an earnest thank you.
12. Asking for food from a man’s plate is the kind thing to do. Grabbing food or passive aggressively hinting that you’d like some is not.
13. Quality time should be fair. We do what you like and then we switch to something you do. Pretty obvious, but hey some of you still don’t get it.
14. Men who are dating seriously are looking for a partnership, not a bill. The moment you become one we’ve already started phasing you out. If you think your conversation is a trade off for us paying for the date you missed the point. Be worth the investment by sharing your mind, spirit, and energy. You have conversations for free, so make your company worthwhile.
15. Space is a beautiful thing, and the best relationships allow people to have it when needed. When we don’t feel like being around you don’t take it personally, instead take the same time and enjoy it. Being around someone too much erodes the very thing that makes them appealing.
**This is an ongoing theme, so it’s only fair to offer a retort. Look out for the things Women wished Men knew.

Why You’re Still Single: An Honest Conversation about You.

You know there’s no easy way to say this, but I think I know why you’re single. Certainly timing is a factor, and yes the saying is true “things will happen when they’re meant to” but have you ever stopped to think that maybe it’s you that’s holding your timing hostage? Many single women I’ve met lately all seem to hold on to the belief that the right man will find them when the stars align and the moon is full. Don’t get me wrong I’m not here to disrupt that belief, but what I do want is for you to realize that while it’s great to hold on to hope, that level of faith without work means absolutely nothing. If you’re not spending your single time learning about yourself and growing you are doing it wrong.

There’s nothing wrong with being single it’s honestly one of the greatest things because being alone allows you time to deal with yourself. Some of the greatest growth comes from moments of self reflection. Look at the religious figures of our society take Jesus or Buddha for example, both men left what they were familiar with to find themselves. Jesus went on a journey for 40 days/nights into the wilderness, and Buddha left his family to find enlightenment. When there’s no distractions to occupy our minds focusing on us shouldn’t be a problem, but for some reason it is. Many people never learn to really decode themselves and deal with the depths of their minds especially when we’re single. We like to blame everything but ourselves because it’s easier and it makes us feel better. We blame the city we live in. “There’s no one here for me, I bet if I move I’ll find someone” or “this city has an unfair population so it’s hard to find someone worth my time.” I’m sure we’ve either heard or even said some variations of these things when the truth is more obvious. We don’t know ourselves.

Still reading? Thanks for forgiving me for the cliche. I can explain. You see when you go out and live your life you see everything from one perspective. You know your motivations, drives, and purposes while the rest of the world does not. That missing part that you don’t see is how you’re viewed externally. Both views are necessary if you really want to know who you are. You can think that you’re a nice person all you want, but if no one externally sees that can you really say it’s true? The part of ourselves that other people see is still a part of us, and often times it’s the hardest part to cope with. This is the piece of you that people see on dates and 9 times out of 10 is the reason you’re still single. You have all the context and backstory to explain away the things you do, but without it the rest of us just think it’s who you are.

Having an honest look at yourself and then taking the feedback you’ve received is level one to fixing your single problem, but consider this your warning it’s not going to be fun. Could you deal with finding out that the person you believe yourself to be isn’t how people actually receive you? It’s a tough thing to face, but it’s also very freeing if you think about it. Everything in life requires some sort of feedback for you to reach mastery. Dating is no different. Find out what parts of yourself aren’t aligned with the person you mean to be and fix them.

*Disclaimer
I am purposefully avoiding the obvious argument that different people like different things so what one person may not like about you may very well be something that another loves. It’s true, but that doesn’t help you get any better does it? Sure that aspect of you may not work for one person, but there are somethings like negativity that aren’t received well at all no matter the person. Work on things like that which poorly match up to the best version of you

Here’s a challenge: ask someone you care about to give you a honest view of what they think of you. Get them to share what flaws they see, and what strengths you hold as well. *Extra points if you can take it without explaining away anything. Take what they say and compare it to the person you believe you are. If they don’t have an accurate description of who you are don’t get upset realize that you’re not conveying that image to them, and work on it. Their view of you is real time without the luxury of your context to explain it to them so expect discrepancies. If you can face this challenge and not see any areas of opportunities try it again with someone new. Find something out about yourself that you’d like to work on and start on it. Honestly challenge your mind to explain your actions and behaviors. Find your enlightenment by leaving the parts of your mind you’re comfortable with. Stretch yourself by reading, exercising, or however else you can to align the current you with the image of the best version of yourself ( I recommend checking out books like /The 5 Love Languages for Singles/ or anything that can offer you new perspectives on interacting with others).

When you start working on yourself I can promise you that you’ll gain so much insight into how you actually operate and your motivators that you will be forced to grow stronger as a result. There’s an old Chinese saying, “when the student is ready, the master will appear” and I firmly believe that once you’re close to the person you truly want to be you’ll find the man or woman to test that theory for you. Be the best version of you that you can be and do what you can to continuously grow. Who can say what will happen when you do?

Being single isn’t a death sentence if you manage it well, but it certainly will be if you’ve never learned self reflection and correction. Don’t be one of those people who complain and blame everyone but themselves for the loneliness they experience. Take responsibility for the aspects of yourself that led to failures in your past and correct them so your future will be better. Do what you can while your on “the bench” so when the Coach (life/God) puts you in the game you will be the star player you’re meant to be.

T.L.

Four Years, and 21 things later.

About four years ago I started writing about relationships and attempting to give dating advice. I did this because for years I’d secretly been writing about my dating life. I was one of those kids who would escape into the pages of a blank notebook and just live there. I wrote a lot. Poems, stories, notes (of course), lyrics, songs, and would be pick up lines that I was too nervous to use. At that time I started realize patterns and connect the dots, or so I thought, in my head about how women were and how they then interacted with men.

Those were my credentials, and with them I wrote trying to translate between the sexes. Life came along later and revealed how flawed my perspective was, but I didn’t stop writing what I learned. Till it became another article “21 Things Every Man Wished You Knew’” came to be.

Now, this article was just a regurgitation of many conversations I had been having with my friends. We came up with this list after dealing with just a small portion of the young adult dating world. Taking all of our experiences I wrote this piece that at the time accurately fit the world as I saw it. Four years later, the world couldn’t be more different.

Evolution happened somewhere between then and now. I can’t really put my finger on the exact day, but I definitely know it happened. That being said, I need a new list and with it some more updated articles. The plan is to revisit the same topics but as an actual adult (at the time adulting hadn’t really caught up to me. Honest moment). So soon you’ll see another 21 things that, I, a man with some honest feedback from other men, have come up with that we wish womankind to really know. These are men who are great fathers raising awesome kids, men who are dominating the adult game of paying bills whilst still building a life they’re proud of, men who love women and unfortunately realize that they’ve caught those lifetime cooties our parents had, men who honestly just want to find our semi-best friend aside from our real best friends (who are squad, but you are too just not the same extent). Yes, those men. We’ll be rapping about it and it’ll eventually be a podcast topic (boom, totally a mic drop moment).

Life can give you a new perspective, one that really becomes apparent when you think about how much you’ve grown as a person. I smile when I think about it. Man, I had a great time back then, but I am happy to be who I am now. Just like I know many of us are when we face down our more primitive selves. We’ve evolved, and you know maybe this is how Pokemon felt (Total nerd reference. I own it.)

T.L.

Of Mice & Men: A Discussion on Change.

“The best laid-plans of mice and men often go awry…”-Robert Burns

One of the biggest things in this life that we all have to understand an eventually move past is that people change. Growth happens somewhere in our day to day runnings when we least expect it. Soon people who we pegged being one way transform into something different seemingly overnight leaving people both amazed and confused.

A truth about human nature is that we are creatures of habit and pattern. Once a pattern is established, our minds grip it tightly and expect it to be true indefinitely especially when dealing with behaviors. That’s probably where the manly tenet, “You can’t turn a hoe into a housewife.” came from.
*Disclaimer: I certainly don’t believe that’s true, but follow me for a second.
Somewhere in our past, long ago in a city far away a man witnessed a woman’s behavior over time and decreed that it would never change deeming her unworthy of the housewife role. Now we surely don’t know the rest of the story who’s to say that she didn’t impress on that man what a proper housewife could be after some time. More research would be required for that, but my point is we branded that statement to say that people’s negative behaviors can’t ever change, the current sentiment “once a fuck boy, always a fuck boy” is the same way. These last few months after many books (I’m reading voraciously; from self-improvement, to cookbooks, to race relations, to investing, you name it.) and some honest self reflection, much of which can be read between the lines on this website, I am earnestly trying to fight that mentality and be the one zebra that changes his stripes. In doing so I often feel the need to apologize for my past behaviors to the women that deserve it, and I assure you that is Pandora’s Box filled to the brim with equal parts disgust, loathing, resentment, and distrust. None of these conversations have gone like I’d expected, and it’s all due to the lasting impression my past behaviors left.

Despite what changes I make these women, understandably so, wouldn’t just take any words I say as proof of change. I’m incongruent because regardless of what they see it’s in contention with a lasting image of past behaviors that sit comfortably cataloged in their minds; A hologram of ain’t shittiness if you will.

So full disclosure, I began writing this post with the purpose of discussing what happens when a fuck boy grows up/evolves into a man, and how he must contend with his past image in the eyes of those who knew him essentially battling with versions of himself that no longer exist, but in reality that’s true of any person changing from a negative to a positive state. Changing yourself means fighting those mental doppelgängers that appear both within yourself and in the minds of those closest to you.

If the title threw you off not to worry here’s the tie in. Remember that paraphrased quote from Robert Burns, “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry…” well it is especially true in the context of change and transformation. We plan major changes in our lives fairly often like New Year’s resolutions, diets, lifestyle changes, etc. and yet with each we have to face and defeat the exhaustless entity that is the image of our past behavior. These mental holograms we fight don’t have expiration dates remains they’re taking up valuable space until they can be replaced with something else. So it’s no wonder things go awry when we plan to change things; but despite that we can’t give up hope. Hell, if hoes can become housewives and fuckboys valued members in the community (if you think about it you probably know a lot of success stories) there’s a chance for everyone to defeat their past in mental combat, it just takes a little extra sweat to get there. All it takes is time to build new images of who you are so you can reinforce the person who you will be.

So to my fellow zebras, we can change our stripes. We can take on new patterns and design the image we wish to be. Here’s to the newer you.
T.L.

The Trouble With Being Woke.

There’s so many things my heart is racing to put to this page. Insights that only through gazing into one’s on heartache, darkness, and shit could I even comprehend.

That sounded like a bunch of nothing so let me clean it up. I want to share with you the revelation that came to me this week, and with it share the darkness it brought. From there I will take your hand and walk with you through the shit and tell you a tale of heartache. Till finally we emerge better on the other side.

I will speak to you of what the cool kids call, “wokeness” and share the knowledge that cannot be unlearned. And here is where the dump truck of life freed it’s shit all over my carefully planned out life.

I recently went to go see the film, “I Am Not Your Negro.” And it altered my perception of blackness. The film metaphysically pierced me (I highly recommend it). The reality of my skin has always been something that as a black man I had to be cognizant of. I know that in any moment I could lose my life to the fears of some unjustified white man or woman. I made my peace with that long ago, and by peace I don’t mean that I accept such a fate. Merely that I know it is a fact of life. But the film showed me something else as I watched a collection of black bodies swinging in the breeze as strange fruit played, something broke inside of me. For the first time I faced the limit of my passiveness as my imagination forced me to feel what the last moments of a hanged man must have been like. Knowing that you will die at the hands of a crowd who’s fear and hatred of your skin blinded them of your humanity. Feeling the noose around your neck and looking out into that nameless crowd as you took a final breath. I broke in that moment. I pondered what my final thoughts would be, and parts of me spoke up. The Christian remembered Jesus’ last words, “Father forgive them, for they no not what they do…” I heard those words and wanted to believe that I’d say them. That my final act would be of forgiveness, but it would be a lie to say so. A voice of rage spoke up, “these violent delights have violent ends…” The rage that spoke filled me with a red seething heat as I looked out into the crowd. Faces glared defiantly at the human before them till I saw nothing but monsters in attendance. Rage then gave way to fear. Its voice was the truest. I would be afraid of death in this way. I would feel every eye on me and feel the burns from the hatred pouring from them. Only one question would remain as I hung dying. A simple why?

I wasn’t the same after that. Of course the film went on and provided new insights but I’ve never forgotten the eyes of the clansmen and their families. Not because I fear them, but because I feel it is my duty to remember and to live my life for those who had their lives extinguished by the monsters who gathered there. I promised myself that I would dedicate myself to reading more, and learning everything I could about my world. I promised to be the best version of myself all because I realized that I am the dream of the hanged man.

I’ll let that sit for a while. Hot tears are still in my eyes as I think about it. Everyday I live the dream that came from Strange Fruit. I have a good job, a great family, access to education, I can read, vote and live unabashed by many of the white whims that would mean instant death in their time. After I realized that I couldn’t be the same person anymore. I didn’t see point in knowingly watching television that I know was a distraction to keep me from paying attention to the real issues. I didn’t see the point in playing silly games of sexual pursuit with women who need more than my immaturity would provide them. I became aware of my hypocrisy in those moments, but that is a conversation for another day.

After that day I’ve been reading everything I can and I’m paying attention to the world around me. Connecting the dots and seeing the picture coming together, and as the picture gets clearer I realize that I cannot “unsee” the image it makes. Once you become woke you get to a point where everything is falling into place. The plots make sense, and all that we see has been orchestrated to be this way. You can’t go back afterwards after seeing some of these things. Think about that while you imagine The Matrix. One of the central characters Cypher reached that point. He couldn’t take back what he’d seen and it ate away at him. He sacrificed everything he’d known just to be comfortable again. Really think about that for a second. “Ignorance is bliss.” He said as he ate that steak that was only a figment of his imagination.
I used to jokingly say that statement all the time without honestly a second thought. Sure it’s better be ignorant of some things. We’d like to think that we’re progressive and can deal with the truth as it stands but history has shown us we can’t. Ignorance to the reality of things doesn’t quite work as well for black people. History continuously reminds us that. So no matter the appeal, we can’t accept it.

Rudyard Kipling spoke of the White Man’s Burden, not knowing that the true burden of man lies in the heart of people of color. Our burden is the true burden. It’s seeing the true image of America and each day having to put on a mask of conformity to make those around us comfortable. We do this to keep those who cannot handle the true weight of the world we live in so we shelter them from their legacy often and become scapegoats of their psyches.

So wrapping all these truths in a package is all I can do. The problem is I have don’t know who to send them to. Sure I would love for you to understand my perspective but truth be told it’s not fun wearing a mask all day. Seeing the way of the world I can’t buy back in to the American Dream and keep up an oppressive illusion. I know there’s still good in this world and that ultimately Love and Hope will prevail but in this moment I can’t help but think they’re running late.

I Get Bigger

Greetings All,

Lately Nx Worries song, Get Bigger/Do U Luv, has been speaking to my soul. If you haven’t heard it, Get Bigger, Educate yourself. The song is all about raising the bar, taking no bullshit, and becoming Legit.

So in my absence these last few weeks I’ve taken on yet another venture. Oh that’s right, can’t stop, won’t stop. I’m out here making auditory pursuits: podcasts. So far my partner, Janine, and myself have one episode on the books. Check us out at the link below:

Nah Mean Episode 1

“Silence, which will save from shame, will also deprive me of fame.” -Igor Stravinsky.

I’ve had that quote close to me for some years now, and finally decided to take it’s advice. Who knows, maybe I’m on to something. Then again, maybe I’m not. Either way I’m having a blast.

 

T.L.

My Hip Hop Foundations

Alright, we’ve reached the point where I feel I can start being honest and sharing a bit of insight into who I am and what kind of life I’ve lead. This confessional I promise you is going to be pretty revealing. Ready?

Here it goes. When it comes to my upbringing and what truly got me heavy into Rap/Hip Hop/or whatever hippy classification we’re giving it nowadays it wasn’t Tupac, Biggie, or any of the accepted greats that got me there. To me, The Diplomats, was it. Don’t get me wrong I take nothing away from Jay, Nas, Biggie, or Pac, but when I was coming up I didn’t appreciate them. Diplomatic Immunity was my first unfiltered view of rap and it hit me square in the chest. Shit, I’ll never forget watching the video over and over again of I Really Mean it/Dipset Anthem. The first Hip Hop line I learned was a Cam’ron verse. His flow was crazy to me, and still is to this day. Say what you want.

“I’m on the west side of Chicago looking for a bus down to make me put my two hands up, touchdown…”

Years later I still remember where I was when I heard DMX screaming What’s Really Good? on the coldest Coming to America fresh outta Zamunda track. That beat surprised me and from that moment on Dipset had me.

As I progressed from Dipset, during their fall out and disbanding, I started to appreciate other artists but again they got me there. Quick backstory, my parents are both preachers and with that came the censorship of anything over the top secular. Rap music was public enemy number one in my house and even the Walmart Censored versions were frowned upon. Any Rap album I had was bootlegged and came from shadow exchanges. I’d sneak to my basement and burn these albums in order to be hip to the game. The first album I got on loan from one of my boys, shoutout to Big H, Diplomatic Immunity. I Really Mean It to this day is one of my favorite songs and truly expect it to be played at my funeral as I’m wheeled out and lead down the street in my hearse (consider that a portion of my living will).

So there you have it, confessional number one. On everything if there’s ever a Dipset Reunion tour  don’t expect a post from me that week. But really, don’t expect it. I’m reliving the livest time in music. Catch me that next week though.

 

T.L.