The day before Yesterday I had my day all planned, I had a schedule full of work: take organized notes on 2 books and three articles, pound out some letters, outline my next paper, and get some structured pre-writing done. But then I woke up to some real bad news. I mean, like real bad.
I felt my stress level rise, even though it was sort of checked by my recent regimen of stress relief (meditation and prayer, exercise, cutting back on caffeine, healthier eating, pro-actively solving problems, and finally leaving everything up to God). I can think of countless times when would nearly fall to pieces when hit by the big whammies in life. I should be grateful though, I’ve had some hardships (and who hasn’t?) but nothing unsurmountable, nothing so painful as the challenges faced by some people I know and love. I spent years not in despair, but frustrated. I would stare at obstacles, sometimes for years, trying to figure out ways around them, over them, under them. Sometimes I would look at hurdles and run the other way. Yeah I suck at track, and I never did well in PE class during the obstacle course. But yesterday I was sitting there all numb, just on the verge of old patterns. But as far as the course I have taken, I’ve had lot of coaches, trainers, cheerleaders, and sponsors along the way. Some even carried me when I was too tired. I’m just glad to be back in the race even after I punked out and sat out for a few laps of the race.
So, yesterday, I was dealing with one of the gravest debacles with the silliest movie “Anchor Man” playing in the background. Did I want to cry, or laugh, or just pretend the problem would go away and continue with my originally planned work routine? I needed to figure this all out and I was mad at myself because I needed to catch up on school work as opposed to dealing with the problem.
It turned out that the solution to this problem was letting it out of my hands. I just opened up with sincerity to my friends, family and community. I learned something bigger, something not in books, something they don’t even study in rational choice theory, Weber’s notion of charisma, Marx’s theory of capital, or any understanding of informal networks in network analysis. You learn the power of love, just people feeling you and wanting the best for you. Nobody makes it in this world alone. We all have them, but sometimes things are out of our control. Sometimes those who care can’t help us. Sometimes all they have is kind words, understanding, well wishes, prayers. Often, we overcome problems that are much bigger than us by somebody else who cares, who gives us strength, and gives us a lift. Problems explodes the myth of rugged individualism. Anyone who thinks they are self sufficient is arrogant and really mistaken.
My accomplishments are not my own (they are a product the labor of the people who came before me and supported by numerous people who have supported me), my talents are not my own (they are given to me by the Creator). I didn’t chose this, my timing, my parents, my skin color, my talents, or those opportune circumstances. So I can’t do this academia thing for myself. Prestige? There are millions of people who are more talented than I am that deserve the shots I’ve been given. But now that I have the privilege of being here, it is about getting into the grit of it, rolling up my sleeves and and doing the thing.
I have learned so much yesterday, what friendship, family and community is about. I can’t even begin to pretend that I can cover all the wisdom I heard today. I can only hope to absorb 10% of it. I don’t know, I feel inspired. Everybody I spoke to yesterday made me want to be a better person, to keep striving, to stay open, and be sincere. My day did not go as planned. I planned to study and produce for my advisors a paper demonstrating my mastery of certain materials. But in living and sharing I am beginning to understand and know what is beyond the pages of those texts. Jazak Allah kheir yall!