It’s another Monday in our lives … yes it is! It is a pretty cool and special week for me … Mom’s birthday is Wednesday so I’ll be putting together a tribute to and for her … just a few words. How did your weekends pan out?!? Not that we can change it now, but at least we can put some things together for next weekend … or tomorrow even!!
Saturday, I had an opportunity to meet with a group of students from a program sponsored by the Broward Sheriff’s Office. It is called the Community Justice Program, and is directed by Mrs. Nicole Valencia Mercado, registered mental health intern and Youth Counselor. There was also her assistant named Mr. Balfour, who met me out front when I first arrived to the location where the presentation was to take place, the Lauderdale Lakes Multi-Purpose Center. The youth were from a variety of backgrounds and attended different schools in Broward County. There were 12 teens all together. I introduced myself first and then gave each of them the opportunity to introduce themselves. The theme of the presentation was “Stop the Violence” and “Getting to Know Thyself”, both my favorite topics to date. Of course, I tied in some of the backdrops I use at book-signing events when I market my first book, “From the Projects to Princeton”. We started off with my skit from the movie, “American Gangster” with Denzel Washington and the soundtrack done by JayZ. They seemed to enjoy the rendition I present of Frank Lucas as he had a change of heart when one of his drug generals came up short with his money. I decided to have him (Frank Lucas) “pray” instead of murder the 3 children in his drug general’s family to the tune of $1K a piece, as the debt was $3,000.00!!
The next segment of the presentation got them involved in listening to some Japanese jazz by Keiko Matsui with me and jotting down some thoughts that came to their minds as I worked with them on a “guided meditation”. They enjoyed the music though one young gent commented in his feedback remarks, “It made me fall asleep … but the music was good … it was ok!” Another part of the same segment exploring culture through music had some selections with a strong Latin influence from the “Rippington’s” guitarist, Russ Freeman. They enjoyed the rhythms and Latin flavor of this music as I also asked them to jot down some of their thoughts on those selections, too! I even sat down in the lotus position with them as I described how yoga is a connection of mind, body and spirit through our breath … just one of the ways I use to keep myself calm and prevent violent thoughts from taking over my head.
I know most of us have heard the expression, “Everything happens for a reason.” Yes, of course, but I’ve added a twist to it to include how we might best understand why we meet certain people in our lives. Sometimes, those people challenge our self esteem, our self concept … even some of our major beliefs and values. Yes, that is exactly why they have come into “our” lives. Some folks change who they are, what they think even, because the person(s) giving them the most in their life, be it finances or a place to live … a car or a job even, hold a certain point of view. A good example of a person who did NOT do the aforementioned is the Asian woman who was the “girlfriend” of the former owner of the Clipper’s team in the National Basketball Association. When he spoke bad about her being around “African Americans” and bringing them with her to “his” games, she stuck to what she believed and “blew the whistle” on his racist beliefs!
So, let’s expand the “thing” in the expression, ” Everything happens for a reason.” anecdote to “everyONE” happens to each of us for a reason – to help shape who we each are … and become! After all, there are those who believe that “we” are not the experiences and shortcomings we may have had in certain stages of our lives, but “we” are who we become as a result of what we learned from those experiences. Even we … yes, each and everyone of “US” reading this … happens for a reason. Don’t take “yourself” too seriously, either. Remember, as “Kevin” of the Hollywood Brahma Kumaris said last night at the end of our 2nd Annual World Peace Meditation Day in ArtsPark, Young Circle, Hollywood, FL, “We are not only here to enjoy each other in peace and harmony, but also to have a good time! Yay!”
Enjoy your week, folks. Make each moment count, for you are trading it in for a day of YOUR life!
John I. Cook, Director