I’m a firm believer that God orchestrates every event of our lives, but every once in a while, you have nights where it becomes blatantly obvious. Tonight was one of those.
It kind of started last week when I sent an email to a man I have a ton of respect for, an artist who inspires me and is doing a lot of the things I want to do with my life. It was going out on a limb, but I haven’t had any real guidance artistically since I started embracing my creative side about 3 or 4 years ago, so I emailed him asking for some direction and advice. He’s been doing some touring, so it took a little while for him to respond to my first email (he did acknowledge me on Facebook though!) So when I heard from a friend of mine that he was going to perform at her church last night, I offered to come out to the show so that we could just talk in person. He agreed, and so it seemed that we were set for Friday night.
One thing was wrong with my plan though, at the exact same time as the show was an open mic that I had previously committed myself to being at. The open mic of a good friend of mine actually, the type of friend who you can talk to relatively infrequently but consistently dive deeper into friendship with; a quality over quantity friend. There’s a lot to be said for true friends and obviously, you can see why I couldn’t just skip her event. For the better part of two days, I wrestled with myself over sending an email confirming my flakiness to the man I respected so much. I knew from the beginning what I needed to do, but it was so hard on so many levels! If I had to be honest though, one thing above all others motivated me to send that email:
I trusted that God would bless selflessness and integrity infinitely more than He would bless my selfish desire to go meet this man.
Honestly, if I didn’t believe that, it could’ve gone either way. (I would’ve probably tried both and failed actually!) Anyway, I finally sent the email and his response was overwhelmingly encouraging. He commended my decision and told me that his first piece of advice would have been just that!
its good you’re going to that open mic. that would have been my 1st piece of advice. find a venue, a weekly poetry venue, and HOLD IT DOWN! go every week, get on the list. be a regular. preferably a spot that has a slam team that goes to nationals and or poets good enough to go to nationals. stay around dope poets and every week write like you trying to beat them in a slam.
Exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks bro.
He told me that I needed to be here tonight, and honestly, I already knew it. Every time I come, I’m moved. There’s one woman here, a poet, preacher, fashionista, dancer, and a queen. Yeah, she’s a queen and she knows it, you can see it in every step she takes, and not because she flaunts it; no, there’s this grace in the humility she carries in her that could only come from someone who both fully recognizes their own worth and just how much it pales in comparison to God’s. Every word that leaves her lips is profoundly injected with purpose. She moves mountains as she speaks and every syllable demands your full attention not like a blaring trumpet or a screaming metal band that forces you to take notice; but more like a celebrity stepping from a limousine who needs only to rise and walk for everyone to be transfixed. I mean, even the rhythm she walks with is intoxicating and her soul bleeds into her sentences somehow allowing her to secretly pull something deep from each of us as we watch and listen.
Yeah, she’s dope, but her deepest beauty isn’t in these things, it’s in the way she recognizes the love and power God has poured into her. That’s where both her nobility and integrity spring from.
Anyway, she’s the one here to beat. As powerful as her performance was though, the reason she so moving is because you can hear that integrity through her words. To beat her at writing is one thing, but I’ll never be as strong a performer as she if I don’t start living at a completely new level. I talked to her last night and expressed that I’d like to get involved with the street team and that I was going to start coming monthly. (It doesn’t quite meet the standards of the email, but it’s a great place to start without a doubt.)
So may it be said now that I’m going to beat her. Whether it takes one month or ten years, I’m going to eclipse you. And not simply to be better, or to have bragging rights, or to make you look small; none of that is even remotely important (or necessary, this ain’t a competition lol). I’m going to be better than you because I can be. I need to be. I’m called to be. It’s not for my sake though, if I win, then we all win, just like the way we all win now, because of you. It’s like Nelson Mandela famously quoted:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
What you’re doing is empowering me and now I’ve got to turn around and do the same. We’re all going to work together and win together, by God’s grace.