Archive for the ‘relationships’ Category

Some people

May 27, 2010

It’s hard being ‘some people’. I’m not referring to anyone in particular. Rather I’m referring to the ‘some people’ we all talk about; the some people who  always seem to have stuff going on in their lives; things are always happening to them, or to people they know. They go through a lot. They deal with situations that we say (as we sit around in the comfort of our own uneventful lives) ‘no one should have to deal with’. When we say this, more often than not, we mean, ‘thank God, that’s never happened to me’.  At the backs of our minds, we think, ‘they must have done something wrong to have to deal with this’. Hardly do we ever consider that Providence is no respecter  of persons. If it happened to them, it could easily happen to you. Well, last week , ‘it’ happened to my family.

We found ourselves in a situation, that did not creep up on us, but rather it just jumped out at us  from behind a wall as we strolled along in the comfortableness of being us; same effect, just different method of delivery. One moment we were happily dreaming dreams and planning plans, and the next moment we were in a completely alien situation. By the end of the week, we had become ‘some people’. We were in the ever so popular ‘situation’, one that we never imagined we would ever be in. But here we were; some people.

Being some people gives one a whole new perspective though. You go from being the “called upon” to the ones calling and relying on others. You move from that place where you (sometimes with a ‘can’t you call someone else’ sigh) find yourself lending a helping hand wherever you can, to a place where you are reaching for that helping hand. Being some people is a humbling experience. If you ever start feeling a little bit full of yourself and start thinking that you don’t need anybody else, try being some people for a minute.

I know this all sounds like being some people is the worse thing that can happen to you, but it’s not all bad. I will admit that, oftentimes the thing that catapults you into ‘somepeopleville’, is not exactly the most thrilling experience and certainly not something you would want to repeat, nevertheless, it opens up a whole new world.

In this new world, despite how we got there, we made some very interesting discoveries. Our ‘arrival’ inadvertently allowed us to ‘test’ some of our relationships. Test is probably not the right word, because it suggests some level of uncertainty to begin with, which is definitely not the case.  The reality of relationships though, is that you never really know what kind of relationship you have with someone until something not so good happens; until the rubber hits the road; until walks must be walked instead of talk being talked.

There are lots of stories about the moral erosion of our society. I want to believe though that there are exponentially more examples of people helping people. We are, however so preoccupied with sensationalism today, that we prefer to dwell on the not so nice aspects of human behavior. Being some people though allowed us to experience the much more noble aspects of humanity.

This post, therefore, is a thank you of sorts, to those who have helped when we needed it most. To the much-loved “aunty” who stepped in and took care of the munchkin, so that we could be fully focused on  the situation at hand. To special friends, who just said yes even before questions were asked. People who dropped everything and came running; who just asked, ‘what do you need?’ To those who shifted plans and worked through the night so that they could be there for us. To the co-worker who offered to drive miles if we needed her to. To the friend back home who made international calls just to encourage us and to make sue that we were ok. To the anonymous ones who did not need specifics to petition on our behalf in prayer. Thanks is often difficult to say, moreso because although it is the ‘right thing to do’  often it falls way short of conveying the depth of our gratitude. How does one articulate what it feels like, when you truly do not have to worry because you know someone’s ‘got your back’.

Yeah, it’s hard being some people. You don’t want to be a bother to anyone, or interrupt their lives, but one thing I’ve learnt about some people is that their situations, more often than not, cannot be helped. They don’t choose to have stuff happen to them. I told a friend that we were probably being tested; her response,” just sounds like life to me”. Maybe it IS just life. After all, we are not the first ones this thing has happened to, and I’m sure we won’t be the last. There are many things happening to many people every second of every day. The way these are resolved depends to a great extent on the quality of the network. If it is a network of the proverbial fair weather friends, then things may not turn out so well. If the network is “genuine” then the outcome is likely to be brighter, and even if it isn’t, you at least know that you’re not alone.  Truth is, everybody needs somebody, so in some sense ………we are all some people.

How dare she!!!

May 9, 2010

So Sandra Bullock, the popular White actress had the AUDACITY to adopt a Black baby. This has apparently raised the ire of some racial purists within the Black community, who, by the way, are not stepping in to adopt ANY of the children in the system, be they Black, White, or Green. Somehow though, they feel it is their duty to create a furor over this adoption. Apparently the timing is “suspicious”, and it is some sort of PR stunt because her husband cheated on her, not to mention the fact that this will cause the demise of African American culture as we know it…….uuuummmm….what????

This move on her part has started (or rejuvenated) a conversation on race and race relations that seems to have no end in the foreseeable future. You have people who make the argument that, (read slowly here, because you really have to follow this one) at one time White parents were not allowed to adopt Black children, and that such adoptions were eventually authorized, not for reasons of altruism, but because there were just too many Black kids in the system who were not being adopted. Okay, so maybe it’s not an actual argument, but rather one of those things people say to show that they read some historical literature………once. To use this as some kind of ammunition against interracial adoption boggles the mind. I’m guessing that these people also believe that slavery should never have been ended for purely economic reasons. Yeah, they should have kept my ancestors in bondage until they decided to end it for the ‘right’ reasons. It’s the principle of the thing dammit!!!

Then you have the whole ‘learn about his culture’ argument. Seems like unless ‘baby Louie’ grows up in a Black home, he will exist in some black hole (no pun intended) characterized by complete ignorance of his roots, and what it means to be Black. I don’t know Sandra Bullock personally and I have no idea whether this will be the case or not. I do, however, find it hard to believe that in the era of a Black American president, high profile Black business leaders, award winning Black actors, not to mention everyday Black heros, that this child will somehow grow up thinking that he’s White. This is not like that old Steve Martin movie where he is adopted into a Black family and only finds out he’s White when he becomes an adult. It is simply inconceivable that in the times we live in, that people can be so unaware of the diversity that surrounds them.

The unfortunate thing here is that, more often than not, when people make the whole “know your roots” argument, they are referring to the less flattering aspects of those roots. They are not talking about the great accomplishments of Black people throughout history. They are not talking about the many stories of success in Black communities today, rather they want their kids to submerge themselves in stories of slavery, jim crow, and Rodney King. They prefer that these children turn into Black men and women who are unable to interact with the broader community, and who act like people of different races are from a different planet and that they should all be feared and mistrusted.

The way I see it, I have more than enough stuff going on in my own life to have the time to be concerned about people who are still making interracial relationships an issue. I grew up surrounded by ‘mixed’ people so for me it was just the way things were. In my own case, it would take an army of genealogists to decipher my DNA. I see those stories of people who were able to trace their roots back to one one single place. My own genealogical makeup, however, leaves a much bigger footprint than that.

I’m thinking it’s about time that those with racial hangups ‘get with the program’. Harmonious racial relations is right up there alongside global warming and clean energy when it comes to the survival of the planet and the species. People need to get over themselves.

I am in no way minimizing what Black people went through (and still are going through). I am not, however willing to sit back and just let my history be my future. I have a daughter, and there is no way that I am going to teach her that there is anything she cannot do, just because she’s Black. Everyday I make sure that she knows that the world is her oyster. Everyday I let her know she is beautiful. Everyday I let her know that she is strong. Everyday I let her know that she is wise. I will not allow her to think that she is somehow less than anybody else just because of the color of her skin. So to the racial purists I say, ‘hold on, it’s gonna get bumpy’, and to Sandra Bullock I say, happy mother’s day.

The collectors

April 25, 2010

Years ago when the Pokemon madness hit planet earth, there was a minor uproar about the values that were being taught through the plot in the children’s show. Some people were very concerned that the show, cards and other paraphernalia were advocating materialism in young children (as if children needed any more encouragement). I’m thinking that collecting as many Pokemon cards as you can, was much safer, and had a lot less psychological impact than the type of collecting that goes on today. I’m talking about the global culture of …..people collecting.

Within the last decade, people collecting has become one of the fastest growing phenomena on the planet. We are hard pressed to find people who do not have collections of their own. In fact, we have reached a stage where, if you do not have your own collection, you are seen as out of touch, out of the loop, old fashioned, and any other description that could communicate your absolute lack of relevance. “You don’t have one!!!!!”….people ask with a look of complete incredulity, as as if to suggest that just because you don’t engage in the popular practice, you are somehow not suited to exist in civilized society. Seriously, they act like you’re missing a leg or something.

Unlike other types of collecting, where one collects rare or even limited edition items, people collecting, however, is like the retail industry. It’s a volume business. If you have less than a hundred people in your collection, you would be well advised to not talk too much about it. The “real” aficionados will laugh you to scorn. One hundred is the point at which you can begin to position yourself on the peripherals of conversations, where you will have the “privilege” of hearing “real” collectors, where you can learn how to go about developing an honest to goodness people collection. You’re not in the five or seven hundred brackets, but with a little work you’ll get there. Collections boasting thousands are not unheard of, but if you struggled to hit your first “century” you should probably set more moderate goals. Not to say it’s impossible, but you should always leave room to excel……….under promise, over deliver, works wonders for your self esteem.

Coin collectors, for example would spend hours learning about their rare pieces. They can tell you the history of each coin they own, where it was first minted, how many were minted, how old it is, how many are in existence still. People collectors, on the other hand, don’t have time for that sentimental claptrap, many of them have no clue of who the majority of people in their collections are. After all, people collections are purely for display purposes, and only two criteria count; how many and who they are, with who they are coming in a distant second (unless you specialize in a collection of “who’s who”, but that’s “a whole nother story”). Some people have people in their collections because they think it somehow adds to their own status. They don’t know these people from Adam as the saying goes. But it sure makes their collections bigger……….size DOES matter after all.

A particularly unique trait about people collecting though, is the willingness on the part of the collected to be just that; part of a collection. Nowhere else, but in the realm of the people collectors do people derive such pleasure from being a number. While busily growing their own massive collections, they are just as enthusiastic about being collected themselves. Apparently it has to do with wanting to be validated, and the best measure (to their minds) of one’s worth is how badly people want you to be a part of their collection. It has become so that we no longer want to build actual relationships with people, rather, we derive satisfaction from simply being associated with them. In most cases, we are even satisfied with being thought to be associated with some people; no real interaction necessary, being on the same planet is more than enough. They make fantastic conversation pieces; “wow, you know HER!!!!!!!…..Yeah, we’re like this, I was at a concert one time and my neighbor told me that a friend told her that she was at a house on the other street. Ummm….ok.

You must admit though that, to many, people collecting is a win win situation. You get the benefits of association (whatever those are) without the hassle of having to put any actual work into maintaining a relationship. Relationships can be pretty draining sometimes, with those “issues ridden” people expecting you to be there for them all the time, wanting to call you, talk to you, find out how you’re doing…….yeah it could be a real hassle. Better to have these superficial type deals where you can simply not concern yourself with the goings on in the lives of the people in your collection. Its like this huge open relationship where each party only takes whatever benefits them and leaves what doesn’t on the table. Makes life kinda messy for those people interested in “real” relationships if only the stressful stuff is left.

For the uninitiated, people collecting can be a huge let down, if they’re looking for sincere connections with others. They get into it thinking that they have an opportunity to build, or in some cases rebuild, relationships with old friends. They get all excited when some long lost friend agrees to be a part of their collection, even better when that long lost friend invites them to be part of theirs. The excitement is pretty short lived though, when they find that friend to be pretty uncommunicative. Talking to them is like talking to a “wall”.

I used to watch Star Trek when I was younger and I was always fascinated by “the Borg”, this alien race whose goal was pure assimilation. They were not interested in your individuality, your personal goals and ambitions were not their concern, they just wanted you to be a part of “the collective”, they took whatever you brought with you and assimilated it until it could no longer be identified as yours. You still, for the most part, looked like you, but that was about it. Your every action and word, was geared toward expanding the collective. They just wanted to get bigger. (I know this is a simplification, just in case some random “Trekkie” reads this and tries to taser me or something).

But hey, who am I to judge? People collecting works for a whole heap of people. They get profound fulfillment from not knowing too much about their “friends”. Forget getting to know people and other such rubbish, those massive collections sure come in handy when you decide to start a farm in Farmville, or a restaurant in Cafe World, or if you decide to wreak havoc on the Big Apple in Mafia Wars.

As for me, I’m starting to extricate myself from the Borg. My collection has gotten way out of hand. I am getting way too old for cyber pillow fights and “fertilizing other people’s plants” (something just doesn’t sound quite right there). This new collecting culture CAN work for me but it needs some tweaking. It starts with reducing my expectations (along with my friends list). I’m not looking for 500 “BFFs”, but would it kill you to say “oy” every now and then? It takes a lot less time than posting “something” on my wall.


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