No matter how hard we try, sometimes we can never forget the excruciating pain of a negative past experience whose memory we have had to endure in our lives.
But many would say “why SHOULD we forget? “
Well, forgetting might just allow us to find ourselves back in that SAME painful and often powerless situation once again whether it was our fault or not for finding ourselves there in the first place.
Remember touching that hot stove as a child?
Sure you do!
Yet you don’t become angry at every hot stove you encounter now because maturity and common sense has taught us that not every hot stove was that particular culprit RESPONSIBLE for burning us as a child when it was touched out of a short lived ignorance on the motivating aspects of extreme heat.
But out of that painful experience we have learned a valuable life long lesson that we will NEVER forget!
The problem is that there are just TOO many instances we have become symbolically afraid to ever “touch” another stove from the fear of getting burned again!
What do I mean by this?
Think of how many “delicious meals” that we missed out on because of this unshakable fear and I am NOT referring to food mind you……..
Think of how we just might have scared of Mr. or Ms. Right because our inability to release the fears that we hold on to for so long near and dear to us unknowingly handicapping ourselves from the lives that we claim that we WANT to live?
Don’t scare away a good mate because of a personal experience that was very traumatic to you, while I’m not asking you to forget it, its better to use that bad experience to YOUR advantage but slowly move forward with CAUTION and PATIENCE as a wiser individual who makes a point of never making the same mistake in judgment twice..
Think of the wonderful neighborhoods that we just never considered because one might have said in the recent past that “I don’t want to live around THOSE Black people, you KNOW how THEY can be!” And although I chose to say Black people in that example, you can substitute any race, color or culture in its place and the truth of what I am about to say will still stand valid………
Don’t lose out on an enriching positive situation because of ANY stereotype that is perpetuated by ignorance whether it is validated in an inappropriate manner and disproportionately reinforced by the media everynight on the news.
You must be one to seek out the truth for yourself and not be swayed by a mass produced opinion geared to make up your mind for you unchallenged.
I remember before the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks that all my life leading up to that point, it was business in America as usual as, for example, I had gotten used to the look of overwhelming doom and dire fear in the eyes of a Caucasian woman when entering an elevator late at night with no one else around.
That type of silence is deafening and it is also very much an insult to my character as this person has already made up her mind that I was the Big Black Bald Bogeyman that she had seen on the late night news relentlessly robbing and raping everything in his path.
I began to expect to see that same stereotypical white woman on a regular basis walking down the same side of the street as I, approaching me but would cross over clutching her bag tightly as she nervously kept her eyes literally glued to my form, stretching the limits of her peripheral vision to new heights with the anticipation and tension of a world class sprinter awaiting the pistol to fire, announcing the start of a highly competitive one hundred yard dash at the summer Olympics!
Many times upon entering the local 7-11, I would always notice the early morning friendly conversations between the Caucasians and the owners/employees of the establishment who were almost always of Middle Eastern heritage usually from Pakistan, India, Iraq etc. (Too many countries to list, but you get the point!).
This normal early morning exchange never struck me as strange but what did rub me the wrong way was when I would enter the line waiting for my turn place my order a little closer to them, I would notice how tense the conversation would get if the conversation didn’t cease all together.
In all honesty this is not just a “white woman” thing, I have grown used to receiving this “under the radar” treatment from everyone at one point or another especially as I grew into manhood because I was just not that cute little non threatening boy anymore. I got it from everyone, Black, Latino, Indian & Asian people.
I’ve learn the hard way that most will pet and cuddle the little pit bull when he is a puppy but will avoid or even FLEE his presence swiftly once he matures to full size. Trust me, I know the feeling of that little pit bull puppy WELL!
But a funny thing happened
Two planes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York City on September of 2001 that not only shook up the world but changed my status in the eyes of that frightened little white woman abruptly…….
In the eyes of those who viewed me as the Boogeyman, I finally now enjoyed the status of one who was born right here on American soil…….
I became an American.
All of my naive younger years I tried to do everything “right” to fit in this thing called American culture that had ALWAYS treated me as an unwanted guest, and any discomfort that I felt HAD to indicate that there was something wrong with ME…….
Well at least that’s what was inferred by the good law abiding middle aged, middle class “grin and bear it” don’t make waves kind of Negro who was just so overjoyed to get one of these “good old jobs” yet died earlier than they should have, never fully enjoying this “good retirement” because they didn’t have the testicular fortitude to stand up and live as a FREE empowered human being!!!!!
Wow! (Sarcastically said!)
Although shortlived, I never knew that ever elusive feeling of connectedness to the mainstream population that I now “enjoyed” after the Trade Center attacks even if it was banished from that melting pot of a social landscape swiftly and initially driven by fear of their “new” enemy!
Their NEW enemy????
Now who could THAT be????
Well, although I didn’t ever return to that 7-11 for quite a long time that I mentioned earlier due to their obvious uncomfortable tensions that were evident because of my presence and their ignorance, my relocation to Orlando Florida long before 9/11 in February of 2001 still landed me in plenty of similar tension filled situations in other coffee and donut “breakfast” establishments……..
This is Orlando Florida now! Not Queens New York, but as they say………..
Same play, different cast!
Now that stereotypical Caucasian woman wasn’t so fast to befriend the Osama Bin Laden looking dude behind the counter, there was NO happy all inclusive “there IS no color” let’s be friends but be careful of that %#&@$! who just came in “conversations” coupled coy suspicious glances brazenly and shamelessly thrown my way!
Now she was glad to see ME!!!!!!
I was her buddy now and that “terrorist” behind the counter was “OUR” enemy!!!!
What did she think I was a fool????
What was I supposed to say next????
(While tap dancing) Can I tote you a dip of water Massa?
But the ignorance that she possessed was not her fault, she was probably taught such things from birth, but the sad reality is that we as Black people usually have to foot the bill for another persons misperceptions about us and it really isnt fair at all!
But we all know the world isnt a fair place if we have lived a little on this planet.
We have to learn to trust our inner voice for ourselves when encountering a new situation whether it be a relationship, employment or a major relocation. But our crucial assessment skills and capacity for a realistic evaluation might have become blurred by the memory of our painful past experiences.
This is when the obstacles arise, because our world becomes tainted not because of the external imperfections that will surely be there but because of a warped perspective that many of us refuse to release!
And that warped perspective can be like the deadly smoke in a dangerous house fire, it blurs what little sight we can muster therefore many die only feet away from the exit that could have saved their life if only they had practiced those “corny” fire drills! Just as we often times cannot see the good in people that are so close too us yet we will kill off a potentially beautiful relationship because we were too dumb to see past the “smoke” of our own self inflicted ignorance.
So in this life we cannot let the negative packaging of a seemingly bad situation blind us to the good that lies within, just know that somehow, someway, you or someone else is learning a valuable lesson from the same event that may appear quite different to the both of you at that particular time.
That valuable lesson may not always dawn on you immediately, it may take literally days, months or even YEARS to quietly register and “click” with your inner being as to internalize the wisdom of it all.
It could happen as your mind wanders while standing in the supermarket checkout line, while in your car at the red light or on hold while on the phone making a doctors appointment.
It really doesn’t matter WHEN you get it, just as long AS you get it! But “getting it” sooner than later is always a good thing and a whole lot better because it would make your life and relationships so much enjoyable!
But as your maturity increases in this life journey, you will oftentimes look back on a situation that you have been through and said to yourself that if it were to happen now in the present, you would have handled it in a VERY different way!
Hindsight truly is 20/20!
With the 7-11 early morning very subtle “tension” episode with the Middle Eastern man and the Caucasion woman in New York and later Orlando Florida, maybe SHE learned a valuable lesson in that you can’t judge people on their surface appearance for we do NOT know what blessing OR venom that people carry within the depths of their hearts, most often with a warm smile on their face………….
Maybe that person who carried the pain of the past who couldn’t see the wonderful person/mate that was divinely placed in their path will finally clear away the “crud” in the corner of their eyes which has been “blurring” a view to the beautiful gift placed at their feet……….
Let us not allow 2010 to become a year of “maybes”, let us grab the bull by the horns and take one day at a time knowing that Rome wasn’t built in a day but one bad decision and choice of a crash could bring the Twin Towers of your life tumbling down to the ground in record time!