For a New Tomorrow…

touba-dialaw-top

Greetings,

It has been a while since I posted but I have not been asleep
or on vacation. I've been busy. Sometimes it takes a lot of energy to
make ends meet in the Developing World but we are managing!

I want to update you. Our U.S. based not-for-profit organization,
The Council of the Obsidian, Inc. launched Building a New 
Tomorrow in Senegal. It was an Indiegogo Crowd Funding Campaign to allow us 
to complete The Tabax Sube Homecoming and Re-Creation Center in Senegal.

We did not reach the campaign's financial goal but our aspirations have not
been diminished. We intend to continue to work on this project. Eventually, 
it will be finished.

The Council of the Obsidian is not a large organization but it 
has made a difference over the years. It will be 25 years old in 
the spring of 2014. Visit www.obsidiancouncil.org for an overview of its
activities.

For The Collective Good,

Tabax Sube

…losing virginity after age 60

I lived in America for decades and I have been away from there for many years. During that time I have missed people but I have not missed the place. I now live on the Atlantic coast in Senegal, West Africa. The environment is pleasant, the pace is humane, and I have access to technology. Today these factors combined to bring me to a completely new experience – MY FIRST “MISSING AMERICA” MOMENT. I LOST MY “Missing” VIRGINITY! This is big enough deal for me that I decided to write a few words about it.

For many of the last 20 years that I lived in America I traveled from Washington, DC to Newport, RI for a weekend each summer to enjoy The Newport Jazz Festival.

The Newport Jazz Festival, was founded by jazz pianist George Wein in 1954 as the first outdoor music festival of its kind devoted entirely to jazz, and is now universally acknowledged as the grandfather of all jazz festivals. For information on attending this Festival, visit their official website.

Newport Jazz Festival

So obviously I could not go to Newport for the Jazz Festival this year. Dakar to Newport is just too much of a commute for me. In fact, I haven’t been able to attend in a decade or so. My good friend and alter-ego, “the other side of the same coin”, that the title of this blog references, was going to be there though. I went on-line and “Googled” Newport Jazz Festival. I found a link that led me to a National Public Radio (NPR) webcast of the event. I started listening to the broadcast yesterday and I continued today. It was in the process of listening today that I Lost My “Missing” Virginity and experienced my first “Missing America” phenomenon. It was exhilarating!

This makes me wonder if there are others things that I can experience missing in America.

The list is long of things that I will certainly not miss.  I do not need to write it out. All of those micro and macro level “isms” and the societal responses to them… Regardless of one’s political outlook or persuasion the media continually outlines them for you.

I think my first “Missing America” experience may be like my first love – unforgettable and irreproducible.  I’ll be ready if another one comes along though.

Until then…

Newport crowd shot

I’ll always have memories (and hopefully NPR)!

…and He Stood His Ground

granddad-and-grandson

When I was a young boy I used to go on vacations at the home of my maternal grandparents. My paternal grandparents died decades before. My father was an orphan by age ten.

I used to watch my grandfather. He was my good friend. He would wake up in the morning and sit on the side of the bed for what I thought was a long time. Eventually I would have what I considered the honor of helping him oil his feet. They were always very dry and I got to apply an oil that he liked.  We were buddies. I think the oil felt good to him and I remember that being able to apply it made me feel good.

I was only about 7 or 8 years old and this was long before the advent of video games. We had a small black & white television but it was only viewed at night when something special was on. My grandmother liked to listen to baseball games (a Yankee fan) but that didn’t interest me. Gramps and I entertained each other.  We sang and whistled. We laughed. We were friends!

Gramps had an accident before I was born. As a result one leg was shorter that the other. Gramps wore an elevated shoe on the foot of the shorter leg. He walked with a cane. None of that stopped him from escorting me all over town. We went to the hosiery mill that he used to work in. He took me to the neighborhood barber shop and the local mom & pop stores. We even went to the movies where we sat in the upstairs section reserved for people who looked like us. Everyone was always glad to see me and Gramps. They often gave me gifts like penny candy or little spinning tops. Life with Gramps was grand. I thought that was why he was called my grandfather!

One day I knew that Gramps was sick. He came to the city where I lived.  After what seemed to be a long time of being in the hospital Gramps died. I was 12 years old. I missed Gramps. Everyone did. My grandmother would never be the same again.

Decades have gone by but this morning I thought about Gramps. I still miss him and he is still my friend. I notice that each morning when I awaken I sit on the side of the bed for more than a few minutes. I am thinking of what I need to do for the day …making my plan. Maybe that’s what Gramps used to do. I don’t discuss what I’m thinking about with anyone. Eventually I put the day in motion. I keep a container of shea butter near the bed. Most days I apply some to my feet. It always makes my feet feel and look better.

It makes smile, and tear a little, to recognize these similarities between me and Gramps.

I’ll tell you another thing about Gramps. After sitting on the edge of the bed in silence and having his feet oiled he’d put on his socks. He’d pick up his cane, which rested on the headboard, and get fully dressed. Then he would take a few steps in the center of the room. I would be right beside him. He would then go out the front door into the yard (small by today’s standard). There, before doing anything else, He Stood His Ground.

You really don’t need a weapon to Stand Your Ground.

oldman  ibou in high point circa 1953

Gramps taught me that. I’m glad I learned that from him.

a way to a good start

man looking in mirror

When I awaken and come before a mirror I exhale upon it. When I see vapor I smile and say “alhamdililahi!”. I AM here! I recognize that some that were here yesterday are not here today. I have a responsibility to make the most of the day.

My life is fairly good but I still have to remind myself how fortunate I AM to be here sometimes. You know the saying “…life has its adversities.” As we travel the course of life those adversities can sometimes get bring us down. Maybe you are fortunate and it doesn’t happen to you. I’m not so lucky. It happens to me every so often.

My environment is pleasant. My dwelling place is simple. Stress is minimal. I have people close by that usually bring me joy. So when I am visited by this melancholia I can usually be touched by an interaction or a memory that encourages it to dissolve. I then begin to take on a task that I can “throw myself into”.  If I need to rest before I start, I DO.

Now the best thing about this is that it allows me to manage. This approach can not be called problem-solving because I really don’t change the presenting conditions. Its probably more appropriately referred to as ” refocusing attention”.  Rarely do I actually change the particulars of the predicament. I just alter how I perceive and react to them. I AM then able to continue and prepare myself for the next step. I AM able to attain small successes that develop into significant achievements. I won’t win a Nobel Prize and you won’t see me on the evening news. Come around though and you’ll probably find me at peace. This is the key to my day-to-day approach to life.

It’s working! I have been around for a while now and I’ve experience many more “ups” than “downs”. I’m glad to be able to say so. It’s good to remind myself of it.

Cat-Looking-in-Mirror

When I look in that mirror do I see myself as I AM or is it as I WILL BE? No simple answer but seeing the reflection means I’m a winner!

from a simple seed…

And I know this tree!

2 Sides of the Same Coin

Long ago a simple seed was spawned.  Gentle winds carried it not far from the tree that created it.  Before the heavy rains came, it settled in a patch of earth and began to take root. Soon it sprouted, breaking ground and being drawn upward by the rays of the sun.  This is how it began.

Its development suggested promise.  Changing seasons became years and the sapling continued to grow. It was nurtured. Growth spurts were substantial and required that the young tree be moved.  The powers that control such things transplanted it a few times.  The tree’s root system remained intact and so it managed to flourish in each new place.  Adversity came in the form of droughts and floods.  Lightening occasionally altered the angle of its branches.  Periodically it was pruned. Nature took its course.

The maturing tree served many purposes.  On sunny days it provided shade.  During…

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at 3 Score plus 1

I AM frequently asked “What do you do?” I usually hesitate in answering. My hesitation is not because I don’t have an answer. It is because the answer doesn’t fit in a box that most listeners can find. Today, I’m sharing an answer and not concerning myself with the box that can’t contain it.

My life does not have traditional boundaries. I do many things. What are viewed by others as distinct components (work, personal, spiritual, etc.) are seamlessly integrated into a unified activity –  I call Living. It is non-categorical. Living is not always easy but it is ultimately worthwhile. That’s what is important.

My mission is to help people grasp the current situation and begin to shape a desirable future.

It requires that we have:

  • a tangible focal point – family, community center, school, cultural arts program, etc.;
  • a galvanizing issue – public safety, community health, youth development, environmental justice, etc.;
  • an economic incentive – grant award, micro-enterprise fund, sustainable business development;
  • or some combination of the above.

I’ve learned to focus in on human capital development rather than organizational development because people with capacity can build organizations and other vehicles as they need them.  Organizations tend to become static and conservative as they mature but communities and the people within remain dynamic.   I promote investing in people. People with capacity move from place to place and take their skill sets with them.

My efforts help people learn to:

  • assess their situation;
  • clarify what they want to do;
  • structure themselves so that they can proceed;
  • harness the resources necessary;
  • implement their plan;
  • evaluate progress;
  • and design & implement course corrections.

Simultaneously I am a provider and a beneficiary of my services. The world created is the world we live in and that our progeny inherits. I try to be productive and enjoy the process.

That’s my answer …maybe its not supposed to fit in a box at all.

empty boxes

…But It’s Never Too Late

To Make a CHANGE!   2008127 ScrapFX Clock Face Heart One of the great things about This Life is that it is possible to realize the errors of our ways and change them if we want.  It is not always an easy thing to do but it is always worthwhile. Sometimes we will come up with a host of reasons not to change and in many cases we won’t alter our course. When that happens though… it’s because we decided to let it be that way. While we can not alter what has happened we have a lot of influence over how we react to what is happening now.

Change the Past – Not a Chance. Change the Present – Act Now…Don’t Hesitate. Change the Future – ???.

Remember You Are the Star of Your Show but You Didn’t Write the Script.

Always give Credit where Credit is Due and give YOURSELF…

An ornate clock with the words Time to Heal on its face

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