get by

i’ve been reflecting lately on something, so bear with me if you will…

some of you out there may remember the movie ‘Fresh’ from 1993.
it was a powerful flick, one that chronicled a young boy who’s a
chess prodigy using that skill and his mind to maneuver his way
through the mean streets of Brooklyn to a better life for him and
his sister. there’s a scene with his dad in Washington Square Park
who’s an alcoholic chess hustler. his dad says to him, ‘you’re just
watching the world pass you by. figure as long as you aint
drownin’, you’ll be all right.’ watching that scene now, it hits hard.
because to a degree, that’s what passes for normalcy among us
these days. and that’s as crippling as anything else.

it took me some time to come to grips with the fact that getting
and living that kind of indifferent complacency, just trying to
‘get by’ in a way that closes you off to others is the wrong way.
i go back to growing up in my neighborhood a lot these days,
and so do other cats i came up with. we realize that we were
raised by a village, even if it didn’t seem like it at the time.
the neighbors looked out for us, took note if we were acting
up. today, there’s barely traces of that left. we’re all focused
on getting by rather than getting right with ourselves and
getting along. and it’s hurting us in different ways. you see
it out on the street depending where you are. it’s ingrained
in the mind, in culture. ‘do you.’ how many times have you
heard that as advice? and we’ve been doing ourselves a
bunch of wrong for far too long.

i’m not going to sit there and act as if we all need to be some
monolithic group that thinks and acts the same. that’s a
sociological fairy tale that sells movies and action figures.
what i’m saying is, we need to shed the notion that getting
by means we have to get along with out caring and looking
out for each other. get rid of the idea that we only have
our own circle to look after. because what we do in that
circle has an impact. even if it’s a circle of one. i used to
hear my Grandma Smith tell me from time to time, ‘the
world works on love. if you don’t give it, you can’t see it
or receive it. care about something.’ i see her words
bloom everyday. and i try to live them. if you know me
well enough, you know every once in a while, i’ll call or
email or text someone. there are those times when it’s
not returned right away. and then there are those times
when it’s not returned at all. over time, i’ve accepted that
for what it is and kept pushing. but i’m doing that with
open eyes and an open heart. even if i sometimes don’t
want to look. even if it hurts to hear. because if i can’t
give my sight, my ear, i can’t receive anything in terms
of blessings nor give back more for those blessings.

i guess the whole point of this, is, don’t just try to get by.
get out of that indifferent self-importance. take away
the veneer of token positivity if you’re steadily drawing
into a bubble to not deal with life and its intersections.
you’ll feel much better for it, trust me.

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