Monday, August 21, 2006

Spared For A Purpose

Accident Claims 4 Lives

An accident happened about a mile and a half away from my home. One occured at 4am, early Saturday morning. At the same site, about 12 hours later, two visitors to the fatal morning crash were run over by a car and died. What a tragedy. The teens were ages 14 through 16. I don't know any of the children personally but I know their families.

I'm taken back to a fateful night 12 years ago when in that same area, I was involved in a car accident that could have easily ended my life. We thought joy-riding would be a great way to end our Sunday evening. I had every intention of getting loaded that evening. The driver was already drunk and foolishly, I got into the car.

There were five of us and we were riding a dropped, black '78 Lincoln, refurbished with a corvette engine. We rode around for hours and I remained totally sober. It was 1030 in the evening and I had a gnawing feeling to go home. The driver was upset that I wanted to go home so soon but obliged my request.

The roads here have lots of curves because the road follows the natural outline of the coast. The driver was taking the curves so fast. Every bump in the road would cause sparks to fly from beneath us due to the bottom of the car slamming the asphalt. I can't even pretend to tell you that I was having fun on that ride home. Just less than two miles away from my home, we took a blind corner on the wrong side of the road. To avoid crashing into an oncoming car, the driver pulled hard to get back in the right lane and headed straight for the light post.

I distinctly remember EVERYONE passing out as I looked around me in those quick seconds before impact. My heart dropped because I felt that my life was TRULY going to end and I felt so ill prepared to meet my maker and give him an accounting of how useless my life had been.

I was TOTALLY conscious when the huge '78 Lincoln slammed into the utility pole. I sat in the back, in the middle and the impact caused me to fly forward into the dashboard and windshield then fly to the rear windshield and dash. I was cut and bruised and TERRIFIED but still alive. Samu, one of my dearest friends in my whole entire life, had been seated next to me and he quickly thrusted me out of the passenger window. (Sidebar: If you google '78 Lincoln - you'll see that it's a huge car with just two doors.)

I landed in a mangle of tree branches but I was glad to be out. I assisted the other two from the back of the car. The driver and the front passenger were trapped in their seats, smashed up against the dash. Upon my exit, the utility pole had snapped in half. It was my fortune that the pole landed on the opposing side of where I had landed in the trees. The wires were live electric wires and I had escaped that as well.

All five of us had been spared that evening. The driver works a fish boat in Seattle. The front passenger, my Mishie is an angel in heaven as she lost her life in 2001 to cancer. Samu -- my superman -- is married with a daughter and just purchased his first home in Oakland. Toe (pronounced Toe-way) is married with 4 children and just moved back to Hawai'i from the Bay Area. Then there's me.

Here I am with a purpose. With an intense knowledge that the Lord has spared me for a very specific reason. It will be my mission to seek out what I can contribute to the world.

“Our worst 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 frightens us…

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 were born to make manifest the glory of God within us – it is in everyone.”

–Marianne Williamson

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Neena's Friday Event : Katchafire

Katchafire on tour in the UK

I have Sunday left in my weekend and my weekend has already been so full.

Friday - In the evening we attended a reggae concert that was at a private Christian university... which meant no smokie-smoke and NO drinkie-drink. It was great to be in such a CLEAN environment, being able to listen to really, really good, organic reggae music. It was WONDERFUL! Katchafire is a band from Aotearoa. You can search them on YouTube and view live performances but I can assure you that the videos do not translate the organic realness of the music.

Naturally, I have a critique to share.

Katchafire's musical gifts are GLORIOUS. Each musician is competent in playing several different instruments. In a world where synthetic sound is abundant and sampled music is the norm, it was refreshing to see, hear and feel the wonderful vibe of REAL music.

Most of the concert was original music. The downside of playing original music is that the songs start to run into each other. Reggae music, with its heavy, monotonous rhythm already has the potential of falling into a flat routine of uniformed sound. Enter a songwriter that follows the same pattern of writing music and all the songs mesh and drone on like a REALLY long song.

However, the triumphs of each individual musician far outweigh the downside that I mentioned. The vocals were pleasing to the ear though with some songs, it was hard to understand what was being said. The skill and the showmanship was exciting to watch. Katchafire was truly able to bring the majority of the attendee's to its feet.

They covered two Bob Marley classics. Their rendition of Redemption Song had a nice, crisp, original spin that I thoroughly enjoyed. That distinct, abstract bass line that was so indicative of The Wailers sound was well-duplicated, yet Katchafire was able to deliver their own distinct voice. They also sang out the refrain: "One Love, One Heart. Let's get together and feel alright." That was truly a crowd-pleaser.

Actually, hearing Redemption Song reinvigorated me with my own primal urges to infuse goodness in my community and in the world. May I rise to those aspirations.

Overall, this concert was worth beyond the $10 ticket fee. Katchafire translated their passion for music and an intense love for reggae. The number in attendance was sparse but is not a reflection on Katchafire's skill. I hope their talent carries them throughout the world, spreading their sunshine.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Don't Stand IDLY By

On Yahoo and on BlogSpot, I find VERY few like-minded individuals... truly seeking for love, light, truth and knowledge. There are MANY that have already arrived at certain conclusions and are immovable in their stance. There are MANY, in the same category, that appear to know EVERYTHING and will never lend an ear to a different point of view. There are some busy chasing T&A or lured by the sight of a well-endowed man.... too wrapped up to explore things that REALLY, truly matter.

So many are influenced by pop "cult"ure.... worshipping celebrities or celebrity lifestyles.... coveting that which is temporary. Celebrities often fall out of fame and fortune. Cars and rims eventually rust and fall apart. When death befalls you... the money, diamonds, gold, and silver stay while your soul moves toward whatever it has sowed.

Folks rarely evaluate themselves to gauge where they're at. When I sat down a year ago and looked at my life, I didn't like the life I had created for myself. I had been so caught up in my own day-to-day dealings, so influenced by pop "cult"ure, so distracted by societies ideals... so caught up that I couldn't even recognize God speaking in me... urging me to find what my gift to the Universe will be.

I don't pretend to know what the gift is. However, I am NO LONGER sitting idly by... watching opportunities to effect positive change pass me. I had talked about "doing something" to help change the world but I had never done anything about it. What I have found on Yahoo and BlogSpot is that people TALK a whole bunch but do nothing else... while needy families starve in what is supposed to be the richest nation in the world.... while soldiers are dying in IRAQ, defending oil fields... while innocent IRAQI people die in the streets of their own land... the media blames insurgents... but that's heresay. America hasn't had a free press in decades... if not a century. (That's another blog.)

So what am I saying? I'm saying: DON'T STAND IDLY BY. DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING TO EFFECT POSITIVE CHANGE. Don't believe everything you hear on the news. Listen to the spirit inside you that can define for you what is truth. What appeals to logic may not always be the truth.... so listen to that voice inside to help guide your actions.

This is where I am today.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

I'm feeling so sentimental today. Feeling like... like... like life couldn't be better than it is today.

I was looking through my old journal and stumbled upon this article. I got the piece from VIBE Magazine... January or February issue, 2002 and clipped it. It is my ABSOLUTE favorite article about love I have ever read... so simple and so me!

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Cheo Hodari Coker



Love. Can't define it. Refuse to. Ask 10 different people what love is, and you'll get 20 different answers. I could probably give you 40, most of them stolen from moments I've experienced with Dinah Washington ("...the thought of you makes my temperature rise... like a summer with a thousand July's..."); Prince ("What's it gonna be, baby? Do you want him? Or do you want me? 'Cause I want you"); or even Ghostface Killah ("Your whole body looks wild / With your rugged profile / Enough to make a hardrock smile").

May 12, 2001, was the day my ship came in. As I stood in front of my bride, looking into her eyes, I was rendered speechless by her beauty. Never more so than that day. I was holding my wedding vows and being asked to define the one thing I could never find words to express, to an audience of 130 people. Well, here goes nothing.

"My feelings for you remain so profound, so primal, so real, that I lack ability to voice them," I said. "Why does God feel I am worthy of one of his angels? I'll never know. But I've learned never to question His gifts, but instead to cherish them as I do the air that I breathe.

"I promise to always protect this beautiful friendship that we have - to communicate, to listen, to appreciate, to praise you. I stand here in awe of you. You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. And maybe one day, I'll create a phrase that fully encompasses my feelings. Something deeper than the three words that leap from my heart every single time I hear your voice, look into your eyes, or hear the simple mention of your name: I love you."

Not a dry eye in the house. But I was cool. Didn't tear up or nothin'. I smirked. I was the man. But then as Donny Hathaway's "A Song For You" fell from the sound system like a gentle rain, I felt that twinge. This is it. This is the woman I'm going to spend the rest of my life with. I saw our children - and grandchildren - flash in front of my eyes. The house. The anniversary parties. The whole nine.

Not gonna cry. I looked at her through the veil, tears of joy running down her face, ruining her makeup. Beginning to waiver, but no tears. "We did it," she whispered. "We made it." I started bawling. The whole world disappeared, and it was just me, her, and Donny Hathaway's voice.

I love you in a place where there's no space or time. I love you for my life. You're a friend of mine. And when my life is over. Remember when we were together. We were alone. And I was singing this song to you....

That's my definition of love.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Of New Friends...

This evening my husband recounted his day to me. He talked about all the things he did at work. He talked about going to school and how excited he is. He talked about the many opportunities coming his way.

Then, after all that good news, a smile crept across his face. It wasn't that NORMAL, happy smile. It was a JOYFUL smile. And my husband has the most beautiful smile in the world yet I can still tell the difference between happy and joyful.

He proceeded to tell me about Jesse from Ghana.

"Babe, I met somebody from Africa today."

"Really?" I said. "What happened?"

Husband began, "I was walking and he came right up to me and introduced himself."

I smiled at his excitement. "And? What did he say?"

Husband stood up from the lounging position we were in on the sofa and walked to the entertainment center. He reached for the globe on top, searched for Ghana and continued.

"I was so surprised. Dude walked up to me. Said this was the first time he seen me around and was like, I'm Jesse. I come from Ghana. He didn't approach me with, nigga-dis-nigga-dat."

I thought to myself that husband had such an interesting perspective on the introduction.