I walk with hands out front. Like this. Open. They catch rain. And sunlight. At night, angels fill them with diamonds. So far I’ve been lucky; the birds have spared them.
Can’t say the same for my head.
Toward persons approaching, I switch and hold my hands out this way – hug-ready. For those few seconds this universe is as comfy as a baby in a new mama’s bosom. Ah! But all eyes do not the same thing see. Like this, some see a beggar coming. And this way, some see a threat. Oh, well! That’s life. Our little blue planet would be pretty wobbly, don’t you think, if it were all made of strawberries, peaches and cream.
Or maybe not.
There is a mystery, you see, scribbled into the fabric of the Torah, so swiftly, if you blink you might miss it. That little mystery was clue number one:
“Sons of God came and took the beautiful daughters of men, as many as they desired, and their children became giants; we were like grasshoppers to them.”
Hmm? I remember chasing grasshoppers. And catching them. And bottling them. Just to stare at them. I was six, and seven, and eight, and nine then. By ten many had lost their hip-i-tee-hop. The rest skedaddled. By then dogs had captured my interest. However, my grandma told me a story. “Real giants feed on freshly picked strawberries and peaches dipped in cream,” she told me, “And I am in the presence of giants.” So, she fed me.
“Granny, is Papa a Son of God?” I asked, biting into a juicy strawberry. She touched the tip of my nose and said, you’re such a smart little boy. “Granny, are you a beautiful maiden?” I continued. And she said, what a brilliant lad you are; I am in the presence of giants. Thank you, Jesus!
Oh, but the mystery deepened. Very quickly, the grasshoppers of the Torah turned trashy and a flood was ordered for the cleaning. Remember? Noah! Yep that flood. Forty days later, with that misery flushed, Noah’s boat landed on a mountain and his bird flew away. Remember? Listen carefully, you’ll probably hear Mr. Noah still singing, “It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life. And I’m feeling good.”
Noah! I’m telling you. Re-incarnated! Did you see the kittens? Top Secret!
Well-Well-Well! Guess what? No sooner than all the animals had walked off the boat giants reappeared – voila – just like that! And would you believe there’s just one measly scribble in the Torah mentioning it: the big boys are back! Kittens saw them.
That was clue number two:
“Dropped into my hands, like diamonds in the night.”
With these two clues, Cloud, Salt, Colonel Pep and I hurried into our super-secret huddle – think modern young zen versions of Sherlock Homes, Hercule Poirot, Brer Ananci and Ms. Marples in The Bubble searching out intriguing questions, connecting dots – and …
Book Hunter Mission #3 was born. Of course, this was not a ‘book’ as in brutalized trees. This is a secret set of paintings – a unique sequence – carved into millennial rocks by giants using starlight pressed into rocks spread far and wide and painted delicately over with a universal glow not mixed by ordinary hands. We know the name of this book.
Here’s what else we know.
1. Giants live by three simple rules:
2. Giants know how to solve this tricky problem:
3. Giants are very funny, ala, David, who realized that Goliath was an imitation, a clunky pretense, a lousy clone created by you-know=who! Gave the man one eye! And sent him into battle. Hahahaha! Hahahaha. Hahaha. So David said, “Can you see my little stone? Look closer.” Hahahaha-hahahaha-hahahahaaaah! Help me, Jesus.
Who-ah! That boy is sup’n else. And I like that.
Inscribed in a language re-imagined for renewed minds the set of paintings we are after is a unique sequence, which are as pretty as the human genome and more precious than the sought after genome of the brain, which is awesome. It is secretly embedded, inscribed with billions of sparkles from our stars. Its title? Diamonds Of The Mind, subtitled, The Secret Of The Brain, written by children of the Sons Of God and the Daughters Of Humanity, whose names are Giants.
So, the next time you see your little one in the garden with hands out like this, don’t you worry. Angels are dropping diamonds their way. And DO NOT DISTURB. Don’t turn into a grasshopper. And don’t stare. Prepare strawberries, peaches and cream for a welcome and join the feast; you are in the presence of giants. Genius is in the making. We need them. Oh God, how we need them! Yes. There may be a giant in your midst. Feed em. Please?
My dog is jealous of my cat. Very! Our corner shop has the solution, so off I went. Sit!
Returning, clutched to my doggie’s bag along with a goodie bag containing a little sup’n special for moi, I noticed the moon, how very close it is. It must’ve moved.
This brought back rich memories.
I remembered roaming the lavish woods of Mount Roraima. Ah! Countless glorious hours chasing lizards, gazing into the milky way, marveling at shooting stars, though puzzled by those gazillion eyes blinking at innocent little me – small comfort they were far away. And that moon – how it used to howl through windy nights – too close for comfort, yet, thankfully, far, far away!
I remembered how, magically, that very moon transformed, glistening the night of my first kiss, a night of ten thousand tingles. And the thrill of other nights – rolling around flowering meadows experiencing the wisdom of King Solomon:
“Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my love;
Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth —
For your love is more delightful than wine.”
Ooo-ya-ya! The moon hasn’t howled since; I don’t think.
Now! There it is – a slingshot away – triangulating my clandestine path to Target No.2 of my Book-Hunter mission – Amor Medetur Omnia – that Book of Poems by Ala of Bethany, the phenomenal woman of the jar.
Oh, moon! You’ve seen me in my bloom. And followed me. You’ve watched me, lured by the enchanting adventures of Orion, and by Cygna’s magnificent friendship, unequalled sacrifice and honor, and by Leo’s legendary cunning. You’ve seen how sweetly their stars have sucked me into their gleam, my eyes sparkling with sublime joy at the beauty of this awesome vastness, so young – barely fourteen billion – and so vibrant, still in the stage of its resiliency. And you’re jealous. So jealous you are, you’ve inched closer. But my sweet you’re barely in your bloom. You think me young, but time does not favor us equally. Zip-zap and I’m a blip; then you’ll be in tears, so don’t be jealous; be faithful!
It was the moon that slipped me clues to the possibility of Ala’s ‘Amor Medetur Omnia’ – that’s Ala of Bethany, whose beginning story mere patches of the world are barely acquainted, these having often been reminded of how unreservedly she poured all of her rich oils on The Master then wiped his feet with her tears. Men still look upon her suspiciously. Enviously. Seeing her from this side, they see a free woman. Too at ease! Some see a remarkable woman. A precious few, those who have experienced glimpses of her from the inside out, think her a most phenomenal woman. And that, she is! “For to be free,” Nelson Mandela did say, “is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Uh! The things Ala must have known! Her experience. Millions are dying in their desire for but a bit of it. What if they knew of Amor Medetur Omnia – her book of poems. For surely it must be. Even so, it is no special revelation that what the world needs now, even those who are free, is a solid dose of real love – that healing touch – Curatio Tactus. That’s not the revelation; the recipe is what’s gone missing. And I’ve got the clue to it! Shhh. Don’t need a stampede.
More than mere conjecture, close scrutiny suggests Amor Medetur Omnia is the source material for four of the most pristine passages in all of literature on love, thought, health and wealth.
I’ll cite two well-known clipped renditions; any more will lure intrepid hunters in search of its secret trail:
Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It behaves well. It is not selfish. It is not provoked. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, always trusts, always hopes. Love endures. Love never fails.
Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things
I like that! But oh, if only we can get our hands on that recipe!
Not all of the seven books I am hunting have biblical connections. This one has, of course. By our calculation this one, Book No. 2 on the list, survived a number of earth-shattering tragedies as it passed through the hands of quite a few in Greece, India, Egypt, Persia, many of whom had no clue what it is they were carrying. And that’s all I’ll reveal at this juncture. Even now, I surmise that those who have it have no idea what it is they have. That’s a Book Hunter’s dream opportunity.
All that aside, on my way home I heard a horrendous howl. A dog? My dog? Meanwhile Salt, that’s my cat, coyly seated on the ledge of my balcony, seemed to be gazing at the moon, as if to say to me, “Me no-know-nothing. I mind my own business.” But I knew something was up. That puddy-cat is just too smart. Trust me.
In my hand was that special doggie’s bag alongside my bag of nuts and seeds and special items highly recommended by New York Poet and author of Musings from Outside The Universal, Ric Couchman, recommendations to virile and not so virile men, he said: regular servings of properly prepared avocado, cucumber, cantaloupe and whole grains; special preparations of cayenne, ginseng and nutmeg, etc., plus lavish touches of aroma, particularly, cinnamon and lavender, which increase exponentially the chances of having that special Marvin Gaye moment. So he said. And I like that!
I opened my door.
Now I’m quite aware that dogs have immaculate olfactory organs. But, good God, the way that dog jumped my left leg as soon as I opened my door! Uh! Beyond embarrassing.
Down! Down! Down! I’m not your bitch! Sit.
That dog cowered to the floor and whined me into guilt. Meanwhile, Salt had already slipped through the door and was coiled by the fireside, as if nothing ever happened. I set my purchases down, ignoring the whiner, took out my aromatic sprays and stepped into my bedroom to give it a good swish. That’s when I noticed my bed.
Let me just say this: never let your cat into your business when you know your dog wants a piece of your business. That’ll spoil your night. Marvin will not be singing for you. And, I tell you, that cat didn’t give two hoots worth a pawn. It was back out on that balcony with a friend, as if to say, “Me no-say-nothing the moon no say to me, so don’t you keep looking at me; I’m just minding my own business. If dog stupid, dog stupid. You don’t take me for no walks.”
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I’ll have to have a satchel with a secret flap. And a glove.
I’ll have to have a fiddle. Yes.
And a tweezer. And a robotic seer-sucker-scope. A cat too, fitted with a secret high-def wide-angle Cat Cam. Drones wont work. Drones are a dead giveaway. Plus, they’ll scatter the rats.
The glove will have to be skin tight. Pure. Kept in a sanctified flat box that glows in the dark, a kind of holy light. Hands have to be clean. Spotless.
As the Baddest Book Hunter Ever I will want the baddest horse ever. Lightening fast. And black. So fast, you’ll hear claps of thunder. By then I’ll be long gone. My horse will be called Cloud. I’m going to love that horse.
I don’t know what books you have in mind, but I’d so love to know. However, seven are on my Most Wanted List, seven of the world’s best kept secrets, le prizes de los todos prizes. And I’m going to give myself a new name. The Pope has one. Rappers do the same. Soldiers have titles, so I’d have to have a title. I haven’t figured those yet.
You’re probably thinking I’m kidding, or that I’m inspired by some silly book, or that I have been in the St. Patty’s brew too long. You’d be dead wrong; it’s the other way around.
Two weeks ago, one of my adult athletes brought me a gift. It wasn’t my birthday or any special day of any kind; he just gave me a gift. Period. “Coach, I have a gift for you. Here.” Full stop.
I like that.
The gift? A Pulitzer Prize! Serious. National Book Award. The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt. How The World Became Modern.
I’m still reading it.
So far, I’ve carried that book into two coffee shops, one burger joint, a deli, and onto a park bench. Each time, it attracted strong attention, a few times from folks who are acquainted with my work and who asked, “Is that one of yours?” Ooh! Such flattery! So sexy! That kind of flattery can get a person places, but I digress. Three times, persons taking curiously quickened snapshots of its pages uttered, ‘book hunter, hmm?‘ at which I, full-blown jealous, retorted, “M-hm. I imagined that book hunter in my dreams; he booked him all the way to the Pulitzer. Now, who do you want to sleep with?”
But I digress, full-blown green!
Wait ‘till you see what book is at the top of my Most Wanted List. Ooh-wee! However, my list is not in Most-Wanted order, it’s in Book-Hunting order – 1 to 7, first to last, easiest to hardest – expressively, you might say, from ‘Oh god, that’ll be the death of me‘ to ‘Lord God, that’ll make me king of the universe.’
The first book I’m hunting down, which of course is not the one at the top of the list, remember, is The Book Of Jesus. No, not the bible. Jesus said Precious Little there and lived out The Great Example in three years. That speaks volumes for itself and should be more than anyone should want to know, right?
Jesus was brilliant. Truly human. If he wasn’t everything would come falling down like stacked cards in a desert wind.
Jesus knew people. He knew history. He knew all laws and all scriptures. He knew more than any man that has ever lived, even which fish has money in it. He must have studied a great lot. Don’t tell me he never wrote a scribble or a scrawl anywhere. Uh-oh!
I duly declare: Jesus knew how to write.
The Book Of Jesus is not its real title. Nope. It spans his eighteen years between twelve and thirty, which the scripture is curiously silent about. Crucial years. This book – The Book Of Jesus – is being held in a place you wouldn’t suspect. It is guarded by, ahem, shall-be-nameless men and women of the Secret-of-all-Secrets Society – not the shake-hands kind. Oh no! Signs and signals! You have to be conversant with all of its signs and signals. You’ll have know to scratch the back of your ears just so, cough just so, utter the correct gibberish sequence just so, flupsy just so, then drink the special potion without dropping dead, or you-no-getting-nowhere-near The Book Of Jesus.
It’s a small book, but it is jam-packed.
Every chapter begins thus: The First Time I … [fill in the blank] … And whatever anyone needs to know on the issue will be there – such and such – so that the next time someone asks What would Jesus do? I could scroll to that chapter of the Book Of Jesus, and Boom-shacka-lacka, There it is!
I know, when I capture this book, woe unto me if I announce I have it. I’d be the most hunted man on the planet – hunted down from all sides. Why do you think there’s been neither hey nor ho of The Book Of Jesus by the most brilliant writer of all times? And it isn’t called the Book Of Jesus. Oh no. It has a secret name. I know. But The Book of Jesus is what it is. I can tell you this, though: it contains this special note from the author to the reader: “We meet each other every day.”
Here comes my horse, Cloud! And my cat. Just wait till you see the next book on our precious list.
Here’s a hint?
The weather is quite peculiar of late. So am I, come to think of it. I have a peculiar relationship with time. We’re exploring each other. Nevertheless, a lovely day sprang through the wintry winds and I took advantage of it.
I went for a walk
around our lake
for a good think.
Ours is a lovely lake. Visitors enjoy it. They come a-plenty, camera-ready, in Spring and Summer and Fall. Models too, for their seasonal shots. And athletes.
It’s a private lake, actually, but why hog a good thing? It’s a well-designed lake with a winding athletic path – a mile or so. Lots of trees. Several springs shooting water up capturing rainbows.
Fishes. Turtles. Ducks of many kinds. Seasonal birds. Squirrels a-plenty. A friendly lot.
Not always so with people.
A question of trust.
Let’s just say that.
I was wearing one of my hoodies and I was careful to put both hands in my pockets. I was probably smiling. No mirror to tell, but folks say I am always smiling. Sometimes I know I am, because a few folks would smile back. I like that. And, occasionally, for fun, when I come upon a frowner I’d make a point to frown right back. I know, I shouldn’t do that, but I like to have a little fun every now and then. Why not? My frown could frighten a mischievous cat.
There was a reason I had my hands in my pockets. You see, I walk a lot. A lot. A lot! You should try it. Often. And whenever I take my daily walk around the lake young ducks would come flying out of the lake to my feet, old drakes would come waddling out of the bushes, doves and pigeons would swoop down around me, and skittish squirrels would forgo their skittishness for a while. Oh, they so love me, I used to think. I was amazed. So, I’d feed them lots of little goodies. Guess you can say I was looking for love in all the wrong places. And the kiddy-cats started peeking.
I couldn’t help my amazement. And I didn’t leave it at that. Oh,no! I had to ask myself why they found me so attractive, so handsome, so have-to-be-with-him, that they’d come flying in from a distance. Did they have a sentry on guard looking out for me – you know – whistle when you see lover-boy coming.
Darn it! I should’ve left well alone. It wasn’t my drop-dead gorgeous features and my catwalk strut that were bringing in the posse, it was the bag of goodies in my hand. Darn it!
So I started leaving the bag behind. I noticed that the young whipper-snappers and flapper-flippers didn’t give me but a glance, but the old drakes would still come waddling towards me – if they weren’t too tired – and a few feisty squirrels would crane their necks from a tree. And I would feel bad that I didn’t walk with goodies for these ones that loved me regardless. But darn it, even these had in mind that I might have a little something in my hands. Nevertheless, because I didn’t want to disappoint them – such a softie that I am – I’d tuck away my empty hands.
Then this gorgeous spring day sprang through the wintry winds so I took to walking around the lake for a good think, hands in my hoodies.
Now there is an old man that comes by daily at a certain hour with bags and bags of goodies and the zoo would gather around him for a feast. This was not that hour.
A year or so ago I was so fascinated by the dedication of this man – pigeons on his head, squirrels in his pockets, ducks on his lap – I approached him to say hi. Let’s just say he looked at me with fear and trembling, so I never bothered him again, but I’d still wave or bow respectfully whenever I see him. Poor man, I used to think; is he OK?
Now on this peculiar day, hands in my pocket, I passed a mommy with her little girl who was stooped on the grass attempting to attract a duck that didn’t give a damn. I crossed our fancy bridge to the other side of the lake. There, a drake came waddling hurriedly toward me, but I had nothing to give, so I took my hands out of my hoodies and like a crazy proceeded with signs and sounds to apologize to the old duck for having to come so hurriedly to me for nothing. Just then I felt a shadow beside me. I turned and it was that very old man. Without saying anything to me the old man took my hand and he poured seeds into it. I smiled and the duck ate from my hand. A few seeds fell to the ground. The little girl came running over. She picked up the seeds and we both fed the duck, while her mother stood by with a frown.
So, you might ask: why am I telling you this story?
I have no earthly idea.
God does something crazy by allowing forty weeks to prepare for a child.
Guitar in hand, just back from LA, and very much in love, Josh Hendrick – lead singer/songwriter of Dallas The Band – stopped by to sing and talk about his new gig: fatherhood. (Click here to listen to Josh Hendrick)
“Day 1,” he said, “when you find out you’re going to have a kid there are so many questions that all of a sudden become relevant and God gives you forty weeks to get all of that straightened out. You may get one or two answers within that time.”
“We thought it was going to be text book, but something else happens: labor starts early – it did for me anyway. And I grew an enormous respect for my wife. I love my wife. I didn’t imagine I could love her anymore than I did. I grew an enormous respect for her.”
“The moment my daughter was born, it was a complete split second falling love with someone you hadn’t met before. I spent hours just staring at her.”
“Just like when I met Jen, I had an explosion of inspiration.”
“I don’t remember what it is like to sleep through the night.”
The phone rang. Our session was over. No sooner than he left. Aunt Lucy stopped by on her way home from her medical check up. She previewed my chat with Josh. She handed me her Doctor’s business card and said, “Give this to his wife. She’ll need it in a while.”
“A father has to be a provider, a teacher, a role model, but most importantly, a distant authority figure who can never be pleased. Otherwise, how will children ever understand the concept of God?”
― Stephen Colbert
Josh Hendrick selects three of his musical legends to help him play the game, HOW I GOT OVER. Click here to enjoy the game. Josh and / or his baby girl must cross a deadly swamp to get his newborn over to his wife. He needs help to do so. But can any of his legends help his baby across? Can you get over?
“Have you ever told a lie ’till it became your truth?”
“What would be the point?”
“Do you feel me?”
These are but three of several probing questions talented new and emerging young poets let dance, unwittingly, through an evening of Verse and Rhythm at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center, Dallas Texas, broadcasted on The Journey Your Radio Show (Listen here.)
Who am I? How strange the beating heart is? When your heart beats will you listen? Can I talk to you for a minute?
One might presume the evening’s theme to be QUESTIONS or that these poets commiserated. But it wasn’t. And they didn’t. The theme was VERSE AND RHYTHM. (Video Clips here). Pain. Angst. Humor. Lots of humor. Rhythm. Sarcasm. Raw truth. These painted the night with stars. These stirred our hearts. Lungs full of laughter heaved, if just to keep these searching questions lingering for the dawn. I could NOT escape the gravity of individual truths nor quiet that tap-tap-tap deep within: Will you listen? A young actress – virgin to the mike – spoke as would a bird whistling into the ear of humanity: I Am Not The Girl I Thought I Would Be.
A poet, a teacher, listening over a thousand miles away to these sculpted voices, while washing his dishes in New York City, was stirred to pen a poem: OF BROKEN DREAMS.
The sun arose and the questions lingered. However, in the drench of that evening’s hilarity, I can hardly imagine anyone noticing those haunting questions. It is easier to imagine another theme: LOVE. Love bites! Romantic love. Brotherly love. Sisterly love. Self love. God’s love. Community love. Empowering love. LOVE.
I figured one could hardly have waited, being in the center of B. Randall’s performance, to jump into bed and consume one’s lover. Hm-hm-hmmm! Or hear Jai Malano’s song and not pang! And who wouldn’t have wanted to run into the comfort of God’s love, at the chimes of Tisha Crear’s joy. “I don’t have a poem,” she said, sparkling, “I am a poem.” And she is.
Oh, the sweetness of young love! Memories. Memories. And JuNene K, in I Am Woman, left this gem for a grab, “Beyonce ain’t got nothing on me … Forget about cotton, baby, I am the fabric of life – try me on for size.” Spankey D let rip, “I am a man, a strong man.” Reign Bad Guy didn’t hold back about the ‘F’ he got in his English class. Ricardo Garza stood up and poured himself out for his Grandmother, just six months after his head was peeled open to save his life. TepRa, so deep, slowed hearts to get brains ticking. Who would not pause to field Priscilla Rice’s plea to her brother Oscar, an addict? This, truly, is a sister’s love. Isn’t it?
Can I talk to you for a minute? Will you listen?
Iyanla Vansant said this: “Until you wholeheartedly believe in your own value, worth, and worthiness, there will always be a void in your spirit.” Oh, love! It is such a precious thing. But has it any value to the one that would not listen? Like Amir Razavi said in his poem, I PONDER! “I thought and pondered as if tomorrow existed.”
“If I died tomorrow can I say I was perfect? What if I died yesterday, would it have been worth it?” Amir Razavi, PERFECTION. Who am I, when my brother is an addict? When my lover is an addict? When my neighbor is an addict? Can we talk for a minute? Do you know an addict?
. . .
Is it soft
- like a rose
- like falling snowflakes
fresh and warm
- like winter’s sunlight?
. . .
Is it as sweet
as a lollipop?
- like an angel
. . .
It is penetrating for sure.
It has an uncanny strength, singularly its own.
. . .
But why is it so rare -
in the way it transports
- so swift
- so smooth
- so hypnotic.
. . .
Why does it cause frogs to flip
snakes to spit
jackasses to somersault
and men to fly to the moon
even as petites dance on painted toenails?
. . .
Beauty is treasured for sure.
It is its own currency, with a bank of its own.
. . .
But who devised it
and priced it
beyond the reach
of those who know not what it is?
. . .
What is this thing
that engenders such rage
and as much joy as jealousy
in clowns and queens?
. . .
What is beauty?
That note of water in the cistern.
That scent of jasmine, even honeysuckle.
The silence of a sleeping bird.
The smile of a baby.
Uh! So beautiful!
But what is beauty?
. . .
This question hasn’t quieted since I met with gorgeous Priya Bhola Rathod of DFW Style Daily for an episode of The Journey.
Beautiful, charming, engaging, a delightful host and blushing new bride, Priya shared her journey from LA’s red carpets and the likes of The Wrestler and Slumdog Millionaire (directed by Danny Boyle who also directed 2012 London Olympic Opening Ceremony) to her current role hosting rich video content for DFW Style Daily.
It was a fun show. Refreshing. Informative. She explained to us the fleeting nature of fashion and the lasting value of style. She told us of how this welcomed on-line magazine provides to its customers on a daily basis – free of charge – the daily needs of style; the how-to’s, the wheres and when, with emerging and established talent and who-is-who in fashion and style. I like it a lot. I discovered there are many ways to look absolutely amazing – pretty much like the most gorgeous models known – without the burden of a heavy price tag or as she puts it to be able to afford amazing style choices on a purse budget. DFW Style Daily is chockfull of value and valuable information.
However, ever since those moments with Priya, I’ve been pricked by the question: what is beauty?
I took a long and winding trek, inquiring of a good many along the way: what is beauty? Why does it evoke such strong feelings of love and happiness, of peace and tranquility, of comfort and a sense of wealth and health?
Beauty – imperishable yet fleeting, it seems – but what is it?
There wasn’t one person I confronted with this question that didn’t smile before stumbling: eyes up, eyes sideways, eyes down, itchy throats, but no sure answer.
Brian, a confident looking graduate of model proportions, smiled, looked me straight in the eye and without a twitch said, “It’s a brilliant question.”
I asked my barber – an Urban hairstylist, Blu, since she was expressing her excitement over the radio show featuring Priya. She said, “It was like that entire program was meant for me. It spoke to me. I made up my mind. I’m going to do what I always wanted to do.” I was excited for Blu. Indeed, she was making the bravest decision of her life. I wished her well. Then I asked her the question. Blu stumbled too as she reconsidered the question from several angles. Finally she said, “You ask hard questions,” then stepped aside from doing my hair, that sharp clipper in her hand, looked me straight, and in a womanly exhale, Uh, added, “Life is beautiful. That’s my final answer.”
But what is beauty?
I was thinking of JoJo – young and beautiful – one of the daughters of one of my sisters. I was thinking of how she took the fight to cancer – boldly and with demonstrable aplomb. I was thinking how through her smiles her joy and beauty shone throughout her fierce battle. It was as if JoJo was re-instilling in those of us who know her, who feared for her for a while, the joy of now.
I was thinking of how through the many distances she kept showing us – throughout her fight – the rich blessings of freedom-from-worry and the benefits of being present – in joy – in laughter – in love – in peace.
JoJo embodies the very spirit of Miss Aenna (Ah – e´- na) – the Beauty of Amora – one of the protagonists of Little Mango Big Mango Tree by Peter George and Lexi Renee.
I was thinking.
Then, suddenly, without warning, right as she was at the top of her mountain, Jo-Jo danced from the bitter clutch of unseen winds.
She did not leave us empty. As she went, she dropped sparkles of her joy and beauty. As she went, lifted high, as with a song through a cooling breeze, we were all reminded and are being reminded: life is beautiful.
Yet, the question remained.
In Chapter One of Little Mango Big Mango Tree, In The Moonlight, Palu positioned it this way:
“Many girls studied Miss Aenna to decipher what made her so beautiful. Was it her face, or was it her walk? Was it her shape or something in her heart? Was it her eyes? Was it her lips? Was it her voice, how sweetly she sang, or was it in the mystery of her being? Was it what she wore, or was it how she dressed? Was it her hair or how she bore herself? What makes Miss Aenna so very beautiful? That’s what boys and girls were asking?”
What is beauty?
Great poets wrestled with this diamond and left us glittering chips:
” A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
“Truth is beauty; beauty truth.” John Keats
Perhaps, beauty is in the eye of the beholder! And truth? Isn’t truth beautiful?
I rather liked how the artist Art Magenta captured this certain kind of reaction to beauty:
Most of us want to look beautiful – handsome – our very best, don’t we? We have a wide array of ways-to-be-beautiful to choose from. For the girls, for example
And for the gents too – J. Hilburn - which, coincidentally is owned by Priya Bhola Rathod’s hubby.
Still, I wrestled with the question: what is beauty? Then it came to me. Like that! I got it.
It came to me as I was listening to Priya Bhola Rathod again, as she was discussing her calling and as she was explaining the difference between style and fashion, highlighting the value of personal style and branding, and as she was pointing out the DFW Style Daily unique approach to delivering rich and rewarding content. Something she said suddenly sounded like that note of water in the cistern.
It wasn’t poetic; it is practical. It wasn’t high-brow; it felt like truth. She told it so simply I almost missed it. She said it is about looking good at any price. Aha! Now I know what beauty is. Beauty is looking good at any price.
“Victory is soft, like a rose.” Ravoof
It was in the midst of the USTA Regionals. I was swaying in the heat with young-uns competing for national attention.
Equally, I was basking in the glow of Roger Federer’s greatness – seventeen grand slams, seven Wimbledons, a record-breaking 287 weeks as Number One, and so on, and so on - while reflecting on defeat in the form of Andy Murray – the great British hope.
I gathered valuable input from players, parents and coaches, and I spiced up my on-air presentation with Billy Jean King’s invaluable advice on emotional strength. (Listen.)
Just then, a visiting psychologist form India (Nitin’s father; Nitin is a good friend and a tennis player) stopped by with a bag of goodies – beautiful preparations from his wife – for me, so I invited his input. He blessed me with these three gems.
Victory is soft, like a rose. Enjoy it today – its beauty, its aroma, its touch. Tomorrow this rose will be rough. Soon it will crumble to dust.
It is a great human value: respect. In this construct – where there is a winner and a loser – as a player, experience it. As the victor, enjoy the victory – this is only natural – experience the defeat also; this is respect – a great human value. As the loser, feel the loss – experience it; it hurts; that’s only natural – celebrate with the victor also. This is how we learn to deal with defeat and with a loss. This is how you grow. Grow through it. Experience both in balance. This is respect, a great human value.
It is a psychological reality that a human can obtain pleasure in two ways. One. We obtain pleasure by giving pleasure, by sharing it as a gift, as an expression of love; by spreading it in service and in gratitude. We obtain pleasure by giving pleasure. This is a great human value throughout the world in all societies. Two. We obtain pleasure by causing others harm, by enjoying the sufferings of others, by enjoying not responding to the needs of others. The former way of getting pleasure is like a Mother Teresa who gave herself in service to sufferers. The latter is like a Hitler. It is destructive. It is an aggression. It is not the nature of the vast majority of humans. This too is a psychological reality. It is not a great human value.
Ay-yai-yai! This is how I can deal with defeat, with victory, with gain and with loss, he told me. This is how I can grow strong. I don’t know about you, but simply by wearing these gems I’m beginning to feel beautiful. And that is some feat.
Victory is soft. Like a rose. Shall I call it a delicacy and have a feast? It’s our feast for 287 weeks … and counting … as a tribute to greatness, in partnership with young-uns seeking to grow mentally strong like the great ones, and for our future. It begins with three simple steps.
1. Embrace victory, as you would a rose.
2. Experience defeat with respect.
3. Enjoy growth through victory and through defeat.
So fortunate, my mother offers this meal for growth and mental toughness: GRIT – GOD RESTORED INTESTINAL TOUGHNESS. Enjoy.
Just to be sure, my Grandma Rose offered this deal for victory and defeat – those two halves of the same BUT: “Treat them the same, with honest to goodness laughter and don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh it in the face, You’ll Be Ultimately Tough.”
So be a phenom! You too can laugh while smelling like a rose for 287 weeks … and counting
Two things coincided this past week upon my return from Houston overseeing athletes compete in the points-lucrative USTA HTA Super Champ Major Zone.
I was reflecting upon the sacrifice of relatives, friends and unknown heroes whose lives are the joint guarantors of my liberty, and I was contemplating a suitable tribute for The Journey, when I ran into James Tate, my guest on two previous shows.
“Did you see my note?” he greeted, with such enormous excitement and anxiety, I hesitated to admit I hadn’t.
“I just got back,” I said, hanging to my breath, for I was just beginning to recognize what a classless throw-back response mine was in this facebook-twitter-app age!
He gave me the news I missed: he had received an invitation from the President to go to the White House. This moment was electric.
THE PRESIDENT REQUESTS THE PLEASURE OF YOUR COMPANY
When I was a boy (and yet still) I’d invite my greatest heroes – presidents, leaders, artists, thinkers – I had heard and read about to sit with me in my garden for a feast. I’d light the grill, put on it the finest meats and best vegetables, and serve good drink.
Presuming (pardon my boyish hubris) they’d come whole from the great beyond knowing all things well and everything true, I imagined myself beneath the festive table, my back braced against a strong leg, listening – quite sure I’d glean from their hilarious discourse that bit of joyful wisdom I could employ to set my neighborhood aglow in liberty, truth, peace and prosperity; that balm that would wipe our eyes clear to spot the wide array of shams and the charlatans whose rings of smoke chain so many behind the thick walls of improvidence.
Quite often my mother would catch me unawares in that posture, “There you are! Idling your life away when the rest of us are struggling to get things done. Boy, what shall I do with you?”
I STILL DREAM A DREAM I KNOW SO WELL
You see, there are a few for whom the privilege of those two presidential taps are real: that call to duty – to stand in the gap, to hold the hill, to reclaim the flag, to lift the wounded, to defy the attack; and that call to dine – the honor of your company, the wisdom of your learning, the pleasure of your advice.
That is why today I join with those who salute you – soldiers, stalwarts, our heroes fighting for justice, equality and freedom for ALL. “You have done so much, who have done so well.” I join as well those who salute you our forward-looking leaders seeking not the entrenchment of a few, rather preferring to build bridges across these very trenches across which whoever will may choose to come and contribute to the human whole. Thank you for your unbowed fight. With gratitude, I salute you.
You know it is so strange my mother – I love her so much – had neither fret nor quarrel whenever she caught me standing in the garden belting out to the trees this tune, as if I were bedecked seated upon a fine steed. I’d catch her smiling. Hmm! Somethings do make me wonder!
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY, ALL