It’s funny how adulthood doesn’t always turn out the way that you planned as a kid. I remember having a grand vision for my life as a kid that included doing what I wanted when I wanted to. Each birthday was a year closer to being 18 which was the magic number in my mind where I would suddenly emancipate from the endless rules of my parents. One perk of having a non-traditional education meant that i had a little more time than most my age. After finishing high school a few weeks after I turned 17 I decided that I wanted to take a break so I did. For the next year I chilled at home and took community college classes with the intention to hit the ground running when I began college. The great thing about that year was that I could collect my thoughts with minimal responsibilities. During that time I sold books door to door and even sold knives. I know a lot of people who went directly from high school to college and still had no idea what they wanted to do with their life. They go through a year or two and drift from major to major spending large amounts of money they don’t really have. The thing about young adulthood is that you expect to have more answers than you did as a kid when in fact you just encounter more questions. You want the world to be black and white but sometimes it ends up being a really weird shade of gray. The thing I like about being an adult is that it was similar to what I imagined as a kid. I do what I want, when I want. The sad part is that there are also hundreds of stipulations to that simple fact. The stakes are higher, the consequences for stupid mistakes can easily wreck the future. It’s similar to driving in a fog on a dark night. You know where you’re going but still can’t see five feet ahead of you and your headlights just illuminate how much more fog is ahead.
First off, I need to keep this post brief. Procrastination is a silent killer. Enough said. One of the things that I like to do in the month of February is to go to an event for Black History Month. Definitely easier said than done. At least out here where I live. Finding quality events that fit my schedule but also are interesting and don’t waste my time is something that I try to do. Last year, I went to a spoken word event and it was pretty decent. The best part was that it was only ten minutes away from my house. But I digress. While by no means am I someone who is qualified to give “the black perspective,” as I was often called upon in graduate school to do, I do think that there are certain challenges that come with being black in America. I’m going to make a quick detour and say that I really strongly dislike the term “African American.” It’s annoying. And quite frankly, I’m not from Africa and neither are my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. I have some theories about how this term is used as a social construct but that’s totally not the topic at hand. There are certain rare occasions where I get the opportunity to listen to a speaker that is genuine, engaging, young, ambitious, articulate, and has exceptional communication skills. MK Asante is one of those people. He’s one of the best speakers I’ve heard because he has the ability to paint exquisite skillful pictures with words. And he does it in a way that has the right combination of his education and life experiences that give him the ability to relate to his audience. The fact that he became a college professor at age 23 and is now tenured is amazing. Needless to say, it was great listening to him today. I bought his book, “Buck” and read it cover to cover in about two hours. I’m not easily impressed with books but after reading it I can honestly say that it’s one of the best memoirs that I’ve read. An honest depiction of the good, bad and ugly with moments of vulnerability and raw emotion is what makes this book so good. This book draws you in and keeps your attention because Asante walks you through his life in such a way that makes you feel as if you’re not only a silent observer, but that you have an invested interest in his success. Definitely a great read that was made even better by hearing the writer before I read the book.
Growing up, I was taught the verse that admonished me to not love money because it was the beginning of evil. No truer words have even been spoken. Human greed is a powerful thing and millions have died as the result of the selfish decisions of a few. With millions of people chasing the “American Dream” with hopes of one day becoming independently wealthy, one has to ask, does money buy happiness? Depending on who you are (and how much money you have) your answer to this question will vary. I’ve always been told that money doesn’t buy happiness, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve grown to disagree with that statement. I humbly submit that money actually does buy happiness. In the world today there so much emphasis on doing what makes you happy and being happy in life. I for one, don’t particularly subscribe to that perspective. Over the course of my life, I’ve bought things that have inadvertently brought me happiness. With money. I’m not a genius but I know that the having more money in my particular situation would increase my quality of life and also allow me to travel more which would translate to happiness. Happiness is fleeting and doesn’t last for an extended period of time. It’s not necessarily something that you can hoard and save for a special occasion. While money may buy happiness, it doesn’t bring lasting peace or joy, it won’t buy you good health, it won’t solve your family problems and it won’t save you from dying. But it comes in handy in times of stress, can improve your quality of life if used wisely, and consequently, can buy you things and experiences that bring you happiness. Not peace of mind. But definitely happiness.