Not too long ago, my sister and I attended a concert at Virginia’s Wolf Trap theater. Our friend had gotten four of us free tickets through her company, and we were excited to see the rapper who repped for black womanhood long before we could even call ourselves women, Queen Latifah. However, it was the other headliner, Common (otherwise known as our collective baby daddy) who had us all the way hyped. While Latifah reminded us of our childhoods – flooding our minds with memories of overalls, Timberland boots, and leather Africa medallions – it was Common, that beautiful bald bastion of wokeness – that had us chattering most of the ride there. But when we arrived and realized that our free, corporate seats had us sitting front row center (like, so close that getting sprinkled with celebrity sweat was a foregone conclusion), we knew it was gonna be a night to end ALL nights.
Now my younger sister, whose musical leanings that veer sharply toward Trap Music and Too Short, knew Common but didn’t know Common. She was just happy to be along for the fabulous ride. But, as soon as Common hit the stage, with all his bald badassery, she became an instant Common convert, vowing that, before the night was over, she was gonna get a picture with him. Now, as we were in the front f*cking row (sorry, just had to point that out for y’all again), each of us was able to take countless photos of Common. Up close, beautiful, I-Could-Touch-Him-If-I-Wasn’t-Afraid-of-His-Security photos. But those weren’t good enough for my baby sis. Noooooo. She was dead set on getting a picture with Common. How did I know this? Because, every three minutes, she leaned over and said: “I’m gonna get a picture with him.” In fact, she uttered that phrase SO many times that, about half way through his set, I turned to her and angry-whispered, “SHUT IT UP.” But she was undeterred. And focused. And determined to get that picture. So, when Common rapped his way to center stage, my sister stood up, turned her back, and began working them angles in an attempt to get both her and the passionate poet into what, Steve, our usher - an adorable white man well into his 70s - had called a “weezy” (his ingenious pluralization of the word “selfie” and spin on the word “ussie” -- which I plan to steal and use every chance I get). It was then that Common spotted my sister, ran over, and squatted all his fineness right behind her. Like inches from her. So close that I’m sure he smelled the coconut oil in her hair and the Skin-So-Soft on her back. Common was practically spooning my sister, who was screaming with delight and furiously snapping “weezy” after “weezy,” and all I could think was, “DAMN! This chick ACTUALLY made it happen!”
Most of us know that there’s something to be said for “visioning.” The world’s most successful, highest paid athletes all say that they regularly envision themselves swimming the fastest 100 meters, scoring the winning touchdown, or making that buzzer-beating basket. It’s that ability to see those achievements before they happen that, according to those athletes, has allowed them to realize such greatness. The Secret, the fascinating, best-selling book by Rhonda Byrne, made millions by explaining to readers the power of that age-old law of attraction: positive thoughts bring positive results. It’s a concept that was introduced to most of us, early on, during our elementary school years: If You Believe It, You Can Achieve It. But, I have to say, as inherently negative as I am (glass half empty doesn’t begin to cover it), I’ve been able to embrace one side of that coin, but not the other. Put more simply: I wholeheartedly believe that negative thoughts beget negative outcomes. The self-fulfilling prophecy is real, and breaking ourselves of that negative thinking - hard as it is (trust me – I know) - is, in my estimation, one of the main keys to happiness. But, do I believe that, by putting positive thoughts into the universe, I will draw positive things my way? Of that, I’m more skeptical. I read The Secret. And I loved it. So much so, that I read it a second time, and bought copies for many of my loved ones. But I remember reading the passages about speaking weight loss and financial gain into existence, and rolling my pretty brown eyes. I mean, it makes some sense theoretically: If I continue to say, “I need to lose weight,” then the universe will continue to keep me in a state that requires me to lose weight (of course, if I’m constantly talking about how I need to lose weight, I’m probably not doing too to much to change that fact either, so, there’s that…). But, you mean to tell me that, if I simply start saying, “I’m at my perfect weight right now and I love my body just the way it is,” that the universe will hand me the waistline I lost long, long ago? I’m not convinced. Have I tried it? No. Should I try it? Probably. Especially since Gym and I haven’t been getting along too tough (but that’s another story for another blog). The point is that it’s hard for those of us who, by default, always see the negative to believe that the positive could come about so easily. I just say it, and it comes true? Well, no. Sadly, it’s not that easy, right? You have to say it and believe it. That’s the difference between paying lip service to something, and speaking it into reality. And that’s likely where the skeptics among us get hung up. To believe it – to truly believe it – you have to put that skepticism aside. And my skepticism is to me what Linus’ blue blankie is to him; it’s with me everywhere I go. But then, there was my sister. And her chant-like proclamation. That seemed to bring Common right to her. That fact just couldn’t be denied. She said it, she believed it, and it became so. She’s got the photographs (and the sweat he left behind on her blouse that she's never, ever, EVAH gonna wash again) to prove it.
And then there’s the vision board that I created over two years ago. I hadn’t looked at it in ages, but, for some reason, I felt compelled to bring it with me when I moved from Brooklyn to Maryland. In the midst of my unpacking, I finally took the time to unroll that poster board, and was stopped dead in my tracks. I’d forgotten all about the images I’d cut out of multiple magazines, but, as I looked at them, I remembered all that I’d so desperately wanted back then – so much of which I’ve achieved in the intervening months without even realizing it. There were the photos of the Maryland license plate, and of the woman, sitting on the hardwood floor of her new home, surrounded by boxes. As I write this, I’m sitting in my new Maryland home with its hardwood floors; my car with its Maryland license plate parked in the garage. There were the photographs of the beautiful black woman in a wedding veil, smiling at her beautiful black groom; and of the sister with the long, naturally curly hair, laughing and cooking with her foine man. As I write this, I, at 44, am newly engaged – for the very first time – to a wonderful man whom I met after relocating. I can hear him in the kitchen, unpacking the groceries he just bought, for the meal he’ll make for our family tonight (because he loves me enough to overlook the fact that my culinary skills begin and end at the microwave). And then there were the photos of the adorable chocolate babies, with their chubby cheeks and drooling smiles. As I write this, my soon-to-be bonus son has just woken up and emerged from his room (at 2:29pm, but I digress…). Yes, he’s 18 and lost his chubby cheeks years ago, but he’s my “baby” for now, along with his canine little brother. And, who knows? Clearly there is something to this visioning thing, so maybe the pitter-patter of little feet will be in our future. I see it, and I believe it, so I’m claiming it.
Claim yours too, sistren. It’s never too late to start believing in what’s possible. Many of us won’t be great at it – at least, not at first. But, with practice and patience, we can get better. And, if nothing else, it helps to set our intention to move in a positive direction. My license plate, hardwood floors, and fiancé are proof of that. And then there’s my sister -- with her plethora of boo’d up pics. I can't help but think that, had my mindset been different at that concert, Common coulda been cheesing with me. And shooooooot. Why stop at some weezies? Knowing what I know now, with just a little more foresight and faith, I coulda been Common's baby mama! Of course I love my fiancé. I'm just testing this visioning theory. This is research, people. This is SCIENCE. This is MAN ON THE MOON SHIT. So, in the name of self-sacrifice and for the sake of HUMAN-KIND, let me just go take a quick peek at the man's tour schedule…