The Difficulty of Opening One’s Hands

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[Word count: 489. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]

My mother grew up poor. Because she knew the extremes of sometimes having nothing, she learned how to save, preserve, extend, prolong, conserve. She’s the last to throw something away because “you never know when you might have a need.”

In her cabinet, I found an old Sony CD player whose door would not close. I offered to throw it away for her. “Oh no, honey, don’t throw that away. I wanna give it to the Goodwill. Maybe somebody can fix it and use it.”

I groused. “Ma, this thing is done. It has no more value. It’s a CD player that won’t play CDs. No one wants to work to fix it. You can buy a new one for $50 or less. Why do you hold on to these things? They’re just taking up space and making more clutter for you to look at. This don’t make no sense. Forget it. I’m throwing it away.” All of this I told her—in my head—as I put the CD player back where she told me to.

I used to be quite a packrat. But when I got older and started making enough money to lean back and smile a bit, I didn’t stockpile so religiously. My confidence was such that if I needed something, I could get it whenever I wanted it. Continue reading

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Not Enough, but Compared to What?

[Word count: 1255. Approximate read time: 4-5 minutes]

One day, I was talking to a mentor about how it drove me crazy that a particular woman would not so much as give me the time of day. No eye contact, no casual hello, nothing. One would’ve thought she was harnessing her mental energy to metaphysically wish away my existence. The world has never known reception so icy. I could’ve stored raw meat on her shoulders for months.

It dominated my thoughts. Did I say something to offend her? Was my hygiene bad? Does she resent guys with hair longer than hers? Does she dislike Black men? Skinny men? Eventually, I didn’t really want her attention anymore. I just wanted to know why I couldn’t have it, and what rendered me ineligible. Maybe I wasn’t the fit for her. And that’s okay, I guess. But things like this exacerbate a long standing tradition of feeling like I’m not something enough. Pick any something:

  • Not Black enough.
  • Not strong enough.
  • Not man enough.
  • Not important enough.
  • Not cool enough.
  • Not young enough.
  • Not established enough.
  • Not charming enough.
  • Not skilled enough.
  • Not accomplished enough.
  • Not Christian enough.
  • Not persistent enough.
  • Not talented enough.
  • Not attractive enough.
  • Not driven enough.

Bear this in mind. I am aware that I am indeed all of the above. It just seems like it’s never enough.

Continue reading