Ms. Emma was a woman big on parables and never stingy with wisdom. I was 17 when she sat on the edge of her sofa, leaned over and sternly told me, “Never go against your first thought. That’s God’s angel leading you. Everything else is from the devil.”
Those words felt overdramatic and a bit scary then, and through the years although I’ve heard variations of that message – trust your gut or always follow your first instinct – it was Ms. Emma’s words that have always resonated with me the most.
Whenever I’ve detoured from my chosen path onto a more familiar one, her words have haunted me just as Jesus’s words did Peter after the third denial. Each time that I’ve pledged allegiance to fear and forfeited chance, those words were right there rearing its head in admonishment as if saying, “You still won’t listen.” And, whenever I’ve wept bitterly – because my most gut-wrenching cries were always the result of a direct violation of that angel’s direction – every syllable pierced through my skull.
Life has often felt like a clumsy two-step between my aspirations and my fears, between comfort and risk, between hyperactive acceptance and foolish abandon. Extremes with little balance. I know that I’m not the the only one because I cross paths with way too many still tripping over their feet, only to end the dance by walking off the floor mid-song. Lajit Poet, a hip-hop artist out of North Carolina, summed the dilemma up brilliantly in Rhythm from his debut album Heart’s Delight:
You say that life’s a bitch. I say that life’s a rhythm.
She’s only clashing with you, cause you ain’t stepping with her.
By now, life has presented you with enough triumphs to encourage you, challenges to humble you, and everything in between in no particular order. Undoubtedly, it feels impossible to stay in tune with a lead that’s disjointed and unpredictable. However, the key to perfecting life’s waltz lies not in scurrying from the floor or hugging the wall, but by learning how to glide graciously, switch partners seamlessly, and how to stay composed through it all. Simply put, the power lies in knowing how to partner with life, how to trust yourself without reliance on another’s approval.
Our loudest and most destructive clashes come when we forsake inspired ideas, the ones that appear unexpectedly and with such clarity that our stomach flutters, our eyes widen, and we just know it’s something. Or, when we defy every instinct to proceed because no one buys our pitch or because the last move wasn’t a great one. Or when, as my friend Tynika puts it, “we allow perfect to become the enemy of good,” constantly waiting for a solid plan or product to be exact before execution.
Frankly, the perfect environment, a majority vote or anyone’s permission is never necessary. What’s required is just a tad bit of audacity and a miniscule amount of faith. Audacity to believe in an idea, and faith to mold it into life. Audacity to bet on ourselves, and the faith to take just one step. Yes, the audacity to get on the dance floor, and the faith to trust the rhythm even when we stumble.
We will trip over our feet a little. It’s a normal part of the dance and nothing to cower from. The truth is that stellar choreography is often the direct result of practice and commitment – audacity and faith in constant motion.
In Rhythm, Lajit Poet reminds us that losing our balance is natural as we step out of our comfort zones. Yet. he quickly reassures us of what we tend to forget in those very moments, namely, that we are built for such times and that we will indeed thrive.
Until the next time, stay safe and keep dancing❣️
Very truly yours,
P.S.: For all you hip hop fans, go cop Lajit Poet’s Heart’s Delight, now streaming everywhere! You won’t regret it!
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