“How would your life be different if…You didn’t allow yourself to be defined by your past? Let today be the day…You stop letting your history interfere with your destiny and awaken to the opportunity to release your greatest self.”
Yesterday I was given a fantastic opportunity to do an interview on David Essel Alive. If you are not familiar with David Essel, he is a popular life coach who hosts a show on XM satellite talk radio. He asked me a question that is still on my mind this morning. He wanted to know how I could come from a household that lacked a positive male role model, and still be a success as a person. My mother was abused in one way or another by every single man who set foot in our home. To add to that, within my community I would say that I had only 2 close friends whose fathers had any involvement with them at all. So, how is it possible to embrace a life that is opposite from the one I grew up in? I believe the answer is reflected in the quote that I used above. My answer was, and I am vehement about this, I refused to let the actions of others mold my identity.
The actions and shunning of responsibility was a decision in which the Karma of those actions belonged to other individuals. As a young man, I naturally was not as well read as I am now, but looking back I realized I was exercising a lot of principles that are present in many self-help and personal growth books. There are messages that today’s children are downloading from not only their environment, but from the world itself. So what we must understand is that this is not entirely about what we witness in our local encompassment.
For instance, there were young men within our community who I knew were victims of abuse, and beyond that they would engage in a life of prostitution to make ends meet. Not only were they the objects of another’s perversions at home, but also by those who were not members of our community. For years I would watch these young men walk up and down the streets, and get picked up by wealthy white men. This is the way that I would see my first Mercedes-Benz, BMW and other luxury vehicles. As a child I was tasked with forming an opinion of the abuse that I knew was going on locally, and furthermore some of my earliest interactions with another race were limited to the buying of cocaine, crack cocaine, and the services of young boys whose lives I saw deteriorate right in front of my eyes.
I am blessed to not have developed a perception about myself or anyone else from the activities of those both within and without my community. I actually in many ways sympathized with these select people. I knew the dangers from my community and I wondered why any man would put himself at such a risk for a few moments with a young kid. Secondly, but by no means secondary, I wondered why the very few men in the community never stopped this activity. At the time people chose to call those kids names I won’t repeat, as if that kind of behavior sprung from their own inner desire to be used in this way.
Now, my mother gave me a football and I made it a career. There is relatively few negatives that our society tags to a professional sports career. This allowed me to engage with this game as if it was my dream, the thing that would save my life, because it was the dream of others. As a former NFL player I understand all the underlying dangers and negative effects that are inherent to this game. However, this was not communicated to me as a young man and we are a hell of a lot more conscious about it now.
What kids need is for us to supplant the negatives inherent to our environment, and consistently point to a limitless future. This is the possibility that was communicated when I put on my first football helmet, and must be the same one that is communicated when they put on their school clothes in the morning and pajamas to dream at night. I was able to transcend my environment because I never bought into the idea that I was poor, albeit poor in spirit. In return that still remains today, I do not believe that I am the material things that I possess or class that I am in. It is not the forger of my identity. My mother’s act was one that flowed from her resilient connection to God. It is the simple fact that I am here, with air to breathe and a mind to reason that I could supersede my environment. As a child in the underbelly of society, I was given a glimpse into the outer world that formed my philosophy about it. We are all in the same boat. Rowing along, projecting ourselves over troubled waters, with one stroke of the oar at a time. I see the gun in the face of a young man in Fort Myers, Florida, as well as the lump in the chest of a middle-aged woman raising 3 kids on her own. This mentality is the force field that rejected all attempts to label me as a victim and limit my chances to flourish in life. It is the eraser of all excuses.
This is not an entry about the positive life, that sprung from the negative acts and abuse of others. It is one that points to a possibility.
“Cut out the windows and doors In the house as you build; But the use of the house will depend on the space in the walls that is void. So advantage is had from whatever is there; but usefulness rises from whatever is not.”
Tao Te Ching
It was because I chose to sympathize and not judge that I realized my responsibility within these acts. It is being cognizant that a humble nature will allow God to provide light to engulf this present darkness that gives me faith. This reciprocity is the very nature that will provide fertile ground for our young women and men of tomorrow.
I am Earnest Graham and I know and experienced that life is fair. It is accepting this that has liberated me and allowed me to convey this message on November 11, 2012. I thank God for this clarity.