July 7, 2013
My contracts professor in law school always used to say “A written contract is not the contract itself; it is merely EVIDENCE of the existing contract.” And that is exactly what the letter you are reading today is: the tangible, written evidence of a life-long contract that I voluntarily bind myself to in exchange for the consideration of your birth. My love is a life-long commitment to you which I shall never revoke or default on.
All of my life I’ve dreamed of being a father. Although there is so much I have to learn before you arrive, so much I have to learn before you realize that I don’t know what I’m talking about half the time, I know that I’m ready to guide and protect you. As you will soon find out, your grandparents only had me. As such, they dedicated their time to make me a decent human being, who loved and cherished family above all things. Fortunate for them, they succeeded. But you see, they didn’t excel at passing this sentiment along by merely talking about it. No, it was the unspoken, the sheer sound of selfless actions, that deafened my ears and allowed me to see what love looks like. It is because of their example that I am confident of what I can offer to you as a man, a friend, and a father.
The letters that follow this one will feature stories, advice, and words of wisdom on topics that I feel are important that you get some insight into. I have made many, so many, mistakes before arriving at the conclusions and epiphanies that I will be sharing with you. Hopefully, one day these letters will help you do what 99% of people cannot seem to consistently do: learn from other people’s mistakes. I look forward to having my words echo in your mind as you ponder and muse about life.
January 13, 2013
This week I started my externship in the city. Upon entering 25 minutes early, I was brought to “my” spacious office with a breathtaking view of the city and told to get settled in. I hung my jacket and scarf (yea, I now rock those too), turned on my computer, and took a picture of the view I instantly fell in love with.
(Knocking at door) “Sorry, I made a mistake. This office actually belongs to someone else. You’ll be in another office.”
As I concluded the day and exited my small, windowless, adversely-possessed office, I chuckled to myself saying, “Demoted on the very first day!” Makes sense though. I was given something I hadn’t worked for and grew too comfortable with it; so naturally, I lost it promptly after.
“Peace has cost you your strength. Victory has defeated you.” – The Dark Knight Rises
The gravest mistake people make in relationships and jobs is to believe that getting what they want is tantamount to permanently securing it. This self-defeating, misguided notion of victory is the tranquilizing drug that settles the mind into stifling, undiluted routine. It debilitates the soul and thwarts progress. It rusts them in idleness and fades them into the sunset.
This plague is the travesty that curses great souls by fooling them to believe in the grandeur of their legend. In peace and victory, in good fortune and success, people often lose sight of how to win the war, let alone how to fight it. They become too soft, too comfortable, and too susceptible.
“Si vis pacem, para bellum – If you want peace, prepare for war.” -The Punisher
In of themselves, peace and victory are great measures of success, perhaps the greatest. However, they simply measure the here and now, as the clock continues to tick. They are snapshots of a fleeting moment’s glory and nothing more. To perpetuate success, peace must remain in the abstract and the war must never, ever, end.
If your peace and victory consists of working day in and day out at the job of your dreams, continue fighting the battle which that on-going struggle calls for. Invest the time and sweat to continue calling it yours. If your peace and victory is waking up each morning to the luscious kiss and love of your significant other, never stop fighting that 100-year war. Put in the effort to approach each day as if it was the first. Smile, love, and laugh as if each day was the last.
If you want something, go out and get it. And then, go out and keep it. For if you are always ready, you never have to get ready. But rest assured, if you are not prepared to endlessly fight for it, you will never truly enjoy the spoils of victory. What are you prepared to do about it?
October 30, 2012
Currently Listening To:Headlines by Drake
For quite some time I’ve been trying to find a blue print to success. The way to forego the mediocrity of yesterday and invite in the promises that all those graduation commencement speakers ranted on about for 45-60 minutes at a time. While filtering through the fluff, I found a substantive, three-prong answer: 1. Realism, 2. Objectives, and 3. Perseverance.
You have been told to follow your dreams. But-what if it’s a stupid dream?-Stephen Colbert
Imagine me going into a gym with the goal of becoming a body builder. Although weighing in at a lean and mean 162 pounds and with the promising genetics of hard-working Hispanic immigrants, common sense dictates I will never be Arnold Schwarzenegger. No, this isn’t pessimism, but a healthy dose of reality.
There are some dreams-many times our first ones- that we will never see realized. However, this doesn’t equate to failure. It simply means that our dreams must undergo survival of the fittest. May the strongest reign supreme! No point in working stubbornly hard to attain the unattainable, or persist after something on ego alone. Work smarter, not harder.
“Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.”-John Dewey
I was asleep, but now I am awake. A man without objectives, without goals for the present or future, stands for nothing and moves towards nothing. He waits at the bottom of the staircase for luck to land him the opportunity of a lifetime. Ladies, this is the man your father warned you about. The acting major whose plan for the future includes reciting Shakespeare to the homeless and waiting for you to reimburse him for it. Or the Law Student with a communications major, who once foolishly thought he would be given a great-paying job because he has a nice smile (ME).
Conversely, the man with goals, the one with some sort of plan, is always in motion. He views each step not as the end result, but as a platform to push himself from onto the next, better thing. To him, success, or the pursuit thereof, involves never sitting back to admire his own work; instead, it requires giving purpose and meaning to every contact, to every job, and to every experience. He is the acting major who recites to the homeless, but also decides to make his skills work for him in another field. Or the Law Student who uses one subpar job to get a slightly better one, and the slightly better one to get an amazing one. Ladies, this is the man who your father will always hate, but will unequivocally respect…The man with a plan (Possibly me).
“[Perseverance] Continuing a course of action without regard to discouragement, opposition or previous failure.”-Hitch
A man moving upward with purpose and meaning can think back, yet must never look back. He must recall all his mistakes and shortcomings, but remain blissfully ignorant of all doubt and uncertainty. He must be willing to walk to the end of the world and back to get a fraction closer to his goal.
This man must have the tenacity to follow through and leave no stone unturned. He must be willing to sweat at the gym and bleed in the ring. He must not ask God how far he needs to go. Instead, he must ask if he possesses the constitution to go as far as is necessary.
Goals without a plan to follow through are just wishes.
March 25, 2012
The story of Trayvon Martin’s death is indeed a very tragic one. Justly so it has elicited a large public uproar and a passionate desire to find out exactly what happened on that night. Yes, George Zimmerman has a history of violence and perhaps is racist. Yes, Trayvon Martin most likely did not do anything “suspicious” that night, other than putting on a hoodie, eating skittles, and drinking ice tea. But until substantial evidence and the legal system render his killer guilty in a court of his peers, it is all mere speculation. Consequently, I will reserve my judgment for that time. However, I wish to address a separate issue that managed to overlap with this unfortunate event.
Last week Geraldo Rivera came on Fox and Friends and said that the hoodie Trayvon wore was as much to blame for his death as Zimmerman. That parents of black and hispanic children should not allow them to sag their pants, put on hoodies, or sport the “gansta” attire. Otherwise, he argued, people will draw the wrong conclusions.
Did Geraldo jump the gun when he inappropriately labeled the hoodie as the root of all evil? Yes, he went overboard. Or as the hoodie huggers from Geraldo’s world would call it: “He went mad OD.” Was it is inappropriate of him to make that inflammatory comment so soon. Yea, if most had their way he would be forced to wear a hoodie, eat some skittles, and drink some ice tea in close proximity to George Zimmerman with a loaded gun and with no witnesses in sight. God knows Geraldo and his Civil-War-era mustache wouldn’t be exempt from the Zimmerman Apprehension Method (also known as “ZAM”). Still, this doesn’t mean we should disregard some of his extremely valid points.
Personally, I agree with Geraldo in that what you wear and how you act can create an image for you. It can cultivate respect or breed misconceptions. So pursuant to that premise, I firmly believe that how you portray yourself through your actions and wardrobe can make you or irreparably damage you.
This is the truth, whether you are black, white, yellow, red, or some funky mixture from the color wheel.
Whether your name is Gonzelez, Patterson, Lee, or Smith, you should try to impress this crucial lesson onto your children and your peers. If, in the spirit of being “Hood,” you sag your pants to below your knees, while ironically wearing a belt, and waddle around the street like a pregnant duck, many people will draw inferences about you. Perhaps, that you have webbed feet and descended from some sort of human-duck creature.
If you live to be gansta in the infamous way portrayed on TV, some people will conclude the worst about you. Maybe, that you’ve done more blow and been shot at more times than Tony Montona at the end of Scare Face
If you act like you don’t care about the consequences to your actions and disregard reality, then some people may not give you a fair shake. Like deny you that job, which you really wanted and were qualified for. Unfortunately, the hood-mentality club is an exclusive one that some people don’t extend their hands to. I am not one of those people, but unfortunately I am but one unknown citizen in a country of millions.
Is this right? No. Is it done on a daily basis? Yes! So do your part to deter it.
Geraldo Rivera may have dismally failed at making his best point resonate with America and succeeded beautifully at looking like an asshole. Yet, the valid point buried deep within his not-so-friendly tirade on Fox and Friends is no less true. Hatred, injustice, and stereotypes plague our world and we must always fight against it. But when possible, we must also prevent ourselves from validating and perpetuating any of these sentiments. No matter how ignorant and unfounded they may be.
“It’s not who you are that defines you, it’s what you do.”
P.S. My deepest and most sincere condolences to the Martin family. May justice be served!
December 19, 2011
Once upon a time, I urged you to await my mischievous rhyme,
Caution to the wise, my word is real and by it I shall always abide,
So today I spew my wretched verses, now that redemption is mine
Your name remains anonymous, your spirit no longer at my side.
The mark of the beast is 6-6-6, but on this auspicious night the mark is 233
A time of blissful indulgence, a pitch-dark night without a star-lit portrait
Rather than damn me for eternity, you cast me from limbo and set me free.
Sleepless nights soaked in agony, they wither away at the scent of your hair
An enchanting fume, a smog of toxin, a stealthy, silent killer with no remorse
Tossing and turning, panting and sighing, we catapult towards imminent despair.
One hand grabs firmly, the other loosely, a wretched dream has run its course
With a half-packed suitcase in each hand, you bid farewell with the most stoic stare
Calmly and unfazed, I control the tremor and open the door you did not use to enter
She tries to look back for one final picture, but I shut the door and avoid the snare
Her face is an apparition, devoid of all reality, but the thick wrinkles in every smile
The slant of her eyes, windows of her soul, are second only to the slant of her guile
But in memory of my innocence, I will forgive, and not allow her lies to further defile
Today I bury the haunted memories of room 233
November 24, 2011
Currently Listening To: Headlines by Drake
Today I am thankful to those selfless people who have laughed with me during the ups and have stood at my side during the downs. These people have demonstrated an abundance of love, loyalty, and service to me:
To Mommy and Daddy: From before my conception, you wanted and loved me. From conception on, you have selflessly devoted your life to my continued success and loved me second to no one. You are the only ones in this world who truly care about my whereabouts and whether I come home or not. When I seek the world for unconditional love, my findings always bring me back to you. The way you give and expect nothing in return is baffling and mind-boggling. I simply cannot articulate the feeling this inspires. I love you and I would give my life for you.
To My Close Friends: Y’all have had my back every time I needed you. Ranging from dodging fists of fury, to venting about emotionally-taxing issues, to just catching a drink after a long day. You have shown me more service and loyalty than anyone else. Believe me, LML doesn’t forget who was behind him when stuff went down. Likewise, he won’t forget when stuff goes up.
To Myself: You are obtuse and highly idealistic. You commit to implausible causes and then pay the price. But you have a resilience that is unparalleled. You have a learning curve, which although moving at the speed of snail, is consistently getting better. You learn from your mistakes and move on accordingly. In short, thank you for loving yourself enough to not quit. Thank you for remaining loyal to your dreams.
This Thanksgiving I implore that we take time to reflect and ponder about the people who validate this day. The ones who safeguard our best interests and invariably stand at our side. During the good, the bad, and the ugly. Think not about how they can serve you. Think about how you can reciprocate and ultimately multiply their breathtaking input of love.
In my experience, you will truly serve only what you love. Because as the prophet says, service is love made visible. If you love friends, you will serve your friends. If you love community, you will serve your community. If you love money, you will serve your money. And if you love only yourself, you will serve only yourself. And you will have only yourself.
So no more winning. Instead, try to love others and serve others and hopefully find those who love and serve you in return.
September 11, 2011
9/11 is a day indelibly tarnished with the stain of hatred and vengeance of a select, morally bankrupt few. 9/11 is the day, forever living in infamy, to remember all those who died and shed their lives.
However, 9/11 is also the day I say Happy Birthday to my mentor, my friend, and my superhero. My father.
As another sun rises over the anniversary of this tragic day, I ponder. How many fathers never came home to tuck in their children that day? I cringe imagining how many fathers never even met their children. I shudder at the thought of having to deal with that loss. I could not have withstood it. Of that I’m certain. This is why in the mist of the nation-wide mourning, I feel it proper and one-hundred percent appropriate to plaster the biggest smile on my face and be grateful for what I did not lose on that day:
Daddy, the love I have for you is unrivaled, unparalleled, and untouchable. You have shown me through words and actions what it is to be a just and caring man. You have shown me what dedication and commitment truly entails. You have both pushed and inspired me to be the best that I can be. Anything and everything I am today, and will ever become, is because of your persistent sacrifices and the undying embers of your love.
Since I have use of reason, you have been my hero and idol. There is nothing that I would not do for you, old man. Perhaps right now I have nothing more than these simple, cliché words to offer to you. But keep in mind that the day will come when I will be in the position to return in spades all that you have done. Give me time, and you will see. I will be your cane when you drag your feet. I will be your eyes when you see blurry. I will be at your side when your world seemingly fades before you. My love, however, will never fade away. It will inexorably burn for all time.
My heart goes out to all those who lost a loved one on that ghastly day. You are in my prayers.
September 3, 2011
Across the years I’ve heard a silly expression, uttered mostly by relationship-aggrieved individuals: “If he (or she) doesn’t want you, then he (or she) doesn’t deserve you.” While I do grasp what they mean, personally, I find that saying to be so far from the truth. Just because someone doesn’t want you doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of you, or any less valuable. It simply means that person doesn’t want YOU. Simple as that.
For whatever reason, that person isn’t into you, or refuses to be into you. But why does that have to be a bad thing?
For those of you musing over this question, listen to Unanswered Prayers by Garth Brooks. IT IS AMAZING. More importantly, it speaks the truth about how things happen for a specific reason and how “losing” one opportunity can open the door for an even better one. But say you don’t buy into that cliché mumbo jumbo, or have good taste in music. Fine. Think about it more in the way my father once put it to me.
“Be thankful to the woman who refuses to give you a chance; she just did you the biggest favor or your life. Imagine, if she had strung you along. Picture the hurt.”
By refusing your advances, that person is actually doing you a great service. He or she is saving you the agony of trying to be with someone who isn’t compatible with you in the most important area, mutuality of feelings. Without this mutuality, nothing can be built, or created. So please, do yourselves a favor, and thank the hell out of them.
I’m not talking out of cynicism or pent-up anger. I’m merely talking out of experience as the guy who at times pursued with all his heart, only to be refused (not in vain). As a result, my humble advice is to go after the one you care about with all that you have. But when it is evident that the other side won’t come around, fold and realize one beautiful truth.
“Sometimes God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
June 29, 2011
Currently Listening To: Crush by David A.
Time away from home has done me wonders. It has relaxed my mind, granting me the opportunity to confront and tame dormant emotions. More importantly, it has given me the chance to ponder and reflect upon where I am, where I should be, and where I’m going in life. And my realization has been that there can be no more “trying” to succeed or “attempting” to better myself. No, the time for obscuring my present with considerations of how life could be better has officially expired. The time of walking backwards towards the sun is now, and forever, over.
I categorically refuse to dog-paddle like a good portion of my generation in a cesspool of malarkey (a nicer way of saying bullshit) and excuses. My life has been radiantly flashing right before my eyes for a while now, so I’m going to hurl myself right into the center of the limelight, where I have always had the potential, and God-given right, to be. I’m going to slow down the clock and carefully pour more grains of sand into the hour glass of time. Yet, to do all this, I must understand the limits of my mortality, embrace my infinite number of faults, and accept the good and bad of my past, specifically the latter. To be as great as I can be, I must succeed in realizing all three.
Perfection is not what I seek. By nature and philosophically speaking, we, human beings, are imperfect. Self-improvement and realization of my potential is what I aspire to. I, like everyone else, possess the ability to maximize my abilities and position myself as closely as humanly possible to the unattainable notion of perfection. I may never get to the place I adamantly yearn to arrive at, but in the process of trying to I will undoubtedly become greater than if I had not partaken in the quest. This I can accept and live with. However, there is one clear certitude. I will not have life define me by the conformity and timidness of my pondering; rather, I will have it highlight me by the audacity and boldness of my actions.
June 6, 2011
Currently Listening To: Written In Stars by Tenie Tempah (feat. Eric Turner).
On June 1, 2011, I had the distinct honor of coming back to the Ron Brown Program as a proud and successful product of its ample opportunities and address the sophomores and juniors aspiring to get into law school. I think I surprised a few people with my insight and ability to speak in public. However, I surprised myself even more, but not with the profundity or eloquence of my words. Ironically, what surprised me was the self-recognition of my current accomplishments. I graduated undergrad Magna Cum Laude, got into a good law school with a great scholarship, got deeply involved with the creation of a non-profit organization, and now had the honor of imparting mentoring words in the minds of those who also foster the dream of becoming lawyers.
Before uttering my first word to the audience, I uttered these words to myself, “Look at how far you’ve come, you’re on the brink of success and with no wings to fly back.”
After speaking extensively from the heart, someone asked me. “If you could go back in time (one year back) what would you do different when preparing for the law school application process?” My answer in a nutshell. “I would rid myself of all the petty distractions that one year ago temporarily deterred me from my end goal. I would not wait until the last minute to give it my all. Most importantly, I would remind myself that, while a horde of underprivileged individuals across the country have a million excuses for failing, I have absolutely no excuse for not succeeding…There are no excuses for anyone here today!”
The nodding heads of all those in attendance reassured me that I struck the right chord. Through experience derived from my perseverance I had left the indelible mark I sought to leave. Once a full-time student, I was now a part-time teacher. Wow!
My once fragmented world begins to seamlessly converge before my eyes and paves in gold the path of what is to come.