For the love of Bernie.

Bernie…or shrimp ‘cuz he looks kinda like a shrimp, doesn’t he? He is just a little golf ball head (“GB head” to be precise). This little orange feline has been the CATalyst of the emotional undertow that has slowly been sucking me under lately. To even think that when I finally sat down to document my feelings in this moment of clarity, that Bernie (my cat) was the genesis of the thought process is still a bit bewildering. For anyone who knows Berns, they know that entrapped in that dusty tangerine fur lies an incredible little spirit. If there were ever an ambassador for the feline race, Berns is the face. Now…before this gets misconstrued as a love story about a furry friend gone away, it is not (at least not entirely). The story that has been a parallel in my physical and emotional life has been perfectly embodied as the recent events that occurred to the aforementioned feline of mine.

My mans Berns, shattered his femur this weekend, and while I don’t feel the need to dive much into the obvious emotions that come with this, I wanted to try and live the moment through the eyes of the one who was hurting. Over 24 hours passed before we found Bernie in the driveway. As is customary, Bernie likes to wait under the cars, wisely dodging the everlasting heatwave that global warming is DEF NOT causing (wink wink). When he sees his mother or myself, he likes to roll on the rocks – adding to the permanent layer of dirt he likes to carry with him. As Andie reaches down to pick him up, Bernie remains still, raising only his head. It was such a small change but the fear manifested within me. I know my boy and something was off. Bernie is dirty and his greetings require acquiring more dirt; while it annoys me that he is a dirt bag, I wouldn’t change it for the world. As it would turn out his femur was shattered beyond repair. It was the moments between the discovery of the injury, to the physical outcome that caught my attention.

There are qualities in everyone that are magnetic; transcending all prejudices and preconceived notions, these qualities are life changing and vital to the life I know I want to experience. The one that seems to be resonating to me more than ever throughout this whole process is a four letter word (although not my favorite one). LOVE (n): an intense feeling of deep passion. You don’t have to identify with any organization or belief to know that love is the most powerful force in the universe (all you Science nerds who wanna argue – you’re probably right). The interesting observation I have about said emotion, is that I have a very deep need to understand it. There is a part of me that has yet to fully understand that love consists of ups and downs; the accepting of the downs as a part of the process is where my frustration has been hung up. I have this innate desire to dissect and understand everything, even if it is impossible to understand. It is fair to say I have spent over a week wondering why the fuck I am in a funk, instead of accepting the funk and pressing forward. You might be wondering how this relates to the cat…I assure you that while it is a detour, it will come out where it needs to. The subject of the quality of love I am writing about is a wonderful woman in my life. We all have this person in our lives, the nurturer, the comforter, the better half, in my instance she goes by Andie.

To say that Bernie is my cat isn’t a lie, however it isn’t the entire truth. Bernie was the second addition to the family, out of a necessity to have a feline who wouldn’t be so obsessed with yours truly (Fiddy is my dude)! Bernie was a stray who followed us home from a walk last year. We gave him some kibble and the rest was history. We took him to get his chip scanned, there was no chip…and the lost and found pages online found no claimants. It was not long before he found himself “long pawed” out (think Superman in flight) above our heads at night. Bernie would quickly identify as Andie’s boy.

From the minute that Bernie met Andie there was a connection. Andie isn’t the most emotionally charged individual so the way she responded to the news of Bernie blew me away. The impending reality of the thousands of dollars in doctors visits, surgeries, and medications, for the dusty coated stray from the library set in between the tears. I selfishly thought there was no way we would go into debt to fix this (speaking from a financial viewpoint), so when I looked to Andie for the answers there was no hesitation that our wounded comrade was worth every dollar. There are seldom moments that Andie is the one with emotional convictions, this was a major exception. There was no misunderstanding how she felt about her furry lil man. It didn’t matter what it took, she was going to get that boy back in the house…cuddling, licking, and whining, as Berns does so well!

Remember that love thing I was talking about? This is the moment that really brought this all home. At the core of everything, I believe we all want to be loved, through our brokenness, our flaws, our dirty exteriors, and even financial burdens. Lord knows that I have certainly had my share of difficulties far beyond a broken leg. I have stolen, I have lied, I had basically given up on myself and done a tremendous job of trying to push others away. I have been the Bernie of this story, helpless and broken, just in need of someone to love me through it. We all have the power to be the Andie in this story…so fully capable of loving with zero reservations, and zero conditions. We don’t have to be Neil DeGrasse Tyson, to see that a simple act of loving kindness can pull even the most lost souls out of a dark place.

I am blessed to be loved by my family, my girlfriend, my cats, and maybe a few other people. I am one of many people whose past actions are anything but deserving of love, yet somehow I am showered in it today. The Beatles once said “all you need is love”, the Bible refers to God as love, love is a universal language that knows no boundaries and overpowers all forces. It is not easy at times, and loving can be quite emotionally taxing, yet love never runs out. It is my hope that you might find love to give and receive today. You might just help someone get through a funk. Find a Bernie today and remind them that despite their dirty coat, busted teeth, and broken leg, that they are worth being loved.

They don’t want to see you win.

As I begin to write, I find myself face to face with a self defeating whisper narrating my every thought. It never fails that when I seek inspiration, I encounter this wall of nothingness waving a finger at me; a metaphorical Dikembe Mutombo reminding me that this is not my house. This gargantuan of an entity never leaves me, we have become friends, yet I do not know what to call him. Throughout my day it lurks in the shadows waiting for the opportunity to call a misdirection play and further push me away from the real task at hand. I find myself frustrated, in a constant state of confusion, wondering how I can want something so much yet find the goal so unattainable. 

Some can call it anxiety, others  see it as an evil spirit: regardless, both share a common characteristic of negative energy born from fear. Fear can often be seen as boot rattling tension associated with slasher films, spiders, or clowns. While this remains true, fear is also the liar that reminds me of how stupid my words are, how pointless my job is, how alone I am, or how much of a screw up I am. Fear wants me to stay stuck, never willing to endure a little bit of the discomfort required to push on to the next level of greatness. Fear is the enemy who knows my intricacies better than my own mother, it desires failure disguised as a state of comfort and complacency. Most importantly, fear is not my friend, and after years and years I have invited him into my house, fed him the greatest of feasts and allowed him to wear my best pair of sneakers before welcoming him back. I have given this thing a place to call home, completely unaware that I was pushing myself further and further away from my dreams. 

If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.

-Zig Ziglar

As I stumble through this post, I am realizing a few things: I am not going to win a Pulitzer prize but I am making a very important step towards actually writing. I came into this “project” with no real end game in mind. I knew I wanted to write, and I knew that I had enough life experience to help someone else along the way. What I didn’t know is how in the hell I would actually do it, let alone do it in a manner that anyone would want to read. Here is where the title comes to life…

THE ART OF FAILURE 

When I look at my past, it is easy to identify with all the things I did wrong, the screw ups, the legal matters, the divorce, and the abandonment of my own family and kids. These are all topics that are larger than life affiliated with the FAILURE club. I am not up for father of the year, I am not being honored as a saint, I have been a criminal, and a dropout. I however, see all this as an opportunity to create something amazing. The hurt, a sunrise yellow to illuminate the horizon; the shame, sapphire blue for the calming landscape of the ocean; disappointment, a lively shade of jade that brings life in the form of palmetto canopies. The canvas of life is constructed of the past “failures”. Without these experiences, I am unable to paint the picture of hope and success that the downtrodden can relate to. 

To fail implies that I neglect to do something. For anyone who knows me, I don’t simply neglect to do something I want to do. I will find a way to get it done. I will refuse to believe the lies that I am defined by my past. I will continue to press forward towards the goal in which I have been called to achieve by the master of the universe. Fear is not welcome here and I fully expect success to be on display when my canvas has been completed and adorned in heavens hallways. 

I hope that as I continue on this journey that I might encourage one person to reject the lie that has kept you back from reaching your true potential. 

“They don’t want to see you win, so we are going to win!”

-Dj Khaled