Success: The Weed That Grew on the Highway



Picture this: You walk down a busy highway (preferably when it’s traffic free) and you see a weed that has managed to grow through a crack of graphite. Instantly, you find yourself wondering, “how in the world could this have happened? Damn this depression!” Everything you know, especially if you grew up in a family of “green thumbs,” now tells you to rip up every weed that you see.  You hear your family members chanting in unison, “Weeds are pestilence, resilient growth, and they kill the good flowers and vegetation by over crowding and sucking up all of the nutrients!” So, what does this mean?

Well, funny enough, I’m going to use this analogy for a couple of different things in this posting, but mainly, my personal transition to New York City. See, I am a first-generation college student: I didn’t grow up in the best neighborhood, I wasn’t raised by the “nuclear family,” and I didn’t grow up with what I wanted. However, this is no pity story; you have to remember I’m focusing on the beauty of the weed that would have been plucked before laying the foundation your everyday convenience. Despite not having all of these things, I did grow up with an example of hard work, passion, dedication, and love. Again, this isn’t about shining the spotlight on all of the oppressed kids that made it. Instead, this posting is about something more, the definition of “Success.”

Every where in the big apple you can count on being bombarded with symbols of luxury and success. Whether it’s the clicking of the freshly polished and perfectly manicured suits and shoes of the Wall Street yuppies, or the 6-inch pencil stilettos and silk blouses cleverly doused with Chanel No.5, flirting with your nostrils as you walk down Fashion Ave.  Among all of this, it’s difficult not to be inspired or whisked away into daydreams of your own prosperity. However, as a young man that has been thrown in the mix of things, what does success really mean?

When growing up, I always  envisioned myself as a corporate attorney that would have well over 30 pairs of suits, an unlimited assortment of shoes, ties, cufflinks, cars, and tons of women to choose from (yeah, I said it-ain’t it sad? ). However, as my future would have it, I would trade the courtroom for a stage to become an actor and dancer, use my looks to become an aspiring model, and use my quill to flirt with destiny through the bleeding of ebony on ivory. As a young graduate coming from a prestigious university, things were supposed to come easy, or were they?

Never having someone to explain to me that graduating from college, although an impressive feat in my family and community, was actually only the beginning left me disappointed. Instead of being flowered with security, I actually realized that the “security” captured in cafeteria food that I steadily complained about in college, was ideal. The high expectations-I’m sure no one expected to be searching for a job in one of the hardest recessions since the Great Depression- now seem foolish and I begin to question every choice that I have ever made until now.  Suddenly, it all makes sense.

Success is not in walking down the cobblestone streets of Wall Street where I currently work or in the magazines that I anxiously flip through to see my fashion spread. It’s in the one thing that I didn’t take care of when planning for my future, my heart and mind. Success, like happiness, is a state of mind or mental clarity that comes with the quickening pace of excitement at the idea of the future. We get so used to not being plucked up instantly, that we forget where the testimony of success began. We forget about the tears that were cried in hoping for that scholarship to come through, the reality that college and all that encompassed those four years was accomplished on a dream and a prayer. Most importantly, we forget that the little boy or little girl that dared to dream of being more than his/her surroundings got you this far. That’s right folks, we forget.

So, this leads me to my point in today’s blog.  Success is not in living absentmindedly and comfortably in the space of luxury. It’s NEVER FORGETTING about the happiness that you felt even in moments of despair or tribulation, but finding a way to bring that happiness everywhere with you. It’s never letting happiness be solely captured in one moment, but continuously nourished through your own memories. It’s remember that everything we become is the physical manifestation of those memories both good and bad, foolish and serious, or heartbreaking and life touching.

So everyone, I’d like to pose this question to you. When you think of your future success, what do you promise to remember and to never forget?

For me, it’s the fondest memory that I have of security, waking up in the middle of the night when my mother was out working the late shift and being lulled to sleep by her lingering fragrance on her pillow  knowing, even if she couldn’t be there to say it, that everything was going to be alright.

As you go through your week pondering what success means to you, remember, if it’s worth your eyes, remember to cc: Keith.

Waiting for you words,