Possess nothing, cling to nothing. Love is space.
Let this be a letter to myself. Everyday I whisper to myself, “Andre, I love you. No matter what happens, I love you!” It’s been my daily mantra for awhile. It keeps me centered, and calms that fire inside of me. There’s a saying, “A monster is supposed to be a monster. But if a monster fights it’s monster state, that’s morals.” We’re all monsters inside. We are all the villain in somebody’s story, and for valid reasons. We all possess darkness and light, yin and yang. But we can always choose to grow, be better, do better.
“You’ll never amount to anything beyond working at Hardee’s for the rest of your life.” -High School Guidance Counselor “Andre is an idiot.” -Fellow IB Classmates arguing with half the school telling them I was a genius “Voted Most Likely to Get Shot before 21” -Middle School Superlatives “The only reason you set and break records in fitness is because you have a small frame.” -Nearly EVERY PERSON that’s ever hated on the fact that I would dominate in fitness from elementary school through post college “We’ve created a monster.” -Former High School Classmates “Andre is crazy.” -Williamsburg Stalkers that have been slandering me for years “I thought you were smarter than that.” -A few people close to my heart every time I do something that’s best for me
There’s been so much hate through the years that at times it’s been hard to hold myself together. And these are just a few of the things said to and about me. But there’s also been a lot of positives.
“We’ve never seen anyone perform so well at math puzzles in our lives.” -Faculty at Moton Elementary
“I think you just broke the world record.” -My college trainer when I was being punished for showing up late
“Stay strong.” -My IB Theory of Knowledge Teacher
“You understand the topic better than any student I’ve ever taught in all my years of teaching.” -My College Greek and Roman Civilization Professor that taught at 6 colleges
“You have a new sound in you. You’re going to change the world.” -Speakers at several events that have called me out of crowds randomly
It’s hard. I think I’ve grown accustom to fighting for everything all my life. It’s been a constant struggle. It makes sense though. My mother fought with her parents. We were homeless for years. So many father’s have come and gone. My mom lost her job for reporting a co-worker choking a child while working as a parole officer. And they covered up the crime and paid off witnesses. Cops were setting up kids, and my mom wanted to do what’s right. She’s struggled all her life. Life isn’t fair. It never is. Hurts get projected, trauma boils, the cycle continues.
But again, no matter what happens in my life, “I love you Andre.” Sometimes I feel like my body is an ocean. And all I’m trying to do is calm the waves. I’m so fiery 🔥.
In elementary school I was voted student of the month 5 times in one year once. I tested at a sophomore college math level in 5th grade. I was performing at an International Master Pro level in Chess around 6th grade. I won a count the jelly beans in the jar contest four times in a row, twice on the exact number. At Moton Elementary, the school paid for me to have a private tutor, and put me in the math club, same thing happened at Smith Elementary a few years later. I went undefeated at the math game 24 for an entire year, only losing one time in my life to a classmate named Zach, by one point, at Jones Magnet Middle School, in which the entire class conspired to mess me up just to see me lose. I could’ve won a world title later on had they not tried to screw me. But I let the anxiety get to my head and I lost focus. I set school records in sit ups and pull ups at nearly every school I’ve been to. This doesn’t even include some of the other crazy fitness records. I’ve had faculty argue about whether to skip me up a grade or to hold me back. I’ve had faculty argue about whether to keep me in the IB Program or kick me out. My life has never been normal. And it’s hard. Is it any surprise that I utterly failed my Algebra 2/Trig class the same year I got a perfect score on the SOL? Yet, I’m NOT special!
None of this even matters.
A quote often attributed to Albert Einstein, although it has unknown origins, goes as saying, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”
“I love you Andre!”
See, no matter what happens, the good, the bad, the ugly, it doesn’t actually matter. I can’t let circumstances get to me. No matter how bad things get, I will always overcome. Why? Because I love you Andre! Is it any wonder that when my high school cross country coach posed the challenge of seeing who could do sit ups the longest without stopping, the school faculty literally had to kick me out of the gymnasium, because I would die before quitting. I’d gotten into the 800s, and I was still going, even while crying.
Is it any surprise that my trainer in college said I broke the world record when he was trying to punish me by making me do 10,000 advanced Turkish get ups non-stop with both legs together? I don’t even think I cared about the record. It was more so to prove a point. It was to prove a point that I would not allow anyone to abuse me, I would not allow anyone to break me. I finished those 10,000 with perfect form in under 10 minutes. Again, I would die before I quit.
And maybe that’s why in blog post one my body finally just gave out. I was fighting for so long. The mentality of not breaking was so prevalent that I thought I could hold the strength to endure, but I was wrong. It took a single meeting with an amazing lady for me to finally break. Yet it echoes a valuable lesson in self love. It’s okay to not be strong. It’s okay to break. It’s okay to feel, to sit with the pain, the random moments of shaking…to nurture it, and to let it heal.
We can’t control things. Hell, I can’t even control my own life. I am not in control. While my life may seem like it’s falling apart, I’m rising inside. Rising itself is a ghastly risk. For all life is an act of faith and an act of gamble. With every step taken, it’s an act of faith, because we don’t know if the floor is going to give under our feet. The moment one takes a journey, what an act of faith. The moment one enters into any kind of interaction with others, it’s an act of faith. But it’s the most powerful thing! Surrender! And love is an act of surrender.
And I sit in silence, calmly, patiently, listening to my innermost being, giving myself space. Because I love you Andre! Even if every part of me is taken away. Even if everything seems to fly out of control. I release. And in this space, there is flow. The course of wisdom, what’s really sensible is to let go, is to commit oneself, to give oneself up, and that’s quite mad! So we come up with the strange conclusion that in madness lies sanity. It doesn’t matter what I’ve done, who I’ve been, where I’ve come from.
It’s in the gift of freedom, in letting go, wanting pure joy for all, including ourselves, that things begin to come back together. So yeah, while I’ve fallen, cried, been torn inside time and time again, I’ll always come back stronger, better, and more loving. For I cannot possess the world, but I pour back into it, in flow.
I love you; Every single one of you! Thanks for reading.