Saturday, June 4, 2011

More than a Survivor

"The key to happiness is the decision to be happy."- Marianne Williamson

This post is about playing offense. And how it beats playing defense. See, in life, there is always something to complain about. Always something being done to you. Be it familial, social, financial, or otherwise, we are all at the mercy of forces beyond our control. But these mere circumstances don't have to be roadblocks to finding joy. In fact, happiness isn't a journey, a struggle or a dream. It's a choice. 

Which is really what this whole "human being" thing is about: choices. You make them. You live with them. You learn from them. Sure, your job is awful. The pay is low and the work is dull. But what choices led you there? What choices can you make to make it better? How can you play offense?  As Oprah said in her final episode, "Nobody but you is responsible for your life. You are responsible for the energy that you create for yourself[...]."

Being the victim, the one who life happens to, that's a tough road. You may win sometimes, but you'll do a lot of losing. And that's less than you deserve. When do we become the creators of our own destinies? That's what I try to accomplish here on this blog, on social media networks and in my life. I don't want to get stuck on seeking retribution and justice for everyone who has oppressed, abused or mistreated me. I want to be a cultivator of that which is beautiful in this world. I consider myself a curator of the divine and sublime, with its many faces. And you can be that too. Maybe you already are. I know that I am not alone. I see curators every day. 

There are women telling their own stories and creating their own platforms, wiping the patriarchal fog from the glass through which so many of us see the world. People of the African diaspora are finding their voices and sharing it like never before. Through social media networks like Tumblr, curators and cultivators connect and create communities centered around their interests. What's mainstream is becoming more and more irrelevant. There are young professionals, creatives, and thinkers carving their own lanes in their personal and professional lives, and everyone else just has to catch up.

I curate by devoting my attention to all the good stuff that is being created by good people. I cultivate it by supporting it, sharing it and making its impact in my life meaningful. It can be a song, kind words, an essay, an image, a film. It can be funny, sad, scientific, or abstract. It can make you think. Make you angry, make you look at yourself in the mirror. But my ultimate goal is always to find out how we can be better. How do we make ourselves better? 

Time and time again, the answer to that question starts with a decision: the decision to choose empowerment in spite of circumstances. Once we define ourselves for ourselves, we reclaim our identities from those who once told us that we weren't worthy. We are indeed worthy. That is not disputable. The dispute is within ourselves. I can let instances of victimization define me, or I can relegate them to the fringes of my personal narrative. They can become opportunities for growth. Opportunities to get that much closer to defining my life's purpose. Yea, I have been victimized by society, family members, friends, employers and so on. As we all have. But I am not a victim. I am not even a survivor. I am more than that. I am a thriver.


  1. Found you by a Tweet from 50somethingClara Freeman.
    What a profound and powerful inspirational and exquisite as the image shown, Sunset. You speak to the soul...thanks for lifting mine. Pat

  2. Thank you for reading! I'm glad that these words helped someone. It's therapeutic for me to write them; it's extra icing on the cake when people read them and are inspired.