you are those around you

It’s funny, but I can specifically remember the day my dad told me something along the lines of…

“One day you’ll wake up, and you’re suddenly an adult, and moments you felt would last forever, have slowly faded into memories.”

Boy, was he right. Just like anything as a kid relating to my parents, I never believed him. My mom would say it too. I can remember her sitting down and chatting with me, when suddenly an old memory would pop into her head. I will never forget her gaze when telling those stories and reminiscing on a time in her life when she was a different person. Maybe kids do that to you. I don’t know. I don’t have any, but being around the youth forces you to remember those days as a child and the innocence you once felt in the world.

Yesterday, I sat down at lunch to read and ended up taking a look around for a little while. An elderly woman came into the restaurant and gave everyone the most magnificent smile I had ever seen. We made eye contact later on as she sat down to eat and she gave yet, another amazing smile to me! It was magical.

But, before she sat down, this woman noticed a table with two adults and 4–5 children all running around eating their lunch and laughing the day away. I will never forget the way she looked at these two parents and the kids, almost as if she had stared into a mirror and transported back in time. Sometimes, when you take the time to really look around and observe people, amazing things appear. This was one of those moments.

Lately, as I’ve been trying to connect my “art” with my “why” and my purpose in life, I have come to the realization that we are those around us. As humans, we have a tendency to feel that those around us are nothing like us and do not understand the daily trials and troubles we face. So, we often complain or repress our angers and fears without understanding that we are the same species.

Sure, we may have different interests and goals and dreams, but we have many of the same basic needs, wants and desires. When we acknowledge this and learn from one another, instead of bickering and comparing political parties and views and blah blah blah, well, then we grow. Eventually, this growth will lead to prosperity, which will lead us into the future and into a better world.

As many of my friends will tell you, I listen to a lot of J. Cole, a rapper/writer/producer from Fayettville, North Carolina. As time has progressed, J. Cole has been spreading the message of love, respect and unity throughout the community and to his avid listeners. He went on David Letterman and performed one of the most gripping performances in that show’s history (just watch Letterman’s reaction at the end):

Whoa. Supposedly, J. Cole went into this performance with zero intention of performing this song. He had anticipated promoting 2014 Forest Hills Drive, and instead, wrote the verse to this before his performance, and absolutely knocked it out of the park. Are J. Cole’s vocals technically “perfect”? Hell no. But, that’s what makes it so special. He puts himself out there with such raw emotion and passion, it’s honestly incredible to watch. On a prime time late show, no less!

Legendary.

When you listen to his lyrics about oppression and Obama and the lack of change brought from his 2008 slogan, it really makes me think that this guy right here, gets it. Cole understands his voice and the power he has, while using it to spread a message and open people’s minds to the fact that although the U.S.A. is a great country, we still have such a long way to go. I’m not talking about math scores and science tests, I’m talking about how we treat people, man. How do we treat people each and every day? Black, white, yellow, brown — you name it. It doesn’t matter!

After a crazy election and a dissonance between American citizens I had never quite seen before, I took some time to sit back and observe. Sure, Donald Trump is going to be our President and people are upset about it, but people are upset about a lot of things. Most of them aren’t doing shit about it, but complaining. You look at someone like J. Cole who takes time to enter tough communities, have difficult conversations, travel to his fans’ homes and his own to listen to his unreleased album, spend time with the President talking about issues within the black community, sing a song like that on national television, and I start to wonder how this guy isn’t up for some type of humanitarian award? Does that matter? I guess not, but damn, talk about someone actually doing something with the talents they have and the hard work they put in.

So, the next time you are in a public space, put your damn phone down. Take a look around and observe the humans around you. What are they doing? What are they thinking? What is their story? Are they happy? Sad? Angry?

If we want to grow as a country, we must all step up our emotional intelligence levels. Empathy can help bridge the gap between understanding and confusion, and I believe we all possess this quality.

Dig deep.

Take the journey into your “why” and notice the importance of human empathy and understanding — it will change your life. There are so many people in this world and too many go through their lives with constant feelings of emptiness and sadness. If we all take a little more time to look each other in the eye and get to know a person as a human being, then we are deliberately taking steps to become better people — and a better nation. We are all that powerful, don’t forget that. It starts with you.

Like J. Cole said,

“The only real revolution happens right inside of you.”