Friday will end my first term here at the academy. My second one will begin January 12th. I am not returning to America during the interval, but instead looking for work and a reason to rest because, dammit, a brother is tired!
I am typing right now with the most mucous throat I’ve ever had while singing. Deep in my heart I feel that someone should at least say, “Oh Tommy, your voice sounds a mess; let’s allow you rest for a while.” Instead, I have been plowing away and been given slight remedies to rectify the gravel-type sound that ha plagued my voice for the past week. At the present moment I am uncomfortable. I cannot believe that I went onstage last night, sang “This Christmas” and then segued into Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” (a song that is in no shape way or form made for me to sing). I’m having mini melt-downs every single morning when I wake up because I have to figure out if my voice is going to come back clear, or if I’ll continue sounding like someone is crushing rocks in my larynx. Yes, I understand that your worst day should always be your best day, but this has never happened to me before and I’m not sure if I’m handling the situation properly. I feel awful and I really wish I didn’t have to perform while awful. But a former boss of mine said it best: smile through the pain! So I will.
My classmates and I get along very well. This week, though I love many of them, they are stressing me out with their constant check-ups. I understand that we all want to care about and for one another, but sometimes, alone time (along with QUIET time) is more valuable than any other time one would need. Most people are simply afraid to be alone with themselves for too long, and I notice that in many of my classmates. It’s as if many of us do not want to just sit mull over who we are and how to make ourselves better. I hope we al find ways to “get better” for our next term Why is getting to know ourselves such a big fear? Is it that we are afraid to try and conquer ourselves, or have we given up on progress?
I have been doing a lot of thinking about home lately and the things that are happening there (that I’m not apart of). My family is still dysfunctional (as most REAL families are). My grandmother is now in a nursing home, and her sanity is going. There is a discussion concerning my oldest uncle right now where they are considering amputating his leg because of his diabetes. A younger uncle who has been recently released from prison is not doing a good job at reinstating himself in the family. Lastly, my mother (the rock of a woman she is) still manages to support me while I’m here, keep me updated on the family, and raise my little brother and sister in the best way she knows how. And then there’s the whole Obama brilliance going on right now which, to be honest, doesn’t have much of an effect on me over here. I kind of wish I was home to participate in a lot of the goings-on, but that would be stress on top of stress and here, I am totally happy; frustrated at times with myself and sometimes others, but mostly happy.
And here is the crux of what has been going on with me today. I have been thinking about my happiness too much since I’ve been here. What constitutes happiness? How do I maintain it? Am I lying to myself when I say that I’ve found it? Or am I just not willing to accept the truth: that I have actually found it?
All my life I feel as if I’ve worked hard, (yes, I’ve had my lazy moments but who hasn’t?), but when I was at home, I was slowly beginning to condition myself to the fact that excelling too much was a bad thing. So I would only push myself to an extent that wasn’t intimidating to others. I reflect on moments from middle school when I would get an A on an assignment, but to be cool and accepted, I would “help” someone with their math quiz or something. That was my way of giving back to the community because it would keep people from calling me names or looking down on me. Then I got older and realized that people still have negative shit to say about you regardless of your intellect or lack of it. So I began to thrust myself into my work even more. And it was then that I realized my race to discover happiness was more about me than anybody else. Therefore I needed to take the thought of others out of the equation and push myself. But of course self, motivation only goes so far. So I turned to the women in my life who have always gotten me through. And they have been more than supportive. But what of the men in my life? How were they helping me, if even?
Well, my father was the example of a life wasted (in my eyes he had the potential to be so much more than he became) therefore I used him as an example of what not to be. But I did take away certain aspects from him, like his voice, his looks, and his loveable outgoing spirit. My uncles, though encouraging, weren’t the greatest of role models either, and at a young age, I realized I didn’t want to be like them, so I didn’t try. My maternal grandfather, though far away always showed me love and I took that idea with me everywhere I traveled. But the most effective men in my life were those who believed in me and weren’t afraid of helping me go further.
In high school, I was sent to a guidance counsellor when I had thoughts of suicide and he and I forged a friendship that I still value to this day. He was more of a father to me than anyone had ever been in my life and he pushed me to be myself in all aspects of my life. To this day that’s what I’ve worked hard to do. The next person I met was an accidental friend who ended up becoming almost a brother/ almost a soul mate. I’ve never had a male friend who wasn’t afraid of saying “Go for it!” and he did so without the negative, contradictory, behind-the-back commentary for which many are known. I haven’t allowed that friendship to die. Lastly, I was introduced to a professor in my last year who exemplified triumph to me. His wisdom about life was (and still is) a treasure that I appreciate. And if anyone is responsible for getting me to this place I’m in (in my life), it is him (combined with the efforts of the women, of course).
After looking back on these people, who I miss and love and appreciate, I evaluate my happiness. It wasn’t my own initially. The funny thing is…in a way, my happiness doesn’t belong to me. It kinda belongs to everyone who helped me get to where I am. And I don’t mind sharing it with the ones who’ve always believed in me and helped me. Most of them know exactly who they are because I always tell them that I love them. For those who don’t know…trust me…when I want you to know, you will.