“Only Bad Religion Could Have Me Feeling The Way I Do…”

04.05.14 4 years ago 21 Comments

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The hardest lesson to accept is coming to grips with a lot of what happens in life is beyond my control.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

It’s semi-hypocritical in explaining how The Serenity Prayer is working in my life. The things I cannot alter I still believe I can. The things within my power occasionally mask themselves as a Rubik’s Cube of deterrents. So needless to say, having the wisdom to decipher between the two is an on-going process. The last six months, in particular since the start of 2014, have been a melting pot of emotions ranging from excitement and productivity to frustration and fear.

As has been tradition for 28 years, music provided the escape.

Frank Ocean’s “Bad Religion” performance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in July 2012 remains bone-chilling. It was raw. Gritty. Eccentric. Vulnerable. Most of all, it was transparent, driven by Ocean’s admission his first love was a man earlier the same month. Frank needed that moment, from both album promotion and spiritual clarity perspectives.

Gay or not, who Frank chose to lay down with or develop feelings for was irrelevant. I didn’t care then and I damn sure don’t care now. Outside of quality music, Frank’s debt to the listening public was nonexistent. What the moment represented, however, was an artist grappling his own insecurities and talents. Without the assistance of background vocalists or aesthetically pleasing dance moves, Frank was the focal point.

Stripped of any sense of insurance, he told his story, his way, on his own dime on one of the biggest late night platforms in America. And I’m still not sure if the totality of the stage is truly appreciated practically two years later.

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“Everybody’s at war with different things…I’m at war with my own heart sometimes.”

If any quote embodies who I believe I am as of this very moment, credit ‘Pac. Someone asked me the other day what the next 10 years of life had in store. My initial answer was “I don’t know.” Giving myself a few moments to gather thoughts, nevertheless, the answer was simple: Whatever allows for a sense of authentic fulfillment and the confirmation that when my final breath exhales, I know I will have left the world better by not only words I string together, but the improvement in someone else’s life. I don’t want to be forgotten. I’m pretty sure no one does.

We’re all operating on borrowed time to begin with. Why not allow something bigger than yourself to live longer than you or I can ever fathom? Why not – as perhaps the most amazing person I’ve ever met once told me – “live the life you want to lead?”

These thoughts sound admirable radiating from a computer screen. They presumably resonate from a guy who has his ducks in a row. That’s not exactly the case. The journey for self-enlightenment is the tug of war Pac referenced or what Frank put on front street on Fallon. And I’d be lying to say the threat of the unknown isn’t intimidating because of the people lost (or will be lost) along the way. Or the opportunities that never arose. Or the beliefs that often times contradict each other.

Much like Frank two summers ago before his first nationally televised performance, facing whatever form of “Bad Religion” head-on is the only foolproof method to emerge from the abyss of pain, stresses and demons with a stronger foundation and renewed sense of purpose.

Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.

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