Job’s Plea

Hold me down,
Hold me down,
when I’m not around.
When I’m caught up and bound, hold me down.
When hope is unwound, hold me down.
When love can’t be found, hold me down.
Hold me down,
Hold me down,
when I can’t conceive the dawn, hold me down
When darkness pursues me like a hound, hold me down.
When I’m far from sacred ground, hold me down.
Hold me down when my screams do not make a sound.
Hold me down,
Hold me down,
When I’m six feet down…
 

Struggling with Demons

Struggling with demons

We often see the challenges in our lives, more specifically the demons we struggle against in our lives as some external force or situation. Meaning that we perceive that some sort of external remedy exists which can be a balm for our affliction. Ergo, often if we are depressed we think that changing our situation will bring happiness or perhaps we are led to look for happiness in others. Many look for some new love interest because of the excitement it brings, when in fact doing so is like using duct tape to repair structural damage in your home. And truth be told, the cost of most “temporary fixes” is a far higher than we first believed. But our demons, if we allow them, will always drive us to self medicate. Some turn to drugs, some to unwise relationships or other outlets. But some turn to sharing, and doing so via the pen. Working through our actualization, IMO is not something to take out on those around me. It’s simply not fair. And let’s be clear, I don’t like pain any more than anyone else. And battling one’s own demons is painful. But I’d rather suffer through, than to cause harm to any innocent. I know that often over the last 30 years our culture has taught us that we need to do what makes us happy, to pursue our own truth. But I for one really question that. Every action in the universe has a cost. A price must be paid for every decision we act upon. It may not be us paying the fare, but someone will. Be it our children, spouse, significant other, coworkers, family and friends. To allow a dysfunction within me to wreak havoc in the world around me is not what I want my life to be about. Granted, even still, being the flawed human that I am, my issues transcend my waking reality and seep out into the world around me. But for the purposes of this commentary, I’m stating that I strive every day, regardless of how I might be feeling on the inside, to be a blessing to others. And in turning my focus so, I slowly choke the life out of my own demons.

My book “Sacrifices” speaks to the sacrifices many of our ancestors have made on our behalf. Respect and Blessings to the ancestors.

Consider.

Consider two truths…
 
First, the most dangerous thing in the world is a closed mind. Secondly, though we crave certainty, we know it is an illusion, for there is no certainty in the flesh, never was, never will be. These two facts are the bookends of fear.
 
We close our minds when we crave certainty, but it is a fool’s quest. Better to learn how to press on despite our fears. For if we give into fear and close our own minds, be become the very terror we fear.
 
In my faith tradition, we call overcoming this fear, “walking by faith”. For if I never face my fears, am never uncomfortable, then surely there is a question of whether I am truly exercising my faith, and whether the “truth” does indeed live within me.

Why It Matters

If I could somehow share the knowing deep inside of me, that you might see, even for a moment, the true weight of things, not a word would I need to share. But since I cannot, I must ask that you take a minute to consider these things.

While I am not foolish enough to place total faith in any man or woman, I have all the faith in the world in the message within me. The one passed down through the ages, across races, social economic statuses and across the waters. For I have a hope inside of me that transcends every barrier, even life. So while I am not attesting to the effectiveness of one party’s policies versus the next, I can testify that policies of division ring hollow against the policies of inclusiveness and unity. In the past both parties have spent time on the wrong side of this thing we call social evolution, this flattening of the old paradigm of privileges of birth, into a new one of equal opportunities regardless of one’s station when born.

However, reactionary forces, both at home and abroad, would have us believe that salvation lies in reclaiming old ways, but even a cursory review of history exposes the fallacy in such thinking. From tribes, to monarchies, to oligarchies, to republics, to democracies to something we have never seen before, society has and will evolve. And those societies that did not evolve no longer exist. Much like we as a species have survived and moved to the top of the food chain through evolution and adaptation, so too must we as a people. We must trust in the ageless underlying principles regarding the equality of peoples, even above the dictates of any text trapped in time. Any document, be it the Bible, the Constitution or whatever, at best serve as the beginning, not the end of understanding.

And if these thoughts do not move you to action, please consider that in today’s societies, you often have not, because you ask not. Our elected officials are very aware of which communities turn out to vote and those which do not. An active, engaged citizenry often runs contrary to their quest to remain employed and to retain of the benefits therein. Communities that don’t vote, don’t count as much, literally. So, before you curse the name of politicians everywhere, please ask yourself what would you do, if you had a job which paid you, even if you only showed up to work every other November?

Lastly, for those of us who best respond to anger and fear, have you ever considered what pollsters mean by the term “likely voters”? Well, in plain English, it means that when they approximate the likely outcome of an election, pollsters discount the contribution of minorities, poor people and young voters. Pollsters do this because historical data strongly suggests that you won’t bother to go vote. So, if it doesn’t bother you that they count you as 1/2 or 2/3 of a person, then by all means, please stay home and don’t vote. If you avoid going to the ballot box often enough, maybe someday you won’t have to worry about people like me bugging you to exercise your right to vote.

Peace,

Alan Jones

P.S. Please Register to vote and confirm your polling location.

 

The Cost

Sacrifices.

“Everything has a price. 

The universe is resolved in this.”

I’ve come to a certain point in my life where I’ve settled upon several truths. Any who’ve read my book Sacrifices, is aware of the particular truth quoted above. I came to this realization as I reflected upon my own life. I’ve strived in my life to fulfill my responsibilities as a son, brother, father, husband and friend. Being raised in a very pragmatic household I went to school for the purpose of getting a good job (though I should note that the most important thing my parents gave me were the value they placed on education, and their unmatched work ethic). So I, like so many of us did, selected my major based on how much it paid. And I am blessed to say, that in that regard it’s been more rewarding than I could have dared to hope (though one must temper this against what little black boys dare to hope and dream, but that’s another post for another day).

But as the leading quote suggests, every choice we make in life comes at a cost. These costs may literally be denoted in money and time, but quite often cost are measured in lost opportunities, the cost of which we may never know. The the blessings of my chosen profession, consulting, have too, come at a price.

I started traveling for work in the spring of 1996, thus this season marks the twenty-second-year of my consulting life, and most of it (all but two assignments) has been out of town.

Thus, for over twenty years, I’ve spent most of my days away from home. That and all it means are the most obvious cost of a life lived out of a suitcase. Being away from my family, and the repercussions there of, are the single biggest tickets item on my account. Yes, being away from the wife and kids (older kids, with the youngest being in high school when I hit the road), was largely the known cost, but when you’re only home on weekends, you tend to over compensate (and arguably, rightly so), by making yourself super available to your immediate family, at the price of spending less time with other family (siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts & uncles). Over the years, that brings on feelings of loss, which can never be reclaimed. Growing up, I’d just assumed that we’d all just always be together. As fully functioning adults, I don’t know that anyone’s life meets that expectation, with most of us constricting our social and familia network over the  years. But when you’re literally a thousand miles away, I believe there is exponential effect upon this modern reality.

The second price of life on the road, particularly project work, is how it can diminish or at the very least defers one’s Dream. Yes, Dream, that big dream, the one you feel like you were born with. This phenomenon is not exclusive to those who’ve chosen to be road warriors. Many, of us were taught to be practical when pursuing our life’s work. But where many professions allow one to quietly plan out and develop one’s big Dream, consulting life, allows only the most dedicated to entertain such thoughts. So, while consulting life can help one reach their financial goals better than many professions, it can be a jealous mistress, which demands the vast majority of your waking hours and much of what energy you thought you might have after work or through the weekends, assuming you aren’t working weekends, which is so often the case. Conversely, many jobs, don’t pay enough to cover the life you have, much less the life you want chasing that Dream.

Lastly, are the unknown costs. The costs of paths not taken are ethereal in nature, like ghosts not fully formed, and yet always in the corner of our eye, calling out, “What if…”. But to allow one’s gaze to linger too long upon what may have been, is to lose sight on what is, and the blessings therein.

In my book, Sacrifices, the story of four sisters, born of a minister father and civil rights leader, who called into service to safeguard this world we love, must too reconcile their own hopes and dreams versus the calling to serve humanity which has been put upon them. In particular one of the sisters, Sarah, longs to leave Atlanta and the south, for pretty much anywhere else. With her gifts, she could easily leave and put all the hurt and pain behind her. Given all that’s happened, no one could blame her, if she left and never came back. And yet, she cannot abandon her sisters in the struggle.

As with many speculative fiction works, Sacrifices is a platform to discuss such things, in a form which is enjoyable, but can also transform how you see the world, if you allow it to do so.

Please, check out my book, Sacrifices, which is on sell through Monday, for just $0.99 cents, that’s right, $0.99 cents.