Note: The following piece is not an attempt at journalism, but rather it is a social commentary from my heart.
This topic is something I've been mulling over and pondering for a while now, and in light of the tragic death of Whitney Houston being reported on, speculated on, and bantered about by innumerable media outlets, talkshow heavyweights and political reporters speculating on everything from cause of death to how Ms. Houston lived her life, raised her child or had gotten on or fallen off the proverbial wagon with regards to what her friend and mentor Clive Davis calls her "searing battles" with substance abuse, it all seems rather minuscule when put alongside the broader-reaching question of what brings such a seeming astronomically successful human being to the depths of despair and depression after being so widely thought by both her friends and colleagues to be a kindhearted, hard-working, faithful and driven person. I have my theories.
By all accounts, (and I speak from a generally publicized notion of who she was), Whitney Houston was a singer nearly all of her life who grew up singing classical gospel songs and her local Baptist church in Newark, New Jersey. She had a gift. One of grace, most would say and for those of us who heard her, it was a gift of great melodic power (as many of us heard in her 1991 rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner at that year's Super Bowl). She she was signed to a record label in her late teens and groomed for superstardom. She sang the most beautifully crafted songs, wore the most regal gowns to gala events, and she seemed to speak with a poise and grace that truly seemed the mark of a humble human being who was always grateful and thankful to her loved ones and her creator at every turn. She had hit after hit, number one after number one. The world tours came and as a byproduct, international stardom was only inevitable.
Whitney would go on to success after success in music, films and the like and she would be marketed as a pristine, angelic, beautiful songbird--the best of our time many would say. She would get married to fellow R&B singer Bobby Brown and the couple would welcome their daughter Bobbi Kristina into the world. But somewhere along the way, the couple, once so happy, would be reported as having had domestic disputes where drugs and alcohol were suspect as somehow involved. The press would quickly gravitate toward the scandal of it all of how this same pristine angel of a person could have fallen so far from the grace and honor of her multiplatinum, award-winning triumphs. Critics would say, "How could this be?" "We never saw this coming." "How?"
Whitney Houston would make a comeback in in the late 90s after divorcing Bobby Brown. She looked strong by many accounts and would top the charts once again. Still, somehow, some way, scandal continued to follow her. Whether being caught with marijuana at an airport or reports of cocaine or pills being found, the specter of tragedy waiting to happen was always there haunting and taunting her. Until just last year, we heard that she had checked herself back into a drug rehab facility. I, like I'm sure many others, had hoped that she would recover and make a return to her former glory. But it was just not to be the case as our last image of Ms. Houston was the terrifying thought of the beloved star unconscious in a bathtub after telling her bodyguard that she was tired.
I make this point to speculate as to what might have made Whitney Houston so tired, so depressed and so weathered. She had money. She had fame. She had both the ability and the people around her to obtain whatever she wanted: houses, cars, clothing, housekeepers, accountants, attorneys, doctors. She almost literally had the world at her beckoning. But she was still tired. Why?
You might often think, as have I, that when celebrities complain of being depressed, being lonely, when their relationships fail or when they resort to drugs or alcohol to fill their time, that these people are messed up, spoiled, and ungrateful for everything they've been given, for with their fame has afforded them. But I see another side.
An Imagining of a Life of Fame
Picture a life in which you're known by nearly everyone on the planet. You walk outside to just walk your dog and you're suddenly mobbed by fans asking for autographs. You meet a stranger in an elevator who screams with uncontrollable glee at the very sight of you and proceeds to stalk you for the next month. So you move to a secret, undisclosed location--one camouflaged by trees and secret roads. You can only grocery shop in the middle of the night when no one is around and even then you must be sure to disguise yourself.
When you're not being mobbed and life is good, you're in the studio making an album and all the while you read in the press that everyone is expecting this next album to be a smash because you are "The Voice," the best singer a generation has known. But it's been years and you're tired and being tired you take a sleeping pill or two to calm yourself from all the pressure. But soon the pills wear off and you need something stronger, so you find another pill and it works for a while until it doesn't and you need more just to get the same effect as before. This cycle continues for years. You can stand it anymore! You just want to live a semi-normal life, but a normal life is impossible, because you, my friend are famous the world over with everyone expecting greatness from you, kindness from you, and autograph, a picture. It becomes difficult to even find solitude in a bathroom stall without someone wanting to talk to you or sign a piece of paper.
Another two years later you finally get off of your tour and all your want to do is rest, but the studio is calling. You're behind schedule on your four album deal with your record label. They need another album, interview, photoshoot, etc. You do all of that and you're still tired all the time so you take one more dose of pills and this time a drink or two or three to relax but you forgot that you can't drink with those pills in your system and you the combination stops your heart. You've now become a statistical example of another celebrity dead before the age of 50 due to a tragic drug and alcohol-related demise.
So the next time you wish to be famous, think on these things and get back to me. Maybe it's time our culture of celebrity idol worship comes to an end.
I have very little to say to this that has not already been said by the people in the video. I have actually heard about the mistreatment of those with disabilities in many countries (Including the horrid practice of putting disabled family members under the floorboards of one's house because of a cultural stigma that says, "God has punished us with a disabled child."And so in many cultures like in the video, the rights of those living with (and not dying of) disabilities, continues to be a struggle.
As I also have to fight occasionally for handicapped access in public forums (Even with the current legal protections in the U.S., I find the occasional gaping hole in transportation to a job, a broken elevator in a train station that doesn't ever seem to get repaired quickly enough, etc.) But mine are apparently least when compared to many of the world's people who live with physical disabilities and put along side those of the Bolivian people shown here.
So as a bit of a karmic service to these people, I ask that you show extreme kindness to those like the people here who may have a hardship of any kind -- plain and unfettered kindness is all any person every really wants mostly. And of course in doing this, I ask that you roll strong and... roll on!
These videos present arguments against a strictly Republican Jesus. I have often said that the idea that Jesus would be pro-laissez-faire capitalism, would cheer the death penalty (as seen in recent 2011 presidential debates) and would be against taxing the very rich to balance wealth equality while also being against a free public health care option, is not only ludicrous, but to my mind, flies in the face of who the Biblical Jesus actually was according to Scripture.
Bear in mind that there may be a few subtle points that may be exaggerated for emphasis, but overall, one can't help agreeing with most of these points as presented in the videos below.
Assessment videos for yourself and is always, I hope that you continue to roll on!
I am pleased to announce to you the I have reached Level 2 Seller status on Fiverr.com, Writing, editing, advice and creative and even photo art, it's all there at fiverr.com/mikeywrites0010. Go and check it out and see if there's anything I can do for you.
Hi, folks! Your wheelchair philosopher has discovered that Doc Brown and Marty McFly's favorite fictional levitating means of transport the classic movie Back to the Future Part II could well be an actual reality in actual 2015! Now if they only made hovering wheelchairs...
The following interview was conducted after Dr. Wayne Dyer had received controversial alternative treatment for and healing of his leukemia by John of God. He speaks of his belief that illness may often be the body's way of healing itself and that how we react to that illness often has a direct effect and result that we ourselves help to create. Also Dr. Dyer speaks to a controversial idea that our highest selves are completely aligned with God. He quotes Jesus in the Gospel of John when Jesus was about the stoned for blasphemy. Jesus replies with a statement that troubles many Christians: "Is it not written in your law that I said said you are gods?" (John 10-34-36 referring to Psalm 82's granting authority to make rulings on God's behalf) While clearly it can be assumed that Jesus probably didn't suggest that we are each the sole ruler of the Universe, but to say that we are vehicles and vessels for God to do His work when we are tuned in to His will and in these moments where we are exactly aligned with God, we are "gods" having authority (in that we take on God-same traits) so to speak, and that in these moments, our will and the will of God are one will.
Until next time, I hope that you find this video inspiring, no matter your beliefs or lack thereof and that you continue with purpose and meaning to… roll on!
In this clip related to the same-sex marriage debate, Republican Congresswoman Maureen Walsh of Washington State gives a heartfelt and emotional plea to her contemporaries in the matter of the right of personal freedom of choice regarding whom an individual loves and the way he or she expresses that love.
I invite you to examine your conscience and ask yourself: Does anyone have the right to make personal decisions for you-- especially if those decisions are consensual with another person? Should another person's beliefs about your personal decisions be able to block or lessen your ability to make them? Should anyone, for instance, in a church or political party you don't belong to, (or even those you do belong to) have any right to deny you the right to be married outside of your church or political party? The answer is very likely easy for you to figure out no matter where your stand on this issue.
Now I ask you to watch this video and decide for yourself if the Congresswoman's stance is compatible with your beliefs in your personal freedom and as always, I invite you to… roll on!
Have you ever wished that you could make or do something with the thoughts that you think in a single moment? Well, as you'll see in this video, there are certain ways of being in terms of a state of mind that can help manifest very often the desires of our hearts. While religion has taught many of us that with faith we will get the desires of our hearts, most of us feel intuitively that we can't just wish ourselves successful or rich or confident. But as Dr. Wayne Dyer posits, it might be possible if we would, as the apostle Paul would say, set our minds on the things above. If you watch this video clip, you may notice that these techniques seem to be common sense. They are.
Until the next post, my good fellows and ladies… I bid you roll on!
As of Tuesday, California's ban on same-sex marriage (Proposition 8) has been declared unconstitutional by the U.S Supreme Court. In light of this, I felt it only right and propitious that I revisit the topic. At the time I that I wrote it, New York State has just legalized same-sex marriage. I smell a trend.
Read with care and discernment and as always... roll on!
HBO's new documentary miniseries On Freddie Roach explores the mind and myth behind the man behind the man who in under ten years' time has taken the boxing world to new plateaus Manny Pacquiao-a man who has conquered seven weight classes and even more world titles. But alongside "Pac-Man" is is Freddie Roach who with over 200 lifetime fights has taken his boxing IQ into the history books and his brain into a daily head-to-head battle with Parkinson's disease.
This series takes the viewer into the mind of Roach. The epic and the average in Freddie show up unapologetic at once. He is frail, but focused, finicky, but, as viewers are granted a unique look at his training style and his home life. a more tender side creeps out of the man. From stories of his father's abuse of him and his brothers as well as his mother to an interesting dynamic between Roach and his fighters such as Amir Khan and, of course the Filipino firecracker that is Manny Pacquiao.
HBO is currently running the first two episodes on its on-demand channel. Don't miss this unique look into the life of the man voted Trainer of the Year by boxing's elite on several occasions as told behind the quiet yet powerful backdrop of a disability.
On Freddie Roach airs Fridays at 9:30 pm Eastern/6:30 pm Pacific on HBO.
Dr. Richard Jackson sits down with PBS talkshow host Tavis Smiley to discuss his new PBS series and companion book, Designing heathy Communities. Topics discussed include combating obesity and type II diabetes and the reorganization of the economic structure of the average American neighborhood so as to be more welcoming of a diverse mix of income levels, talents and cultures as opposed to the current seeming gentrification between and within rich, poor and middle-class communities.
Dr. Jackson's comments come on the heels of months of talk about the 1% of wealthy Americans and their inordinate amount of control over the finances of the nation and also seems to readdress the tumult of 2011's Occupy Movement in which two sides seemed, as they do now, diametrically opposed. Namely, they seem to speak to either a sense of helplessness with regard to those speaking on behalf of the poor and equally a sense of annoyance on the part of those in the financial sector with one side saying, "Give us a break!" and the other shouting back snidely, "Get a job!" But where does the truth lie? Surely it is not say that those in big business can just stop what they're doing. But nor is it to say that those picketing and protesting can simply go back to the status quo when they feel that status quo is broken.
Could Dr. Jackson's idea of instituting a collective restructuring of America's neighborhoods work? Is it possible for someone who makes $20,000 a year to live next to someone who makes $50,000 a year or someone who makes $1 million a year to live next to someone who makes $80,000 a year?
I've often asked myself if I won the lottery, not only what I would do with the money, but also but where would I live? Would I have to move to a more affluent neighborhood? Would I even want to do that? Would I have to hide my wealth for the sake of maintaining friendships with middle-class neighbors and thus, would it force me to move?
The old adage that money changes people comes to mind and I can't help but see an obvious, even self-evident truth in that statement. Because I see in the news, the media and even everyday social interactions--how separate we make ourselves from others: the poor people live here, the rich there, Blacks here, Whites there, etc. I see on Facebook how so many people tend to 'friend" mostly people of their own culture or background in greater numbers than those who do otherwise. But on the other hand, I see in places like New York City and San Francisco a particular embracing of cultural mixing that just seems natural to those who choose to accept it and then I think to myself, "Why can't there be more of this? "Why can't this be easier to do?"
There is a Hindu proverb that says that when I can see myself in another, I cease to have enemies. And of course we in the West know the Judeo-Christian ethic of "Love your neighbor as yourself." I can only think that this basic law of humanity would be far easier to accomplish if we embrace the idea of having people of diverse incomes, ethnicities and cultures living together in close quarters--because while we tend to fear that which we don't know or understand, we tend to embrace that which we do know and understand; how much harder would it be to be prejudiced against or to have a prejudice against someone if we knew that person as the person who lives next to us, with whom we share our food, our parties and our lives? It is clearly something consider.
Until next time… may you live in peace with your neighbor and, as always, may you roll on!
After the big Florida Primary victory this past Tuesday, Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney told CNN the following on Wednesday in reference to his plans for the U.S. economy:
"I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich. They're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of America, the 90 to 95% of Americans who right now are struggling."
"We have a very ample safety net and we can talk about whether it needs to be strengthened or whether there are holes in it. But we have food stamps, we have Medicaid, we have housing vouchers, we have programs to help the poor," Romney said. "But the middle-income Americans, they're the folks that are really struggling right now."
Does Mr. Romney Suggest that the very poor don't struggle. I doubt he meant to say that, but I would venture to think he, a multi-millionaire, might be out of touch with the true magnitude of being poor in the wealthiest nation on Earth.
Will Smith speaks to achieving your goals in this near ten minute video of various interview clips from YouTube.
I believe what Will says with every fiber of who I am. I believe that every thought we has human beings think is a physical reality and electrochemical impulse and reaction in the brain that when focused upon can motivate any human being to any level of expertise, success etc. if you saw in the video, if you were really paying attention, you noticed Will speaking of things, ideas, inventions and such being unrealistic in their time.
Those of us 30 years or older remember a time before the Internet. There was a time when every letter sent was handwritten or typewritten and mailed to a physical address over many miles. Penpals as we called them, would write letters over a number weeks, months and even years to people whom they might never have met or someone they had met only once or a handful of times and it would take weeks for say, a person in the Philippines to correspond with the person in New York as letters, cards and gifts may have taken several weeks to arrive at the receiver's home. Yet today, we have email, Facebook, text messaging--all of which would have been considered voodoo to someone living in the 70s. Yet we do have all of these because somebody first thought of these being possible.
You have to believe that everything you dream is possible or why are you dreaming? You must believe the "delusion" as Will Smith so pointedly called it. The Wright brothers had to believe that man could fly. Mark Zuckerberg had to believe that Facebook was something people wanted before he could make it happen. Steve Jobs had to believe that our music, movies, documents, etc. (and he had to believe after being fired from the company he started in his 30s and try and retry ideas into his 40s and 50s). He had to have faith enough to believe that all this could be stored together in a virtual space no bigger than the size of a sticky notepad. They each believed and therefore they saw it, whatever it was as fact and could not be dissuaded.
In life there's often so much to dissuade us--news, tragedy, negative people and even our parents may tell us we can't do something--and while those people might be right in many cases, there are still so many cases in which they couldn't have been more wrong. Einstein was dyslexic. Michael Jordan was cut from his junior high basketball team and Babe Ruth, home run king, also led his league in strikeouts for a long time. And finally my own life, The woman who was my student aide when I was 13 went back to school in middle age and began the bulk of her teaching career in her 50s, and, as I have stated in previous writings, in my personal life, I spent many years single until I adopted this philosophy myself and within two years I found my fiancée.
So I say believe. Believe when no one else believes. You are the only one has to and and you are the only one with whom your dream lives and dies with in many cases. And while you may have flaws, may not be as talented as the person next to you, you may not have as seasoned a resume or be as good looking. But when you know who you are, the flaws, the talents, habits bad and good, I believe as Will Smith does, that destiny moves toward all of us in such moments.
May you have these moments continually and may you continue to roll on!