Thursday, August 29, 2013
In Pursuit of Happiness - A nonconvential spin on Martin Luther King's Dream
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Like many of you, I found myself engrossed in yesterday's media coverage of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. I listened intently to the online coverage and watched my Twitter Timeline come alive with prideful commentary, intellectual critiques, and hopeful wishes to see continue progress realized. I was moved by the day's poignant speeches - some looking back, touching on the cultural significance of the historic event, some calling for present day action and some hopeful about what a future steeped in equal rights could mean for us all.
Yet, my most profound reaction to yesterday's events came during a moment of quiet reflection as I sat in my bed listening to a rebroadcast of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech. I've both heard and read this speech many times before and each time I was moved by the powerful, inspiring message of civic engagement, forward mobilization, and equality. It was these messages of collective action that have historically captured my attention; but yesterday, for the first time, I found myself focusing on the underlying sentiment of the speech instead of the obvious call to action.
What I heard in the speech yesterday, perhaps because at this point in my life I'm in desperate need of positive messages, was an affirmation of love, acceptance, forgiveness, and hope and I was inspired in a profoundly personal way. I have been on a very deliberate journey over the last 18 months to fulfill my own personal pursuit of happiness. It started one morning when the weight of my unhappiness was so suffocating and overbearing that for the sake of my sanity, I proactively sought the help of a professional. Since that time, therapy has guided me in and out of some very uncomfortable places. It has forced me to take an honest look at myself - strengths, weaknesses, flaws and all - and investigate both the inadvertent and complicit ways that I have (and continue to) obstruct my own happiness.
What has materialized from this in-depth personal investigation, is that I lack (for reasons I am still addressing in therapy) some of the basic building blocks of happiness, which, incidentally include accepting myself, forgiving myself, loving myself, and allowing myself to be hopeful. Over the years I've overcompensated and compartmentalized in certain areas of my life, trying hard to avoid these difficult truths. In absence of true self-acceptance, I constructed a rational alternative of thinking objectively, living realistically, striving for perfection, refusing to be vulnerable, and perfecting my ability to be completely and utterly self-sufficient.
However, ask me to dream, big or small, and I'm at a complete loss.
I started this blog a couple months ago as a project of catharsis. It is meant to be a vehicle to start wholly expressing and accepting who I am (an insecure writer, lacking formal education, prone to moments of brilliance and a deep desire to someday be recognized for my greatness). I started this blog to pursue my happiness and learn how to dream. I started this blog because, ultimately, if you really want to change your life, you have to start somewhere, right?
Yesterday, Martin Luther King, Jr. posthumously reminded me that dreaming (in his case, dreaming big) and pursuing happiness are noble, worthwhile endeavors that can have enormous cascading affects. Yesterday, Essence Debates (@Essence_Debates) asked their loyal followers: in what ways are you living MLK's dream? Today, my answer is to believe I'm worthy of having a dream.
Follow me @msbhappy (because I'm more fun on Twitter).