Experience Dedication

We see Y’all. I’m with Y’all.

— Talib Kweli
  • I woke up right on time yesterday.

  • It was the first night of my New York trip that I had gotten a decent night’s sleep

  • My back wasn’t stiff

  • Everything fit in my suitcase without much trouble

  • My flight was still on time despite the previous day’s airport drama.

  • The front desk lady’s New York accent and banter

  • The bite in the cold morning air

  • The relative quiet of the 7 am Saturday morning streets in NoMad

  • The smile of my Lyft driver

  • The lightning charger in the back of his car

  • The ease of the ride to JFK

  • The ease of the TSA pre-check line

  • The pleasantness, consideration, and care of every black Airport worker I encountered including the one who informed me my coat had escaped from its tie to my backpack

  • The short line at Shake Shack

  • The bacon, egg, and cheese from Shake Shack

  • The Shake Shack employee who showed up right on time with the fresh bottled water

  • The baby’s face that lit up when she saw mine

  • The free wifi in JFK

  • The chance to complete my Saturday Morning music rituals

  • This week’s Release Radar playlist

  • The ease of getting on the plane

  • The smile of the first flight attendant that greeted us on the plane

  • The possibility that the middle seat might be open next to me

  • The actuality that it remained so

  • The kindness of strangers helping each other get their bags into the bins

  • My wife’s excitement conveyed in a text that I was on my way home

  • The fruit and cheese plate

  • T-mobile’s complimentary hour of in-flight wi-fi

  • Staying focused long enough to finish Feel Free finally

  • appletree and why you cannot touch my hair in Eve L. Ewing’s Electric Arches

  • Catching large parts of Mission Impossible: Fallout on other passengers’ screens during the flight

  • Gaining about 40 degrees in my travels from NYC to LA

  • The sun

  • The smile and accent of my Lyft driver home

  • Welcome home hugs and kisses

  • An extremely clean house

  • Fried wontons

  • Conversations about nothing and everything unencumbered by the distractions of devices

  • Making it to the gym despite an utter lack of motivation

  • The Jay-Z and Britney Spears dominant soundtrack to my Aaptiv arms day workout

  • The swell of my arms afterward

  • The fourth quarter of the Warriors-Celtics game

  • Leslie Jones Upper East Side rap on SNL

  • James McAvoy losing it during the N’awlins skit on SNL

  • Not remembering when I fell asleep but knowing it was likely in mid-conversation with Tiffany, our hands or feet touching for the first time in a week

The last essay in Zadie Smith’s Feel Free is titled, Joy. In Joy, Smith considers the difference between Joy and pleasure. She finds happiness in many things throughout the day but only sees a few moments in her life as ones of pure joy. It was a timely read as I prepared to write this response to Tiffany’s Twitter question:


It’s like this. The only expectations I have for most days is that I will be the best person I can be within its confines. I find pleasure in many things big and small (many, many little things) throughout every day starting with the small delight that I awoke once again. I have an extremely short memory for frustrations, challenges, and setbacks. I rarely recognize, let alone acknowledge, aggression as it happens which, I imagine, naturally deflates most of those situations. I assume just about everyone I meet has a harder day than I do. I’m comfortable with change and prone to adaptation. Things that could be better that I can influence, I do. Things I know that are beyond me at that moment don’t get dwelled upon.

I enjoy this life.

This isn’t all gravy. Throughout the many conversations I’ve had with others who’ve taken the FiveThirtyEight personality quiz, I’ve come to realize that my relationship with anger (or lack thereof) has created a big gap in my ability to empathize effectively with those who do experience frustration or anger more easily. It is a struggle for me to connect with something in myself that feels similar. I can appreciate why someone else is angry. I’ve learned to accept the idea that anger is a valid response to a situation but, it’s foreign to me.

I love to argue over ideas and ways of being. I share this trait with my mother. We also both have a propensity for being passionate in our position without realizing that passion can be seen as an attack until it’s too late. That we don’t take a heated debate as personal doesn’t mean others operate in the same fashion.

My forgetfulness for “bad things” makes it hard for me to be a good critic or judge of particulars. I take what I need and leave the rest. This can be annoying for those who want a more technical accounting of my feedback. I’m sorry, though, I have no similar mental checklist for this as I do for those pleasures and pleasantries noted above.

In the end, though, I operate from a place of realistic optimism. I know bad things happen. I’m aware of how much a struggle being on this mortal plane can be but, every day, it’s just as likely things go right as the other way. Nothing’s a certainty, but, hey, we may overcome.


And that’s enough to put a smile on my face, a flutter in my heart, a sparkle in my eyes, a dip in my dimples, and a dance in my step.


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