Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Power of Emotion...

"I'm not saying that I'm gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world"
-Tupac Shakur

A few years ago, maybe a little longer, a friend and I were having one of many conversations that we often had about hip-hop. The subject of this conversation: Tupac. Without giving too much away, my friend a skinny blonde from the the suburbs: a Tupac fanatic; and myself a one-time inner-city knuckle head: 'Pac detractor (and not because I was Biggie fan - I preferred Nas in those years).

Now, although I was not a Tupac fan, I ignorantly thought that my friend - based on her skin-tone and suburban upbringing - was completely dead to rights in her Tupac super-fandom. Tupac albums, books and other miscellaneous merchandise were all chalked up as filler and fluff in my mind for a hip-hop fan from the outskirts of the culture's nucleus, who clung on to one of it's biggest stars to prove that she was "down". How ignorant was I.

In professing my very foolish thoughts and theories about the laws of race, hip-hop and geographic interplay, my friend very simply, very calmly smashed my ignorance in one breath, stating: "Emotion is universal." Going on to explain that it was the feeling, the struggle, the pain, the joys that Mr. Shakur expressed in his music were universal emotions that could be related and manifested in the lives of a machine-shop worker, musician, school teacher or soccer mom. These feelings were not affectations, but real emotions that stream genuinely from the hearts and souls of these and all people regardless of their occupation, geographic location, race or age.

With those very simple words, the way that I have seen the world from that point on have been forever changed...

So today, this conversation, this moment of enlightenment was revisited as I watched the 2008 documentary, "Slingshot Hip Hop", a story described as being: "The stories of young Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank and inside Israel as they discover Hip Hop and employ it as a tool to surmount divisions imposed by occupation and poverty. From internal checkpoints and Separation Walls to gender norms and generational differences, this is the story of young people crossing the borders that separate them."

Now, the film as described does interest me, but that delineation is not what brought me back to the day that my friend taught me about the universal power of emotion; it was in actually watching the film, that reignited this moment. It was seeing in 2 youthful Palestinian men, appearing to be in their mid-twenties, working through their struggle to find their place in the world, amidst conditions and a sociopolitical climate that many of us here in the US may never know, a glimmer of hope in hip hop. And, even more pronounced, as the 2 wrote rhymes and composed and freestyled lyrics along to the beats that played on their simple radio/cd player in a small, disorderly bedroom like many nascent emcees do here in the U.S. (whether that room be somewhere in suburban cul-de-sac or an inner-city housing project) was the all too familiar backdrop - a Tupac poster. As these young men rapped of revolution, justice, struggle, war and peace I couldn't help but be taken by the power that the presence of Tupac's image and past revolutionary pronouncements had/has on these men and their struggle to be recognized in a world that renders them invisible... Much as it did to Tupac in his early years, and for that matter, hip hop as a whole.

The power of emotion is universal; there are no barriers that can blockade, stopgap or by any other means hinder feeling. Despite our external differences, no matter how many or little they may be in number, the fact that we all feel and emote the same, regardless and perhaps even - in spite of those differences - brings us all, the entire human race, that much closer.

My life has changed since learning the power of emotion...

For the better.

It's something to think about.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

You Gotta Believe....

Here's our first video post. It's a compilation of very wise words spoken over time by a man that we at the High 5 Club respect and hold in high regard. All credit and respect is due to "themindguru" on youtube and anyone else who has taken time to compile this piece. The High 5 Club did not create this, but we'd be amiss not to share it. Please enjoy, "Will's Wisdom".

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Take the Bitter with the Sweet...

Quick Post: Have you ever thought about how some people will jump for joy and praise themselves when things are going good, but then blame the world and scream "why me?" when things are bad? Personal opinion: We all need to learn to take the bitter with the sweet; learning to take the good with the bad is the definition of balance. Let's appreciate our experiences, no matter what they may be and allow them to make better people of us. In accordance with the saying , "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" I believe that it's imperative that instead of complaining and grimacing them away, we recognize the bitter moments in our lives as periods of conditioning; obstacles - like any traditional workout - set before us in order to make us stronger.

Side note: I just read a post stating that, "Banana's Make You Happy". The post went on to speak about bananas' serotonin content and how that chemical affects peoples moods and overall happiness. This makes me wonder if people who eat bananas everyday are happier than those who don't? I bring this up only because, A) I eat bananas at least once every day and have had the opportunity to have experiences with several people who are either allergic, or just prefer not to eat bananas that - in my own personal opinion, have more reason, more material reasons at least - to be happier than I am, but aren't. B) It seems as if those same non-banana eating friends are usually credit-hounds who aren't willing to take the good with the bad, the bitter with the sweet, those that, whether they're well to do, or in a bad way, are most in need of balance - spiritual if nothing else.
But I digress...

Peace, High 5

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It Takes a Lifetime to Live a Life...

"Maxima Enim... Patientia Virtus"
Latin: Patience is the Strongest Virtue

As you sit here reading this post, dark letters illuminated by the brightened backdrop of your computer, pda, tablet or other miscellaneous screen, you have there before you - if you care to realize - a reminder of just how quickly life moves. Information, that if you were let's say - at least 10, before 1996 - that it would have taken you hours to dig through encyclopedic volumes of reference books now is now just a couple of mouse clicks away, or as is more common today, sitting there in the palm of your hand readily accessible because... "you have an app for that".
Knowing that life moves at the speed of information in our current era can often times be daunting. We start feel pressured, feel as if we're left behind and so, we pressure others. It seems as if sometimes that the walls are closing in and we're left in the middle to perish before all four of them. As much as I try to avoid current events within my post, an era of prodigious joblessness that has moved the economic needle backwards at least a couple of notches in someway in the lives of many today, has sent minds, hearts and spirits in misdirected races (*think one cartoon character responding to anothers question of "which way did he go" by crossing his left over his right with each hand pointing in it's opposite direction*). Simply put: people are confused, and with confusion comes questions and when that confusion is compounded by the speed of information and thudding beat of economic declined, people are left lost, hurt; left in despair.
If you're in a rut today, in your mind, it may seem as if you may never climb out. We put so much value in the moment, that for some of us, it can sometime seem like all that matters - the end all be all. Those amongst us that have been affected by this frame of thinking have pushed themselves into the most drastic and dire positions at times; feeling as though their life is defined by this downtime, this one fleeting moment. Unfortunately do to these feelings that most often times are completely false and ill-conceived, some of those amonst us never allow themselves to climb out of their ruts.
But the truth is, if you're in a rut today, you're destined to climb out - if you want to. It may take sometime, it may take every ounce of effort and stregnth to do it - but if you want to climb out you will.
As daunting as the task may seem, we need to look no further than nature for proof; trees specifically. The life of a tree, which can span for some, hundreds of years, is one that faces and endures hardships and pain throughout. Starting out as just a seedling, with hopes to sprout, a tree in it's infacy has to vie for the same resoures as all other plant life, except it has yet to sprout the beautiful leaves that capture the sunlight and air that it needs to grow. The seedling just lies there defenseless, hoping that it gets its chance to grow just as the trees amongst it already have. Add to what's already a rough almost-existence, this seedling serves as perfect fodder to small ground dwelling insects, mammals, bugs as well as birds who leave their perch from the mighty mother and father trees above to peck around at some of the small snacks that the large flora provide. Those seedlings that were able to survive the first stage of challenges are met with even more as they sprout, begin to take root and enter the sapling stage. As a sapling, this young trees are open to even further abuse due to their new conspicous stature. At least as a seed, lying on the ground, they were some what hidden, but now as they've taken root, bigger prey and complications challenge the young plant for it's life. And as the sapling grows, the attacks become more dire - lightening, disease, human folly - but the tree becomes more immune. The small things that once challenged the tree for it's very life, now seek shelter beneath it and amongst its grown and growing branches. The tree now serves as the center of an ecology for the exact same (or descendents of) small mammals, insects, bugs and birds. It provides for all that who once would have taken from it, who did not see its purpose and could not understand what a great assesst it would be to all someday. The tree of course, always knew, that the only option was growth. The tree did not see the ways of those around it and stayed true to what it's own goal was, despite the disparity or discouragement of others.
The tree at one time had been in a rut; as a seedling it had been forced beneath the surface by the elements: the rain and earth that would mix together into an all encompassing, murky mire. The sun would come out to dry the mire and harden it some, trapping the seedling, burying it alive.
But seedlings, saplings, trees only know growth. So in spite of the elements that could have very well killed the seed at it's very beginning, it uses those same elements as components in it's quest for growth.
And the life of a tree, a seed, a sapling takes years and years...
So it is in this vein that I write this entry. Nothing happens over night. Things aren't always, and actually almost never - easy. And the things that don't kill you - in the trees case, rain, soil, sun (among other threats) - will undoubtedly make you stronger if you use them to your advantage. It takes a lifetime to live a life. It's so easy to get caught up and lost in the now, in the moment, but the reallity is, unless you plan to stop living today, then no matter how great or dispariging this moment may seem, it'll just be in the end, another moment in your life time, one to build on and grow from.
Sometimes it's hard to separate ourselves from the moment, but maybe, just maybe if we take a little time to appreciate the examples of others - even if it's a tree - we'll begin to respect our own process and understand that it really takes a lifetime to live a life.
High 5!!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Tunnel...

A big High 5 from the great MLK.

"Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see." -Martin Luther King Jr.

It's been on my mind to write an entry in reference to dreams and dreamers for nearly a week now. Once I took the time to actually look at the calendar and realize that a celebration of dreamers was vastly approaching, I decided that the best way to honor and celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., would be to make this post on the day that has been designated his.

In preparing to write this post, I decided to do a search of quotes that MLK may have made in reference to dreams. Obviously, those can be found throughout his epic "I Have a Dream" speech, a speech so grand in scope, reach and measure that it needs no introduction nor explanation. Although you may not know the "I Have a Dream" speech word for word - or any of it's words other than it's title for that matter - you undoubtedly know of it and understand what it has meant in strengthening the fabrics that weave and intertwine America with itself and the world.

So instead of giving you something you're already familiar with, I dug a little deeper and came up with a quote from one of Dr. King's works - a book actually - that I was almost completely unaware of. I say almost because I was aware of quotes and an essay that came from this book The Measure of a Man, but was unaware of their source until earlier today. Reading the preface, back story and one of the books essays sent me directly to Amazon to place an immediate order.

The selected quote from above, and reading excerpts from one of the books essays entitled "What is a Man?" where Dr. King covers the topic of an individuals self-worth so intensely that he delves into the question of asking what the chemical compounds that actually make up the the physical being of a human body is worth on the open when monetized - about 98 cents according to figures compiled by Dr. Kings at the time of the books authoring - has left me so intrigued and garnered such a new respect for this man, that I've been compelled to write a preface - a first - to this blog entry.

With reading this excerpt and taking some time out today to study Dr. King, I realize that the life of this man and the influence that it has left on the generations of humans who have been impacted by it truly deserves to be celebrated, studied and cherished, by at all that know of it, at least one day a year.

The expression, 'the light at the end of the tunnel' is one used often to comfort oneself or another when faced with a hardship or a challenge. Understanding that there are unknown elements involved in said challenge, we liken it to walking through a tunnel in the dark. We know that there is an end, or at least we do believe that there is an end - an end to the all encompassing darkness of the tunnel - but, it remains to be seen for the time being at least.

All people, man, woman and child, live life being faced with those proverbial tunnels at every turn. But is those few, the impractical, the dreamers amongst us, who travel them most frequently. In Dr. Martin Luther Kings' quote,
"Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.", I find that a hat is being tipped to those who dare to dream. Just think, those tangibles that are in front of your, the car, the career and the credit are all great things, but just think about their origin; somewhere behind each of these things is a dreamer who dared to see things different, who conceptualized and agonized over how to fit their own ideas, their vision, their dream into your life. As beautiful as the end results are, it's the actualization of the initial dream that is the big accomplishment in the large scheme of things. It's taking something from one's minds eye and converting it into a tangible is what should be celebrated. It is the unseen dream that which casts the shadow.

And in this I see the nod given to dreamers. Because as a dreamer I know that I am constantly faced with endless tunnels of shadows, utter darkness, yet I navigate them with the belief that the darkness, the shadows I see are just mere consequential refractions cast by a great, undying light.

Although getting to the other side may prove as difficult an arduous as one walking through an unlighted
8,500+ feet of NY/NJ's Holland Tunnel, a dreamers guiding light throughout their journey is always faith in themselves and their dream.

There are of course many dreamers that take the journey through the tunnel, never to emerge at the opposite end, but the energy produced by their undying faith and spirit in their beliefs remain with in these tunnels as additional glimmers of hopes for those daring enough to traverse the tunnel's unknowns in the future. Those who do in fact reach the light at the end of the tunnel go onto serve as never ending beacons of hope, evidential examples boldly stating that "Yes, it can be done!", for any and all who ever dream of following their own dreams.

The dreams of Dr. King, so boldly stated, so often remarked upon since his death at their inception - and some may even say still today - had no practical footing in the path towards realization. But whether we believe his dreams have been realized or not, it would be foolish to argue the fact that those dreams have in fact blazed a well lighted trail for all to see and travel upon, where there was once darkness. We have taken up real estate, built communities and retooled a nation on the irreversible path that this man's dreams hath wrought. And whether complete realization of these dreams have come to complete fruition or are still some miles in the distance, their is no denying the effect that they have had on us all.

So to those dreamers, who today think that what you believe may be impractical, that the vision you see are unattainable, remember the path laid for us all by great men and women such as Dr. King that prove to us that no matter how dark the tunnel, there is always light at the other end if we believe it to be. Friends, family and all relations in kind and in between will discourage you, abandon you and use tactics of any and all manners to not only separate themselves from the path of your dreams, but to separate you from it as well. But if you believe, if your dream is true, then it is your duty to follow it with a spirit charged with positive energy, a heart full of love and a disciplined mind.

The tunnel may be dark, but the light is there, and the light for which others see you in while you are on the path to completing your journey, is only a glimmer, only a shade, only a shadow of that which they do not see or understand at the time: your dreams.

The dreams of man have consistently changed the dynamics of how life as we know it is conducted. Dreams have changed the world. It is my job, your job, anyone who dares to ever dream to never, ever, ever, stop believing in their dreams.

There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Dream on dreamer...


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Be Inspired!!!

Stock-boy turned Superbowl MVP Kurt Warner giving the world a High 5 of inspiration

"It's been a long time/I shouldn't 've left you..." -Eric B. & Rakim "I Know You Got Soul"

Happy New Year!!!

It's definitely been quite awhile since the last High 5 Club post (understatement!). 2009 was a period of incredible transition for we High 5 Club representatives, and unfortunately our pet project got the cold shoulder. For those of you have been paying attention though, please blame the neglect on our heads and not our hearts, because the inspiration that the club and blog was built on has never left us. The premise of the High 5 Club (pre- and post hiatus) has been, and will remain a basic channel in which the power of positive energy can be presented, promoted and passed on by it's members to the rest of the world. The catch is, or what's sets the High 5 Club apart from possibly any other platform for positive energy that may exist, is that it's being authored by a couple of Hip Hop fans (hence the Rakim intro) in their late 20's who have learned from each other, music and life overall, how to smile, appreciate life and give each other, friends, family, enemies, strangers and just the world-at-large a nice High 5 every now and again.

in•spi•ra•tion: the action or power of moving the intellect and emotions.

For the last 3 years or so, the little missive above has been one of my email signatures. It was something I came up with, with a little help from Merriam Webster at a period where I was feeling incredibly inspired by some outside source that I felt it should be shared with those who I interact with. Being that it's my own email signature, in the hustle and bustle of thumb-bruising, mobile-messaging (Blackberry), I often forget that it's there. But whenever I take a moment to breathe, let my thumbs rest and scroll down a tad to take a look at it, I'm always overcome with a certain feeling of warmth. Those four little lines of text make me think of and reflect on all the recent moments and instances of inspiration that have occurred in my life and use those thoughts as fuel for the days to come.

I personally tend to find nuggets of inspiration everywhere, in all situations. It may take me sometime to actually understand and process these moments fully at times, but inspiration is ever present in my life. Whether it come from the kind deeds of a stranger, the life story of an elder, the drive and motivation of a public figure towards their goal or just a hello from a friend, I am inspired.

Inspiration of course is often overlooked. We often get so caught up in our on lives, in the moment, in world events: war, a debilitated economy, natural disasters; that we forget to take the time to appreciate the gift that the present is and understand the opportunities that the deeds of others, or even ourselves can provide to us in the form of inspiration. During those moments when we're feeling low, when it seems that all may be lost - knowing that we don't have the monopoly on struggle or hard times, knowing that there are others out there who have been where we've been and are now where we're attempting to go, can provide that shot in the arm necessary to get us through the roughest times.

Although inspiration sometimes comes to us in it's epiphany form, shiny, hovering yellow light bulb and all, it's important that we understand that this moments for most of us are far and few, and that, instead of waiting for inspiration to just strike us in those "AHH HAAA!" moments, that we actively seek it in all that we do. If we begin to feel that our environment or situations that we live, work and play in are rather uninspiring, we should understand these feelings as indicators to consider a change of venue. It is important that we position our lives in such a way that we can receive the positive energy that inspiration provides as well as emit it. It must be understood that inspirations power to move the emotions and intellect are necessary to our life force, and should be regarded as a form of "spiritual respiration" if you will - a power that is as important to your spirit as air is to your breathing.

Just as air is taken in and returned to the atmosphere refined as carbon-dioxide, the energy that is produced by inspiration must be taken in, processed and sent back into the ethers to be used by others. One of the effects of living an inspired life is that through our actions, we in turn inspire others.

As a treat, I'll leave you all with a wiki of the poster-boy of this heading. This man's story has inspired me for years now, and it only keeps getting better. Kurt Warner's story is one that Hollywood screenwriters dream of and is chock full of the qualities that legends are made of. Link

Peace & High Fives!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Woo-sha photo!

The High 5 Club went to the Grand Canyon in April. (Sorry no posts for the month of April! We were too busy getting ready for the trip!) and above is a gorgeous shot of the sunset. We absorbed some of the most calming energy disbursed by nature along our journey. Woo-sah moments happened throughout the 4 day trip and left us saying America is really a beautiful place!