Jackson of all trades and a mastodon of none


or:

A jack of all trades, but a master of none.

Since about middle school, this phrase has haunted me. I didn’t want to admit it, but I have held myself back from doing other things because I wanted to be a master of something. Why do I have to be a master of just one thing anyway? Why must I be a master, to begin with? While I think I understand that the sentiment means to be the “best” at something, it still never sat well with me. I have fixated my focus on this idea for years, getting sidetracked along the way (and rightfully so, I think).Jackson 1

I’ve always found that I’m good at a few things, and I’m only adding to the feathers in my cap. I was speaking with one of my close friends, Theo the other day, and he helped me understand things a little differently.

Me: “You know how I feel about being a jack of all trades and a master of none.”

Him: “But Herb, what’s wrong with being a jack of all trades? A great producer has to be. You know how to pull out certain things out of an artist, or how to get [an instrumentalist] to articulate things a certain way.”

Me: “Hmm. I never thought of it that way. That makes perfect sense.”

Hmm. I never saw it that way before. My understanding has increased as result of that conversation. I have greater clarity. It brings to mind the saying,”We are the sum of our experiences.” In other words, not one ounce of my experiences will be wasted.

They will all be used for my benefit. I have greater inner peace now. This will make me a master of many.

Being a jack of all trades could develop me into a master of many.

Until next time,

Love & Peace.

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Keeping it Real


So, I haven’t been completely honest with.  While that sounds bad, lemme clean that up a bit: I haven’t been exactly authentic as I used to be.  When I first started this blog over 5 years ago, I was writing from a very raw, tender place. I didn’t care who was reading or why.  I started writing as a way to release my feelings. As things evolved, I decided that maybe what I have to say could help others: and it has. Somewhere along the way, I started becoming dissatisfied with my writing; this was largely in part of being envious of those who started after I did, but with greater “success.” Where did I lose my sense of purpose (as it pertains to writing)? Somehow, I lost my focus.

Honestly, I lost my authenticity.Keeping It Real

People responded (and read) more when I was expressing my feelings from a real, authentic place. My struggle of trying to figure out how to monetize what I do impacted my writing.  Am I saying that I need to have another set of raw experiences to regain my authenticity? Hell no! I think the tipping point of why I began writing in the first place was enough for me to only experience it once. No way; I’m good.

How did this talk of authenticity come about anyway?  I’m glad you didn’t ask but really wanted to know (lol). I was reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brené Brown. She was talking about being authentic (letting our true selves be seen), and how we choose to be authentic some days and on other days: not so much.

This next statement stopped me cold. “If I am full of self-doubt or shame, I can sell myself out and be anybody you need me to be.”  Damn.  Was she talking to me?  I felt like she had handwritten that sentence in a note addressed to me. Once I got past the initial shock, the sting of her words crescendoed in next. I understood exactly what she meant; she described me. “Is that really me,” I thought. “The nerve of her, telling me what my problem is!  Who does she think she is?” Once that thought was over, the real work began. She was right. I sometimes get caught up into people-pleasing, and as a result, I willfully give away my authenticity. That means I sensor my words, which leads to holding in my true emotions, thus leading to OVERTHINKING.  I’ve done this my WHOLE life.  The problem with “not being real” is that no one knows what I’m really thinking.  It’s almost as being bad as being unreliable, in a sense. Maybe I’m overthinking a bit. I don’t know. BUT because I’ve become more self-aware, I’ve learned to give myself space to be (with tack and care, too).

And now, I think I need some more space.

Love & Peace.

Herbie

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I am just a man.


I used to think of myself according to the above sentence. I felt like,” I’m doing the best I can; I’m just a man.”  If you think about it, it’s just a way to rationalize mediocrity. If I see myself as being I am just a man.just a man, I can fall back on the many fallacies of being “just” a man.

But, if those same words are arranged differently, there’s a new idea that emerges: integrity.

My Pop told me this example that was handed down to him from his father. He said,”Son, if a penny is left on the table, never take it. Even if the penny is left there for years and cobwebs begin to form around it: don’t touch. You didn’t put it there, and you can’t take it.”

I’ve also learned that character is who you are when no one is looking. That means if you throw something towards the trash and it misses, and hits the floor instead, will you pick it up or act as though it didn’t happen? If a cashier gives you too much change back, will you keep it or tell him/her about the error?

We all have opportunities to make better choices. Will you use your turn to press light and restore faith in humanity? Or will you squander your chance to “right” a “wrong.”

So: About those five words. Have you arranged them differently yet? I have and here’s mine:

I. Am. A. Just. Man.

Until next time,

Love & Peace.

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when there just isn’t anymore


when there just isn't anymore.png

I find that people sometimes treat friendships like a pencil. In fact, like their favorite pencil.

A fresh, new pencil is sharpened.  You anticipate that the abrasion on the paper will be sharp and crisp.  You love the new pencil. It makes you feel as though you could write 1000 words, or draw a picture for hours (the fluidity of my creativity feels like this when I hear new music).  You take in a deep breath.  And begin to write.  At this point, even your marks on the paper have a distinct sharpness to its sound.  You are enamored by this new writing utensil.  It feels power–full.  So, you keep using it, not noticing that it’s losing it’s incisiveness–at first. After some time, you notice the lines losing their accuracy. 

So, you sharpen it.  You don’t get the same feeling from the pencil as when you first started using it, but it’s cool no less.  You take it for another twirl.  Well, what happens next?  You stop using it.  Maybe you don’t use it as often: you just don’t need it as much.  Perhaps, for whatever reason, you just forget about it.

But then you remember.

So the cycle renews.

Maybe it’s texting a friend “just because.” On a rare occasion, it get sharpened….this could mean that maybe someone sends you a “checking on you” text or a phone call “just because.” So, the cycle renews. All the while, as a result of this cycle, the pencil is unknowingly becoming shorter over time…until there just isn’t anymore.

Love & Peace

-Herbie

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when do you know the dance has ended? (part 2)


What kinda friend am I? Did I really love my friend? *Plays What’s love got to do with it?* So, you decided to take the introspective approach, huh? How mature. Don’t you dare do that to yourself!  If you’re anything like me, you find a way to place the blame on yourself. Sometimes, things aren’t that simple.  I mean, sometimes, people just grow apart. And even still, people just abruptly stop growing together: altogether. But there’s no need to blame yourself.

Copy of when do you know the dance has ended- pt 2I find that life is cyclical.  Maybe there was something that had to happen, a lesson that had to be learned or an impart of wisdom.  After that exchange occurred, alas, the dance was over (and with it, the friendship).  There’s nothing wrong with reminiscing on the good times of the last dance. The problem is continuing to dance after the music has stopped and your partner has left. That makes you look, well, crazy. I’m not sure that’s what was meant by the expression, “dance as if nobody’s watching.”

What if this is just a transitional period between us?  Hmmm: You could be onto something. Changes are tough and effect relationships in all sorts of ways. Sometimes we prepare ourselves for the change; if we see it coming.  Then again, maybe we can’t be so lucky. And so you have to scramble to make some sense of it, as it unfolds (unsure how things will turn out). Don’t be discouraged. Things always have a way of working out for the better, even if it doesn’t immediately feel like it.

Maybe you’ve always known when the dance ended, and often the epiphany came while you were dancing….or maybe the record just skipped……or maybe a new song is melding into another one, giving you two the chance to get it right. No matter the outcome, it’s best to be at peace with the results.

But what do I know?  I’m too busy dancing myself!

Love & Peace.

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when do you know the dance has ended? (part 1)


Well?

Do you know when?

Would you say it’s when the song begins to slow down or when it fades out? I’ve taken some time to really think about this, but not from the angle you might think.

There are two people in a ballroom. One person asks the other to dance.  The other agrees. They begin slow-dancing to a song (this represents the start of a friendship). And let’s say that this song represents the length or season of their friendship. Some songs are longer than others. We like friends. We want friends to stay around forever. That may not be their reality though.

when do you know the dance has ended- pt 1Through this relinquishing of wills, you allow someone else to lead for a while. You may step on each other’s feet, but that’s normal. Do you keep dancing? Certainly. But do you keep dancing seeing as though the song has long since ended?  If you’re enjoying the company, you will. If you’re not [enjoying it], you can feel like you’re in limbo, like a staring contest: you’re just waiting out the other person to see if they will blink [stop dancing] first. Sometimes, we put ourselves through that agony, but for what? So we can prove that we were the better friend? To prove that we lasted until the end? That we have endurance?  We can sum this up in one word: loyalty. Lemme tell you that loyalty will cause you to endure hardship, sometimes to your own detriment. I’m at an expert level when it comes to doing things in the name of loyalty; even if it’s been self-inflicted.

I’m just gonna see what happens.  Would you apply this logic to your dance partner?  Can you imagine letting go of your partner’s hand to see if he/she keeps dancing or not, while you stand back observing? That sounds weird (and a little funny). So why do we find it acceptable to apply this logic to a friend? The problem with this stream of thought is that we may be telling ourselves the truth, as we secretly hope that things work out for better (keeping the friendship). The thing is, life is very fluid; it ebbs and flows. Our lives won’t stop if we lost a friend anymore than it would by gaining one. Life will go on. And you will be fine. One thing’s for sure: if you try to hold onto something (or someone) who doesn’t belong, you will find that person causing discomfort in your life.

Adding new friends should be a harmonious addition. I pay close attention to dissonance in my life. If new friends aren’t adding to the group dynamic, rest assured, things always find a way of releasing themselves.  “If the glove don’t fit, they must out-get,” (I tried really hard to make that rhyme). But hey: you don’t have to take my word for it.

There’s more, but let’s just pause this until next time.

Love & Peace.

 

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the Art in my Heart (part 2)


The #art in my #heart 2 (1)Happiness. Happiness is the only word I can use to describe that night. For a split second at the airport (en route to Charlotte), I thought, “Is this totally crazy?  Like, what gives you the right?  This is just a little crazy.” Nevertheless, I went.

I had such a grand time. The people that he told about me flying from D.C. to see him, all had the same expression: “Aww. That was really nice.” The photographer that was there said, “Aww man. That’s tugging at my heartstrings.”

When I was getting things lined up, I was thinking that I was just going to see my friend (as if he were down the street). Maybe it was my naïveté, but I really didn’t think it to be a big deal. *insert shrug here* Apparently, people don’t do that for other people on the regular: But why not?  I told Mario about it (one of my Uber drivers) and he said, “Man, that’s true friendship and love.  It’s great to support your friends. Wow.”

I didn’t quite see it that way; as support. I guess it could be looked at as support, but that’s not what I had in mind. I saw it as going to see a friend (a really cool one, at that). I just followed my heart.

Over the course of that night, I’ll never forget one thing Art said to me. “This type of thing doesn’t happen to me,” as he tried to gather himself. I assumed he was talking about me coming to surprise him. I wanted to yell, “You’re worth it, man! And it did happen to you! It happened tonight!” But I didn’t say those things. I didn’t because I understood exactly what he meant. Maybe, at that moment, he knew what it meant to be seen.

Mission accomplished.

Love & Peace.

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the Art in my Heart (part 1)


The #art in my #heart 1Recently, a dear friend named Arthur was opening a new studio named Haven. He’s a talented guy and painting is just one of his many talents. I’ve known him for over 20 years. I think we met in middle school. I always remembered that he was always a nice guy. He never bothered anyone; just marched to his own beat. I appreciated that. He represents some of my greatest high school memories.

Let’s get back to his studio opening.

We follow each other on social media and it was there that I found out the details about the event. I thought casually about traveling to Charlotte to see him. I thought about it some more and figured it might be doable. I talked to my wife about it and she thought it would be a good idea for me to go. That was my tipping point.

I adjusted my schedule so I could get off and booked my tickets. I figured it might be a cool thing to come and say hello. I didn’t expect what happened next.

After arriving to Charlotte, I took an Uber to his show. By this time, it had just started. I asked a young lady at the front,”Excuse me m’am: Where’s Art?” She replied,”He’s upstairs.” I began heading towards the stairs, heart thumping a bit harder with each step. I was overcome with excitement of seeing my old comrade. Once upstairs, it took me a short while to find him. Walking to greet me, I could see his face crescendo from normal to instantly gleaming as he placed his hand over his mouth in disbelief.

“No way, Herbie,” he said.

We first reached for a handshake but instead went in for an embrace. I was happy to see my friend. Really happy.

After we hugged, he placed his fingers into the corners of his eyes, behind his glasses. He was emotional. He then said,”This was bad timing, man. I’m sorry I’m so emotional. I’m such a punk….you asshole.” I said,”Man, no worries. It’s all good.” He motioned for another hug. After we hugged again, he began introducing me to one of his friends, telling them that I came from D.C. today just to surprise him. I knew, without a doubt, that he was happy to see me too (and that this had been the right thing to do all along).

Finally, I saw the cause of my visit: the artwork. I really got a chance to look at his pieces up close (prior to that, I had only seen them on social media). They were amazing. I know it sounds cliche, but they were.  Such vibrant colors with layers of various media was everywhere. I stared at the artwork with such amazement. I found myself getting lost in a few pieces; swept up into the flows of various hues as they seem to move as they stood still.  I felt relaxed, breathing deeply as I saw all that there was.

Upon my exit, Art and I took a picture in front of one of his pieces. We said our goodbyes, talked briefly about our next meet up, and then I left. It was totally an awesome thing to see my friend of 20+ years, praying that we have 20+ more.

Happiness. Happiness is the only word I can use to describe that night. For a split second at the airport (en route to Charlotte), I thought, “Is this totally crazy?  Like, what gives you the right?  This is just a little crazy.” Nevertheless, I went.

I had such a grand time. The people that he told about me flying from D.C. to see him, all had the same expression: “Aww. That was really nice.” The photographer that was there said, “Aww man. That’s tugging at my heartstrings.”

When I was getting things lined up, I was thinking that I was just going to see my friend (as if he were down the street). Maybe it was my naïveté, but I really didn’t think it to be a big deal. *insert shrug here* Apparently, people don’t do that for other people on the regular: But why not?  I told Mario about it (one of my Uber drivers) and he said, “Man, that’s true friendship and love.  It’s great to support your friends. Wow.”

I didn’t quite see it that way; as support. I guess it could be looked at as support, but that’s not what I had in mind. I saw it as going to see a friend (a really cool one, at that). I just followed my heart.

I’ll never forget what he said to me.  He said, “This type of thing doesn’t happen to me.” I assumed he was talking about me coming to surprise him. I wanted to exclaim, “You’re worth it, man. And it did happen to you. It happened tonight!”

I knew what he meant though.  He knew what it meant to be seen. That also meant that my mission had been accomplished.

Love & Peace.

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Merry Christmas 2016


happy-holidays-2016

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…as the band plays


as the band playsBeing on the drumline in college remains near the top of my list of “things I’ve had the best time doing.”  I loved every minute minute of it. I was in some of the best shape of my life.  Whenever I felt tired, I told myself to push past it.  Those and many other lessons have shaped my thinking and work ethic to this day.

Back then, I played snare drum (for those of you who may not know, I played the drum that was most prominently displayed in the front-it’s played like a table top). We most often played first, or had the most challenging music; note-for-note.  Naturally, I could hear my part the most.  During sectionals, I was taught to not only listen to my part, but also to the other snare players to ensure that we were playing the same part with exacting precision.  I also learned how the other percussion instruments fit together when we all were playing.

Zooming out, I could faintly hear the rest of the band was playing, because only bits and pieces of sounds would arise between our beats.  I didn’t know precisely what they were playing, yet I trusted that we all sounded good as a unit.  I never got discouraged because I knew as a band we were making beautiful music.

In the same way, this inspires me to remain encouraged. Although it may seem that what I am doing isn’t affecting the world, there are many others who are helping to make “beautiful music” out of their collective efforts around the world.  Together, we will exact change in the world.

Until Next Time,

Love & Peace.

-Herbie

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