I was watching Piers Morgan on CNN the other night. He was interviewing Beyonce, and she was telling him about her personal relationship with President and Mrs. Obama. “Uggghhh,” I thought to myself. “How can someone like Beyonce have the President’s ear?” Is she beautiful? Absolutely. Is she an internationally known entertainer? Yes. Does she have a really cool name, recognizable sans a proper surname, joining the ranks of Madonna, Bono and Prince? You bet. But does that justify admission to the world’s club of power brokers? Ummmm. Dunno. She sings. Oh… and dances, too. To me, it’s just one more reason why I feel like I’m sinking deeper into the rabbit hole.
The days pass, and I grow weary. Whenever I feel like giving up, I come back to this notion of The Power of One. It may mean different things to different people, but to me, it means this: I try to influence whatever is in my power (albeit I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum from Beyonce). If there is a cause I’m passionate about, I donate as much time and money as I can afford. If I know of a person in need, I help them in any way possible. If someone during my daily meanderings is hurtful towards me, I tell myself that they’re having a bad day and try to shake it off rather than engage in destructive dialogue (most of the time). I’m certainly no saint, far from it. But I do understand the power of kindness and that it is contagious. I also understand that it’s one of the few things within my control. I ran into an old neighbor the other day who shared a wonderful story with me. She said that her daughter missed me terribly now that I’ve moved away, especially during Halloween. I used to hand out special treat bags filled with fun, little gifts like necklaces adorned with black bats and light-up pens nestled among wrapped chocolates to all the neighborhood kiddos. That young lady who used to be my dear little neighbor is now in high school and has outgrown trick-or treating… guess who has taken to handing out special Halloween treat bags filled with goodies to all the adorable neighborhood kids? Makes my heart sing.
When I wrote my book, Ghellow Road, I really wasn’t expecting to learn anything new. After all, the story is based on my own life. What was there to learn? I now humbly submit that I’ve discovered a great deal, not only about myself, but also about the members of my family, my father being high on that list. As I now reflect from the published side of Ghellow Road, I can better understand what a tragic life my father led. When I was 10 years old, he couldn’t endure that tragic life anymore and ended it with his own hand in the spring of 1975. I’ve often wondered what those last few days were like for him. How many people smiled at him? How many inquired about his welfare or wished him a good day? How many tried to help him believe that this earth and its inhabitants is a place worth sticking around? These thoughts have haunted me for many years, and they play a key role in driving me to be as good a person as I can be; someone who gives the individual on the other side of my conversation some assurance that this world is worth enduring. I have flaws, God knows I have so many. I can be angry, selfish and stubborn, among other things. And then there are those days when I’m simply not strong enough to be a positive influence on anyone. But whenever I am able, wherever I am able, I work hard to let the good in me shine. That is the least I can do to honor my father, and it’s my one small contribution to a world that continues to sink further down the rabbit hole. Every single one of us has the power to make a difference. Shine on, y’all.
Tera (T.H. Waters)