The Art of Intimidation 

Gratitude the Practice

“If only? If only, a frog had wings he wouldn’t hit his *ss everytime he went to jump.” – S. Campbell Sr.

Today, we can find so many things to complain about and rightfully so. I’d like to take you on a trip toward another perspective if you’ll allow me. Daily we are met with the loss and grieving process of people we know and those we do not. The world is experiencing a profound sense of sadness and feeling of loss. Things seem hopeless yet a distant reality. I find myself, at times, believing that this is all a dream, and I will soon wake. Unfortunately, it is not so. I want to be angry at others and even strike them when they disrespectfully cough in my face, mask less. Actions have impact as do inaction. How can we improve? There is another way.

Some of us suffer the ignorance of our fellow persons. Is anyone to fault? Yes and No. We have embarked on a journey in an age where virulent mistruths and misinformation are prevalent. Combating the inaccuracies of spoon-fed sources where information is gathered and predominantly propagated, can be intimidating. Often, in my head I scream, Read! D*mmit. My thoughts have transitioned from rage to anger, from anger to gratitude. Why? Because it is not necessary to pity. As I take a stroll down my memory of loss, I miss the people who have influenced me. In these thoughts, I become overwhelmed with gratitude. Take a little detour with me, and I’ll tell you why in this moment I am grateful.

Some time ago, I went to visit a friend. We went to the pool, and a little boy came to visit a neighbor. Walking beer-in-hand, he too was there for the pool. He was five-years-old, and I thought the custom of children carrying any alcoholic beverage was ancient. Being a certified mixologist, I tensed up and looked around for a place to run. I had already seen the worst of it. Thinking, this should be reported. I digressed, because in these instances, the reporter becomes the villain, the parent gets the kid back, not one lesson is learned. I made peace on his little digits, handing the beer to the adult in the pool. As if I hadn’t realized I stopped, I began to breathe again.

The boy was sweet. I hoped this instance wouldn’t define him. He smiled and did belly flops in the pool, trying to perfect his cannonball. I evoked my son. A sense of yearning overflowed me as I watched this innocent, happy five-year-old be a kid. I wanted another one. Instead of basking in the ‘what if’s’ I chose the present moment. I’ll assure you it was less painful than giving birth.

My hopes of love and family spawned from the marriage of my grandparents. Till death did they part. My grandmother instructed me to marry well. My grandfather, well, I’ll leave his love advice out of this. Their most remarkable example to me was commitment. I believed my grandfather would live forever, and in me writing this, he is doing precisely that. This past week my grandfather would have been 95 years old. He was able to have 90 years of life on planet earth. Present to his memory in my space, I stopped everything. Not to mourn or cry but to be grateful for having time with him. Recalling his lesson of time and how it is irreplaceable and precious.

I remember watching the little boy at the pool water flowers. He went back and forth, for more water. The neighbor warned he’ll kill them if he puts too much water in them. He said, “Oh, I don’t want to kill them.”  The conversation between him and the lady carried into his going to school. He expressed that he was excited and began talking about sharing and breaking toys, he pivoted to saying, “I don’t want to share my toys.” He’s five years old, I’m a bit older, and I don’t want to share mine either. He trails off into a hypothetical of breaking friends’ toys. If this happens he’ll pay the friend money to get over it; the story gets darker from here.

Instantly, I noticed that at five-years-old, he had plans. I acknowledged him for his planning ability. I added if he planned his schoolwork and life after he would be capable of attaining any goal he pursued. This is the short of a long narrative. His story changed; he didn’t want to go to school, he wanted money, he wanted to settle any score of any child that would oppose him. This rhetoric is perhaps unbelievable nonetheless true. I would soon realize I was surrounded with a bunch of FOX News watchers and well, you can envision the rest. It is the effects of hatred, anger, and fear. It is the conversations we are allowing into our space and those of our children. We can do better and should.

I thought of my son, then my grandfather. My son is loving, goal-oriented, and kind. I raised my son to consider others. My grandfather introduced me to view more routes than the popular ones in life. I shared these teachings with my son. Now, he shares them back to me. While I may not come from the most emotionally vulnerable family, they exemplify compassion in the lessons that are passed down.

I think of this child with kind thoughts and hope that he will encounter, direction, and love. We are experiencing loss, which is not solely physical, but loss of compassion and gratitude. We have to evoke the messages and lessons of our ancestors that encourage decency in human beings. We should aim to practice respect in this juncture because fear, hate, and greed are being transmitted to our children who are watching, listening, and repeating. It is time to consider love, not the future question of, If only I had…?

Written by: S. B. Campbell

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