It’s human nature to want to win. It doesn’t matter what you win, or who your competition was, as long as you’re the victor; the last man standing in the end.
But how many people really do the footwork to get to the winner’s circle? How many endless hours does it take to get there, to be crowned victor?
I met a man this week who reminded me that it doesn’t matter where you come from, who you are or what you do. The only thing that matters is you work, and you work hard.
I was out for my usual late night romp at Wal-Mart, needing to pick up supplies for all of those end-of-the-semester projects that should have been started – and finished – prior to my self-made deadline.
While sitting in my car, enjoying the last sweet puffs of a cigarette I knew I shouldn’t be smoking, a man walked up to my car, in the rain, and knocked on my window.
He was a young black man, no older than 21 years old. He wore a hoodie that looked like it had seen better days, and he was wet from the mist covering the city that night.
Hesitantly, I rolled down my window, waiting for him to give me a sob story explained how his car broke and he needed to borrow money, just like so many people before him had asked me.
“What’s up man?” I asked, knowing all to well what was coming. “Hey, I just wanted to give you a CD to listen to,” he said, sounding upbeat even through the dark, wet cold he had obviously been standing in for hours prior to my arrival.
“I’m a rapper and I’m just trying to get people to listen to my stuff.”
I must have looked shocked, or scared, because he just stood there, handing me a CD, smiling at me. “Sure man, but I have to ask, what do you rap about,” I said.
He took a second, and I could see him think about his past, and what to say to this suburban white girl who looks like she would know nothing about hard times. “It’s just me. It’s me not wanting to end up like my family, locked in jail, slingin’ dope to kids, or shootin’ my neighbors cause bitch stole from my kids.”
“I know I live in OKC and it’s not the ‘hood or anything, but it’s hard, and I’m going to make it, no matter if you take this CD or not.”
And I just sat there, in my warm, dry car, my mouth agape. This kid, the same age as myself, didn’t complain, didn’t blame others. He just did.
He was determined to become something that was good, no matter how hard it was or how long it took to get there.
“I’ll take that CD man,” I said. “How much do they go for?”
“Ah, nah, it’s free.”
“No man, that was the most inspiring thing I’ve ever heard. And I know how much those CD’s cost to burn.”
I gave him $10, and he gave me a smile and a thank you that could create peace in the Iraq.
And that night, I listened to that CD, and I remembered that kid, standing in a parking lot, trying to hock his God-given talents, not to make a buck, but to become a man, to change the world.
I can’t stop thinking about this artists, who rhymes flow like liquid throw your ears, speaking about how he will become something, do something to make people remember not his name, but how to live a life of happiness and fullness.
This is what we should all aspire to be my dearest readers. We constantly sit in comfortable classrooms and complain about having a pop quiz or how many notes we had to take because our fingers hurt.
This man should be reason enough for all of us to strive harder, work more passionately to become everything we want to be. Because, I promise you, we will be hearing about him. Not as a number on the news, some sad story we forget after the next commercial break.
We will hear about how this man, who stood in parking lots and gave his story, will change the world. And he will change it through melodies we never imagined possible.