Clearly Now

Life, Life Lessons, Reflections
Photo I took of Dr. Dyer during taping of television show at CNN in Atlanta

Photo I took of Dr. Dyer during live television show at CNN in Atlanta

In honor of the book I’m reading by Dr. Wayne Dyer titled, I Can See Clearly Now, I’ve decided to write at least one essay on what I now see clearly about my life; it seems a good thing to do at age 63. In the book, Dr. Dyer, who has been popping up in my life for about 20 years now, nonchalantly states that he now has leukemia. So, I begin with a prayer and positive thoughts in his direction. And I acknowledge the influence he has on me. It is regretful to say that I have failed many times to follow his teaching, but I try. If I did not try, I know my life would be diminished.

Like most, I’ve experienced so many lows in my life because of a combination of illness and my own mistakes. But is it coincidence that Dr. Dyer has shown up so often at my low times? Recently, I hit yet another low and, what a surprise, I hear the title of his new book on one of his PBS specials. And, just by happenstance, it is the same title as one of my favorite songs. So, while visiting the library, I find his book listed in the system but there is a waiting list; of course there is.

After I got myself on that list, I knew it would take a very long time to get the book; it always takes a long time to get a new, popular book. But, for some reason, in very little time I find myself with it. I am grateful. As I read it, I discover it is, in part, about his contention that there are no coincidences. None.

While in Atlanta, I think it was 1998, I attend a live TV production at the CNN Center called, “Talkback Live.” The guest that day was Dr. Wayne Dyer. I was very happy for this coincidence because his book titled, Your Erroneous Zones had meant a great deal to me. On that day, I studied him. Not just while the camera was on him but especially when it wasn’t; such as during commercial breaks.

Now, understand that I have worked in broadcasting and watched many people having attacks of the nerves just before the microphone came on. When a camera was involved, it was often worse. I’m talking here about seasoned performers. Even while the mic or camera was on, some would find it difficult to articulate. The fact that I had this problem myself probably prevented me from getting better at it and helped cut my broadcast career short.

But Watching Dr. Dyer that day, I was amazed at his calmness. It was as if he were happily reclined on a beach. If you watch him on any of his lectures, you’ll see it too. Let me tell you it is not as easy as he makes it look to be in front of  an audience and be that calm, that serene. It proves to me, like nothing else could, that he practices what he preaches about achieving this level of confidence and ability to handle whatever is.

So, Dr. Dyer, I salute you and thanks for all I am learning from you. I don’t know much, but I know you were meant to be a part of my life. Thank you for fulfilling your destiny in a way that means so much to so many.

What I Can See Clearly Now

Photo of the place I spent so many Saturday and Sunday afternoons during  my childhood. And the site of one of the most shameful events I ever witnessed.

Photo of the historic Polk Theatre in Lakeland. A place I spent so many Saturday and Sunday afternoons during my childhood. And the site of one of the most shameful events I ever witnessed.

I can see clearly now that I had to grow up in a totally segregated, ultra-conservative, fundamentalist, fear and hate dominated Lakeland, FL. I had to see black citizens beaten outside the Polk Theatre, where I spent so many weekends as a child escaping my very undesirable childhood, just because they wanted to go in and see a movie.

I remember many wonderful things about Lakeland. Even struggling through a bad childhood did not keep me from enjoying many great, rewarding adventures in that town. And I salute the progress that Lakeland, like the rest of the South, has made.

I had to see black protesters thrown out of my uncle’s little restaurant, located on the same street and just a few miles north of the Polk Theatre, because they dared to enter and sit down for service. I had to live through never having the opportunity to get to know a black person my own age as I grew up, and hearing all the racist rhetoric super charged by the civil rights movement.

This was so important. It taught me what I needed to know to reach that time when I was 19 and had an epiphany. I began to realize that I needed to go on a lifelong journey of discovery to decide what believed and not what those around me believed; I realized I had never really bought into all the hateful crap.

I did not believe one race was better than the other, or that men were superior to women, or that gay folks are not entitled to equality, or that anyone goes to a mythical place called Hell. I did not know all that I believed (and I still don’t), but I knew I was going to become a reader and thinker and decide for myself.  Also, I knew I was going to begin by standing on commonsense, logic, reason and truth. So, that’s what I’ve done without one minute of regret or second thought.

I am so grateful that I overcame my own childhood racism induced by my environment. As an adult I have stood up and spoken out for the cause of equality for all people. Anyone would find more than my share of mistakes in my life, but believing in racist, sexist, nonsense as an adult has not been one of them.

I can see clearly now that this was important. I don’t know all the reasons it was so important, but I can tell you this: When I think of what I saw and, even at times participated in, and then how I changed, I sure am proud of me. My gratitude for all that the decision to be a progressive and to support equality has brought to my life is beyond measure.