There is a lot happening in the world that inspires, especially how, in different communities across the globe, we’ve come together to support each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also things that cause us to pause and show the worst of man’s inhumanity to man, and, consequently, sends people marching into the streets to demand change. George Floyd’s death reflects the latter. Enter hope… [Read more…] about 2 Things You Can’t Take Away from Me…
Last year, someone suggested in a tweet that I share my essay, “On Being Black.” My excuse, then, was that the timing was bad. I was in the middle of a major writing project. In an already ‘busy’ life, I didn’t have time to scour through file folders to find it and then retype it (the only copy I had was a scanned PDF version). But procrastinating one day, I searched it out and, after reading through it, thought, Share this? Absolutely not.
The essay stirred up a lot of emotion, and a feeling I’d, then, rather deny than acknowledge: that I’m still searching for my way home, trying to find my place in the world.
The world is changing, yet it’s also staying the same. And this essay — seventeen years after it first appeared — begs the question: have I changed or have I, too, stayed the same?
My first literary credit, “On Being Black” was published in the 2003 Winter Edition of Other Voices: Journal of the Literary and Visual Arts. I present here, having only corrected an obvious spelling mistake, the original published version.
On Being Black
From Being Black there is being. Being is, here, in the text of the formula derived long ago: existence precedes essence. Being is what is proper to man, dwelling in this world where the total of all actions undertaken by man are understood by man as being before itself and before others — actions that substantiate the whole of man in being, that do not call into question said whole, and, in addition, allow man, in being, to be with and without being. And being, then, within Being Black, is to re-veal itself as the motivating guide[-ance] beyond the passage in the course of Being Black. Black is not something that you define. Black is not something that you learn to be. Black is not something that you decide to be. Black is. Being Black just is. [Read more…] about On Being Black
This is the third and final installment in the Take Positions for Takeoff series. As a reminder, in Part I: From Chaos to Possibility, I wrote about the initial impact of COVID-19 on my life. Then in Part II: Be Ready for Anything, I shared some of my experiences as a flight attendant. Now, let’s talk about the biggest takeaway from my time in the aviation industry: patience.
Patience as Virtue
They say patience is a virtue. Maybe that’s true. And I often thought of myself as a patient person … until I became a flight attendant. At 38,000 ft, in a pressurized cabin, and when the only thing on offer is recycled air … human behaviour changes dramatically. Maybe the frontal lobe suffers some form of damage. I don’t really know. Or maybe it’s the stress of air travel and passengers trying to figure out all the different rules and restrictions that vary from one airline to another, from one country to another. Whatever the reason, it’s an opportunity to see people at their best and — unfortunately, and growing more frequently — at their worst. [Read more…] about Take Positions for Takeoff – Part III: The Art of Patience
In my last blog post, ‘From Chaos to Possibility’ (Part I of my series, Take Positions for Takeoff), I talked about the initial impact of COVID-19 on my life. Now, let’s enter the real world of being a flight attendant with Part II: Be Ready for Anything.
A Glamorous Life…
Some people think that being a flight attendant is glamorous. I thought that, too. Until I became one. It looks glamorous. And your followers on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram will ooh and aah as you post photos of yourself in Hong Kong one week, then London or Paris the next. That’s kind of where the glamour ends. Well, sort of.
Because they didn’t see you, tired and battered from jet lag, dealing with the idiot complaining it took too long to start the meal service when you (like the rest of the passengers) were seated during the first hour of the flight due to moderate turbulence. They didn’t see you, at 37,000 feet above the earth, performing first aid on a passenger who just passed out when the jerk in 37H came up to you and asked, “Could I get another red wine?” They didn’t see you, holding in your own fear and remaining calm to reassure passengers, as you prepared to evacuate the aircraft. No, they didn’t see you living out your mantra: Be Ready for Anything. [Read more…] about Take Positions for Takeoff – Part II: Be Ready for Anything
At an altitude of 38,000 feet, I always felt like I was flying towards possibility. That a mechanical, steel tube even got off the ground — especially something like the Airbus 380 — left me in awe. Until the day I caught a whiff of an electrical burning smell and shot out of my jumpseat, as did the rest of my colleagues. Anticipating a rapid descent into chaos, for the first time in my four years of working as a flight attendant I had one thought: This is it.
It wasn’t. The flight diverted and landed safely. We spent a couple of hours on the ground while the mechanics figured out what was wrong and fixed it. Then we were on our way home. [Read more…] about Take Positions for Takeoff – Part I: From Chaos to Possibility