A conversation with an old friend from an old town landed here. We were talking about what we had been up to for ten years since we last saw each other. He was living in the same town as a new firefighter. He had the same smile and a new address in town.
He asked me what I had been doing and we started talking about where we went to school and what jobs we did after. I left for New York and worked on Wall Street, then midtown, to LA then London. I had always talked about how I would end up here. He stayed in town. He worked different jobs and was happy and tanned from the Florida sun and didn’t see the big deal about signing up to save lives for living. It was “an easy fit” he humbly noted. I told him what I do in film and travelling and his eyebrows raised. “You’re lucky.”
I would have left then if he didn’t have the same smile. Accomplishment and luck are different things. If you are lucky, you didn’t accomplish it, you were given it. When you talk to someone and say “You’re lucky” to whatever they accomplished, well fuck you. It is saying late nights, working over the weekend, turning down vacations, putting things like a serious relationship and kids on hold so you can accomplish what you wanted- was an act of luck.
Would you ever say “You’re lucky!” To a veterinarian? Or a doctor? No. You think, “Fuck, this person went to school forever and is doing something to help others.” And out loud, “Wow, good for you!” Look, I love my job. I am hungry it every day I walk in, which I would say I am lucky to have found that. I don’t save lives with by using doctor tools, but I make people laugh, think escape through my job in being creative. I also work hard. I stay late. The “I don’t know how she does it” idea is a pedestal that is given to people when they don’t want to think about how you did it all. It was staying late. Not going out as much. Taking night classes. It is the new Benjamin’s to keep up with. It is the idea that we should be somewhere by some time, like an appointment we were born into. I blurt out “I didn’t get lucky. I worked really hard everyday for the last ten years.”
Ahem. This is not about modesty. It is about keeping realistic visions of ourselves and what we want in perspective. And that effects others.
I understood, what he meant. It was good to see someone from a lifetime ago. I remember his bowl cut from elementary school as he goes on about where he went fishing recently down the coast as we keep talking.
The next day my sister said she heard me say that and that she had never heard someone say it was hard work, not luck or offer a coy smile. This is why I love hip-hop. Many songs talk about where the artist came from. The adversity they faced. The emotion in it. It is like the Ode to a Better Life. Shouldn’t we be taking this mentality when we talk about what we accomplished?
Danny Seth sings about this in his track I Arise. He made it. He did it on his own, too.
Listen to this on the EMPT Hiphop Playlist.