There was a book going around a few years ago called The Secret. The basic premise was that if you believed in something and knew in your heart of hearts that it was true, then that thing would happen. The idea coincides with this notion in physics that our thoughts create reality. There was an alien named Bashar that channeled itself through a man named Darryl Anka. Apparently, the alien can travel almost instantaneously anywhere in space and time but has never set foot on earth. It's only way to communicate to humanity was through Mr. Anka. I listened to a few lectures by the alien Bashar. He talked about reality as a construct of our thoughts. Of course, I don't believe that there really is an alien, but I do believe in the philosophical core of what the alien talked about. This idea is connected to Cartesian philosophy, which holds, as its core tenant, the idea, "I think, and therefore I am." During a speech that the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King gave in 1967 at my mother's high school, he said, "The first thing we must do is develop within ourselves a deep sense of somebodiness. Don't let anybody make you feel that you are nobody. Because the minute one feels that way, you will be incapable of rising to your full maturity as a person." Again, we have this notion of cartesian philosophy from Martin Luther King.
My friend Diana reminded me of her own Cartesian journey and how important it is to establish the "somebodiness" that Dr. King talked about. Let me see if I can get the story right. Diana, if you're reading this, you can correct me if I get it wrong. For much of her young life, Diana wanted to be a dancer. Unfortunately, she didn't have the opportunity to receive formal training through dance school. Still, she believed herself to be a dancer and took action accordingly. Through the power of her self-vision, she actualized her dream and became a dancer. Not only did she become a dancer, but she is now in a position to help other young people actualize their dreams of becoming dancers. I think that's quite powerful because it has a far reaching ripple effect throughout society that lasts for generations. As those young people who she has influenced grow up to influence others, they carry on the power of this "somebodiness". And thus, the cycle goes for as long as it can.
From when I was about eight years old, my "somebodiness" was a strong belief in myself as a poet. That's who I wanted to be. That's who I became. Like Diana, I didn't have any formal training in creative writing, but I took action to put myself in situations where I could become a poet. Not only did I become a poet, but I also thrived in a genre of music that few people understand. I was wildly shouting improvise verse to mostly improvised music. It was uncanny and so out there, you might think I was sent here by Bashar. It was also a bit anachronistic because this style's purveyors had their heyday before I was born. I'm talking about artists like Gil Scott Heron, The Last Poets, Amiri Baraka, and Miguel Piñero. They were troubadours of the spoken word who mixed melodies with poetic truth. So, not only did I want to be a poet, I wanted to be that kind of poet. I did it. From the age of 23 to 43, I stood on stage and shouted my poetry. I performed in stadiums all over Japan and festivals around the world. The only thing that stopped me from continuing on was my own self-doubt. Throughout that entire 20 year time, there was a party of me that doubted the validity of my artistic contribution. The impostor syndrome was strong and eventually grew to the point that I feel quite uncomfortable performing now the way I used to.
It's strange and beautiful at the same time how thought creates reality. I envisioned myself as one of those troubadour poets, and I became that person until the vision faded. I actually have a supernatural story about this which I will tell you later if you remind me.
Diana envisioned herself as a dancer and is still dancing today. What's even more bizarre was that when I was in my early 20s, I also envisioned myself as the young artist who would eventually transform into an older professor. And sure enough, that is precisely how my life ended up. I can assure you it wasn't through direct action. Every single element of my life was a result of happenstance. It was the spontaneous generation of reality born from my sense of somebodiness.
I'm not saying that I believe in The Secret. I think it's a bunch of hogwash. Like I said before, I do not really believe in Bashar either. However, I believe in the power of seeing yourself as something and believing yourself as that something. No matter what the world says about whether you're a great something or not is irrelevant. I was not great. There were many tens of thousands who were greater than me, and still I could have these experiences.
This post's point isn't to preach to you at all but to share another story, a realization that I had when looking at a photo I took. Becoming a photographer was another vision I had for myself from the time that I was a teenager. It's not just about snapping an image. Something in each image speaks to me of a more profound truth and reminds me of things that I otherwise might have forgotten. Today's picture of Diana reminds me of the power of believing in one's somebodiness.