Stretch Before You Run
Oct 6, 2013

The positive results you get from challenging boundaries in relationships, theirs or yours

If you listen to Wake Up With WURD, you are well aware that I have an allergic reaction to several things that pass themselves off as entertainment these days: Tyler Perry movies and reality TV shows. I cannot contain my dramatic eye rolls or disdain for either of them. The demonization of women--be they "unchurched" or flat-out uncouth--the materialism and superficiality, the trumped-up morality or lack thereof...it all makes me itch. We humans, particularly people of color, have such multi-layered journeys and experiences in this world. And the way we have allowed media and popular culture to continually perpetuate such a narrow narrative of who are is deeply disappointing. I have made it my mission to throw the shutters wide open on Blackness and give my listeners no excuses for being uninformed or sheltered from our undeniable beauty and troublesome contradictions.

Interestingly, this need to be open and inquisitive and adventurous leads to some awkward exchanges in my personal life. I have had a big personality my entire life. I tend to ask too many questions, laugh a little too loud, and engage in other forms of self-indulgence that don't always endear me to people who prefer a more low-key, private existence. And then there are those who think that love and friendship require some kind of masochistic heavy-lifting, even in the early stages.

For the life of me, I do not understand this mentality of creating hurdles to happiness. If we spend time around one another, enjoying each other's company should not be hard work. We should be able to reflect on the goings-on in the world and our own lives, express what delights us and what pisses us off, and work collectively to make sense of the feelings that are stirred up by our honest exchanges. I don't always have to agree with you or see things your way, but I don't see the point in having to take a crowbar to your character to know what's on your mind and in your heart. If you like me, I'm going to need you to be brave and let me in. I will admit that occasionally, fear tempts me to put the chain on my own soul's front door. But inevitably, benefit of the doubt gets the best of me and I anticipate the lesson that I am supposed to learn from having someone come into my life.

This humanness of ours can be tricky business, but the rewards far outweigh the alternative of being closed up and closed off. There's a line from Michael Moore's documentary Bowling for Columbine that has always stuck with me. He traveled to Canada to test the theory that most of the country's residents don't bother to lock their front doors, even in the more populous urban areas. After walking right into many people's homes in the middle of the day and not being greeted with gunfire or anger, he asked them why their environment was so much safer and engaging than in America. One wise woman (who admitted to leaving her own door unlocked while she was relaxing several blocks away at a coffee shop with her friends) put it this way: "In America, you all think it's safer to lock other people out. Here, it feels like we're locking ourselves in." Word.

I know sometimes I can be a lot to handle, and everything ain't for everybody. But part of fully embracing my larger-than-life personality also means I have to let it all hang out and hope that the right people get it and join in. This is, of course, without being mean-spirited or intentionally selfish toward anyone else. I pray in the Muslim way: both palms open, in a posture of supplication, but also open enough to give and receive freely. Wouldn't it be wonderful if more people stretched open their spirits and believed that the results were worth the risk?

Here is last week's playlist: