So...this Friday, June 3rd, I'm celebrating my 40th bday at the Thompson Hotel Rooftop...I can't believe it either. Lol. There was a time I didn't think I'd live to see 25, so I lived my life accordingly. A lot of us did and a lot of us aren't here to tell the tale. So why the fuck am I afraid of turning 40? That would be ungrateful to the people & forces that got me here. That would be an insult to my people that didn't get to celebrate a lot of bdays because they are dead or in jail.
Like all of us, it's because society tells me that I should have so much more. Because the part of me that knows my ambition, but questions if I can really do it and why I haven't done it yet pulls at me. But "society" never lived my life. It's a privilege to worry about getting older, it's a privilege to worry about covering up grey hairs and it's a privilege to worry about your abs not popping like they used to.
I spent alot of time in my "youth" working hard to not being a statistic. Fatherless. Motherless. Dirt poor. Black. Male. All those things statistically put me at the bottom of the totem pole in this society and I spent alot of effort screaming my defiance at the outcome that so many young black men like me are relegated to: Dead or in jail.
I wasn't going to die like so many of my friends from violence.
I wasn't going to end up in prison for the rest of my life like so many of my friends and family.
I was very lucky. I had people that believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. I had people give me chances when I never thought I would get them.
When I catch myself wondering where the time went, I realize I spent alot of time learning through trial and error. I spent alot of time just waiting (and frankly wanting) to die. I just existed. I didn't plan for the future, because I honestly didn't see one for myself. I remember actually being dumbfounded when I turned 26...I mean, PAC and B.I.G (my fellow Gemini's) didn't make it to 26...and here I was. It's perhaps no coincidence that I learned how to tie a tie at 26...from an internet video. I still don't have a license because at 16 when most people were eager to go get their license to drive I
a) never thought I'd be able to afford a car
b) had rent to pay
I knew I couldn't afford the $100 for the test or even the $20 for the manual for the foreseeable future.
The first wedding I attended I was 21, I didn't grow up seeing stable family relationships, much less romantic ones, so I spent alot of time loving the wrong people (no disrespect to them at all) and never learning how to truly love myself.
At 23, I realized that it wasn't normal for people to be killed / murdered. At 23. When I started working at CIBC and hanging out with people from higher socioeconomic class than myself (mostly White people. lol). All their deaths were from accidents and illness...mine? Mostly murder.
My college years? Again, spent working. Finding a career path for myself (when I could find work), I remember dropping out of Seneca because I literally was down to my last $5 and had to choose between buying food for the week or going to class that day. Food won and I've never been back.
My life hasn't been an easy one & I almost died of Congestive Heart Failure @ 32. They gave me 3 days to live MAX. I literally was a walking dead man. Normal healthy hearts are rated on a scale from 1 - 3. 1 being a normal, healthy heart. 3 being a heart that had multiple strokes. I was a 3. Most hearts have an ejection fraction (the amount of fluid the heart expels with each pump) of 65%, anything less than 40% indicates heart failure. Mine was 13%.
And here I am. 8 years later. Worried about turning 40. lol. I've been blessed. I'm here for a reason.
40 is a milestone for me. A big one. I've been through so much and here I am, a few days away, I'm free, I'm healthy, I'm doing what I LOVE for a living & I'm finally loving MYSELF the way I deserve to. I have a bunch of shit head Pomeranians that are teaching me the real meaning of family, I feel great, I look great and I finally have the confidence to approach life with the zeal that I wish I had discovered in my teens and twenties.
After spending so much of my life just trying to survive...I'm finally focusing on thriving. And it's happening as I'm turing 40. Better late than never as far as I'm concerned.
If there's one thing that shows how important parents and parenting is, it's how much further ahead you get your kids by being in their lives. I've never had that luxury. I've never even seen my mother and father together in the same room. I've met my biological mother maybe 3 times in my life...my dad? No comment. But here I am, living a life I never imagined I'd live, looking in the mirror and loving what I'm seeing (I'm not being vain, I fucking hated the way I looked for decades) and so excited about the future, I wake up every day so happy, it's scary.
I'm finally learning how to unapologetically love myself as much as Kanye loves Kanye
...ok, maybe not that much. lol.
I've finally made peace with my past, my parents...and with myself.
Looking at my life and the man I've become and am still becoming, I'm so thankful. Despite "partying" with people 10-20 years younger than me, despite not having the things people "my age" should have...I'm fucking happy. And that's why as scary as it is to admit to people...I'm screaming...it's June, I'm turning 40 in a couple days and I fucking made it against all odds.
I made it this far against poverty.
I made it this far against racism.
I made it this far against self hate.
I made it this far against self loathing.
I made it this far against self harm (the tattoo on my forearm is actually covering up where I used to burn myself when I was struggling with depression...now you know why my CAMH fundraiser a couple weeks ago was so important to me).
I made it this far against violence.
I made it this far against life threatening illness.
I made it this far against neglect & abuse.
Turning 40 is nothing to be ashamed of. My life is a fucking triumph as far as I'm concerned...and god willing, I'm just getting started. The old saying is true:
Where there is life, there is hope. And where you have hope...you find faith. In yourself, in other people and in things greater than yourself.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
- Hebrews 11:1
With hope and faith...you really can do and become anything. The man I'm developing into (finally) realizes he made alot of mistakes, but he learned from them. He's now patient and understanding, where he used to be impulsive and rash. He loves who he is, where he used to hate the sight of himself. But most of all, he loves people. He's intelligent, he's strong and wants nothing but the best for himself and other people.
I've been through alot in life, but I went through it, so I can become the man I am...and the man I need to become, to fulfill my true potential. It's never too late to change and to grow. To live the life that we always wanted. That's true for myself and that's true for you.
The future is bright and life is meant to be lived. So let's live it!
See you all on Friday!