By Robert Williams
I grew up with Whitney Houston and loved every moment of it. I was watching MTV in the early 80’s at Eastern Illinois University as a student when this tiny caramel glazed Whitney sequestered my attention. At eighteen or nineteen I became frozen, first just seeing a Black artist on MTV, but equally as well seeing a young Black sister blazing such sensational vocal cords. Oh yea and she was hot, I mean good-looking. I knew immediately she was a superior talent. I was enthroned such that I wanted my girlfriend to look like her. She was a quantifying symbol that success albeit in show business was a possibility.
Like most Black College students at that time I understood Black videos wasn’t available for public viewership. As a matter of reference, Don Cornelius’ Soul Train was the nearest channel to music videos in those days. However, MTV revolutionized cable television with Hollywood produced style music video for viewing. But there was a catch, Pandora box only spilled out white artists on the small screen. As a result, the ‘No Color Artists Need Apply’ atmosphere was apparent at MTV. Yet, it would take Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean video to break the color line on MTV. Michael’s talents and music videos provided the pathway for Whitney and other Black artists to mainstream society. (As a reminder, my generation grew up with Don Cornelius, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston, all who have now moved beyond, their talents will be missed.)
A Wasted Talent?
Some Americans will remind us that Whitney was talent wasted; I would say to them, keep your hero-worshipping mythology to yourself. You see Whitney and Michael each were ordinary humans with exceptional talents: Singing and show business. Some believe however they are mandated by this talent to be without flaws. Bullshit! In fact, they are especially receptive to make more mistakes than other. Why? Because they often mis-perceive and overreach their talents, in other words, they may begin to believe they’re more than humans. Consequently, this is never true, we’re all flawed humans. You would think people would understand that outside those talents artists are like you and me. Yet plan to see and hear on discussion boards, “Whitney wasted her talents and life”. This is an egotistical statement supporting the hypothesis, “That much is given, much is demanded”, this is a modern-day myth of enormous proportion. Here’s a poorly kept secret, exceptional talent is not synonymous with perfection, Godliness, or any other mythological standards.
My Hero is Not a God
I am not here to remind you of Whitney Houston’s shortcomings, I’m too busy categorizing my own. I however would like to remind you of her impact in my young adulthood. She was a frozen figurine in her music video but, on the other hand, her voice would pound like a boxer submitting his final blows to his helpless opponent. She was a magnetic force attracting young men and women in my generation, I never heard someone say Whitney Houston could not sing, not once. Was she special? No more than the average person on the street. Did she light up and disappoint her fans? I suspect. Nonetheless, she never had to provide anything but her music for our pleasure or scorn. Those who mock her for the numerous shortcomings will dread my commentary, so be it.
However, I loved her talent, her life, and the limitations; only because I believed my heroes are human.
I dislike higher learning, yes at this present moment, it’s unsettling. Higher education is an organization for academic achievement of advanced thought through research. It also is an environment where all meaningful thinking originated with humans, specifically White men. This essay is not about race but the (perceived) disconnection from Taoism by the author. I have become the unconscionable ringmaster of a circus.
The pattern of higher learning is not complex, “smart individuals theorized propositions and as a result of their scientific examination results you must listen to them”. More important, opinions are not valid and only receive legitimacy if past scholars or research are acknowledged. As such, higher learning does not nurture creativity or ‘outside the box’ thinking however strict obedience to the scientific method and notable scholars are prerequisites.
For instance, neither Socrates nor the Greeks are the founders of philosophy and higher thought. Sadly, this premise begin an academic career in adult education.
This is one disconnect as there are others, higher education is as systematically dysfunctional as secondary schools. Paulo Freire speaks about the ‘banking model’ where learning institutions educate peasants to accept the social order; this is a norm in higher education classrooms. Adult learning is restricted by 16 weeks; time not learning dictates the cemented curriculum.
In truth, syllables in research (NIU) universities where professors combat to become leaders in their fields or tenured are cemented with identical talking points yearly. Knowledge it seems is stagnant in all social contexts. As a result, adult learners receive an educational template to help fill corporate payrolls that sadly no longer exist. Worse, the author abandoned Tao to hopefully relish and prospers in this pseudo existence.
“Truth is a necessity if you’re ever going
to live in harmony with spirit
and become a source of inspiration for the people
you encounter.” Dr. Wayne Dwyer
Yes, the Dragon walked away in theory unaware that without ‘The Way’ you spin in circles. At any rate, college became an empty dwelling only useful in as too retrieve rote memorization for test results. Also, social contacts are because of fear and superficial expectations of the writer became fuzzy. However this is not an indictment on individuals (i.e., professors, administrators, students) the author count as friends. In brief, this summary exists only because of the author’s thoughts of the unknown.
The college classroom, writing papers, or speaking at conferences does not resemble dreams of peace and tranquility for me. On the contrary, I love to coach, teach, and live Tao. I love to awake to ambient music as early as 4.30AM, read, and remain still for eternity. The Dragon crave to work for individuals that exhume his passion: male adolescents and adult readers. Nevertheless, the most important trait I possess is that of awareness and as a result, I do not want to waste time.
Working for the Tao is effortless because time does not exist.
The Invisible Dragon
The formula to inner success is the ability to “Stick With It”. In 1980 as a freshman in college (Eastern Illinois University) the environment of intercollegiate athletes was overwhelming. I was lost, confused, and befuddled on the humongous campus. In addition, Charleston, Illinois was night to-day to Chicago; its personality resembled Dixieland, Mississippi. I was a non-scholarship student-athlete (a walk-on) in Hell. I wanted to quit the first day. (August 13, 1980)
Playing football never came hard until arriving at Eastern Illinois University. One week removed from intercepting the game saving pass in the Chicago Public vs. Catholic League All-Star game, I was relegated from city hero to cleaning the latrine. In fact, the treatment was consistently antagonistic and aggressive; as walk-ons, we received everything last. This went on for what seemed like forever.
Our jerseys were t-shirts, our shoes were black, (other players’ shoes were white), and the helmets resembled props from a 1940 movie set. Again, I begged and pleaded for my mother to save me with her approval to quit. Once more she never uttered a word to confirm the request. However, she said something that night that would change everything.
In the prison camp disguised as a college football team “live hitting” was about to begin. I warned my mother about the upcoming event. On this day, live tackling drills would fill the air; walk-ons like myself would be instructed to run with the football…and BAM, the varsity defensive backs would take your head off. This day was scary for all underclassmen.
However, as much as I cried (I cried a lot) to my “Ghetto Mum” her uneducated tongue the night before prepared my becoming a Two-Time First Team Kodak All-American, Two-Time AP 1st and 2nd Team American, and 1st UPI First-Team All-American and a small stint as a Steeler.
THE VETERANS ARE HERE…
The Invisible Dragon
At the center of your being you have the answer;
you know who you are and you know what you want.
Lately my life has become submerged in clouds of “Busy Work”. This phrase (Busy Work) I learned from students as it describes activities of routine and not of passion. As you are aware, the musings are far too between here on the Dragon, reason? (My mind is trapped in Busy Work). By the way, the longhand journal I keep does not recognize the ink of my pen. WTF, I am a stranger until myself.
How does one maintain deep peace? What sacrifices should one make for happiness? Describe that place? Valid questions, more important than graduate studies, these inquiries are possibly the foundation of my life. (One would only hope).
Since March 2007, The Invisible Dragon blog has been a sanctuary for reflection but lately it has become a foreign novelty. I would like to invite a reunion, a static gathering, where one again set the sunrise by it. Is this a peaceful start? (One does Hope)
I believe one should develop a life philosophy, a livable framework, flexible in structure no less. (If it sounds like I’m new to this I am). Writing to the Dragon is very peaceful; I wonder why one turns their back on it occasionally. What is outside my awareness that motivates these ambitions to flee? How does one maintain deep peace? (I Hope)
The Invisible Dragon