Part of where I’m going is knowing where I’m coming from.
Each step made
Is a step toward growth.
The youngest child,
Baby boy in a generation of adults,
Grows into a man on his own.
Years of animosity toward his father
Diminishes in acknowledgment of his humanity.
Indefinite deference toward his mother persists
In return for a lifetime of her sacrifice.
In 25 years, a newborn rises to join the world.
Learning to love himself,
By himself and with others:
The young boy makes strides.
From childhood days spent in Miami’s Allapattah,
To mature evening promenades in Manhattan’s Harlem.
Like with his first steps in infancy,
Initial trials in bachelorhood called for courage.
Breaking away from drunken gettys and one-time loves
To find himself, for himself.
The naïve man acquires life skills.
Taking less and giving more to others:
In material and emotional possession;
The infantile man learns from his mistakes.
Praying for continued patience of those closest to him,
To endure his ignorance in making a way.
For the family who keep him standing upright,
And the real friends who reflect his life’s truth:
Gratitude is abundant.
Ruminations often cloud recognition of privilege,
But the blinded man begins to see.
Sunset stroll toward the Hudson.
©October 2014 Instagram/thejfalbum
Autumn showers roll into Gotham.
Midtown and Downtown NYC skyline as seen from Morningside Heights
©September 2014 Instagram/thejfalbum
Untitled free verse
Brisk days bring on the hand holding,
Cowboys to girls grasping to keep warm.
The leaves rustle as the Arctic winds blow in
And cause the frosty ice of colder days to form.
The world turns as we grow older,
With heat retained in another’s embrace.
Dreams come true wrapped in forlorn nights,
And the tender touch of a lover’s face.
Living for others or living for self?
The conundrum found in every breath.
To truly be free is to be selfish.
To give selflessly is to be unappreciated.
To take is to mooch or self-preservation?
To ask is to burden another.
To be meek is to punk out.
To want is to be ungrateful.
To be fully whole is satisfaction unattainable.
Yet, we wake, and continue.
In this farce?
Freedom is choice.
Unconsciously living as if these days last forever.
Never knowing if the last breath was the final one.
Late summer landscape.
Harlem and Upper West Side, NYC
©September 2014 Instagram/thejfalbum
Autumn’s onset signals the return of a few routines: the kids going back to school, workers getting back to the daily grind, and the weekly ritual of guys huddling in their respective caves to watch weekend college and professional football.
The cooler weather of the season also signals the impending holiday season and the anniversary of my birth, prompting a reflection on the passing summer season and the year that was.
A verse from the religious texts of my Roman Catholic upbringing recurs in thoughts these days, with its pertinence and veracity becoming ever more obvious:
1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
The quoting of this Biblical verse on life’s changing seasons is not to make some grand self-revelatory statement, as if I’ve fully grown into whatever “a man” is or have attained some sort of divine enlightenment.
As the hot days end and the leaves turnover, though, the verse strikes a searing cord. Manhood, growth, adulthood — whatever — is fundamentally grounded in responsibility of and for oneself.
Ultimately, there is great clarity and empowerment in the knowledge of understanding that the trajectory of my life is most effectively guided by my own actions; and that fact ain’t so bad.
Top photo: Flickr/Ken, September 2005, New York City