My word

About a week ago I watched an episode of Suits, season 6. A character said to Harvey Spector, a main character on the program, “The world knows, when I give my word it is rock solid!” The character wasn’t saying to Spector: “You know my word is rock solid.” The character was saying to Spector, “The world knows my word is rock solid.” I jotted down that quote, anticipating a day would come when I might want to borrow it. There was a certain level of depth to those words that resonated with me.

It’s a breathtaking concept that someone’s word can be absolutely, positively rock solid! It wasn’t so much that the character’s inner circle knew his word was good as gold. It was that the entire planet knew it. This meant his word–his reputation–was as reliable as a Swiss watch. It was as dependable as Monday succeeding Sunday. The statement the character was making was this: His word was as unmistakable as the word of God. Rock bloody solid!

So, when a certain someone said to me yesterday, “I won’t cancel. You have my word!,” the quote from Suits rushed through my head. Lo and behold, three hours later I received a text from this “someone” who wrote, “got 2 cancel.” No apology. Just, got 2 cancel.

Because I know this person is 98.5% unreliable, I wasn’t upset, disappointed, and vindictive doesn’t run through my blood. I had hoped that when this someone said you have my word, this certain someone genuinely meant it. And despite any reasons for this person cancelling, it’s indicative of this person’s true to form persona.

Like the character in Suits, when I give my word it is rock solid! I can’t ever recall backing out of an arrangement with someone even if it meant that there was the potential of losing out on something better. If a prospective employer called any one of my former employers for a reference, there might be some things they could say about me that aren’t especially flattering (e.g., tends to be characteristically late), but they would never, ever be able to claim that ‘Bonita is unreliable’ with a straight face. They would never be able to say ‘Bonita is someone we couldn’t depend on’ (or trust). My word is linked to my character, and I believe character is like karma.

How we present ourselves–with friends, colleagues–is our mission statement to the world. If we’re fickle, untrustworthy, selfish, inconsiderate–these are unfavorable traits that brand us. We walk in the world exposing these characteristics whether we’re aware of it or not. When someone has decided you aren’t dependable, “impeccable with your word,” (which is one of the now popular Four Agreements), or as good as your last lame excuse, this is the way people believe in you. This is the person you have decided to be.

There are some things we pick up on at an impressionable age. Perhaps our parents, those that reared us, or those we were influenced by, which initiated how we view the world and how it works (for or against us). We’re not all blessed to be raised under the most favorable set of circumstances; still, our basic nature is rooted in the quality of how we were brought up.

For those who gave us structure or naught were merely operating from what they were taught. These attributes, or the lack thereof, were demonstrated to us by those having shaped us. As a child, we are unable to discern what exactly is right or wrong. We are left to trust the adults exhibiting conduct in our presence. Yet, as an adults we have a choice. We can decide how we want to represent ourselves in business, among friends, and in society in general.

Any person with adequate intelligence understands that, if you need to cancel or your plans change, its common courtesy to alert any person you’ve made arrangements to meet. When we choose not to reach out to someone to inform them that we aren’t able to keep our commitment, in essence, we are saying to that person you are low priority. My word–anyone’s word–is a public signature, a personal identity. And it follows us wherever we go.

 

 

 

 

 

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Uncomfortable

Last weekend it was 96° in L.A. At least in my part of the city. The San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys were in triple digits. It was hot. I was miserable. At some point, a sense of frustration began to intensify.

I reached for my cell. Scrolling through contacts, I saw no one to call. Not under the circumstances. If I dared complain about anything to one certain friend, she’d attempt to out-story me with her ongoing displeasure with her various life issues.

Earlier, I’d left two messages on the voicemails of two friends and hadn’t heard back from either one of them; therefore, I knew not to reach out to them (again). So I felt stuck, uncomfortable. And I had this self-pitying feeling that no one needed me in their life on that particular day.

Undoubtedly, every single person experiences a form of isolation periodically. When we get in a moment of feeling disoriented, or a rising sensation of being misdirected by life starts to kick in . . . Such feelings can make us feel irrelevant. Disconnected.

Just a few days before the heat wave, I was talking with someone about being a traditionally published author in the 21st century. I was candid with this person, and said despite having two novels published, I was experiencing a nagging awareness of being a professional failure.

The person interviewing me said, “Seriously!” with this voice that suggested she was–well, taken aback! But this feeling accompanies me just about everywhere I go. I can no longer shake it. While I don’t make it a habit of juxtaposing myself to others, this inkling–that gnawing over professional failure–could be related more to society’s idea of success and failure and not my own ideas on success and failure.

Thus, I am observing my professional life through society’s perception of success/failure. Ergo, experiencing non-fulfillment as a published author. Most likely the conversation I’d had about feeling like a professional failure stayed with me and remained beneath the surface of my conscious mind. And, well, with the heat and other stuff bouncing around my head, I felt extremely uncomfortable. And being uncomfortable is exceptionally hard to move through. Even pulling out the big guns (one’s spiritual armor) doesn’t quite cut it.

Uncomfortable can be initiated by deep-rooted feelings which have been underground for years. This includes unworthy, unloved, not good enough. In addition, uncomfortable can also be a sign the universe is nudging you to make a change. One of the toughest psychological places to sit through is personal discomfort.

A few days ago, when I felt an uncomfortableness I’d not felt in some time, I didn’t even make an attempt to reach for my go-tos: journaling, and meditation. I knew, based upon how I felt and what was running through my head, those weren’t going to cut it. I needed someone to complain to. Luckily I’m not a social media butterfly, so I didn’t do what so many people would do to rid themselves of feeling very alone in a very strange and imposing universe.

Using social media to feel better about yourself is a band-aide making futile attempts to stop the flow of blood oozing from a fatal gunshot wound. When you’re in a state of irrelevance, social media will only make you feel smaller, or you’ll communicate from the I-feel-like-a-loser place; however unknowingly. Although I hear it enough: social media offers the lonely a safe haven, and they don’t feel so alone.

The Internet is another form of drug. Another dependency; another obstacle in the way of not facing real life issues. Any form of addictive behavior–which includes endless time online–enables us the opportunity to sit through an uncomfortable feeling; to confront it. Trying to avoid whatever low place we’re at in a fleeting period of time keeps healing at bay.

So, eventually I came to the place that would lead me out of my madness. This choice has never led me astray. And it does work. However, first there’s the issue of finding a way to let go; and second, trust that this too shall pass. Once you’ve managed to accept these ideas, the heavy-lifting is left to whatever you trust or believe in (outside of yourself). Just. Let. Go.

Sitting in uncomfortable is something no one I know well can do for long. At some point the need to be placated will win out, so they will reach for the remote, food, have sex–anything so not to feel uncomfortable. Even if they’re a Bible-quoting, God-fearing person, they will run, work-out, or shop online before they sit in uncomfortable.

This is what I’ve learned–and what I eventually practiced during the heat wave–how amazingly clear you get once you sit to the bitter end in uncomfortable. Until uncomfortable becomes comfort. Genuine comfort doesn’t require appendages–a cigarette, a joint, a glass of wine! But uncomfortable is a moment. An experience that passes if you yield to its presence, stop shadowboxing and simply go through it. As is the case with all things, the uncomfortable shall pass.

About that regret

If you’re remotely like me, you have fleeting pangs of regret. They come in stages–when life seems so strange; perhaps unfair. And if you’re anything like me, you use various skills to look for telltale signs of your past coming back to test you. It’s those revelatory signals, you hope, will make every moment you’ve lived begin to make perfect sense. At the very least anyway, something about your life starts to line up.

Today, sitting at a roundtable with other people, a woman rushes in, greeting us with the fact that she had trouble finding parking. Out of breath, she started with parking being a “nightmare,” but because she’d hit a cat while backing out of her apartment building parking stall, that put every obstacle in motion.

Sometime later, when we began to wrap things up, Carolina revealed to us in a candid voice that her luck was at its worst since relocating to L.A. from New Jersey; and yes, Carolina is an actress. “Nothing is going right for me here,” she shared with frustration. “I met this guy . . . He turned out to be a jerk!” Following her very open discussion about her relationship with “the jerk!,” Carolina then began to expose some of her–as she put it–“lifelong screw ups.” Once we’d finished our project, each of us at the table began to disclose a few of our if-only-I’d known-better stories.

One fate-filled day I came to accept that our past can distort the way in which we see our present. Regret can be tenacious, and more often than not misrepresents the past. The women I spent the afternoon with, as well as myself, recognize that regret will only keep us stuck. Regret naturally kicks in when we loathe how our life looks; what it feels like. Especially when we do the comparison thing, not taking into consideration that the ones we compare ourselves to are also human, and they too compare themselves to others.

Our past has led us to where we are in this very precious instant. Every heartbeat allows us the opportunity to choose another path. Likewise, to see life, and our own story lines, anew.

More often than not we are clueless about having moved past a lingering regret, because the process is quite discreet. What we’re wrestling with is less about our past. We merely assume our past–which has led us to regret–has constructed a present we didn’t purposely choose. We have free will. Most–all of us, really–exercise free will all the time.

The problem I’ve faced is that having a choice and activating that free will is like walking in the dark without a flashlight to give me a heads up to what I’m about to face. So this is when faith is supposed to kick in. I am fully aware that one moment in time can never ruin every other moment; not unless our ego keeps the lie alive.

I cannot count the amount of time I’ve spent existing in the present and living in my past. Attempting to track every other past decision that has led me here. We often regret segments of our past because back-in-the-day life choices haven’t matched up to what we wanted our life to look like.

Holding onto a past that’s impossible to change leads to depriving ourselves of feeling joy, and contentment. And as a result, life tends to feel like hard labor. Yet, from a “universe” standpoint, each one of us is exactly where we should be. Which is why any feelings of regret are so redundant even when they are quite poignant. By regretting any past life choices, we fail to honor the lessons that only our past–or regrets–can teach us, especially about ourselves.

Perhaps what sticks with us is the quality of how we chose. Even when we believe that we’ve pinpointed the time in our lives that caused us to feel less fulfilled, we can never know what specific choices have led us to experience regret. How can we? We choose every single day based upon multitudinous reasons. And choices impact the path. They determine what our future will look like.

In what way could we have chosen otherwise based on who and where we were at that moment in time? The choices weren’t premeditated–made with the intention of ruining or limiting our future. We can never know what choices have elevated us, or set us back. So, it’s in our best interest to trust that our journey is aligned with our life’s blueprint.

Letting ourselves off the hook for what we perceive as poor judgment isn’t a simple task. Still and yet, each of us who is blessed to exude a unique energy on this planet owes it to ourselves to bow to whatever the road has been and continues to be. And moreover, permit the process to reveal to us that which is most favorable to our highest good.

 

Bugsola

The longer we live our lives the more people we will lose. It takes a deep maturing of life to accept losing people who have touched us in some way. Once we have grown in our skin, loss is something we come to accept, if not understand, however complex death is to us.

And while it doesn’t make the process any less heartbreaking, we manage to find our way to honoring a life’s passing. When we find it in ourselves to release the life of a loved-one, the pain of that loss is less intrusive. Losing people we love is aligned with the natural order. It’s quietly complex, and one of the most unavoidable experiences we will live through. This is an example of why Buddha urged against attachment.

This Father’s Day, I am reminded of male losses in my life. It started when I was in my first year of high school. My grandfather, Doc (as he was a doctor), passed away. Then, short of three decades later my father, Kenneth, although he was commonly referred to as Jeep by friends and siblings. A more poignant blow happened just a few months ago. My older brother, Kenneth, which was the most unforeseen.

Yet another loss. Yet another acceptance. Yet another honoring.

My older brother and I were not close. We grew up on opposite ends of the country and under different life situations. Our deepest bond was that we shared the same father. We spent summers together in the park, at the lake. Those memorable summers included eating juicy watermelon and sweet home-made ice cream. And in August we’d drive some 60 miles to Shelbyville for the annual Thompson reunion. We’d ride horses, and receive hugs from family we didn’t know, hearing without fail, You look just like Jeep!

I can say this in light of how different children are raised now: We were grateful children. Innocent. Naïve. We weren’t bored with being. Doing something as simple as trying to catch lightning bugs in our backyard made us giggle, and happy.

During those humid and hot summers in Nashville, life seemed so slow and measured. I was the youngest child at the time, and I followed my older brother and sister like a lost puppy. Sometimes they teased me or would pretend to play hide-and-seek only to run off somewhere and leave me all alone. Still and yet, there was method to their madness: when they returned sometime later they’d bring me my favorite soda in a bottle and bag of chips from a small country store walking distance of my father’s house.

Despite our only seeing each other during summer, we played and talked and laughed as though we were around each other all the time. As if time or distance not once bridged us. Because we were children, we so easily picked up where we’d left off the summer before.

Of course we probably didn’t know it at the time, but our summer vacations at my father’s house would come to an end. Our last summer together was the same summer my youngest sister was born. We were having so much fun, which is probably why the summer felt so fleeting.

This was the time when my father decided enough was enough with me sucking my fingers. He taped two fingers together to keep me from sucking them, and it only took a day for me to stop. That same Nashville summer I shared with both of my siblings for the final time was the same summer my father and brother started calling me Bugsola.

For the life of me, I don’t know exactly why. The sequence of events that led to me being called Bugsola is vague, at best. Yet I recall that it happened on the golf course. This is where my father and brother spent some of their muggy summer days.

I remember this much: begging my father to let me catty. And while he knew I wasn’t ready for such responsibility, my father appeased me nonetheless. The Bugsola thing seems random now, and primarily because I’m not sure why, or even where “Bugsola” came from. Soon enough, my big brother and sister were calling me Bugsola, too.

On rare occasions when I called my brother, I would say, “Hi, Kenneth, it’s me, Bugsola. Kenneth would say, in his known-for-it drawl, “Buuugsooola, how you doin’?”

Throughout most of my adult life, I looked upon Kenneth as my big brother, and my father’s firstborn. The brother I would lose touch with, except rare occasions in which a reaching out seemed overdue. It wasn’t until his passing earlier this year that I came to appreciate his life in a broader context–he was a father, and deeply loved by his children.

 

 

What a beautiful thing

Most mornings I will indulge in a fast-paced walking meditation through the neighborhood before stepping into my car. I drive a lot in L.A., and on average each trip leads me through sprawling landscape and perpetual traffic. When I lived in Seattle and New York, I walked–and all the time. But it’s a mindful thing for me in L.A. because walking doesn’t feel as natural here.

Near where I am staying, there’s an elementary school, and I often walk through or alongside the children heading to school. I take pleasure in the small time in this easy space that quietly shapes my day. Sometimes I strike up a conversation with a student, seemingly awkward, lagging behind the other students. The crossing guard waves at me and speaks. An elderly man, he always has a smile on his face whenever I see him.

This morning, I was driving down the street where the school is located. I reached the stop sign, and just as I began to drive off into the intersection, I heard the whistle which alerts vehicles that children would be crossing the street. Since I was already in the intersection I decided to keep going. But I felt ill at ease about it because it involved children; and I was aware that it was irresponsible.

After parking my car, I walked back to the crosswalk, and upon reaching it approached the crossing guard. I began to apologize for not stopping in time when he blew his whistle. Straightaway, he laughed as he reached for my hand. Holding it, he said with his usual generous grin, “Oh, don’t you worry. You coming to apologize . . . what a beautiful thing. Thank you so so much! What a beautiful thing . . .”

It’s only fair that I say that I screw up so many times every single day. And in truth, there are times where I couldn’t care less about apologizing, even if I am fully cognizant that I should. And more so, am totally mindful of needing to right a wrong–still and yet, choosing to do otherwise. It’s a human flaw we all share. But when selecting to do the right thing, there’s a feeling that washes over your spirit and it truly makes life–and our drama–seem less urgent.

And this is why so often I wonder why we don’t choose to do “a beautiful thing” more often than we do. Why is it we think, somehow, doing the right–“a beautiful”–thing will inconvenience us? Or is it that we just don’t make the time because we’re much too distracted by whatever is on our mind at the time? Being present in the 21st century is perhaps one of the most challenging things to do, even if you have a dedicated practice of being here now.

I can attest: when I haven’t had time, or my head was in the past or the future but I put in the effort to be present, it changed not only how I approached the remainder of the day, but something in me shifted. I felt lighter; not so weighed down with a past I can never ever change or a future not promised. Whatever I (or anyone for that matter) am in such a rush for will not materialize any faster as a result of not choosing to do a beautiful thing.

When we invest in humanity, when we show up, and especially when it’s most inconvenient, not only is that an action from the heart, it redirects the pendulum in your favor and revises the contour of each thing that occurs thereafter. Having acquired the knowledge along the way, I know this: when we pause to do a beautiful thing, or acknowledge someone who looks troubled or sad or their spirit is broken, offering a simple acknowledgement–despite our own life situation in that moment–the Universe will work in our favor. It really, really will. The universe does have your back even when it feels quite the opposite. It’s the quality of our discernment that recognizes the meaning behind any experience. If nothing else, there’s Divine meaning behind whatever happens to us.

Baristas, the grocery sacker, our neighbors, distant family, even friends we replace with new ones because the new ones know less of our backstory–those we keep saying we need to reach out to, could sometimes need our attention just like a total stranger. The crossing guard has traveled a long, and hopefully amazing, journey. He’s certainly lived long enough to know that taking the time and putting in the effort to show up when no one is watching is a genuine act of benevolence–a beautiful thing!

Angela

Last December, I spent the holiday with family in Washington, D.C. It was a blessing to have been able to squeeze in a day at the National Museum of African American History & Culture. The experience was amazing, and will remain sketched on my heart until the day it stops beating.

Roaming through the various rooms, we were awed by the stirring, epic history of souls unbroken by relentless degradation and suffering during slavery. At some point we made our way to more recent accounts of the lives of African-Americans—the 1960s and 1970s. When I was very young, in the early ’70s, I wore a Free Angela Davis button on whatever I was wearing. I also sported a serious Afro. During this time, the complexity of race was so acute. Angela Davis, referred to as “militant” back then, was a part of that intense narrative.

While absorbing the richness of the photographs that depicted an elaborate human stain on America, I shared with my cousin, Kim, “When I was a kid, people said I looked like Angela Davis.” Taking in the eloquent photographs which depicted the life-altering moments of the 1960s and 1970s, and a once highly visible photograph of Angela Davis among them, my cousin said, “I can see the resemblance.”

A few days ago, while rummaging through belongings so as to donate unused stuff to charity, I came across old photographs from a time following my “serious Afro” phase. And earlier today, over coffee I shared some of the photographs with a friend. I told her that my cousin said that I “resembled” Angela Davis. My friend said, “Yeah, you do favor Angela.”

At some point the subject of Angela Davis being a fugitive from justice, and on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, was discussed. Although it didn’t look that way at the time, America was finding its way to hope and promise, despite the fact that this was a generation marred by hatred and violence. But King was slain in Memphis; and no sooner than the country could catch its breath, presidential hopeful Robert Kennedy was likewise assassinated in L.A. months later. Hope and promise looked bleak. By the time I was wearing my Free Angela Davis button, the Black Panthers were high-profile, and race relations couldn’t be more divisive. Such times dominated the 6:00 o’clock news.

Later that same evening, after talking about Angela and the country during that timeframe, I attempted to put into perspective that time in my life–when I proudly wore a Free Angela Davis button, and an Afro throughout high-school. What statement was I making? What did I genuinely feel? Was I merely going with the flow of that time, because it was cool to come across radical? On what level did I understand? Because at that age we are naturally naïve. It’s not something we admit to at the time, but when we are challenged to write a letter to our younger self, offering advice in hindsight, can we see how we’ve changed; that we’ve evolved.

Older, wiser, I search for understanding now. I’ve attempted to clarify in my own mind when I began to choose not to follow the mainstream of any kind of ephemeral I’m-mad-as-hell-and-I’m-not-taking-it-anymore ranting like Peter Finch in Network, a film from the 1970s. Where was I when that discerning moment occurred and I owned my voice and honored that call? When did we get so obnoxiously loud? It gets noisier, and that makes me tone-deaf and I am unable to make rhyme or reason of the contradicting messages.

There’s a conspicuous difference between the Civil Rights Movement and whatever movement we’re creating today. There was a noble calling; a human struggle at work during the age of Civil Rights. Even if I didn’t “get it” in its full context, or I didn’t have a keen sense of the urgent stance, I knew what was happening in my youth mattered. Admittedly, I was too young to believe in the causes of the 1960s; at least not in an empirical way. The ancestral oppression and inequality which has permeated throughout American culture is what provoked someone like Angela.

I hear a lot of anger out there, and my intention is not to snub the passion. My distrust comes from the collective conscience that fuels the indignation. It’s not that it sounds superficial. It simply lacks the at-any-cost feeling. It’s more 21st-century, in which we take on a cause for the moment so we can tweet about it, or whatever. We wear various floral-colored bracelets and ribbons on our lapel, because it displays our “behind it” conviction. This isn’t to suggest that by wearing paraphernalia that supports a cause in any way trivializes that cause.

Following the downturn, the Occupy Wall Streeters camped out in front of Federal buildings–defiant, determined. The protests started out with countless supporters across the States. And they stuck it out. Many went to jail. Some are still hanging in there. While there was passion in the early stages of the Occupy Wall Street cause, it didn’t rise to the level of Angela.

Those putting their face on more recent causes have an attention-grabbing feel to them; not that they would risk life and limb for. That drive comes across more so as wanting to display a mad-as-hell-and-not-taking-it-anymore attitude because it sounds good when we send it out into the social networking Universe (and there’s enough out there to be mad as hell about, so I get it).

The causes of the 21st century are more causes du jour, and the supporters of those causes will follow that cause for as long as it’s trending. In between the Real Causes are transient ones–to make a point, not to initiate change. This is the major plot behind causes: Change. There are far too many designer causes in recent times, and they have been framed inside of a fleeting historical moment.

We need more Angelas!

Cold brew

There’s an invasive, pathological pattern to modern culture. More than ever before, so many of us are feeling a deep need to belong; yet that urge eludes us because we’re unaware of our desire to be validated by outside sources. A contagious, indiscernible thing has taken over daily life. And while most of us hunger for individuality, increasingly, social media is one of the ways in which we attempt to acquire it.

Life will not get less complicated, so there’s no better time than this moment to discover our life-calling internal go-to. Hopefully we don’t put it off for so long that it turns into a too late. Yet the way in which the world is turning, we’re in need of some kind of armor to protect the mind from false evidence appearing real, and falsity in general. It’s time now to work on things that will elevate our mind-set; stuff we can put in our Real Self kit. It takes hard bloody work to learn what self-acceptance feels like.

There are times when I sense someone I’m talking to is making genuine effort to commit to their soul’s conviction. However, in my day-to-day interactions, it’s becoming clear to me the “real us” is too insecure to own a less popular worldview. More and more the majority are seeking verification from the outside; because, like in high school, there was this feeling of acceptance when we went along with the Popular and/or Cool People.

I don’t know. Perhaps it could be because once upon a time culturally we honored some kind of tradition, but that has long been lost. Lines have been blurred for some time now. What does traditional even mean? And if there’s a new traditional, what exactly is that traditional?

It was earlier today, when these thoughts started bouncing around my psyche. I stood on line–a long line, in fact–waiting to get a cup of coffee. Not an espresso drink mostly made up of more than a day’s maximum intake of sugar. I was on line to order an old-fashioned cup of hot java. While waiting, and growing impatient with the barista chatting too long with a customer, my eyes rolled to the bottles of “cold brew” stacked in the cooler.

SBUX, the widely recognized brand, has gotten a lot of money out of me over the course of 20-plus years. Back in the day, I loved going to the ubiquitous Seattle coffee bar to sit and write in my journal, or catch up on reading materials in the then-artsy, but cozy chairs. The baristas, trained in those days for a different time and clientele, made the best brevé lattes. I loved the music they played.

But when the iconic brand went global and began to offer free Wi-Fi, the coffee company that made caffeinated drinks trendy and introduced Frappuccino to the world, lost that once can’t-define-it quality. When they began selling “cold brew,” every coffee franchise, every supermarket, and every anything else that sells coffee, followed behind the “cold brew” idea. “Cold brew” is everywhere! I looked up one day and there was cold brew. I’m not sure why, but somewhere along the way–the millennial era, perhaps?–it was decided SBUX is the standard-setter.

What happened to originality, the unpredictable? The amazement, and the awe? The aha, the extraordinary? We’ve become clones, imposters, followers. On an individual level, it’s difficult not to isolate from what I define as our normal-on-crack! We cannot imagine the idea of being insignificant, and we trust that in order to be noteworthy we have to be like everyone else.

We Facebook, Instagram, tweet–there’s something about being connected to hundreds and thousands of people we don’t know. Even if that connection is superficial, it makes us feel a part of somethingthus we engage. We admire people we aren’t even sure what they do to earn a living, and the average person recognizes their Name.

We spend less time being curious about anything unique, the truly brilliant, the under-relevant (unless or until it goes viral). Lowbrow talent is admired and put on a pedestal. We’re so busy following the clones, the herd, the noise. What happened to us? The direction we’ve taken has progressively become silly and senseless. There was once depth and substance; perhaps because our attention span was vast and long-lasting.