December 24, 2009

Diamonds from Lumps of Coal

Nine years ago, I attended a Christmas Day service at Bethel AME Church in Baltimore. The minister, Frank Reid, talked about the so-called "Slaughter of the Innocents" - after the three wise men saw Jesus in the manger and lied to King Herod about his whereabouts, Herod decided he couldn't risk the potential threat to his throne from the so-called "King of The Jews". To that end, he ordered the execution of every male child below the age of 2 in Bethlehem.

Rev. Reid's point was that, even something as beautiful and transformative as The Nativity has a cost. Like he said, for some people, this is their first Christmas without their mother. The holidays make the grief that much harder, like a phantom limb that just won't stop aching.

Magic isn't free.

As 2009 draws to a close, I keep thinking about the line Max Cady says to his former lawyer before he begins his campaign of terror in "Cape Fear":

"You gonna learn about loss."

Because, in fact, that was the big lesson of 2009: Loss.

Michael; Teddy; Farrah; Dom Deluise; E. Lynn Harris; Jennifer Jones; Edward Woodward

Personally, I lost a lot. More than I ever imagined.

And, in some ways, the deepest cut was the loss of dreams, in particular about film and writing. The year opened with so much promise, but brought so much profound disappointment in its wake. I'd held to the dreams for so long, they were comforting and reassuring.

But, then again, so was Falstaff to Prince Hal.

See, that's the thing about dreams: no matter how much you want to, you can't live inside them. They're there to inspire and offer visions of all that seems possible.

But, in the end, you have to wake up and live.

Back in February, I had a dream that I was interviewing President Obama for this very blog, and I asked him what was the most important thing he could say to my readers.

He replied, "Keep dreaming. But be ready to do the work."

2009 hurt so much because we finally saw the deep chasm between where we are and where we dream of being.

But the blessing in this year is that it also made me open my eyes, look around, and see the true treasures I had that can more than bridge the gap.

Lost a job? Found a better one.
Lost a home? Prepping to buy.
Lost a friend? Gained a deep & unconditional love.

Lost Nana?


Some holes can't be filled.

But, as my better half said the other day, I don't need to buy my grandmother a gift because now she's everywhere and knows where my heart lies.

And as for that lost dream? Talk to me this time next year. You may be pleasantly shocked. :-) Because the shortest path between two points is sometimes the most crooked and counterintuitive of lines. Sometimes, you need to walk away to get where you're going.

2008 was a magical year. But 2009 was the end of delusions so that we could all see what's necessary to conjure the next feat.

This is the time of year to think about magic. But magic isn't free.

2010 is the year to do the work to make the dream real. And 2009 told us that there are no short cuts. No easy ways out. No quick fixes.

As the joke goes, 9 women can't have a baby in a month.

But we have everything we need. Our loved ones, our faith, our skills, and our will.

Like Obama said, we ARE the ones we've been waiting for.

Stop waiting. Stop crying. Stop stalling. Stop negotiating.

Make the magic.
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