Song On Our Lips
Music permeates almost every aspect of Jamaican life. Whether we are happy, mourning, doing laundry or about to riot there is a song on our lips or moving our feet (and hips of course). Contemplating this week’s conversation, the song that came to mind was very popular in the 1970’s. Played most frequently at political rallies and by one of the two contending parties on the island, it promised “Better Must Come!”
Derrick Wilson was the artist who made it popular on the island and it was the rallying cry of the People’s National Party:
I’ve been trying a long, long time still I didn’t make it
Everything I try to do seems to go wrong
It seems I have done something wrong
But they’re trying to keep me down
Who God bless, no one curse
Thank God I’m not the worst
Better must come one day…”
Better Must Come One Day
Then, my understanding of this promise was that through hard work, changes in the world economic order, political struggle – the lot of women, people of nations such as the country of my birth and anyone struggling in any way anywhere in the world – better must come.
With that mindset, Jamaicans, myself included worked hard and prayed even harder for an improved life. Unfortunately, that vision has been illusive for many and not just on that island.
On a personal level, my thoughts were that by gaining the highest level and as much education that my brain could hold, I would have been happy. Better would come.
See, happiness for very long was equated to a large house with a least a double-car garage, a sizable bank account, designer clothing, travel and all the bling that one can imagine. And of course, a successful marriage. Why would it not be a happy and successful one if we had all the trappings? Right?
Losing To Gaining Insight
Only after the:
- marriage ended
- house was bought and sold
- 16-year relationship went up in smoke
- cars were bought then sold or repossessed
- migration, and
- many faux designer or thrift store clothing
was the truth revealed. The proverbial better was always within.
What all the ‘loss’ – my own and that of others – taught me is that material possessions are not necessarily the standard of “better.” So much time is spent comparing our lot with that of others. We check our progress against the Jones’s. As nations, we consider one among us the greatest even though the deficit is in the trillions. One group of people disparages the other because of what they eat, who they love or to whom they pray.
Life Is Better When..
Since prancing to that song in my youth, I have had the privilege of speaking one-on-one with possibly a hundred plus persons on this subject. They were lying on hospital beds either recuperating, in palliative care or days away from making their transition. Others were in correctional facilities, doing time for crimes they had committed. Wherever we met, the conversation eventually came around to what they would have done differently in the time they had or if they got out of prison.
Matching their thoughts to my experience of challenges and even outright struggles, here are the things that have made life better:
- Minding your own business
- Pursuing your passion, hopes and dreams with all your might
- Knowing when to say “No”
- Surrounding yourself with only those who inspire you to be the best human being
- Letting go or walking away from things, situations and people who drag you down
- Keeping wise counsel and knowing when to shut your mouth
- Being courageous and wise
- Speaking truth to power always, even when your knees are shaking
Over To You
Share with me how your life has become better in a non-material sense and what you did or who you grew into to make it so. Take part in the poll and leave a comment below.
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As always, have a great rest of the week!