During my ritual 1.5 mile lunchtime walk earlier this week, I had the pleasure of speaking with my Grandmother.
I liken my Grandmother to an Oracle in that she never fails to provide me with food for thought.
There is a ritual of sorts that we adhere to upon my calling.
The phone rings:
“Hey Bigmama! How you doing?!”
“Who is this?
“It’s your Grandson, the handsome one.”
‘Hey Shun! You are a mess!”
And we both erupt in raucous laughter.
In a world where the term “hero” is abused and torn asunder by wanton overuse – this woman, the anchor, the Matriarch of my family is deserving of every syllable of the word.
She is more than worthy of me orbiting her.
Her powers of recollection and optimism belie her 95 years – her fealty to family is something that defines her and accordingly it has infected me.
Through her I’ve been able to grab hold of a purpose that I assumed would be unattainable.
Dedication to something bigger than the selfish confines of self.
Whenever I return to my hometown of Chicago – making my way to her side is usually the first stop that I make.
It was during a visit with my Grandmother a little over 4 years ago – where she changed the course of my life, again.
It was on the heels of my leaving an organization where I made the grave error of investing a large part of my self worth and identity in.
For the longest time I considered the “organization” an extension of my family, eschewing vacation time in deference to the company line – only for a confluence of events to show me that “it” had no wherewithal or duty to love me back.
A number of people in the organization – who I considered my friends and thought had my best interests at heart, demonstrated that their loyalty was elsewhere, in retrospect it was a hard, but necessary lesson that I had to learn.
I had an undergraduate degree in Journalism and a MBA, but the self expulsion from my corporate parent left me in a vulnerable place, wrestling with the uncertainty of my next steps in the professional sphere.
I found myself asking:
What was I going to do?
And there I sat…
In the living room across from my Grandmother when she began reflecting on a story that I never tire of hearing – about the journey that brought her and her sisters from Alabama to Chicago on the heels of the United States entering World War II.
But on this day, it was different. Perhaps it was my own fear of an uncertain future that prompted me to ask her:
“So, Bigmama, weren’t you scared?
Going to a new city, where you only knew a handful of people?”
I always wondered…
Why wasn’t she scared?
Why the stiff upper lip?
Where did her reserves of determination come from?
These roots to my family tree were pulling me towards them – and I resisted at first.
It was at that moment – that my fear of the unknown evaporated as my Grandmother trampled it with the sage wisdom that is her calling card.
Before I knew it…
I was pulled down a twisting path that saw me evolving into an amateur genealogist and the keeper of family history.
More than 4 years later…
I realize that love and the business of family has been one of the greatest honors of my life.
Bearing witness to my family members examples of heroism, sacrifice and love in the historical record gave notice to the fortitude that I see in the form of my Grandmother and the other Elders of my family.
It gave birth to the Whispers of my Ancestors series – where I’ve been honored to be recipient of outreach from people around the world about how my efforts to honor the shoulders that I stand on inspired them to do the same…
Having a reader refer to the series as:
“a better description of the equation of a workplace and personal value.
Was nothing short of humbling…
The love and the business of family.
Was more than lip service and I began to see it for what it was – a labor of love where the reward was an affirmation of self, it changed me and recharged the reserves of my faith.
The love of family – is a fortress in a world where duplicitous invective seems to be the norm.
This journey has taught me something powerful…
It taught me about the power of business on a higher vibration than the flimsy MBA bearing my name ever could have shown me.
According to the definition of Business taken from Wikipedia:
Business – is the activity of making one’s living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (goods and services). Simply put, it is “any activity or enterprise entered into for profit.
The past incarnations of myself…
Committed a sin of the highest order as I placed faith and allegiance in the wrong places.
It took a conversation from my Grandmother and a journey of discovery to understand what powered me to learn…
That I wasn’t LIVING.
That the MONEY I was making had no worth.
That my ACTIVITIES were going down a path of inconsequence.
The PROFIT that I have secured from the business of family has been my redemption – and a segue to an allegiance of a higher order.
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