Category: Prosperity



How many times have you lost your home, your job, and your means for making money and stayed smiling? I guess not many. It would be like falling about three times on a gymnastic event, then dismounting and nailing the landing. You might look around for people to clap and expect that the world would be ok, ‘cause you landed on your feet. But when you fall, you get deducted points. When you get deducted points, you lose value. When you lose value, it’s hard to make ends meet. Then what’s next?

I have had times in my life when I lived off of $10 a week for groceries. I ate Ramen noodles, chicken thighs and legs, the cheapest tuna I could find ($.39 a can), lots and lots of pasta and potatoes. I remember a time living in NYC when I didn’t have a job and my rent was due and I had no money for groceries. I lay on the floor and prayed and cried out to the Lord to help.

The next day I got a cashier’s check in the mail from an anonymous person. It was enough for my rent, some food, and cash to keep me afloat until a check due me from working as a costume character—Tony Dorno’s “Sporto the Duck” in 5 surrounding cities in NY—which had been about 90 days late, finally came in.

I ate on an ironing board and a chair that I found in the street. My bed was a cot. And I can’t even remember what the rest of my furniture looked like, if it was furniture. It may have been boxes. Being an actor in New York was all I wanted to be. I didn’t think before I left Beaver Falls, PA, with $150 in my pocket and just the promise of a NY sublet for 3 months. Those were times when I lived totally on stupidity and stupidity alone. I think the roaches and the mice in my five-floor walk-up were better fed than I.

I remember a short Hispanic woman who always wore a babushka lived above me. She had an abusive husband who never gave her money. She raised one the sweetest little girls for her daughter who was in prison. I remember now, she wanted to thank me for something I gave her one day, and she invited me to eat at her home.

I sat down at the table. She took a plate from the sink of dirty dishes and wiped it off with water and her hand and placed it before me. Before she set the plate on the table, five roaches scattered and she brushed them to the floor and stomped on one. She also took some utensils from the sink and rinsed them before placing them on a paper towel in front of me. She proceeded to give me a helping of fish head goulash over yellow rice.

Honest to God, I don’t know how I got through the meal without regurgitating. I have a weak stomach as it is. But I couldn’t hurt this little lady’s feelings. She kept saying, “You like? You like?”

I kept chewing the same bite, trying to swallow, nodding. “Si, si.” I speak minimal Spanish. Finally the first bite went down.

I ate a few more bites when a loud crash came from the living room. She ran ahead of me.  Her husband had fallen dead of a heart attack in the front room. I’ve never been more relieved for a person to die. He was a mean man. She wore a black dress for about a month. She smiled a lot more after that. Defeat has a way of relieving itself if you let it.

I don’t think that God expects any of us to stay challenged for our entire life as some would think. I believe that there are seasons for challenge and maybe even seasons for defeat, just as there are seasons for success. We have to experience all of it to understand the wide spectrum of life. Without failure, how could you know the sweetness of success? Without hunger, could you honestly know how beautiful a piece of hard crusted bread with butter tastes? The simple things in life become blessings when you can see from all sides.

So defeat is merely the way to understand the fullness of success. If you are in the place of challenge now, remember that it is a season. Soon the season will be over. You will step forward using all of your talents and time to get the best job, the highest pay and the most out of life if you want to. I’m knowing that for you now.

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Verify if You Are Absolutely Sure

Verify if You Are Absolutely Sure

Almost every time I get on the computer to check email or post an ad, someone tries to get me with the “I’m from out of town and would like to pay you from out of town scam,” or “you are the last known heir of King Henry VIII scam.” Do people still fall for this stuff? And why hasn’t the government developed a way to catch people like this and stop it? I own a Mac and most of the time my very bright computer doesn’t even know it’s Spam.

People get sneakier and craftier by the day. I’m not one to usually complain without having a solution. But you know what, today I don’t have one. I really don’t. The Internet grows so fast and furiously, that even the government can’t find a way to do things like stop people from copying music that is copy written or stop the sale of things that could produce tax money for the government. No one has as answer. That must be a very scary thing for the government.

So, how do we as a people deal with our power we have over the system? Do we take it and deal fairly with the system and pay our taxes and not copy music without paying the licensing fee so the musicians and writers who wrote the music can get the fair shake on the deal?

There definitely have been times when I have told myself, well, this is a member of my family and I feel like copying this music is like sharing the CD. I don’t feel badly about that. Then there have been other times where I have just blatantly screwed the system. I tell you, I didn’t feel good about it— so much so, that I turned around and bought the music afterward from Itunes.

The Internet has become a big test of our own patriotic and organic power.  Do we do what’s right and good or do we screw everyone out of his/her money? I know I still have a problem with the tax thing. If I can get away with not paying the sales tax, I usually do. I figure 9% of everything I’ve bought this year in TN, including food is enough. That is my justification. I don’t know. What is yours? We probably all have something we say to ourselves to justify our actions.

Today I don’t have any answers. It would nice to hear if any of you have some interesting thoughts about what the country might do to get a handle on Internet fraud without completely denying us of our privacy. Or do we just use this monster as a barometer to see just how honest we can stay even when we are not monitered by anyone?

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A Tapestry of Poor and Royal Hue

A Tapestry of Poor and Royal Hue

I once was asked by a lawyer friend who taught at the Nashville School of Law to pretend like I was a student from the class before. I was to come into the class, pick up a term paper from the teacher’s desk, tell her that she had been unfair, then walk out. This scenario happened in about two minutes, but it was very frenetic and caused a stir in the quiet classroom.

My friend Linda, who has since died of colon cancer, told me that she questioned the class after I left. She asked them what I looked like. Some thought I was short, had dark hair, wore glasses. Some thought I was a light-skinned black man. Some thought I was blonde, long hair, no glasses. Some thought I was wearing blue jeans, others thought I had on a blazer and khakis.

Linda said that the little scene she planned was a success. What she wanted to prove to her hopeful lawyers is: you can’t count on anyone, not even hopeful lawyers with 20/20 vision to get it right when it comes to being a good witness. Almost everybody imagines half of what they see in times of distress.

Once I got mugged by two men in NYC late at night after I had been to a bar. I was walking home on 82nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam. I think I had one beer. I saw a man coming toward me. Instead of crossing the street like you are supposed to do, I thought I’d be brave and just walk past him. When he got to me, his partner jumped out from a basement stairwell with a machette and wrapped it around my neck. “Walk slowly and don’t say a word!” he said.

There was no one on the street but us. They took me into an apartment building up the road and robbed me of the little money and jewelry I had on. Our exchange was short, but I had time to see each of them clearly. I even talked to them, calmly.

When they left the building, they said to wait for ten minutes before I departed. I did as I was told. Quivering as I walked out of the building, I immediately called my roommate to come and get me. When I went to the police, I had no idea what either of the guys looked like. I went through 5 books of 100’s of pictures of guys who almost looked exactly alike. I couldn’t even see the two guys in my mind, and they had just accosted me. I tried and tried to envision them, but nothing would come to mind.

Honestly, I was out 22 dollars and a fake designer watch I bought on Canal street for 3 dollars. Not a big take for those two short-sited dudes. So, I didn’t really care if the muggers were caught. Maybe my mind wasn’t focused on anything but keeping my neck from getting severed. I’m not sure. Though terrifying afterwards, I had a strange calm around me during the entire robbery. I was easing the minds of the robbers the entire time. “It’s cool, man. I’ll give you whatever I can. I want to help you out. You don’t have to rob me for me to help you…”

My take on the robbery truly disarmed them.

When I think back about my time living in NYC, I remember so many things. But more than anything, I think about how quickly I adapted to the danger and the bugs and pests, which now I can’t imagine I would allow in my life. I mean, on the first week I lived in NY, I took a walk in lower Manhattan in what’s now a great area to live in, around Houston Street, and ended up in the middle of a two-car gun fight. I hid behind a garbage can the gangs battled it out. When it was over, I brushed off my clothes and thought, damn… I just survived my first gun fight NYC. Who’s Da Man?

When I lived in my first apartment in NY, it was a five story walk-up. My apartment was on the first floor. We had large aluminum bars on all the windows to protect us from robberies, but certainly not mice and roaches as big as my fist.

Still one night, as I was working night turn, I was asleep at 9 pm and someone was breaking into my apartment while I was still in bed asleep. I turned on the light and yelled, “I’m calling the police now. Get the f**k out of here. I got a gun too. (I didn’t have one.)” Then I made a lot of noise. It scared the living daylights out of me. But it made the robber leave.

I believe that was the most frightening thing that ever happened to me. It was soon after that, I moved out of the city and into a house in Queens with some church friends.

But even in the 90’s in Queens we had our own share of trouble. We asked a black friend from church to be one of our six roommates. We didn’t realize that the neighborhood was racist. Unfortunately, we had bricks thrown through our front window everyday, until we had to ask our friend to move out.

I look back at my life and sometimes can’t believe what I lived through. There is certainly enough there to write hundreds of books and tell many stories and get doctors to prescribe plenty of psychotropic drugs.

But the truth is, the colors of my life are beautiful—even the dark, muted ones. When they are juxtaposed with the vibrant ones, they all seem to make some wonderful sense, like a tapestry only God can see and smile at.

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