#TBT | Do You Remember Who You Are?

The exalted ones in our world remembered their life’s mission. They were born ready and eschewed reprogramming. They knew their purpose. They knew what they’re going to do. And soon as they could, they went about their business.


But many of us forget our mission soon after we survive traumatic labor and delivery. For most, the entire birthing process renders us amnestic. We can’t even call it retrograde amnesia because, according to those ushering us into this world, we’re a clean slate. We can’t speak, so most just believe we’re a mass of clay to be molded. Or we’re waiting to be filled with knowledge by our parents. That’s right. Our mothers, maybe fathers, are our first ‘software’ programmers. 


 If we’re lucky, our parents’ coding skills will guide us to personal discovery. But if they too were traumatized and endured the same fate, we may be SOL. Short of having a smooth trauma-free delivery; if we’re to remember our mission, we must be committed to the process heralded by the African proverb “Know thyself. “1


The Process


 Oh, wait, let me back up! Was that a News flash? You didn’t realize your initial caregivers were your first ‘software’ programmer.

That’s right. And if the caregiver, mom, and dad are anything like mine, they are guilty of parental programming. They’ve used social engineering tactics to hack their children’s brains and minds. And they’ve done this for one reason. They want eternal life. And to get it, they go about bending their children’s wills in hopes their ideas will live on through them.  


Ok, maybe I’m a bit too cynical. But upon waking up this morning, it hit me. My career, the one I thought was my destiny, was a series of programming events that occurred during my childhood.   


Write to reveal

Here’s how I became Hopkins 2.0. My father was a career military man and world traveler turned police officer. My mother retired from a career in graduate school administration. Planning and producing commencement exercises for future pharmacists, pharmacologists, et al brought tears to her eyes every year without fail. Although I like a good mystery, I had no desire to work in law enforcement. The only time I stepped foot on a college campus as baby bop was going to work with my mother. So clearly, I wasn’t influenced by their jobs. 


Their hold over me occurred when they weren’t working.  


In his leisure time, my dad was a party animal – but he wasn’t a “partier” per se. My father loved planning and throwing great events. He was good at it too. Together, my dad and mother presided over “that house.” The home where people enjoyed coming to “unwind and let loose.” 


In fact, growing up, I remember going to a lot of great parties and family gatherings on military bases, and even off base too. It seems if you’re in a military family, you’ve learned how to throw a great event.

Writing this, I remember the film “Mission to Mars.” There’s a scene where the astronauts are at a cook-out and enjoying fellowship before a mission. The camaraderie was my reality. The workplace is one thing, but when you can party at home with your coworkers, that’s when you become a family. 


Before my dad passed away, He even got a chance to witness my event production skills. I planned my “super sweet-sixteen” decades before it was an MTV show. I arranged to have a real two-turntable-cutting-scratching-mixing Dee Jay on the wheels of steel and an actual emcee to kick rhymes at my birthday party. Our neighbors – who by then were used to our events contributed food and drinks and my birthday party and it became a neighborhood affair. I’d like to think he’d be impressed by how years later, I took those skills to plan and execute some very high-profile corporate events. 


When my mother wasn’t working, she was completely tuned in. She loves everything media – current events, broadcast television, radio, and print news. I think she watched every black and white film ever made. When she was younger, she ravaged books and today still talks about her “A” graded college essay on Frank Kafka “Metamorphosis.” My mother doesn’t read as much now. She says the print is too small, and her eyes burn from the left to right movement. 


But during my young life and into the present, I’ve heard her praise journalists, especially with the one she agrees. In my pursuit of gaining her respect, I wandered down that path media & entertainment, with a touch of event planning & marketing to pour one out in remembrance of my dad.


My mother rarely cries. Verklempt is her go-to emotion, but she cried a tear the day she read my byline on the EBONY magazine cover story. I’d finally arrived and achieved her admiration, just like a few of the journalists that came before me.


While lying in bed, I wondered who I’d be if I didn’t pursue her praise and idolization. Or what I’d be doing if I didn’t want to continue to throw parties around the world like my dad. Even my passion for learning is a result of visiting my mother’s office in those hallowed halls of academia. 


By the way, does anyone realize how difficult it is to combine those activities into one career? Well, not so hard if you take some time off to work as a flight attendant. Seriously, though I’m not saying this in a negative sense, I just don’t know what career, if any, I’d pursue without my parents’ influence. 


Step back and review


That is until I stepped back and thought about it.

Without serious consideration of why we do what we do, we’re “programmed” in ways that counter our mission. 


I spent the better part of this century learning who I am. Once I figured it out, my goal then was to deprogram. Knowing yourself may seem better suited for the young. The older you get the more layers there are to peel away. There’s a bright spot. Programming is unlikely to occur after you reach middle age. By 40, it’s more mind-bending software updates, malware protection, and removal tools to keep you at stasis.


But you don’t have to do a programming update.


If you’ve read this far, you’re one of the lucky ones, you can review and begin anew.  In fact, the charmed few can rediscover their mission. 

I continued with this exercise of self-rediscovery. At first, I thought I must figure out what would be more fulfilling. Other than working as a journalist, world traveler, with a few corporate events, book marketing, and project management gigs in-between. 


 After everything I’ve experienced and witnessed nothing short of a hard reset would help me shift the paradigm. Because when I think of it, expression and learning get my heart racing.

And by learning, I mean a continued path of discovery. Having an instructor “teach” me about “learning” is more programming. Formal education in the Learning field i.e., mind, brain, and education, would be best pursued as a defense mechanism; self-discovery better for the offense.  

If it didn’t start from scratch, then it would be easy because communication is the mother of all professions.   
Mathematics? Economics? Rocket Science? Go on. I challenge anyone to engage in this field without a background in communication.

But I digress.


The Fruit of Passion 


So, there it is, proof, I was a product of programming. Not only was I created out of my parents’ desire, but they also programmed me with their passion. And I’ve continued their mission of celebration. I fashioned into a career all the activities, their love for media and entertainment, specifically books, music, expression, and celebration that brought my parents’ joy.  


I didn’t have to deprogram. I just had to remember my codes.  


But what would be the outcome if the primary programmers chose to code a child with their pain instead of joy? 


The answer is simple; it would impact the mission.   


And this is the point when I remembered my choice. 


I chose to be born into a family that cherished the activities that would help me on my mission.


Dealer’s choice (words matter)


I should note: the words “choice” and “decision” are two very different words. There’s a Swahili word” Kuumba – and its origin means creating at the Divine level to bring something out of nothing. The website Etymonline suggests choice replaced The Old English expression “cyre,” which meant free will. Cyre is similar to and has the same connotation as Kuumba. The original meaning fell out of favor. We, English speakers, started using choice and decision interchangeably.

Since culture and language go together, the intent remains even if we lose meaning through enslavement or immigration. 


Cultural Intent gives a word power. When I say, “believe,” it implies faith. I don’t need facts to move forward. I know wherever I go, what I need, will materialize. When I say I “choose” or “choice,” it’s preordained.

Using words interchangeably weakens the symbolism, which limits perception and impairs vision.  


Once I began reviewing my words, I remembered who I am. 

And before my arrival to this dimension, I chose to live a life in obscurity to work behind the scenes, with a mission to shape society quietly through words, events, and deeds.

I arrived here with a clean slate. But I remembered a “clean slate” relates to how the journey will unfold on earth. What we call chance occurrence stems from our choice.   


So, there you have it, existentially speaking, our initial and overarching goal is to remember the mission we’ve created to carry out here on earth.  Once we remember why we’re here; knowing who we are, is easily defined. 


 So, do you remember what you came here to do? It’s never too late to be what you always thought you’d become.


1 – The full proverb, allegedly written on the walls of the Temple in Luxor, translates, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you and who so ever knows himself shall find it.”

#Throwback: Cryptograms

Sometimes Keyboards talk back.

And while we’re busy typing away sending messages, if we pay attention, there may be a message or two for us too.

Well, at least that’s what I learned Thursday morning when I looked at my keyboard.  I noticed where I’d replaced the worn-out keys with bandaids, the letters spelled out a message.  I took a picture and showed the photo to my daughter.  She mentioned she was no good at anagrams. I thought. Yes, that’s it!  When I was younger, my favorite pastime included anagrams and cryptograms such as word scramble, find the missing letter in Jumble and word-finds, and word search.

I must have realized early on that cryptograms are also about decoding ciphers of sorts.  And I was busy working on retaining the cultural keys of my “lost” tribe.

Now that I think about it, I would do an occasional crossword, but it wasn’t my thing.  The Cruciverbalist usually attempts to communicate with the tribe to reinforce the culture.   And although I’m a trivia buff, mastery of mainstream crosswords requires assimilation into a culture.  Solving cryptograms allow you to uncover messages.

And as a child, it was my favorite way to play.

So, keeping with this week’s theme, the Latin etymology of anagram:

Ana = back, backward –
gramma = letters

And this reminded me of “Sankofa.”

From  the Wayback Machine “Sweet Chariot: the Story of Spirituals” [1] Sankofa is often associated with the  proverb,

Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,”

which is an Akan term that translates as:

“It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”

Adinkra symbols for Sankofa

A bird with eggs in her mouth symbolizes the proverb.  She’s dropping knowledge for the benefit of those who will come after her.  But it also appears that she is leaving a trail, like bread crumbs, before she flies away.  Maybe it will help her should she lose her way.

The bird also serves as a reminder that before letters, we communicated in pictorial symbols, much like the emojis we use today.  The Akan called the communication system Adinkra.

Here we have a bird who looks back to drop eggs, and it communicates a proverb to those who see her.    Using pictures and symbols in our communication causes us to anthropomorphize the object.  We’re predisposed to treat it with care and instead of trashing it.

And that is precisely what I learned from my keyboard.

Maybe she shared her message because I took the time to repair her, even if it was in the most rudimentary way, instead of disposing of her.

She’s told me she’s not just a keyboard. She’s a symbol of something much more significant.

See for yourself.

keyboard message

In celebration of #ThrowbackThursday –  Sankofa!