1,000 WORDS (2nd attempt): DAY 17: Why Hip-Hop? (Part 1)

I was born in the beautiful, extremely hot and tropical country of Honduras. Honduras is a small third world country in Central America, and apart from being an amazing country in many aspects, rich in natural resources, it unfortunately also suffers greatly from ongoing gang activity and violence, as well as shameless government corruption. For various reasons my parents emigrated to Vancouver, Canada in 2004, at the time when I was around ten years old. That changed my life in various ways, both good and bad (although I see now that nothing is really bad in the end), as I grew up getting myself into tons of trouble due to my rebellion and stupidity. Years and years seemingly were wasted on pointless pleasure and pain, pleasure and pain over and over again. However, what I’ve come to realize over the years is that eventually, all of life’s victories and failures, all the mistakes we make, everything realigns into perfect harmony, and everything balances out. We need to make mistakes in order to learn, and if we never acted stupidly, we could never analyze our past behavior with much depth, since there wouldn’t be much need, and we might never feel deeply motivated to change at all. I see this clearly in my own life. I still have a lot of changes to make, but I’ve changed a lot in the past few years. Most people who I meet nowadays would never guess that I used to live the way that I did before. This shows me that we all have the power to change, even in a small period of time, through small efforts, through daily goals which increase our willpower, and in turn our overall well-being. It’s an exciting idea to discover, and I thank God for being blessed with the power to make it real in my life. The supposed ‘misfortunes’ that life has presented me with have actually provided me with an insane number of examples of my own previous stupidity. I keep these safely stored in my memory, as it is clear to me that if I never lived through some of the things I have, I probably would have never felt the need to change my self-destructive behavior. Many people who have never lived through such negative experiences, or who have but haven’t applied the necessary importance and significance to them, still continue pursuing nothing but pleasure, awaiting the day when they will have to pay for all that pleasure with much pain. Others who were close to me have let their life of pleasure take them out of this world much too soon, whereas I have at least begun to try to change. I am far from perfect, but now at least I have a goal to achieve in life, which is constant self-improvement, and improvement of the world around me. Changing the world is something we all do at every second, at every single moment and with every interaction. If you or I had not been born on this planet during this exact lifetime and period in history, billions of lives would be completely different right now and forever. Just contemplate the depth of that truth for a moment. The only way we can change the world day by day, action by action, is to work on ourselves on a moment-to-moment basis, on letting our inner light shine. This light is something spiritual, the very essence of being, and the inspiration for what I do. But I’ll stop getting ahead of myself now and get back to my story, to a time when I had no concept of these ideas. Growing up in Vancouver I became fascinated with hip hop from a young age. I just remember becoming obsessed with music in general, ever since the good old days when getting stoned was a novelty which felt almost like tripping, and music sounded so mind-blowingly great that I could pick up every note as I listened for hours in utter amazement. To this day, my love for all genres of music has grown and continues growing daily, but I mostly dig decades into the past as opposed to following the new music trends that come out nowadays. It seems we are slowly transitioning into an age in which music is not so much a tool for expression as much as a tool for financial gain and propaganda, but we’ll get to that sad subject again at another time. Although no music is as relaxed and uplifting as Bob Marley’s, or as psychedelic and epic as Pink Floyd’s music, there is nothing that can compare with hip-hip in a few specific ways, in certain aspects. Hip-hop has always blown me away since it makes you just get up and move, voluntarily or involuntarily, you begin to move. Your head, your feet, whatever it is. The rhythm of hip-hop has the power to move one’s soul. Rhythm is so important to rap, that the word “rap” in itself is actually an acronym for “rhythm and poetry”, or at least it is to me, and that’s what I titled the first mixtape I ever released. The other amazing thing about hip-hop is how much content can fit into a verse, more than double the content of what could be sung by an R&B singer on the same track. There are many examples of this in collaborations between rappers and singers. A forty-second verse of a track can be used to make a bold statement, if every syllable is packed in with a meaningful word, instead of resorting to blurting out curse words every five seconds in order to complete a rhyme. I often feel sorry for listeners of modern day rap, who have to bear the dumbed down raps of the so-called “entertainers” that are praised today and promoted by mainstream hip-hop culture. I try not to judge, as it’s part of my self rehabilitation and spiritual work, but the truth can’t be denied, and it must be expressed. It’s sad to see that music has been reduced to meaningless noise, to another petty product, packaged and promoted for maximum profit. I’m not saying that hip hop was all good in its ‘golden days’ either. It seems amazing to me now how I grew up on hip hop and knew all there was to know about it; rapping became my life, and ‘rapper’ became my early identity, something I identified as, but I couldn’t see the problem that was slowly building up within me. It turned out that along with my love for rapping as a form of expressing ideas and thoughts, feelings and concepts, I grew accustomed to a lot of negative aspects of hip hop culture, a truth which I finally came to accept after a great deal of introspection, much, much later in life.

To be continued tomorrow, on Day 18.

~ Rebel Spirit

DAY 5: 1,000 WORDS: RETURN TO VANCOUVER & LONG-DISTANCE LOVE.

Fifth day straight of getting a thousand words down and publishing them! When I started this challenge I was afraid that I would lose motivation after the second or third day, a thousand words seemed like a lot to tackle every single day. I see now that by taking this challenge I’ve proved those expectations I had for myself totally wrong, at least so far. Fifth day going and I feel I have more to write about than ever before. Sometimes the desire to write vanishes for a few days for no apparent reason, as if new inspiration needs to be build up, to accumulate in order for writing to happen. These past 5 days though I’ve been filled with ideas of things I’d like to mention in these posts. I think it might have something to do with the style of writing I’m using at the moment. I’m simply putting 1000 words together on the spot, about whatever comes to my mind at the moment, but also trying to stay on topic and on sequence as much as possible! Before, I almost always had a topic in mind that I wanted to write about, and I spent endless minutes and hours editing, re-reading, deleting, adding different words and phrases. I felt confined by the organization process and the having to divide everything up into little paragraphs and such things. I know organization is surely important, but I’m just saying I feel freer when writing this way. Every writing style has its time. Alright, so let’s continue with the story that has brought me up to this point then. Yesterday we left off a few years ago when I came back to my birth country of Honduras, started working at a call center as a collections agent, and had my first interaction with my future wife, which was an unexpected hug! So, after we bumped into each other, hugged, and smiled at each other for just a second, we started talking more and more often on the “floor”, where the work gets done, where all the little box cubicles are at. I asked what she liked to do on the weekends and she simply replied “sleep”. Sleep? I thought she was kidding for sure. I was used to looking forward to Friday every week in order to get as crazy as possible all weekend long! We didn’t make any plans just yet, but one day, just casually talking about what we each were going to eat later, we ended up planning to go to Wendy’s later on, during our break, since it was the closest place to eat, right outside the call center. In fact, we got a special discount there for being employees at the call center. So, evening came, and just as it was getting dark we went out to eat on our last break of the day. We ordered some burgers and fries and some iced tea, which I noticed she loved just as much as me, and we had a great conversation. She mentioned a situation in which it seemed like things had worked out in her favor, in which she had gotten rid of a problem that had been bothering her, almost miraculously and out of the blue, and she thanked God for it. I mentioned that everything happens for a reason. Although I was still ignorant to much of spirituality at that time, and wasn’t really thinking much in spiritual terms at all, I always had a vague belief that everything does happen for a reason. Our conversation was so great that we were really late back to work, but the job was chill so it wasn’t really a problem. A few weeks after that we had a movie date, and that’s where we kissed for the first time. I can’t recall the movie we watched anymore, to be honest. After this, our friendship grew as well as our love for each other. During this time I was no longer living with my grandparents, I had gotten a place with a good friend, Randy, who I met at the call center as well. He had lived in the States, in Miami, most of his life and is kind of like my crazy friends from back in Canada, so we had a lot of good times. It was during those crazy days that I asked Maria to be my girlfriend, on January 17th, 2015, almost exactly four years ago. We spent that whole year together. Since we worked at the same place, we were together throughout the day, through our short breaks and lunch hours, during times of low call volume. Her English is not bad at all, having taught elementary school kids here in Honduras before going to work at Collective Solution, the call center where we both worked. She accepted, of course, to be my girlfriend, and by the end of the year, we were so crazy about, and committed to, each other, that we decided to get married so that Maria could go to back to Canada with me, eventually. The idea was that I would travel back to Canada alone in order to save up some money for our wedding and honeymoon, for everything we needed, and also since I hadn’t seen my parents and brothers in over two years, other than on Skype. Maria could continue working at Collective for the time being. I flew back to Vancouver in December of 2015, and it was great to see my family again, yet I really missed Maria. I got a job working at Megrez Consultants, an immigration consulting firm. This job was quite different from any other job I had been hired for before, as I was to be the executive assistant to the owner of the firm, as well as the administrator and receptionist for the whole office. I wast to be the first one there and the last one out, and I would have to work extra hours sometimes. The name of the owner of Megrez is Jose Godoy, and he’s ran his immigration consulting business in Downtown Vancouver for almost 20 years, helping people from all backgrounds get all kinds of processes and applications done in order to come to, or stay in, Canada. Since he is of Chilean background and Spanish is his native language, as well as speaking fluent English, his clients are mostly Latinos. I would have to speak English as well as a lot of Spanish, which was good for my practice in order to keep it fluent and fresh (and I even learned some new Spanish at that job), and I would sometimes have to speak Portuguese as well, which I know from my father’s side, as he is from Brazil. In the meantime, I would Whatsapp Video chat with Maria every day, always during breaks and my lunch hour, during which I usually ate at the Pho place right below my workplace (Pho is delicious Vietnamese soup, for those who don’t know), and as soon as I got back home. She became so special to me over time, and we couldn’t wait to be married, and for her to be there with me. More on how everything unfolded next week though, since I gotta get to work now. Take care and God bless!

~ Rebel Spirit ~