Stop and Smell the BBQ

3 Jul

BBQing is therapeutic, I noted as I lounged beneath the stainless sky catching wafts of hickory smoke escaping  the charred grill. Think about it. It’s an activity squarely between man and nature, where all of the troubles of the world temporarily subside and the biggest dilemma is shooing away rebellious flies and knowing when to flip the chicken, beef and pork.

Between watching the meat and reading my copy of “Henrietta Lacks,” I savored the beauty of it all and thanked God for the peace I had found. When I decided to resign from my last job  and pursue a different career strategy, I was terrified. But I knew things had to change the moment my boss asked me: “Are you a success?”

To him it was a rhetorical question, one that he thought I would answer automatically in the affirmative given my background and the litany of things accomplished in the last 24 years. He pointed to the statistics for the public school district where I received my education, one in which only 3 of 10 black students graduate college-ready.

That I had graduated with honors from one of the country’s top small colleges was proof enough for him. That I through sheer tenacity and perseverance was hustling my way into the Dallas scene as a reporter and marketer was simply icing.

But the question caught me off—guard. By the world’s standards, I wasn’t successful. I don’t have a fancy car. In fact, I don’t have a vehicle at all. I’ve always justified this by the nagging feeling in the back of my mind that my time in Dallas was limited and any day now I would pack up and move to a city where cars were more nuisance than luxury. People saw me walking in a dress to the train station or bobbing from bus to bus with heels in tow shot me looks of admiration. Said it showed heart.

I think that’s part of the reason he had hired me.  

“Are you successful?” This simple question haunted me long after I had left his office and headed back to my own. I realized I truly didn’t consider myself a success, but not because of material things: It was because I hadn’t truly tried to be all I could be.

My short career has been dedicated to helping others, either through telling their stories or teaching them how to share their own. In short, it was a form of matrydom.  I honestly felt guilty about escaping the inner-city unscathed—felt that having a two-parent household, parents who supported my intellectual endeavors, mentors who taught me to reach for me, meant  that I owed a piece of myself to those that didn’t.

The next morning I woke up fully aware that sacrificing my life through underpaid and overworked dead end jobs in my community didn’t help them any more than it helped me. In fact, the best way to give back was for me to run as fast as I could, climb as high as I could and pull others up with me. So I resigned and carved a new plan with clear goals and direction. It was in part due to God’s providence and clear goal to graduate from high school with a full scholarship and graduate from college in four years with honors that helped me escape the limits of my environment. Those same tools will be just as central to my future success.

It’s been tough.

But as I soaked up the blazing sun while the chicken sizzled on the grill, all my doubts melted away. In my family, the women do the barbecuing. It started with my granny, a widower. She taught my mom. And now my mom was teaching me. That strength of determination against the odds and sense of limitless possibilities pulsed through my bones as I cast a deep sniff on my creations. I know that with hard work, faith and guts, success is only a day away.


2 Responses to “Stop and Smell the BBQ”

  1. Dienna July 4, 2012 at 2:52 am #

    Though you may not be where you want to be now, I feel that you have accomplished some success. As long as you keep progressing forward, you’re on the path towards success.

    By the way, are you referring to “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”? I read that a while back. That book was good, though I question the author getting too personal with one of the subjects and her need to quote every instance of these people using slang or misusing words. She claimed she was trying to bring their world and their words to life, but I found it patronizing.


    • lcooksmarketer1 July 4, 2012 at 10:30 am #

      Thanks Dienna. I definitely feel like I’m finally heading in the right direction.Yep. I’m literally only 60 pages into “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” But, so far, I feel the quotes add character, but I definitely see your point. I hated the use of similar language in “The Help,” but that’s because it was fiction and, to me, somehow seemed more crass.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: