The end comes before YOU begin;
Stop before YOU start.
Time to finish…
It is quite possible and often that we get “good” at things that are “bad” for us. We are in relationships, circumstances, careers, locations, and so on, that we master but were only meant to be mentions, footnotes in our eventual and true purpose. But we spend our time and energy and “all” on things that we allow to define and identify who we pretend to be. And we forget who we really are, and thus we are forgotten. So our stages and seasons become what we are known for instead of being known to or by us as how we ultimately measured or processed our progression. And we know it. We feel it. Those around us recognize it. But because it is so common, it is ok’d, then it is excused, so it is allowed, and it is accepted, thus it is often recommended.
It is time for YOU to stop. Sometimes YOU just have to stop. Even though the message that everyone normally gives YOU is that YOU must start new or different or right. The motivational/inspirational/affirmative dialogue is usually to the point of instructing YOU to begin, to go, to do, or to move. I think that first YOU must realize and recognize who, what, when, where, why, and how, YOU are. YOU HAVE TO STOP TO DO THAT! What’s more important than what YOU have made most important is that YOU really know what is important. Are YOU safe? Are YOU secure? Are YOU significant? Without money. Without fame. Without popularity. Are YOU at peace? Can YOU rest? Can YOU think straight? Can YOU feel? Are YOU okay? Do YOU know what YOU are doing?
And then YOU start. Be honest about where YOU are and who YOU are. People will understand that. People want that! They want “real” people. Unfortunately so many of us have been hiding beneath and behind our secrets that secrecy has become the norm, the obvious, the popular. We have succumb to routines and regimens of defeat and despair and so have become comfortable in the lack and lesser of fortunes. We adhere to and follow instructions and law that is not meant to bring out the good and true in us. These are learned behaviors, we have followed suit in these traditions. And we are taken advantage of. There is a market for our indecisiveness. There is a market for our failure. There is a market for our pain. We have lowered and lowered and lowered the bar to the point that now it is possible to do nothing and be just as, if not even more, what is perceived to be, important. Or popular. Or rich. Or “successful”.
So stop. Stop right where YOU are. Stop living or leading a double life. Stop trying so hard to keep up an impression, or appearance. Stop pretending that YOU are happy. BE HAPPY! Stop going and going to no end, in an effort to please everyone but YOU! Stop lying. Stop forcing what could be natural if YOU would just breathe. If YOU would just BE. Stop living up to low expectations. Stop buying into the idea that YOU have to be something aside or outside of who YOU are in order to be “somebody”! Stop acting like YOU are winning because YOU don’t want to be perceived as a “loser”. No. YOU ARE NOT LESS THAN! YOU are always greater than or equal to! Know that!
Know that YOU are okay. Who YOU are is who YOU are. YOU get to master that. YOU get to be great at who YOU are! No one can compete against YOU or beat YOU in that race. YOU are perfect. Every step is a step towards greatness once YOU decide that YOU are fine with the steps that are necessary to get YOU there! And YOU do not have to be or do something, or go somewhere, that is not good for YOU in order to be a success. YOU define YOUR success. YOU only fail at being YOU when YOU decide to not be YOU! Stop that. NOW.
©2014 Cornelious “See” Flowers
A win is a win;
Even loss has gain.
Who is betting on you…
The odds might seem to be against YOU. The hand that YOU have been dealt has a bunch of cards that YOU don’t know how to play. The dice have been loaded. The game seems to be fixed. The race has been compromised. It’s YOU against what seems to be a more than formidable opponent. And YOU might be getting cheated.
And it is not fair.
But no fight is fair.
I remember growing up in Illinois and always hearing those old lottery commercials with that slogan,
“Somebody’s gotta lotto, might as well be you!”
That was brilliant marketing! It made YOU hope. That little sentence promised so much opportunity and treasure. It was a genius campaign that I’m sure was very instrumental in inspiring and motivating millions of people to “try their luck” at those lottery games in hope and desire of striking it rich. The lottery symbol was a rainbow attached to a pot of gold. Every day and night, for years now, people have searched out that pot. In essence, and in truth, many of them have spent way more money chasing that pot of gold than the actual amount that they could ever win! And the game is setup that way. It is not meant for everyone to win. It could not survive if everyone won. It could not survive if half of everyone won. It couldn’t survive if one third of the people who played won. The only way that “somebody is going to lotto” is if mostly everyone else doesn’t. And that “mostly” is pretty much all of the rest of the people.
Are YOU playing the “lotto” of life?
It would seem that life mirrors this tragedy of happening as we observe what the general belief and reality of our circumstances would suggest. It seems like a few people are winning at the expenses of a whole lot of other people losing. And with every sure to come day, the disparity and distance between the few winners and the lot of losers ever-widens. The gap today is as broad as the game itself. And while these truths exist, we are still gambling. Taking ill-advised risk and chance on the odds of overcoming or overthrowing the regimes of impoverished mind-sets and historical failures, generational set-backs and other abundant factors and reasons for our “losing”. We are ambitious and audacious. But are we not right to believe that, “Somebody’s gotta be blessed, might as well be us”? It is a natural conclusion of which to arrive, that “fair” is possible, that “equal” is achievable, that “justice” is a guaranteed profit of trusting in the “rules” of such this game. Isn’t it?
If YOU bet on a winner…
I spoke at a Black History program recently in my hometown of Harvey, Illinois. It was a small event with a very small crowd in a little church in the community that I grew up in. The community that my relatives and friends live in. The community and schools that educated me. I was invited to come and do some poetry by a friend who had never heard me do poetry. She only knows me as the guy who has been cutting her hair for a couple years. I recently gave up barbering and the decision was much to her dismay as well it was to many people who don’t really know my passion for writing and performing. I was actually a little nervous going into the show because of where it was. When I got the invitation I thought that church was located in the city of Chicago. When I received the text containing the address I was shocked and taken aback by what I consider just another part of God’s amazing plan that my life is planning out to be. So I was a little nervous because one of my first events since I stepped out on faith would be in the same community that had once cultivated that faith but would also then be the very place that would destroy that very faith. The very place that is in the area of what, for these last 20 years, had been my “losing” season. I remembered always seeing this very church as I was growing up. It is located in a very familiar place to me. And seeing it and being in it brought up many memories and feelings that had my stomach and feelings both churning with anxiousness. I don’t know if it showed, I’m pretty good at masking my emotions, but as I say I was quite a bit nervous.
But the show must go on. And I know how to put on a show.
I took a BIG gamble by walking away from my job with no plan or money saved up. I walked away from a “comfortable” that I have come to rely on for a very long time. I jumped off of the cliff of well-known into an abyss of all kinds of possibility. But I believe in me. I know what I can do. I know what I have in my heart. I know what I am willing to do to get where I am wanting to go. So I am confident in the fact that I will win. I have told everyone about the fact that I believe that I have reached a point in my life where I was willing to risk it “all” to do this. I have no other option actually, I’ve got to make this work. And so they called my name and I went up. And I did my thing. I gave them a pretty good show I believe. They loved it. The MC remarked after I was done that it would be impossible to not have learned something from my performance. I had looked over the faces of the audience as I spoke and in them I could see their approval and their excitement for my talent, for my gift, for my purpose. I am always motivated at the opportunity to speak life into any atmosphere. I know what it does for a person to be inspired. To be pushed to the limits of optimism and hope through the arts. I love it when these very arts teach at that same while they are entertaining. And I have practiced and studied to perfect this specific task for all of my life. It’s like studying a game before playing it. I know how this works, and I am ready to play!
And then they introduced the guest preacher…
When the preacher came into the pulpit and told the congregation which scripture of the bible to turn to, I remained seated. He had instructed us to go to Job. I got lost in the moment. I was blown away that he had chosen the story of Job. I happened to glance up and realized that everyone else was standing while he was reading the words. I probably looked like a rebellious, disrespectful heathen while they were all standing and I’m seated, on my phone. But my bible is in an app on my phone. And I wasn’t being disrespectful. I had gotten distracted. I couldn’t stop reading! Then I snapped out of my trance, and stood up and came back to where he was reading. But for the record, one of the most profound scriptures that I am familiar with in the bible comes from Job, Job 3:25…
Job 3:25 KJV
 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
By saying “Job” he had my attention. And then he began his sermon. I can’t really write here everything that he was teaching but the main point that I got was this: So the devil comes to God about testing the faith of humanity. God asks the devil has he paid any attention to Job, who was an extremely blessed man and who had everything going for him. The devil tells God that he is familiar with Job but he tells God that the only reason that Job is the way he is and believes as he does is because God has his hands on him. The devil asks God to let him, the devil, attack Jobs life to prove that he did not really have faith. And God agrees but he instructs the devil that he can only do so much. In the text, Job eventually loses everything, and almost everyone, and even his health is compromised. There are two verses in the book of Job that I always remember, Job 3:25 and Job 13:15,
Job 13:15 KJV
 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
Those two scriptures have been so key in me learning and leading a particular life. The part about being “slayed” yet trusting God, or trusting the process and remaining true to the self that is true in itself as well as 3:25 which I have always interpreted as saying that YOUR greatest fear is possible as a response to YOUR faith in that fear. Job says that the thing he most feared had come, upon and unto, on and to him. Those of YOU who know me, know my belief in numbers and how I’m always “connecting dots”, well the worse day of my life was March 25, 1994, 3/25.
And well the preacher kept reading…
Then he announced the title of the sermon,
“God is betting on YOU!”
Hmmmm. He preached that the reason that God could give the devil permission to go after Job was because He, God, knew that Job would win. Hmmmmph. He knew that Job would prevail. Wow.
Let me say that I do not adhere to everything in the bible. I don’t follow everything in the scriptures. I get it though. I believe that the bible is amazing in its moral relevance and some of its teaching. And I recognize it as a manual that is deliberate and direct in its ability to guide those who read it. I struggle with taking all of it at face value. I’m very analytical and I tend to over-analyze information haphazardly, and with an extreme consistency. I think too much and the bible puts a lot on the mind. The bible coupled with organized religion and it’s idiosyncrasies have caused a great deal of confusion and trouble for me, as well as many others that I know. But I believe that there are parts in it that are right on. I believe that the Quran has parts that are too. And the Torah. As I believe that all of the religions contain a piece of what our ultimate truth is. So, there are parts that I disagree with. There are parts that I don’t understand. But I know that there is a God. I believe in Him. I trust Him. I know that He is possible and real and I have a life story that proves this so. I know God as the creator. I know God as the Father. I know God as the Judge.
But I never thought about Him, God, “betting” on me. Wow!
That makes a difference. That changes the scope of things. It makes sense. It answers a question. It strengthens a belief and a belief system of mine. That really makes a difference.
After church was over and we were leaving out I went over and told the preacher that I had enjoyed his sermon very much. I told him that I was going to use that lesson for my life. And we left.
Who is betting on YOU?
It makes every difference that YOU realize and recognize that God is betting on YOU. It is a guarantee, it is a surety, it is a confidence, it is a certainty. It changes the game. And in the greater scheme of things it is the “enough” that YOU need. It is the all that YOU need. It is the everything that YOU need to “win”! But right where YOU are, YOU need to check whose got odds that YOU won’t. YOU need to find out who the “devils” are that are asking for permission from God to test YOU, to tear YOU down, to terminate YOUR game.
Some people that are in YOUR corner aren’t on YOUR side. They are not betting that YOU win. They are not rooting YOU on. It’s like a crap table, some people put just as much money or even more on YOU “crapping out”. They win if YOU don’t. THEY GET AHEAD IF YOU FALL BEHIND! They win when YOU lose. Sometimes they win a lot when YOU lose!
So the question is, who IS betting on YOU?…
It is time for YOU to find out who does want to see YOU win. It is time for YOU to be backed by some people that can positively affect YOUR outcome and so they support YOU with the confidence and competence of action that protects and promotes YOUR best interest. It’s time for YOU to either get a team or get on one. If YOU have one and the fact is that they are not all on YOUR side, it’s time for YOU to trade or get traded! It is time for YOU to realize and recognize who believes in YOU and who believes YOU. It is time for YOU to stop playing a game that YOU don’t have a chance at winning and do what will. My dad always tells me that, “A broken clock is right twice a day.” It is time for YOU to realize that some of the people and some of the advice that those people are giving YOU just seems right, and might be a great tip or tool at a moment, but that information is coming from broken sources. And why play a game where YOU might win? YOU can win. YOU can choose winning. YOU will win. That “somebody’s gotta, might as well be you”, mentality will defeat YOU. It is a trap. It gets YOU comfortable with mediocrity and with failure and with losing. It changes the game. YOU need to change the game. YOU need to make the rules. YOU need to play YOUR game!
And know that when someone that knows YOU are going to win, bets that YOU will win, well, YOU WIN!
©2014 Cornelious “See” Flowers
Dreams are cookies
baked in the ovens of God
mixed by the smiles of angels
to suit the taste
of the cookie monsters
that we all are
often not considering
or the request
we just want the sweetness
and desires as we suggest
no matter how good
our favorite ones are…
I like the chewy kind
and the warm ones
and the big ones
and the fresh ones,
the really good ones…
I always remember the good ones.
©2014 Cornelious “See” Flowers
9 years ago today I stood in a hospital room and witnessed the nastiest, sickest, confusingly gross, visually disturbing, messiest, bloodiest, … most beautiful thing, ever.
Childbirth, the process, is definitely for the strong to behold, for the even stronger to bear. I cannot even, in my wildest of imagination, ever sculpt or create an idea of having to had endured that. Every step of it and what it did to her body and how it transformed and transitioned her mind, was nothing short of remarkable! It is one of the… No, it is the most beautiful thing in nature to date. It is nature. Birth is the beginning and sustainer of all life and to witness that… WOW… and YUCK!
I don’t have the strongest of stomachs as you may can tell, but on February 8th, 2005, I stood there and I watched the nurses and doctor assist in the delivery of my son. Assist is what they did, his mother did the hard work, and did I ever, from that moment and every moment since, recognize and understand that she, in her nature and power bestowed by the creator of all life, do the most incredible thing that I have ever seen. In that moment I then understood and recognized the moments of my own mothers’ child birthing experiences and the strength and care and fragility that were. I looked at all women differently from that moment on. I acknowledged life differently after that day. I became a sense of alive that evening. I changed. Well, I started the change. I was so grossed out though. The doctors asked if I would like to cut the umbilical cord. I couldn’t. I was not strong enough to touch it. His grandmother stepped in to cut the cord. I couldn’t even watch it. The sound was enough. But then it was cut, and he was here, and he was mine!
Today is “My Dudes” birthday. Coron is 9 years old. I have to say that I CAN believe that because it is, but to say that I could have imagined and expected this, would not be believable, because I had no idea. I had no idea that I would one day have a son and that his birth would begin the process of restoring me and redeeming me and rebuilding me. I could have never counted on his being ever being the reason that I would eventually, be. I watched his mother deliver him that day. He has been delivering me everyday since!
Before that day, that moment, on February 8th, in that hospital room, my life was defined by a far different moment, in another room, 11 years before. A death. A loss. My world had revolved around March 28, 1994. The moment I found the woman who gave birth and life to me, my mother, in her bed, dead of a gunshot wound. That instant had defined my existence. That day had been everything that I had to live with. All that I had and all that I knew. That day had taught me the ugliness of life. That day began the process of my downward spiral. I began to know loneliness that day. I began to know abandonment. I realized hurt, real hurt, and loss, and pain, on that day in March of 1994.
And now, Coron is born. 11 years after that had taken place. On the 8th of February, 2005. 8 representing NEW BEGINNING. 7 days after my mothers birthday. 7 representing completion. Her birthday was February 1st. 1 representing the one, the beginning. I believe in numbers. I honor and observe numbers. I recognize the meaning and truth in the representation of what some numbers hold. And that day, the 8th, truly brought forth a new beginning for me. And it represented a completion of a season that had been tortuous and traumatic. It began a process of healing. It did not miraculously change everything. Actually, very little on the surface was different. But his life gave me hope which in turn gave me strength which gave me a bit of courage. And it all started to grow.
I recently had a talk with my son about purpose. I asked him if he understood what it meant to follow dreams and find purpose. I told him that I was choosing to leave the barbershop and cutting hair, of which I’ve done for all of his life and many years before him, to pursue my passion and gift and talent of writing and performing and helping people. Even with his birthday coming up, I asked him if he was okay that I might not be able, in the short term, to do as I had done before, or as I wanted to, but that I had to step out on faith and go after my dreams. I told him that I had to because I couldn’t be just an “expression” to him but that I had to be an example. I told him that I hadn’t put a plan in place but that I had to try because I just felt that it was time to. I told him that I had to follow my heart, and I asked if he understood that. And then I asked him if it was okay with him that I do it. I asked if he would be willing to give me a chance to prove myself to him. I asked him to give me his blessing. I really did. I asked an 8 year old to co-sign the decision I had made to drastically and dramatically change both of our lives. Later, I believe and have faith, it will be for the good, but in the now, at the moment, it would be a challenge. But I believe that I have no choice. I believe that there was no other option.
And Coron told me that it would be okay.
I have recently wrote and revealed some things via my blog and other social-media outlets that not everyone knows or knew about me and my life. The last 20 years have been extremely difficult and I made them no better by following suit and perpetuating the habits and hurts that had started so long ago. But God. Yes, BUT GOD! My life story is a real and true testimony of God’s grace and His mercy. My life is testament to His forgiveness and His love. My life is proof that He is!
There is this song…
Phillips, Craig & Dean “I want to be just like you…”
I heard that song in July of 2005, a few months after Coron was born. I was not in a very good place at the time. Psychologically, spiritually, mentally, physically, I was broken. All that his birth had begun in me was soon coupled with the torments and pressures of such newfound responsibility. And I was in a very difficult state of emotions and energy and my actions were catastrophic. Around that time of my life I hurt some people that are very near and dear to me, beyond what I am able to explain. I have yet to make amends and restitution for the evil and trouble I caused back then. I was already messed up and my son being here seemed to force me into a corner that I was unfamiliar with. And I didn’t know how to fight my way out of it. So I ran. I ran because I felt like I couldn’t breathe and that I was going to lose control. And I left him and his mother in that moment. I left Chicago with my bible and one of my son’s blankets. I have carried that blanket with me since that day. It stays in my possession. It is a reminder. Coron and I often joke about whose blanket it is. He always says that it’s his blanket. I always tell him that it’s mine. But then I tell him that everything I have is his. So it is his. But he is mines. So it is mine.
That July was a lifetime ago. Today I am here, always available to my son. Here for him. So much better because of him. And I am so much better.
So today I was sitting here wondering what should I buy him for his birthday. It’s crazy what having a child will force you to do. Like whatever this kid wants, I am trying to figure a way to make it happen. You want what is best for your children. My dad once told me that, “Kids make the right people, the right people.” I’ve never heard anything more true. Although it has taken a very long time, Coron has made me right. I began to “right” this ship once he came into my life. It has been a long and arduous process. But I am so much better today. I feel so much better. I am doing so much better. I know better. I want better. I am going for better.
So this is his gift. I am writing. I will never again stop writing. Writing is my way out. Writing is my way in. Speaking and performing are the resources that I have, in abundance, and I will use these talents and gifts to secure a stable environment and future for me and my family. This is my gift. This is my skill. I am both profound and proficient in these abilities. And I am ready to use them as my service. As my gift. As my opportunity. As I sit here and pen this note I am reminded of every second and season that has gone without me being able to stand firmly and proudly in my own skin. I pretended before. I acted before. I hid before. But, I AM MY STORY! And I must be told. I must be shared. I must be exampled and examined. I must be utilized and used for the purpose of educating and inspiring and motivating. And that is what I can and will give my son. That is what I will give me. A chance at the promise of what becomes of such.
Happy Birthday Bud… Thank you for being such a gift to me. Thank you for giving me strength and courage and hope again. Thank you for the looks of pride and expectation that your eyes remnant as you look at me. Thank you for showing me my own reflection. Thank you for helping me to discover real and true love. Thank you for helping me to understand and recognize loyalty. Thank you for showing me the essence and nuances of blind faith. Thank you for the peace of mind that comes into my spirit every time you call my name. Thank you for being a great child and being full of energy and excitement. Thank you for the healing that your laughter is to my soul. Thank you for the encouragement and motivation that your needs are to my drive. Thank you for the answer that your well-being is to any question that I have. I have learned so much about me because of you. And the lessons are just starting!
The other day, someone very special to me reminded me that my mother is okay. Although I spent years angry and frustrated at having to only be able to guess and assume at her last moments and state of being in the afterlife, I have finally come to terms with her passing and I have found the closure and justice in my spirit that yet evades this family on earth. But I know today, that my mom, your grandmother is proud of me. She watches over and guides and clings near to my heart. Although she had long left this earth before you were born, your birth gave a sense of her back to me. And tonight my heart smiles with the joy of knowing that she is just as excited about you as I am. And just as proud. And she and every other angel and spirit of God that she can move in heaven to help bring to pass the future she long ago envisioned and prayed for me, is in full motion. I can feel it.
I wish you the wildest of your greatest imagination. I pray everyday that you try, that you love, that you explore. I pray and believe that you will fight for love and for peace and for the goodness that is inherent in you. I speak into you authentic joy and happiness and abundance of relationships and resources towards the fulfillment of your purpose. I speak Safety, Security, and Significance for your every moment. I pray that the love in you is reinforced and reflected by everyone around you. I pray that you are always protected. I speak in, over, and unto you perpetual favor as you go forward. I pray that you embrace the journey and learn the roads and admire the experiences. I pray that your relationship with your parents extends for decades of years to come but that in every moment you realize and recognize that life is a delicate petal of a much larger flower and is at any given moment vulnerable to the winds of time. So at every chance you have, you love, you lead, you live! I pray that you understand how important it is to give and to share and to hope and to have faith. I pray that you listen and admire the knowledge and wisdom available to you. I pray that you curiously seek to find your destiny through deliberate action and determined focus. I pray that you open your mind and heart to possibility and that you give way to the action of experience. I pray that you have faith in the truth of who God is. I pray that you seek him out constantly and that He avails Himself to you with a fervor that leads you to lead others towards a relationship with him. I pray that you not wander or worry or wait for too long, in no season that has expired. I pray that you “get it” as quickly as possible and that you use what you learn in any moment to guide you in every moment. I pray that you are blessed. I pray that you know that you are identified and defined. I pray that you know that you are loved. I pray that you always know that you are appreciated and respected and revered and trusted. I pray that you know that you are believed and “believed in”. I pray that you realize the benefits and beauty of being honest. I pray that you are comfortable with your truth. I pray that you are okay with who you are and that you wake up every morning to the sun of a new chance to give and pay forward and love and care. I pray that every moment you rest your head that you are able to find peace and comfort in the gratitude of knowing how blessed you are. I pray that you know thankfulness. I pray that you know humility. I pray that you know and exhibit whatever and all the good that it is that you know.
And I pray that I continue, as your father, to be more than that, but an example for all these things.
And I wish you the happiest birthday!!!
I love you,
©2014 Cornelious “See” Flowers
Thursday, February 4, 2010, 7:40 pm.
I was driving, on my way to see my son, through Dixmoor, Illinois. I turned off of 147th street onto Leavitt Ave. I once lived on Leavitt. Leavitt was home once before. Leavitt was the last “home” I knew. That was 1994.
I had come into town that week, from Atlanta, Georgia for my sons 6th birthday. He would be 6 years old on February 8th and I had come up in order to be with him and celebrate for his party. That reason was the guise I used to mask the trip as I had explained it to my girlfriend at the time. We were supposed to be planning a life together. I said that I was ready. I knew that I wasn’t. When she asked me what day I would be returning I replied that I didn’t know. I told her that God had something in store for me in Chicago and that I was coming in order to fix some broken things. I told her that I had a feeling that I was supposed to “go back home” and that I would be back as soon as it was done.
The story, this story, has a lot of details that are elemental in the process and timeline but this specific post is about a certain event, or series of events, more specifically and I will just go about describing those. I was here, how I got here is not so relevant at the moment. I’ll talk about all that, at some point, surely.
So I’m driving down Leavitt and I come upon the house. That house. Not the house where my son is. This house. The house where the story started. The house where the pain is. The house where the problems really started. The house I have been running from. My sons grandmother lives on Vail Ave. Vail is a block over from Leavitt. Their family, my sons moms family, has lived on Vail for many years. I knew some of them growing up. I went to school with quite a few of them. I didn’t know my sons mom back then. I didn’t find out that she lived on Vail until we had begun to date in 2001. Quite an interesting coincidence, or oddity, or so whatever I had considered back then. But they lived on Vail. Vail is a block over from Leavitt. In order to get to Vail, from where I was on 147th street, I have to come down Leavitt.
So I am driving down Leavitt to get to Vail. Now, I could have actually gotten to his grandmothers house without passing “the house” but I wanted to pass it. I always do. I always drive by it to think about what might have been, or what could have been, or what should have been. I pass it to remember the pain. I pass it to remind me of how much I hate my life. I pass it to stir the constantly simmering pot of my anger and frustration and hatred. I pass it to find an excuse for why I am not who I could have been, who I should have been, or who I would have been had it not happened. I pass it to justify my futility. I pass it to aggravate the wounds. To reopen the wounds. To continue the wounding process.
But as I approached the house on that night, well I slowed down, I came to a stop, and I looked over at the house. 14525 S. Leavitt. And instead of my usual routine of pity and grief and ire, I said this to myself:
“God, I want closure. I want to go in the house. I’m ready to move on.”
And then I proceeded to drive. I turned the corner and the next corner and I was at my sons grandmas. I got out of my car and made my way to the door. I knocked. I could hear my sons footsteps approaching the stairs. I heard his grandma instruct him to ask who was at the door. I said, “Me!”… He said, “It’s my Daddy!”…
Later that night I left the house and made my way to go to my fathers house in Robbins, Illinois. I had been in the Chicago area for about 3 days by now and that is where I had been staying. One of the other reasons for me coming back was to try to mend some relationships and friendships that I had felt I had damaged and others that I know I had damaged. My relationship with my biological father had always been a strange and difficult one for both of us, further complicated by the fact that I had been raised and provided for by the father of my younger siblings. “Rock” has been who I have always referred to as “Dad” for the most of my life. He has been in my life for all of it. My father found this a difficult challenge to overcome. He felt embarrassed and stymied in our relationship because he had witnessed Rock provide for me and be a presence in my life. For most of my childhood, Rock’s house was where I had lived or where I had spent weekends and summers. Much to my delight. My summer vacations were to Alabama where Rock has family and land. I enjoyed Rock as my “Dad”. It was no afterthought, it was what it was. He and my mother were happy when they were together and when they weren’t, he was still there for us. He is a provider and he provided for his children, all of them, and he considered me just as much as one of them as he did the others in a certain capacity. I enjoyed that. It was good. It was not all great though. The truth is that Rock is not my father and I grew up around a family that was not my blood family. To some, that means nothing, to me, it was a struggle for identity and definition. It was a strain on my sense of belonging and entitlement. It was hard. Because the truth is that I had a blood family that exists and that were in the area and I wanted to be a part of something that was held by that bond. Rock loves me, I know that the family loves me, but I was always explained as a child. I was always “the older son of his youngest children’s mother”. Yea, all the time. At family functions and on trips and well, all the time.
Well, a lot of that led to me having a lot of pent-up anger and frustration with it. Along with some other very serious issues, it was a turbulent dynamic growing up. And so I had longed to develop and cultivate a relationship with my real father and the blood family that I shared a last name with. Especially after 1994, and well, let’s get to that…
So I had left my son and had gone to my fathers apartment. I had been in town a couple days by now and had started having some very difficult conversations with him. Later that night I had gone to sleep on his couch. I woke at about 4am and was staring into space when he awoke and walked into the living room.
Him: “What is my son thinking about?”
Me: “His son.”
Him: “What about my grandson?”
Me: “I don’t know what to do.”
He sat down in the chair across the room and we began to talk about my future and plans and hopes and my ideals. And then I said something about my mom. (Pardon the language that happens from here)
Him: “You need to get over that shit!”
Me: “Who in the f___ are you to tell me that I need to get over that. What the f___ do you mean? Are you f_____ serious!!! Do you know what the f___ this has done to me? Do you know what it is like to exist like this. Does this s___ look get-over-able to you! Where in thee f___ were you? Where in the f___ was anybody else!!! Do you know what it feels like to be abandoned and ignored but be surrounded? Do you know what it’s like to have everyone around you shut the f___ up about the only thing that should be talked about? Do you know what it is like to know who murdered your mother and have the police tell you that they know and have the states attorney say that they know but no one do anything about it. Do you know what it’s like to be around a bunch of people that are related to the only suspect in your mothers murder but they treat you like the monster? Do you know how that f______ feels? Get over it? I have been taking blood pressure medicine since I was 17 because I’m so stressed out. I have never drank alcohol. I have never smoked cigarettes or weed or done any drug! I don’t belong to a gang, I’m not a criminal, but I can’t even maintain any f______ relationships or friendships because I can’t trust a m____f______ because of this! Get over it?
(I said all of that in my head)
Me: “You’re right.”
And I turned over on the couch and fell asleep.
8:00 am, Friday, February 5, 2014
So I got up and took a shower and put on some clothes. I had to get some money together to be able to buy my son some gifts. I got in my car and went to visit Eric. Eric is like my brother. I call Eric my cousin. We are not related by blood. His mother and my mom were very good friends and we have always been very close. I love Eric and his family. I’ve spent more time with him than I have any member of my family, blood or not. I needed a place to go and think and being around Eric helps me do that. We are very honest with each other and so I felt more comfortable being over there than being with my father that morning. Eric, at that time, lived in the Concordia apartments on 138th street. I went over there. I called him and he opened the door for me. He and his family were not all awake when I arrived but they soon got up and began to prepare for the day. While they were getting ready for school and work I sat on the couch thinking. Then they all left out for a little while and I began to wonder who I could reach out to in order to get me a gig for that night. I am a poet. I am a pretty good one too. I also have some products that I sell. I have two books and a poetry CD. I needed to find an open mic that I could perform at and sell some merchandise.
This is where the story… Well, let me just tell it.
In my phone there are about 90 names that have “POET” next to the contact. I know a lot of poets. I have made acquaintance and developed a pretty good rapport with quite a few. I have the contact info for many of them not labeled because they are not just poets to me but friends as well. But there are at least 200 poets in my phone.
And I was going to send out a mass text inquiring of where there was an open mic set that evening. I pulled out my phone and hit the unlock code and went to my group message app. I was going to make a group message and send it to about 20 or so local contacts that I could think of but my spirit said to, “Call Ahav.”
“Ahav?” I thought to myself, “Why Ahav?”
But I followed the urging. I sent Ahav a text:
::Hey Bruh, it’s “SEE”. I’m in town. I need a spot to hit tonight. Need to perform. Need to sell some books and CDs.::
About 2 minutes later my phone rang. It was Ahav. He called back, excited to hear from me. I hadn’t spoken to him in years. That was proven as we began to talk and I asked how his family, wife and sons, were doing. He informed me that he had been divorced a couple of years and that his boys were great, they were in school and doing well and everything that he had been up to since the last time we had talked. It had been a lot of changes since we last spoke. And then he asked of how long I was going to be in town. I told him for at least a few days but that I needed to do some rooms while I was here to make some money. He said that there was an event that night on 115th and St. Lawrence at a place called Peace & Posh. There was a catch though. His car was down. He asked if it would be possible for me to come pick him up from his house and we then ride together to the event. He said that I didn’t have to worry about driving all the way home that night if I didn’t want to because I could just stay on his couch for the night and leave out in the morning. That’s because at the time Ahav lived on Devon street, north of downtown Chicago. From where I was, this was at least a 45 minute drive. I would have to go get him and drive all the way back out south to the event and then back out to his house and then back out south in order to be back on my side. That’s 3 hours of just driving!
Me: “Cool. What time will you be ready? Just text me your address.”
Ahav: “Peace King. The show starts around 10.”
And I hung up the phone.
I don’t remember much of what I did the rest of that day up until early evening but I made my way back to go see my son at about 5:30.
And I turned off of 147th onto Leavitt. And I skipped the first turn and I passed the house. The house.
I made the left at the corner and another left and then pulled up to see my son. This time I knocked and his grandma yelled that the door was open. I went in. Coron, my son, was asleep on the couch when I walked in the door. I kneeled down and started to whisper in his ear. I wish I could explain how much I love this lil dude. As I reflect on everything, it all happened for a reason. He makes me feel so much better. His birth strengthened me. I was so lost and messed up back then. Gosh, I’m so much better than I was.
Eventual he woke up and I sat there with him and his grandma and aunt for a couple of hours. Then it began to rain. I’m thinking to myself that the rain was going to add more time to my trip. Now I will be honest, I was not the most unselfish, compassionate, individual when it came to things like that. Like picking people up and being a “taxi” per say. I got that from Rock. When I was younger and he had allowed me to drive his car, he discouraged me from allowing myself to be the driver all the time and get used by the most of my friends that didn’t have a car or means of transportation that was reliable and in good condition. He taught me a lot about taking care of my things and realizing that no one is going to voluntarily do that for you. And that people will use you for what you let them use you for. And I turned that into, well, I will just ride solo. So it was not often that I was all for the driving cross-country to be picking folks up and dropping them off. I will admit that. I wish I could say that I chose to that day but nope, it came out so fast, that, “Cool.”, that I didn’t have the time to take it back. But now it was raining. I was about to take it back.
But I didn’t. And at about 7:15 I started to get ready to leave. Abby, that’s my sons granny, asked where was I going. I told her that I had a show later that night. I kissed and hugged Coron, told him to wish me luck, and I set off to get Ahav.
I put the address in my phones GPS. Estimated time, 57 minutes with traffic. I was so ready to turn back.
It only took me a little over 40 minutes to get there. I pulled up to the alley and called Ahav to let him know that I was there. He was surprised that I had arrived so early. He told me that the event didn’t start until late and suggested that I come upstairs. There was a bank right across the lot from Ahav’s building. He told me to park in that lot and come on up. He wanted me to see the boys and he said that his sister was in town and he wanted me to meet her as well. So I parked and went up.
The entire time that I was walking up the stairs to his apartment I was thinking about the rides back and forth that I would be taking. I wasn’t event considering which poems I might do or not even thinking about my girlfriend back in Atlanta or much of anything else. Just that drive and the rain… And then Ahav opened the door.
The boys had grown a lot over the years. They were as tall as their father. He reintroduced us. He and I shook hands and hugged. He offered me something to drink or eat, they had just finished dinner. I had eaten at Abby’s house. I was full.
Then he said, “Hey, I want you to meet my sister. She says she knows your family.”
So we walked to the back of the apartment. Ahav is a DJ as well as a poet and community activist and facilitator. In the back of his apartment was a DJ setup and his computer. His sister was on the computer. She turned around and he introduced us. I asked her who did she know in my family. She named off some people with the last name of Flowers. I recognized some of the names but the truth is that I don’t know many of the Flowers’. I wasn’t raised around or exposed to them much growing up. I told her that those were my biological family but that I had grown up with my stepdad and his family. Whenever I communicate regarding my biological father I by default refer to Rock as my stepdad. It gets kind of confusing when you are trying to explain 2 “dads” to people. And well, so yea, I told her that I didn’t really know who she was talking about.
And well then we were just conversing. Ahav and I catching up and his sister chiming in. And then we got on the subject of “back in the day”.
Now, I had known Ahav, whose real name is Cliff, for quite a few years by this time. We had done a few events together. I thought I knew a great deal about him. I guess we had never discussed as much as I thought we had.
So, while we are talking, Ahav says something about Thornton High School. I asked him what did he know about Thornton. He and his sister both shared that they were “Wildcats”, Thornton alumni. I told him that I had attended Thornton. He looked as shocked as I know I looked at him. I explained that I had only completed my freshman and sophomore years there. My junior and senior years had been completed at Hillcrest High School. We were amazed that we hadn’t known this about one another. And then he and his sister went back further in their history and started talking about Dixmoor. I interrupted, “What do you know about Dixmoor!” He responded that they had grown up there. “What!”, I was really blown away because I have known Ahav for years and I never knew that, nor did he know that about me. And then I said that I was raised in Dixmoor. “On Leavitt, 14525 S. Leavitt.”
(Immediately after I said that I noticed that Ahav’s sister had stopped typing whatever she was typing on the computer.)
Ahav and I began to talk about the years that we lived in Dixmoor. His sister who was making hand gesture and visibly attempting to figure something out turned around to me…
His sister: “Cornelious, what did you say your address was?”
Me: “14525 S. Leavitt”
Her: “1-4-5-2-5, one four five two five, 145-… Wait a minute, am I tripping? 1-4-5-2-5 Leavitt…”
Me: “Yea, 14525…”
Her: “That’s my house.”
(I look over at Ahav who is clearly as confused as I am.)
Her: “145twenty-5, yes, that is my address. Well it’s not my address now but when I got married years ago, that’s the house we purchased, my husband and I…”
Me: (Completely blank stare)
Her: “…Well we are divorced now but my ex-husband and my son are at the house right now. He still lives there.”
(Visibly shaking and confused, amazed, astonished and then I pulled out my phone to check the time)
Me: “… My name is a Cornelious Flowers, my mother was Michelle Flowers. She was murdered in that house. Last night I prayed to God to help me get closure, to allow me to go into the house. (I looked at my phone) 24 hours ago, I stopped in front of the house and asked God to do that for me.”
Her: “Oh my God! I remember that. They told us that had happened. The people that we purchased the house from had told us the story. Oh my God, you are the one that found his mother…
Ahav: (No words)
(His sister picks up her phone and starts dialing.)
Her: “… Hey baby, let me speak to your daddy. (Holding) Hey, what are you doing right now? (Whatever His response) I need you to do me a favor. I have a young man right here, one of Cliff’s friends. His mother, (She turns to me and asks for my mothers name) her name was Michelle Flowers. She was the woman killed in the house before we brought it. I need you to let him come over the house tonight. (Whatever His response) Cornelious, you can go to the house now.”
(By now I had picked up my phone and called my girlfriend and told her. I got off the phone with her and called a pastor friend of mine, William Toney, and then a very dear friend, a spiritual mother, Thelma, and told her about what was happening.)
Me: “I don’t know if I’m ready for this. I don’t know if…”
Ahav: “The Most-High knows what’s best. We are going now.”
I can’t explain to you what I was feeling at that moment.
And we got in the car and I started driving. I could not fathom how what had just happened had happened. I was floored. What are the odds, the chances. All the poets in my phone. All of the people that I could have called. All of the times that I would never have chosen to do all that driving. All of the…
*Now let me explain something else… Ahav’s sister was in town helping him take care of his boys because his car had broken down. His sister didn’t live there. She just happened to have been there that week because he had no transportation. The reason he needed me to come out there to pick him up was because his car was down.*
And so I drove us back south to Dixmoor. About 45 minutes later we were on 147th. And I made the left turn onto Leavitt. This time I wasn’t going to pass up the house.
I pulled in front of my old home and I just sat there for a minute. Ahav asked me if I was ready. I replied that I was.
We walked up the stairs to the front porch and knocked on the door. His ex-brother in law opened up the door and stepped to the side. I walked in. I was in the house. The last time I had been in the house I was there regrettably giving away every possession that my mother ever owned. I gave away all of her stuff. And people just kept taking it and asking for it. She hadn’t even been dead that long and people were there almost pillaging her belongings. And I was in charge. I didn’t know what to do. I said “Yes, you can have this” and “Yes, you can have that.” Everything that she loved and adored. Everything that she worked so hard for. People just took it. Clothes, couches, cooking utensils. Everyone took something. I kept nothing for myself. And that was the last time that I was there.
Now I’m in the house and the first thing that I notice is that I must have been really short in 1994 because everything seems to come to my waist now. The ceiling seems so low. The rooms so small. The next thing that I notice, it’s all the same. The house is just as it was when we left.
The ex brother in law: (Motioning me in) “Do what you need to do.”
I immediately retreated to the basement. I don’t know why. I have no idea why I went there but at the same time I didn’t know what I was doing in the house. I know that God was all over this but I didn’t have a clue on what I was supposed to get out of it. I had been declaring that I was “open for closure” and that I was ready to move on. By 2010, my life was a mess. I was estranged from so many people. I had hurt and disappointed myself as well as people who cared for and about me. I had been running since 1997. I had gone rogue. Most people had no idea where I was or what was going on with me. By this time I was so hurt and depressed and desperate. I had never dealt with my mothers murder. It had just become a soundbite that accompanied my story. My trust issues had created in me a severe paranoia that had decimated every idea of relationship that I ever had. I was lost and cold and angry and silent. I had been hurt and I had done unto others what I felt had perpetually been done to me. And it was a system and trap that I constantly dragged others into. I wanted a change.
And so here I am in the basement of the house I grew up in. I just started asking God to explain it all to me. I was down there for about 10 minutes when Ahav came down and asked if I was okay. I told him I was and to just leave me be for awhile. He went back upstairs. I continued walking around in the basement for about 10 more minutes. Then I went upstairs.
I walked through the house and to the entrance of the front room where everyone else was. They were all talking and it seemed that no one noticed that I was standing there. And then I felt a nudge (It was a subtle urging in my spirit that pulled on me) and a thought came to me that I was not done yet. So I turned around and walked back.
I figured that it must be necessary for me to walk in the room that was once my moms. I thought that maybe I was supposed to go back to the last place I saw her. Lying there on her stomach. Head on her folded hands. The dried blood landscaped across her face. Her hair matted to her skin mixed with the blood and life that had leaked out of her head. So I stood there. I stood in the place that I had some 16 years prior stood and recognized that the smell that had been in the house, the smell that I had joked was a bowel movement, was actually my mothers dead body, that lie here for discovery by her 15 year old son. I stood there. I leaned back on the door of the hall closet that I had repeatedly thrust myself into that morning, March 28, 1994. I had just stood there and cried and banged my head on that door. At this moment I stood in this very place. Hoping to forget what I had been seeing for all these years.
And then I felt like I was done so I motioned towards the living room entrance. They were still talking. They still didn’t acknowledge me standing there. And another nudge. So I turned around and walked back towards the kitchen. Before I made my way there though, I stepped into the room that was my little sisters. The room that was visible from my mothers. I had stood that morning staring at my mothers lifeless body in front of me and my sisters gently sleeping one to the right. I started to remember all the noise I made that morning. She never woke up. My sister or brother, neither of them broke from their slumber to be troubled by the haunting image that I have had sole possession of for all these years. I turned from her room and just glanced in the bathroom. Then I made my way to the kitchen. The morning I found my mom, before I discovered her body, I had gotten up early to wash some dishes that were in the sink. Although I hadn’t made the dishes and even though we hadn’t been home that entire weekend, I knew that those dishes fell under the category of my responsibility. So I felt in this moment that maybe I was supposed to stand in that place and maybe then I would be okay to leave. And I stood there at the sink and looked out the window like I used to and then I turned to go.
I made my way to the front and they were still talking. And they still did not notice me! It’s as if I was a ghost, no one even broke a digit or glance towards my direction. And another nudge.
Okay so, a little background before I continue…
I have always maintained this perspective of belief that is one that I have been carrying this baggage and heavy load with me and on me for all these years. I’ve told that same story over and again in reference to my struggles with trust and consistency and faithfulness and integrity. It had been my calling card that I had given for understanding to reach me, realizing that I had become a “man” on that morning and had been forced to be responsible and hard and cold and unfeeling and a force of strength for everyone else. I believed this. Until I noticed that I hadn’t gone into what was once my bedroom.
As I looked around the kitchen while walking back to the rear of the house I was wondering what else could there be in the house for me to get or see. And I hadn’t found “closure” yet. I was definitely feeling some way about the total experience. There was shock and surprise, there was awe and bewilderment. There was even peace. Peace because I believe in God. I have faith in God and in that moment, I knew God was responsible. I couldn’t make what was happening right then up. And I walked back and noticed the door to my old room was slightly open. I peered in and noticed that it was being used for storage at that time. And I pushed the door open. And there it was. There he was.
-People who know me as “See” know all of the things that I have created as my identity. “See” is a defense mechanism that I created long ago, I think to protect “Cornelious” from being hurt anymore. “See” was an act, a performance. “See” was a theme, a logic, a solution to a problem. “See” was a perfection that could not be undone. “See” is everything that I have ever imagined myself to be. So I believed and have said before that “See” was the mask that “Cornelious” used to be able to walk around in.-
But I pushed open that door and in the middle of the floor, as plain as I could see every solid thing around me, as clear as I could see the walls and the floors and the counters and the lights and the men in the front room. As obvious as my hands were connected to my wrist to my arms to my shoulder to my body. There in the middle of the floor, on his knees, praying, was my 15 year old self. I was frustrated with confusion. I was looking at me. My 32 year old self was standing there physically looking at my 15 year old self and I noticed that I was moving towards him. I couldn’t control it. I didn’t stop it. I walked over to him and I knelt down. My 32 year old self knelt into my 15 year old self and I was praying. I don’t even remember what I prayed for but I prayed. And then I stood up. All of me. I could not believe it. I felt so smart and so stupid at the same time. And right as I was about to take my first step I heard the voice of God say, “No excuses.”
That was it. No grand and elaborate instructions. No blueprints. No pats on the back, no tap on the rear, no nudge forward. No explanation.
Just, “No excuses.” And I walked out of the room and towards the front. I got to the front entrance of the living room and everyone at the same time turned around towards me. Like they noticed me. Like they saw me. When I had walked in the house I hadn’t noticed that there was another man in the living room, a friend of the guy who owned the house.
Friend: “Man, it’s gone!”
Me: (Turning around to see if someone was behind me to whom he had directed that statement.)
Friend: “Hey man, I don’t know what’s going on right now but when you walked in here, there was something on you. I can’t describe it but it was big and it was on you. But when you just turned that corner, it was gone.”
Me: (Just standing there)
Ahav: “You ready?”
Me: “Yea, I’m ready.”
(I thanked the guy for letting me in the house and we walked out.)
Ahav: “You need me to drive?”
Me: “Yea, I need you to drive.”
When we got in the car he asked if I was okay. I didn’t have an answer. I couldn’t explain what had just happened. It has taken me four years to the day to write it down. But we went to the event and I made an announcement to the crowd that night about the power and presence of God. I told them a bit of the story above. And then I performed. I sold a few books and a few CDs.
A couple of weeks after this happened, the house went into foreclosure and was subsequently purchased by someone else. They came in and rehabbed the property. When I went in there it was just as it had been when I was 15. It doesn’t look like that inside anymore. So had this not happened when it did I would not have been able to go in and see it like I did. But God.
On Wednesday, February 5, 2014, I was on Facebook and a pastor had put up a status that had the hashtag, #NOEXCUSES. As I was scrolling down I saw another friends status which said NO EXCUSES. And I saw it on another post from somewhere else. I then realized what the date was. It was 4 years to the date of me hearing God say, “No excuses.” These last four years have been turbulent to say the least. I never went back to Atlanta. I lost everything that I possessed, my car, all of my belongings, my two storage units with all of my stuff in them. My relationship was lost because I didn’t go back. I didn’t know how to or what to do. I eventually went back to live with Rock and my siblings. I started back cutting hair. My father died in 2011. I had a mild heart attack in 2013. And that’s just some of it. Just a snapshot of what my “problems” and “issues” are!
But no excuses.
A couple of weeks ago I quit cutting hair. I am a writer. I am a poet. I am an author. I have a story. I have a testimony. I have faith. I believe. There is a plan for my life that is good. I have gifts and talents that, of I work hard and deliberately, will allow me to take care of and provide for myself. I have a purpose that serves and is sufficient to satisfy my needs for safety, security, and significance. I will be successful. I deserve to live and I have proof that God has a way for me. I just have to get out of my way. NO EXCUSES!
The last 4 years have been filled with experiences and exercises that have helped me grow. Going into the house that night helped me get a lot of me back. The time since that night has been instrumental in me reacquainting myself with a big part of me that I left in that house. I was raised in a house and environment that kept and held a lot of secrets and those secrets hurt. I had been perpetuating those secrets and creating environments and energies that maintained habits, routines, and traditions that kept those secrets going. And I blamed those secrets for everything. I let those secrets be responsible for my actions and inactions. And the guilt and shame of those secrets and the subsequent revelation or darknesses associated with such was able to penetrate every part of my life and I fell. I failed. I messed up. I lost. I hurt. I lied. I manipulated. I abandoned. I ignored. I did it all.
But I’m going to fix it.
©2014 Cornelious “See” Flowers
At some point we are going to have to realize that we reached “some point” some time ago. We are beyond that point now. There is no fixing this, at this point, as it is. We must stop. We must stop trying to do what has not worked to this point. “They” must stop. We must stop them. We must recognize who “they” are. Some of us are “them”. “We” are working for and against ourselves at the same time. Some of us need to realize who “we” are. Some of them are going to be for us while some of us will never.
We are not going to survive much further if we do not identify and define these roles. “They” have a specific interest in our survival. They have a plan for us. They will always find an “us” to use.
We will always find a “them” to blame.
Or we could do what we have to, ourselves, for ourselves, by ourselves.
At this point.
©2014 Cornelious “See” Flowers