Earning Wings

The other day, i posted Cee-Lo’s “Getting Grown.”  It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite songs of all time and certainly on my life’s soundtrack.  As i was listening to it, i was reminded of the line that always struck me most:

Gotta walk before you learn to fly.
We all got to earn to die.

It stands strong on its own, but there is something particularly captivating about his delivery: the emphasis of the first part, followed by the somber matter of factness of the second.

We all gotta earn to die.

i’m delving further and further into my dissertation, reading about people and organizations who committed themselves to the development of a strong Black nation, using their allotted time on this Earth to do their part: in a phrase, earning to die.

In this society, we are taught to see death as a punishment; as one final hurdle before it’s all over.  But that’s so incorrect.  Man, death is a reward.  It is an honor bestowed upon those who have lived a full and productive life!  Cause if you’ve truly been doing your best, you will have accomplished what you were supposed to accomplish.

My grandfather transitioned two years ago this Saturday.  The tears i’ve cried and continue to cry are tears of sadness, yes.  But sadness ain’t the first emotion that produces those tears.  It’s joy.  And i miss him most certainly, but above all else i am so very proud of him!  Yo, Howard Johnson did his thing!  Ain’t nobody ever did this life thing like he did, because he did with his life what we are all to do with ours: he lived with love.

And when that bright morning came and he had to fly on home, he flew with wings hand crafted by God.  First class, sun!

We all gotta earn to die.

i use my grandfather’s life as a guide.  Not as a play-by-play manual, but as a model of a life lived with purpose, with intention, and with originality.  Howard Johnson lived Howard Johnson’s life.  Only i can live mine.  Only you can live yours.

So let’s get to living.  And if we do it right, we might just earn to die.


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