The places in this world where the greatest thoughts come from must be authentic. The wise places are rarely obvious and must be sought out by people as they journey through this world. These special places are hidden, like the words within books, requiring both seeking and patience to find. If we are lucky, we may find a handful of them in our lifetime though we should find more because their existence is in our mind alone. Today I found one of these places. I was invited into it by another writer, another seeker, another teacher. I found it in the garage of Brendan Jackson as the sun reached its peak in Ladson, SC.
This is no ordinary garage. It is a sacred place, where Brendan comes to meditate, to learn, to pray, to write and to reflect. It is small, with two chairs seated closely side by side. In this room you will be present, there is nowhere for you to hide. There is also nothing for you to fear. Brendan is a man with a great smile, his eyes always find yours, looking into them, beyond any illusion you may want to cast, so you can leave that aside. He wants to know the real you, the you that is not on social media, the you that might not even be in church because you are trying to hard in other places. He wants to see you for who you are.
Maybe it is because both he and I have lived lives where we were trying to play a part, to be someone we aren't. We have both learned form the dances we performed and we have both found the power in leaving those behind, the power in being your authentic self, though you never get to see that person fully, you will always have parts only visible from others. We both wear the testaments to ourselves, to our personal power, in our hair. Brendan with his hair being locked, starting what will be a long journey to power and growth, to his individual spirit. Myself with my beard coiling and flying wild from my jaw. When I grew this beard out and looked in the mirror, I finally saw myself, the inside now outside. Brendan smiles and nods, he knows the power. He tells me about how our hair is alive, how it grows and feels, how it is a living extension of our person and that by denying it, by forcing ourselves to be like someone else, we deny ourselves.
There is no topic off limits with us. We both read a ton. We love reading, anything we can get our hands on. Brendan does not watch TV, he reads, writes, talks or thinks. He listens to music all day, literally. He sleeps with it all night. He plays it at work, when he works out, even our conversation is scored. Jazz plays softly in the background as we both quote our favorite books and share our stories. Brendan has been a teacher. He loves his kids, deeply, his passion for youth and education can be felt like a wave of electricity passing through the air. It is similar to being in a field after lightening has struck. He fears for what is happening to our children, at how our schools are acting more as factories and our children are seen more as numbers and products. He was a pastor, aiding others in their spiritual lives. He talks at length about how we all have a lord of our life, be that a deity or something else. Some pursue God, some pursue money, but whatever the lord of your life is, it holds onto you and drives you forward. If you don't believe it is there, you are fooling yourself.
Brendan Jackson has a beautiful mind, a powerful heart and amazing words. He shares some with me from an aging notebook that he still keeps on hand. It's filled with definitions, journal entries, poetry and prose from his own years. He is working on a book. I want a copy now.
Among all of the stories e tells me, one hits me with its honesty, its authenticity and its wisdom. He tells me of his childhood, how his best friend, a little white girl, told him she couldn't play with him because her father said he was black. That is the first time he became aware of the color of his skin, that it made him different. It is also when he received the advice that he should get an education, because they couldn't take that away from him. He set out to be the smartest person in the room, and he usually was.
We talk about Bob Marley and Tupac, about August Wilson and James Baldwin, about David Foster Wallace and George Orwell. Brendan and I talk about God and Humanity, about the power of words and the ability for screens to destroy a human life. We share our fears, our hopes, our stories and our wisdom freely. It is a feast in that garage, though the impact may only be felt by the people who were in it. This is his place and he has opened it up to me.
As we talk, I meet people in his life. They are all so full of joy, such wonderful characters they deserve a thousand pages each. There is a feeling in this man's life, something wonderful. Not flawless, because even he will tell you we all live with demons, but wonderful nonetheless.
I sat in a garage today with a wise man. We meditated on God and words. We spoke truth to personal power, let the warm Southern air through our hair and emerged as something more than a connection, something greater. With a hug and exchange of love we closed this chapter, but have come nowhere near the end of the book.
Favorite Dinosaur: Triceratops
Why: They were herbivores, didn't mess with anybody, but mess with them and it might be your ass.