Paying it Forward: Greatness

 Recently I had the opportunity to attend a lecture series held at  the University of South Florida where the legendary rapper Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., better known by his stage name Common, spoke about his life and his most recent published memoir, “One Day It’ll All Make Sense”. I have always been a fan of Common as a rapper but officially confirmed the day I heard his song “Retrospect for Life”, featuring Lauren Hill. His willingness to address taboo issues and outward accountability to be morally and spiritually conscious instantly made me a fan. And while I had never been faced with the dilemma of being a father before a husband, I always felt that this song set a MANdate of what should be done.

While a big fan of his music, as with many entertainers, I always tend to be cautious to endorse their ability to be poignant and eloquent in a public forum. From the moment I stepped in the lecture hall there was a certain serendipity in air …an anxious anticipation that I was about to receive something I had been waiting for. I was surrounded by a sea of college age kids, many of which only knew him for being an actor or his most recent musical releases, but nevertheless the turnout was great. As we set and awaited his arrival they showed a few short films of lectures to come… that helped set the tone of the night and then finally an introduction for the speaker of the night. He came out immediately and captivated the audience, it was evident that he was able to carry the same aura in this type environment just as he would if he were about to rock the mic. Being that it was where he developed his own sense of Greatness,  it was no surprise that his introduction to the crowd was a freestyle that incorporated subject matter that members of the USF student body could appreciate.

When the crowd calmed he immediately went in on his speech explaining how he struggled previously on what he would talk about prior to his trip down and that something delivered in his spirit gave him the topic of “greatness” and more specifically how his journey to achieving greatness had been a long conquest with a series of trials and triumphs before he discovered his personal greatness. In an instant I felt like life had frozen in time, why? I guess it goes back to the term I used earlier serendipity. The word serendipity (ser·en·dip·i·ty) means: an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. You see I had gone to the lecture expecting one thing (to hear Common speak/empower college kids) but the irony was I was about discover a few answers to life questions that I had been struggling with myself. First starting with Common sharing how his third grade teacher instilled in him that he could be great and because of the legacy of the story behind Emmett Till. He referenced a point in his life as a ball boy for the Chicago Bulls that as he travelled in the tunnels to gather the equipment he could feel the spirit of Till (who was a Chicago native), and soon embarked on his life journey to embody that GREATNESS, his teacher spoke of. Coincidentally after struggling to find a shirt to wear that night, I settled on one of my favorite shirts, one that paid homage to Emmett Till.

As he recounted various points in his life during that quest towards greatness, it seemed as if there was always a quote or scripture that allowed him to press through when even he saw no end and wanted to give up. He referenced a poem that many of us know and have heard many times but I think because of the moment it had so much more power

“Our Greatest Fear”

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson

Interestingly enough I derived the title of this blog from his willingness to share with the crowd what others shared with him. One of my fiance’s favorite theories on life is  “Pay it Forward” (which was made into a great movie) The concept is that you repay a good deed done for you by doing something good for someone else and creating a cycle of reciprocity. But while she was helping me, she also essentially called me out as well. She knows that my biggest fear is that I have the ability to be great but because that greatness causes a stretching and maybe even great discomfort, I stay where I am. So just as she questioned me, I ask you; what is something that you have cowered from that you KNEW you wanted, simply because it took a little more work, or struggle? There is a reason that the most rewarding things are sometimes the most difficult, God has to see how much faith will you have in He and how much of a desire is it for you.

 “God don’t make no mistakes” is a repeated quote from the movie Idlewild that I always take with me and just like He didn’t make no mistake in me seeing the post on Facebook for the event. He didnt make no mistake in making it possible for my fiance to attend even though she was supposed to be at work. He didn’t make no mistake in whispering to me to wear my Emmett Till shirt, and most definitely there was no mistake in the coincidence that the title of Common book is “One Day it’ll all Make Sense” which is also the title of the third CD (those who know me understand the significance of the number 3) which contains my favorite song “Retrospect for life.”  

This perhaps was my wake up call to really begin to seek my own personal GREATNESS and I can thank Common for re-birthing the desire to find it in me and hopefully by you reading this I have done my job in paying forward the encouragement to do what God has called for you to do. Maybe for all of us, one day it’ll all make sense how everything is tied together through the will of the Lord. So I thank Him in advance for the blessings that will manifest!!!


About Q_Crush
A kritical thinker that has a lot on his mind... Lover of all things good great conversationalist that will discuss anything if you are courageous enough to bring it up

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