Water

I learned how to swim when I was 26 years old

I don’t know if y’all know be there is a stereotype that black folks can’t swim

And I mean for American black folks

We didn’t have the best introduction to crossing waters

So I get it

 

I try to take the Will Smith approach in life though 

And truly challenge things that scare me

I felt embarrassed to be honest

But I was determined

So I signed up for an introductory swimming class

And no I was not with lil kids in floaties

It was other adults

 

My father could actually swim quite well

But I realize that he never took the time to really teach me

A few passing lessons but never really made sure I could

So unfortunately

Like many things in life

I had to learn it later on my own

Sometimes I get tired of trying to swim by myself

 

So here I go

I learned how to dive in the deep first

They make it like a right of passage for the class

So im at the ledge of this pool

Trying to act like I’m not afraid

But I realized in that moment

That I was me as a little boy all over again

 

Heart racing and nervous

Saying the mantra they teach you

“The water is your friend”

Looking around for safety

And on the wall I see a life raft

So, Im like

Well at least someone can throw that in and save my ass

So I squeezed my nose like a 4th grader

And jumped in

 

I’m actually a pretty good swimmer today

But ever once in a while

While im under water

Standing at the bottom of a pool

My heart races

I feel like I can’t breathe

Or wonder what will happen if I can’t take a breath in time

I never really learned how to float

And still struggle with treading

I know this deep down

So when I try to calm my breath

In the worst case

I start to panic

And push my way back to the surface

 

I tend to swim alone

And it occurred to me that there would be no one to throw in the life raft on the wall

I should probably be more responsible

But it feels a little embarrassing to ask for a pool buddy when I’m grown 

My boy Darren drowned at 22 hears old

 

When I was in one of my worst bouts of depression 

I dreamt of water a lot

I remember the slogan

“Water is your friend”

But it doesn’t always feel like it

See some times

When Im on the bottom of the pool

I swear I feel every droplet 

Weighing down on me

Pressing on my lungs

Seemingly stealing the oxygen

 

Kind of like how it feels sometimes to be a man

When I really started to see

 how many inputs I’ve taken on in my life

About who I should be in the world according to others

For just fitting in the man category

It feels like those water droplets

Like pressure from all side

Being told its ok to ask for a life raft

And at the same time being told

That I need to work my way out of all the trauma

While scolded for my shortcomings

 

And I know

Im responsible for me

Im responsible for my actions

Im responsible for the harm I caused

Im responsible to heal from my trauma

And I’m responsible to teach myself how to swim

But what Im saying is

It’s feeling like a lot of water

Im tired of swimming alone 

I’m just asking for a life raft

When I tell you I am tired

When I tell you ” Nah Man Im Good”

When I tell you ” baby I really don’t want to talk about my day”

Im actually telling you that I am drowning

 

When I was in one of my worst bouts of depression 

I dreamt of water a lot

I remember the slogan

“Water is your friend”

But it doesn’t always feel like it

I started dreaming about letting myself jump and not try to swim

Just let the water win the fight for my oxygen 

 

There is an interesting silence under the water

So how is it that the pressure of the droplets

Seems so loud

Its been so loud for so long

 

He bullies you you fight back

You dont take shit from no one

You need to know how to be tough

Push through

Crush the opposition in business

No quit attitude

Make sure you work a good job

Your self worth is your net worth

Strengthen your network

Know How to fight

Work out bro, get your gains

Build generational wealth

Oh Black Man?

Be a pillar for your community

Be yourself but actually be the version we all want you to be

Be strong for your family

Show up

You’re so toxic

Heal yourself

Get girls

Be courageous

What your 401k looking like

Ask for help

But not too much

Because then you’re soft

You’re too soft

You’re to hard

Why are you so angry 

Why are you being short with me

You’re an asshole

Men are assholes

Be gentle love me back

Be a man

Be strong for you

Be strong for us

 

Just wait hold on

Its too much water

Its too much water

Its too much water

And I know

Im responsible for me

Im responsible for my actions

Im responsible for the harm I caused

Im responsible to heal from my trauma

And I’m responsible to teach myself how to swim

But what Im saying is

It’s feeling like a lot of water

Im tired of swimming alone 

I’m just asking for a life raft

When I tell you I am tired

When I tell you ” Nah Man Im Good”

When I tell you ” baby I really don’t want to talk about my day”

When I tell you “please just hold on”

“please just love me through this”

I know I need to be better

I know I need to do better

I am trying

 

What I am actually telling you is that I am drowning

And I just need a life raft sometimes

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