Sunday, December 23, 2007


A few days ago I had taken a trip out to Brooklyn, New York to see a friend of mine whom had done a favor for me. I remembered that is was the first coldest day of the year and I hated every minute I was out in it. Wind and residual rain made for a nasty winter day as it crept into every small exposed part of my body. It was one of those days where ignorant people on the street start to act like they got some sense because who wants to act a fool in the cold.

Waiting on the Atlantic Ave platform for the 2/3 trains I get a call from my partner in crime from Uptown needing a favor from me. Interestingly enough, I truly believe that part or my foundation for many of my closest friends is the fact that we are always there for each other. One needs a favor, the other needing information, another needing a loan and on those rough and lonely days a hug and a shoulder to cry on. We make sure we are available. It’s the foundation for anyone living in New York. I preach this all the time to the “transplants”; those people who move to New York thinking that they need in their transition to New York is a job and a place to share rent. It’s more than that, its having family. My friends are my family, closer than close, we look out for one another in the city that eats the lonely and lost for breakfast.

So as the train approaches I get this call on the cell phone and I’m asked if I could stop off on Canal Street to buy a bamboo steamer. My first response was, “Negro its cold as shyt out here, Hells No!” But then again, that’s what I would say to a stranger or a simple associate. This was my Boy so I said sure and as the people begin to board I mentally prepare myself to deal with the weather just a little while longer. The train doors close and I roar through the underground tunnels to China Town.

I get off just before my destination in order to hit the ATM for a little extra cash when I noticed, across from the bank, was a Starbucks. Now I am not a big fan of Starbucks but this particular evening, it was freezing and a cup of tea necessitated a compromise in principles. Once in the door, you can smell the generic corporate set up. The carbon copied, homogeneous and sterile adaptation of a coffee shop, superimposed with the scent of buy-buy-buy. This to all those in the know “IS” the formula for corporate success for Starbuck. Give them simplicity with style and make you feel not only special but urbane as well. The yuppies and sophisticates of the city on their Apple I Books, foreign tourist and coffee addicts all sat around in their “air of privilege” because here, everyone drinks five dollar cups of coffee with three and four words in the names. It’s all so foo-foo and I watched it all in amazement year after year. Funny as it seems, if you know anything about retail in relation to margin, you’d know that a cup of coffee, no matter who brews it or where the beans come from, the average cup costs about .60 cents. Oh well, its Starbucks and that is all you need to justify the madness and the 25-degree weather broke me down into submission.

As I wait in line for a simple cup of tea, which is the same tea that I can find at my local supermarket, I can’t help notice that A Charlie Brown Christmas is playing over the store speakers. Since I am not one to trumpet the Christmas Holiday I will say I do love this CD, mostly because I love the Peanuts and that Blockhead Charlie Brown. As I continue to wait for my commercially prepared cup of “herbal” tea I decide to step out of line and use the restroom. Of course there is a line a mile long. Coffee has a way of making a person drop pee. Standing patiently my eyes dance about the store, seeing the many holiday decorations and winter icons, I then switch my attentions to observe the people living out their lives in the far corners of the shop. In each case, my mind prods into all the possible stories of each person in the room. As a People Watcher, it’s a silent diversion we play in our quite mental sport of storytelling. If you could live in the mind of a People Watcher, the stories you’d experience. All the diverse dramas, the tragedies and the comedy available to us to create. I will go on record and tell you that most People Watchers mostly create comedy for the lives of the people whom we watch. I know it sounds bad and manic but it’s our world and it gets us through all the madness that’s called human nature everyday.

So while I dim in and out of my silent world of passive thought I overhear a family of three having conversations. It was one of those conversations you couldn’t avoid because they were LOUD. It was a three generation table; mother, daughter and grandmother. The conversation began with the grandmother working on New York Times crossword puzzle and asking the mother if she knew the answer to one of the questions, to which she didn’t have a clue. Now trying not to be in their business, I did know the answer but again, I am in “watch” mode so I kept quite. Then the daughter jump in and chimed out the answer, which had something to do this the R&B artist Beyonce. From there their conversation shifted to who was a Beyonce, to her latest music and videos to her being in movies. Ultimately I got out of that conversation since I am not all that interested in the state of contemporary R&B and definitely a Beyonce. As I moved closer to my goal, the bathroom, my eyes came upon a poster that took me to my higher state consciousness. OK it made me think. The poster, although was a statement on Starbucks corporate practices in relation to its employees and customers, it was the actual words that made me stop and think. The poster read: THE DEEPER THE ROOTS, THE HIGHER THE TREE.

For the first time since I can acknowledge the existence of Starbucks I was profoundly inspired about something it had and or served. It wasn’t so much the words but the timing; it made me think about family, friends, community and GOD. For a brief moment, time stopped and I let the words sink in and plant the seeds that I needed to come back to and grow a meaning from.

I walked out of Starbucks into the cold thinking about some of my past writings about how what we do in the present has significant meaning to those that will come after us and how important it is to capture a piece of the pass so we know were we are today. It’s a concept that is preached and taught over and over and although some take it to heart, most dwell on it rarely.

My father had past a few months back and one of the things I did was write a poem, which I read at his funeral. It was entitled, THE TREE STORY. The nature of generational knowledge, relationships, the emotion and responsibility we have as family and an elder Son’s tribute to his time spent on this Earth. The poem came from and was signed Brother, Sister, Son, and Daughter to Father. I think at that moment when I read the words, THE DEEPER THE ROOTS, THE HIGHER THE TREE it was a spiritual tribute and reminder that I can’t forget the work that must still be done. I am a firm believer that things in life do not happen out of chance and luck nor do I believe we aren’t given anything that we cannot handle.

For my community, we have placed and planted ourselves here in America, the United States, New York, the city and we need to cultivate our presence deeper into the soil that we live off of. The more I learn about my community the more I look for fertile grounds to plant those seeds and solidify my place here.

I my personal life I know I need to keep my friends close, making sure that those relationships cultivate and continue to grow stronger. I would never have come this far without them and I definitely would not have been inspired the way I was if I did not say “yes” to someone I love.

I love my soul. It was cultivated by deep roots planted by my mother, father and nurtured by the hand of God. I cannot ever forget that. At this point in my life I am still a tree of great strength and fortitude and yet I know I still have more to grow. So on that day my body, my mind and my soul made a conscious effort to dig deeper in order to grow higher and thus I write this thanking God for allowing me to wake that day, my family for nurturing me to this point in my life, my friends for being there and helping on my journey to read those words and my mind for staying clear and obstacle free to realize all of this.

What have I produced that day, what can I deliver to the world that can stand the tests of time for generation to reap confidence and maturity? I leave the following statement as and elder Son:

You told me to Drive but you took my Car; so I Walked. You told me to build a House but you took my Tools; so I built a Hut. You told me to Eat but you took my Food; so I now Farm.” - Shazza Nakim


Maria said...

I was just in starbucks, in seattle, on a business trip. Like you, I had never expected to be so moved by something RETAIL outlet! I got online to try and find where that line actually came from. (the deeper the roots...) It made me think of recent events in my life, my relationships, etc, and how I feel strong and secure because of my deep roots. My father used to say, "never forget where you came from," which I always shrugged off. It's importance is becoming more and more significant as I age. I can see that my friends who do not have "deep roots" often struggle when faced 'tree shaking' events. Anyway, that was my long way of saying, "I agree with you."

Anonymous said...


I saw the quote this morning in Starbucks as well. Although I read it as "the deeper the roots, the higher the reach".

For me, deep roots signifies strong internal---spiritual and psychological--constitution. Something we nurture and cultivate ourselves. For many of us, our families did not provide that, or our roots were so heavy and overwhelming that they overtook our lives and prevented branching out.

I have a friend who has been going through major life transitions over the past few years. He was not fortunate in his childhood in that he did not have consistency in his family growing up, abuse and so forth. and he is in the process of growing his own roots after looking outside himself for so long for false support and a false sense of self.

So for me, Deep Roots = strong sense of Self. With a capital S.
Our connection with the Divine.
Which enables us to reach heights that anything material could ever provide.

Andre' said...

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a friend and I blurted out the statement, "The Deeper The Roots, The Higher The Tree". This gave both of us pause and we laughed wondering where did that come from. However, it was so on point and relevant to the conversation that this morning I decided to look this up to see if this was used before and in what context. Furthermore, I wanted a deeper understanding of what it meant. I Googled it and came upon this blog. Thank you for sharing and I have gained so much insight from your writings and the attached comments. Since I am spiritual, I assume that the Holy Spirit wanted me to have this in my Repertoire.