When you see what the deficit is, then you have to do something about it.”
— Viola Davis
This morning was one of my best. Somehow I managed to wake up at 3:30 am, read the news and found myself on a treadmill running in the Boston University fitness center at 6:30 am. While doing my cardio, I glanced at myself in the mirror and was star-struck. Who was I? I saw this champion, running with a Morehouse t-shirt on, up before the sun and being productive. The feeling I felt of having a productive morning was self-affirming and almost super-human. The gym was filled with older men, reading the news as they ran, visibly wealthy with their high-tech earbuds fitness gear and designer gym bags. Walking out of the gym this morning I felt good and knew a good day was in store.
After a fantastic shower in the FitRec center and putting on my outfit for the day, I was headed to the campus library to work. Since coming to Boston, this has become a morning ritual of mine: wake up, get dressed and head to the Muglar Memorial Library. There is never a morning I don’t make it. I got to the library at approximately 7:15 and began working on homework. By this time, I had listened to a little Mariah Carey, a tad bit of Rihanna to get the juices flowing and was happy. There were less than five people in the library, but if any of them had looked over at me they would have seen that I was bopping my head, jigging to my music as Rihanna’s S&M blasted through my earbuds. I posted a Snapchat to show how empty the library was, not long after my snap was uploaded I got a text from one of my BU classmates.
“Yo I cannot believe u do college without a laptop what’s the deal are you just hella broke rn or did you break it?”
The text was followed by five laughing emoji’s, but I didn’t find anything funny. When I saw the message, I thought that it was insensitive, random and just rude. My positive vibe was instantly thrown off. The message included No, “Good Morning.” No, “How are you?” Just this text. The classmate that text me is a friendly colleague; I understood that her intention wasn’t to be offensive, but it did cause me to think. Honestly, it is true that I don’t have a laptop and I do go to the library daily to get my work done. My ritual of going to the library is so habitual that I never think about it. I could have taken this text and replied with the lens of being the victim, stating that I couldn’t afford a laptop or that mine did break, but I didn’t. Once I began to reflect on my technology possessions I came to some honest, uplifting conclusions that I must share.
My Old Laptop
To frame this story, we must go back and discuss my old laptop.
Back in 2012, My mother got me a laptop during my 5th year of high school. I didn’t use it too much until I got to Morehouse. When I was writing my first book, “Dealing With This Thing Called Life” I use to write on my laptop every morning until it died. There was one morning where I tried to recharge it after a morning of rigorous writing and to this day, it never came back on.
How Badly Do I Want It?
My laptop broke before my manuscript book was finished. Luckily I write all of my content on Google docs which has an autosave feature. Unfortunately because, now I didn’t have a laptop, if I wanted to write I had to go to the Douglas Writing Lab at Morehouse to work on my book. I didn’t have the luxury of rolling over in bed and writing from the comfort of my room. If I wanted to write, I had to get up, get dressed and get to the writing lab. My strong desire to write was put to the test when it became uncomfortable for me to do so. I had no laptop and wanted to be an author, so desperately, so the question was, “How bad did I want it”? Thankfully, my book came out, and I became a published author while being a student without having a laptop. What was meant to break my writing spirit built in me a level of endurance that superseded all factors. I could have given up my dream of becoming an author by sitting in the space of what I didn’t have instead of focusing on what I did and creating an opportunity to manifest my dream.
To this day, I still don’t have a laptop. This entire website, all of my blogs and graphics were built on computers that weren’t exclusively mine. I think my work speaks for itself and it is quite an accomplishment that I’ve been able to amass all of this content with no laptop.
My Mind Is Sharper
My graduate classes are against using technology to take notes. When it was announced in classes that professors wanted us to take notes by hand some of my classmates struggled to adjust. Because I finished undergrad with no laptop and was forced to take notes by hand, this practice of writing my notes was more comfortable for me. Little did I know Psychology promotes this behavior. In a study published in Psychological Science, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles examined how note-taking by hand or by computer affects learning.
“When people type their notes, they have this tendency to try to take verbatim notes and write down as much of the lecture as they can,” Mueller told NPR’s, Rachel Martin. “The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective — because you can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them.”
I can say with confidence that I don’t use reminder apps on my phone, I take all of my notes by hand and attempt to remember everything with my mind. I think that doing so has increased my mental retention and makes me less dependent on technology.
Due to my lack of a functioning laptop, I’m forced to work with others to get what I need finished. When I was looking to produce my senior capstone film to graduate from Morehouse, I didn’t have the technology to do so. To finish the project I had to work with some fellow brothers to make it happen. There are so many examples of times where I needed the support of others to manifest an idea or project. In my observation, this practice of collaboration has humbled me and allowed me to meet some phenomenal people.
I’m not telling you this story and self-observations to be narcissistic or egoic but challenge you to think higher. In life, we all have inadequacies that others may view as negative, for me it was not having a laptop. I could look at this situation as a deficit, but instead, choose to be positive. I believe it serves me more to be a victor rather than a victim. I am no better or different than you. When situations arise, you too have the same redemptive power to have a positive perspective like I do.
I’m very aware that there are lots of creatives that read my website regularly. As you just learned, think about what you just read. Reflect on how hard I have to work just to produce my content. I’m sure you’re reading my site now on a laptop or expensive device that I don’t own. If you aspire to create a website, product or blog, think about how easy you have it to produce because of your resources. Conversely, for those of you like me who may be lacking in regards to technology, that’s okay too, because if I can create and make art with what I have so can you.
My intention with this blog as well as the many others is to exploit my life to its maximum potential with the hopes of inspiring all of my readers. I don’t want pity or even acknowledgment. What I wish for you is that after you read this blog, you feel lead to think higher and feel deeper. I pray that this blog helps you to do so.