This blog post started off being a food one. I’m telling you it did! Two of my Twitterens arranged for us to meet for lunch at a hidden treasure in Thornton Heath: Blue & Orange. It’s popularity has grown by word of mouth – it appears to be a run-of-the-mill local cafe from the outside, but those in the know salivate at the delightful menu of Mediterranean tapas starters and mains consisting of grilled and roasted meats with sides of rice, vegetables, salads and the complete family of potato servings. Wholesome, home-cooked, tasty, reasonably priced food in a relaxed, local atmosphere. Tummy nirvana.
So like I was saying, this started off being a food blog post, however the experience of spending just under four hours in deep & stimulating conversation with @LondonDiva & @Copperlox, changed it sharply to one of Human Development.
The conversation began with talk of children – when to have them, why have them, what it takes to make a good parent and much more. The two determined Twitterens displayed an absolute intention that, despite all of the up hill struggles to get children onto the right road in today’s urban environment, they would raise disciplined, mannersable children who would be well adjusted & well-behaved. Did I say *absolute*? You should have seen their Black-woman-don’t-mess-with-me-I’ve-got-this-covered faces! They had some serious plans for setting boundaries from the cradle. There was a comradery developing that intensified with every child-raring affirmation! I had a moment of gesturing for CPR when @LondonDiva rubbed her belly whilst proclaiming with a serious face, “that’s why I have pep talks with my womb – when my time comes my child already knows that I’m NOT gonna have it.” All now I can’t stop laughing – the sister gave her *womb* – not the child (which is not even made yet!), early warning!!!! Ah-Ha-Haaaiii!!! Woi!
After I gulped a glass of water to calm my nerves, our dialogue resumed and we segwayed into sexuality. We re-wound to that time when, regardless of your upbringing and respect for parents, you had to have conversations with them, your siblings, and extended family that show who you are as an individual. Being born & raised in the infamous town of Tottenham, they were curious how I dealt with coming out as a gay man, to family, friends & dealing with my community. It was then they saw my passion for life, for brutally honest conversations with myself about my life my journey, my pursuit of fundamental happiness through human development and learning how to combine being an upstanding, local-Black-man-did-good-against-the-odds alongside maintaining respect and uber-confidence in a Black community who didn’t welcome homosexuality as the ideal. I shared my personal story (definitely another blog post), and they got it. It was my time to put on the-don’t-fuck-with-me-I’m-serious face as I gave them accounts of my coming of age and sexuality events, including the relationship challenges that unfolded as I navigated through to where I happily am today, with full SpiritedStrength brand of tenacity. It was a healthy outpouring and I felt understood and respected for the narrative I’d shared. I gave them a very personal insight into my life and their spirits thanked me for it.
My accounts of the male & female relationships I’d had opened the third topif of conversation: relationships. Well this became everyone’s outpouring! Human behaviour, relationship boundaries, compromise, children-factoring, marriage-potential, gay vs straight relationships, emotional intelligence (or lack of) in today’s men, gender conditioning, gay-conditioning…testimonials, tales, challenges, dialogue and quah-quah-jokes mixed with the excellent space, food and company…three people were breaking bread with, connecting with & inspiring each other. It felt so good!
So then we stomped into the fourth conversation topic for the afternoon: what makes us decide who and what we are going to be, regardless of our background & raising? Suddenly, emergent theme chrysalised. And you know what kicked it off? The recent UK riots. Each of the four conversation topics had a common theme – how your life is shaped by your upbringing and how you take hold of the reins regardless, to be the person you want to be. With that in mind, we delved deep into the surrounding arguments about background, mindset, peers, parenting, peer-pressure, choices, consequences and aspirations – all dynamic areas in their own right. We all had personal anecdotes about the lives we were born into, how we pushed our way through to being responsible adults, not to mention the journeys we are currently manoeuvring through every day. There was no love lost for the UK rioters – the message was: you have no excuse; set your mind on what you want to do with yourself and don’t expect anything from anyone – do for yourself; whether you had it good or bad growing up it doesn’t matter; whatever your actions is, *you* live with the consequences, good or bad! Harsh words spoken by some very real and connected people who had each seen tough times and had come through.
Now do you see how this turned out to be a Human Development post?! A four-hour human development session cropped up from nowhere. We talked, we listened, we bantered, we questioned, we synergised, we lifted spirits, we re-affirmed. Twitter is working magic in my life – I felt grateful to have the most intense, yet light-hearted, inspiring afternoon that helped me to acknowledge what I’ve achieved, where, but for a few alternative turns, I could have been a very different man. Also to welcome new inspiring people into my life who were also trying to make sense out of a very beautiful world in very trying times.
If you are not having the right conversations that inspire you, keep making new connections. Social dialogue opens so much opportunity for continuous growth. Who are you talking to?