Setting My Mind Free: Brother Brother

Setting My Mind Free: Brother Brother

I lied.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to not tell the truth but my mind has a mind of it’s own. I promise I didn’t lie on purpose.

If you had a chance to read my blog Setting My Mind Free, I said, my next post would be a continuum of that piece. Therefore, it was 1 of 2 pieces. Well after careful consideration, I want to let you know that Setting My Mind Free is 3 parts
instead of 2.

What had happened was???

I wrote the second piece and I was ready to publish it, but in reading it I thought that I needed to provide you with more of the supporting details of what was on my mind that day on Whidbey Island. Therefore, you are actually reading the third installment before you can read the second installment. Please bear with me and I ask that you trust me on this journey of Setting My Mind Free.

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Allow me to take you back a little bit, imagine that I’m back on Whidbey Island, the sun is making the water glisten and I’m sitting on the deck enjoying the summer time feel of the moment. As I begin to drift into my stillness, while allowing my breath and the sound of the waves that are surrounding me work it’s magic in helping my psyche become clear and open to whatever the universe prefers. I’m sitting on the top step of the deck looking forward and I slightly turn my head to the right and stare at the tide as it calmly pushes the water onto the sand. FREEZE…BE STILL…BREATHE….

There he is just above the water, Brother and I say aloud, “Hey Brother, wow what’s this about you haven’t shown up in my head and heart in a while”. Brother isn’t my brother but he’s my cousin, whom we call Brother. His given name is Joseph Earl Jackson. I don’t know how he got the nickname Brother. But in my family we also have Teacher, Daddy Sandy, Dool, Bird, etc. just to name a few.

Growing up from time to time someone would mention Brother at a family gathering but it would be quick. Never long enough for me to learn exactly who he was but enough to make me curious about what kind cousin he would be. You see, Brother died on September 10, 1970 during the Vietnam War. He was only 21 years old and had only been in the army for three months. He died five years before I was born, so I never had a chance to meet him. But as I say in my piece Truth Is, “Truth is…There are love ones that I would never get to know. Truth is…I love the lost love ones. Truth is…I think of them often.”

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PFC Joseph Earl Jackson aka Brother (pulled this pic from Virtual Vietnam Veterans Wall of Faces)

Around 2012, I started thinking about Brother a lot. It felt like I thought of him every day. I would ask random people in my family to tell me about him. The most I got out of anyone was my father, “He loved cars and he had the baddest car in Parkton, North Carolina. Yes, sir he was proud of his car”. There it is, there’s our connection my dream car is a 1966 Ford Mustang, actually any Ford Mustang at this point would get me really excited. If he was still here I would probably have my dream car by now and we would have this crazy relationship built around our unique love for Ford Mustangs.

When I think of Brother, I cry a little and I begin to miss him a lot. I know every time it happens it makes me feel weird because I never met him so how can I miss him so much. It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I long for Brother and lord knows I’ve tried to figure out the why, plenty of times. I finally decided that it’s an emotional reaction that I won’t ever be able to explain. I’m trying to teach myself to stop asking why and be grateful that there are times when I know he is with me.

I recognize that times like this when I set my mind free and I allow it to go in the direction that it so chooses. I have to trust the journey and recognize that in this moment this is exactly what I’m suppose to be thinking about. My mind wanted me to remember my hero, BROTHER. I don’t need to question or dignify that to anyone or myself. I love my cousin and I’m reminded that time and time again in these moments. I may not know much about him, but I know he lives in me.

Thank you to all the soldiers and military families. I salute you for your service.

(Truthfully, I didn’t realize that Memorial Day was about to happen, when this happened.)

I will release the final part to Setting My Mind Free later this week.

 

 

 

 

Setting My Mind Free: Brother Brother

Setting My Mind Free

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2016 View from the deck on Whidbey Island

Don’t get it twisted I am not a morning person. It’s five minutes to 8 o’clock on Sunday morning. I woke up to the sun beaming on my face. I’m now sitting on the back deck of a house on Whidbey Island, Washington courtesy of a Hedgebrook supporter. The back of this house opens up to the beach. The sun is shining (THANK THE LORD) and my surround sound is the music being played by the waves of the water as it reaches the sand.

My initial thought is, damn this is beautiful. I’ve seen it before because I stayed here last year, but nature is picture perfect no matter how many times you see it. I take a moment and began wondering, am I ever going to be able to afford a house with a view like this. How did I get so lucky to be able to experience the beauty of the sun glistening off the water, the seamless waves meeting the sand repeatedly, the calming sound of the waves, and the quietness of the morning?

The purpose of coming out on the deck was to be present and enjoy the beauty of the moment. The other reason was to free my mind and be open to whatever thoughts would come to me organically. I had no plans or ideals in which the thoughts would enter into my head. Therefore, I just sat there filling the heat from the sun and the cool breeze from the wind waiting for something to challenge the quiet space I’d welcomed.

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2016 Whidbey Island Ferry

I’m watching the ferry pull into the docking area and my mind surprises me in what it wants me to think about. In my head I started retracing the steps in hopes of figuring out or at least coming up with an explanation of why out of the blue am I thinking about this. My mental investigation leads me back to one of the plays we read yesterday.

I’m here on Whidbey Island because it is the home of Hedgebrook an organization whom’s focus is women writers. It is an oasis on a beautiful wooded property, that has cabins, a garden, and a peaceful niceness that allows writers the opportunity to allow there thoughts to form with out the sound or the back ground noise of their everyday lives.

During this visit, I’m part of a group that is here to welcome five women playwrights who haven been commissioned or is currently working with a theatre in creating a new play. We spend the day reading excerpts of the writers work followed by a constructive observations/thoughts geared toward providing some information that we hope will be helpful to them during their two week stay at Hedgebrook.

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2017 Opening of Hedgebrook’s Women Playwrights Festival

Yesterday we were reading an excerpt from a play by Amy Freed. I had the pleasure to read the character, James who was a war veteran. I’m certain that being that character sparked my thoughts this morning as I relish in the sun and the view. Which I first thought was totally random, but now as the ferry has begun to make it’s return trip. I realize the thoughts weren’t totally random. As the sun continues to warm my face an the cool air from off the water softens the heat. I take a deep breath and allow my mind to continue to wonder in the path it has chosen. I haven’t talked about it much in the past couple of years but back in 2013 it was something that heavily weighted  on my mind and my heart. I guess this moment in time is as good as any to revisit this story.

I’m sorry, time refused to stay still, I have to leave the deck now and gather my things to return to Hedgebrook for our second day of readings. I will reveal what was going on in my head in my next blog.

Setting My Mind Free

PODCAST: HUMANITY

PODCAST: The Mahogany Project (HUMANITY)
Rhythm and News interview done by Chris B. Bennett
Posted March 24, 2014

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A young boy looking into the distance with a wall in front of him and growing weeds in the background.

Rhythm & News interview with Sharon Williams of the Mahogany Project about her new CD — Humanity.

click here to listen

PODCAST: HUMANITY

The Mahogany Project Takes on Homelessness

The Mahogany Project Takes on Homelessness

Seattle Medium Newspaper

Posted March 19, 2014

Homelessness has always been a major issue in our inner city communities.  The Mahogany Project — A collaboration of African American female artist from various disciplines including spoken word, playwriting, vocal performance, and theatre administration dedicated to creating opportunities for local Seattle Theatre artists — has created an entire album dedicated to giving members of our community faced with this circumstance a voice.

 

click here to continue…

The Mahogany Project Takes on Homelessness