“Get A Hobby, Son!”

Happy Friday, Folks!

Yeah, Y’all … we made it again … be grateful!! TGIF, even!!

So many times, people mistake “kindness for weakness” and even think that if someone tries to “forgive” someone, that person is stupid!  When in fact, it is quite the contrary.  It takes courage and a willingness to be the best that one can be, to admit one was wrong, and to have the courage to CHANGE for the better!  Don’t you just love those folks who have time to talk about and even judge others?  Things must not be that interesting in their lives if they’ve got so much time to judge YOUR life!!  And I just love those complacent people who say, “Oh!  Everybody does that!”  Not me, “mofo”!

Maturity isn’t something that just enters your life.  It’s something that you first have to acknowledge “exists” like TRUTH.  Then, at least for me, when I was struggling with a regular life issue like wanting to go outside into the snow in Westchester County, New York to play … and my Dad said no, I could handle things like my emotions in my young life.  That day when Big Ike said that I couldn’t go outside since I hadn’t done my chores in the tiny 3-bedroom apartment, I began to tap on the window with one knuckle in my bedroom as I looked at the falling snow.  Suddenly, the tapping got so strong that the window broke … and I scratched my arm as it slid through the broken glass!  My father came into the bedroom, looked at me sternly, and said, “Get a hobby, Son!”  He walked away and I got busy cleaning up my arm and the broken glass.  The next day, Winbrook Apartments Maintenance came and repaired the window.  Soon after, I started scribbling words on a piece of paper until it became a crude poem!  I found one of my hobbies … writing!!

As time went on and my life became more intricate, I had to find other hobbies, depending on the situation.  Now, I have always liked sports and working out even … ever since my older brother “Hank” aka Henry Charles Cook (RIP) had shown me the fundamentals of basketball on the small court inside of Winbrook’s Big Playground.  If I told you that a man who never graduated from college or high school (I’m not sure if he ever attended any school!) had counseled me simply by saying “Get a hobby, Son!”, you might not agree.  He didn’t like to call his son “boy”.  I’m sure that he heard that crap enough himself growing up in the racist “Dirty South” as it has sometimes been called.  It was customary for hostile whites to try to keep “Black Men” in their places by calling them “boy”, no matter how old they were.  Please oh please, don’t try that sh@t with me!  I WILL speak up …

You see, I learned that stuffing feelings, especially hurtful ones, allows one’s body to keep the pain inside.  To this day, I think that the bone marrow cancer that my Dad died from was not only caused by his incessant smoking of pipes and cigars (that was his style until he was diagnosed with cancer), but it also came from “stuffing his feelings” from extremely hostile racist encounters with the whites in the “Dirty South” as well as disappointments he faced in his life and family members!  That’s the main reason that he met and married my Mom and then vacated the premises of the “Dirty South” with his brother, my Uncle David and his Bahamian wife, Aunt Corlene.  They found their way to New York City on one of the earliest Amtrak trains linking Florida to the Northeast where many African Americans fled in search of better opportunities other than farming, and, less hostile and aggressive racism as displayed by white supremacist groups like the Ku Klus Klan that spread throughout the “Dirty South” after “slaves” were freed.  Yes, and I am the youngest son of theirs who continues the heritage of excellence to this day.  And to this day, I don’t appreciate being called anybody’s “boy”!  Go call your Momma or Daddy “boy” and see how they like it!!

That “hobby” suggestion that Big Ike made as a way for me to manage my frustrations is still something I do to this day!  For example, I wanted to “cure” or heal arthritis in my hips and NOT get hip replacements.  I started to work out again, practicing yoga and swimming when I first arrived here in Puerto Viejo with my “cane from Spain” and all!!  I took some private sessions with Jackson, a personal trainer here until I met two guys (Father/Son) who practice jiu-jitsu and have set up a nice gym on their property.  They noticed my desire to improve my physical condition and gave me a key to their gym.  A year after, I no longer use my cane unless traveling by airplane, and my physical condition is holding steady after having improved tremendously over the past year!  I still make it a point to work out two or three times a week!  And y’all already know how much I fancy writing!!  SMILE, please!

So, in closing, when the walls seem to be closing in on you … and you CAN’T go outside, “get a hobby”!  Who knows where some good old hard work can take you?


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!!

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