Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tony's Blog: Lakers are the Champions of the NBA…Kobe helps YMC

“If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while, waiting for you.
And the life that you ought to be living,
is the one you ARE living.”
 Joseph Campbell

When we work with youth we encourage them to discover what they have a passion for and pursue it. Don’t just make a living, make a life. So, the people that we bring into their lives often model the same. We give up opportunities in order to go where our hearts lead us. We make hard choices and leave comfortable jobs to go off and cultivate our true gifts as dancers, therapists, musicians, poets, youth workers, leaders. We sell our business to fund our life’s work.

How do we know our path? How do we keep from joining the masses as Thoreau puts it, “living lives of silent desperation”? (Often opting for lives of strident desperation, but fully in our purpose.) Sometimes it’s in a mentoring moment, when the Yaqui called me to “come do your life’s work”. Sometimes it is an unlikely mentoring relationship as a young Nicaraguan girl learns from an old Jewish woman how to exercise her anger and express herself through dance. Sometimes it is in a gradual awakening as a brilliant young activist finds herself drawn to a different kind of revolution, through emotional healing. Sometimes it is through alcoholic or chemically induced descent into the darkest parts of our souls, so that we can mark the path back to freedom and become a guide to countless others needing help in making the ascension back to their higher spirit.

…and for Samuel “Free” Harris it was the Laker’s Kobe Bryant.

It was during the 98-99 NBA lockout, when the owners and players association were unable to come to terms. Now, what would you do if your work were disrupted for an extended period of time? Take a long vacation? Find another job? Kobe used the time to practice, like a man possessed with the knowledge of his true passion. He went up to the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita to escape the distractions of L.A. That’s where Free, the captain of the college basketball team met the man soon to become considered by many, the greatest player on the planet. Free tells of peaking into the gym while attending his classes from 9am to 3pm to glimpse Kobe practicing endless repetitions: posting up imaginary defenders; turn-around jumpers; fall aways; fake-left-go-right; endless free throws; cross-over move; ball fakes; drop step; stop-and-pop. He would take a break from the gym floor to lift weights with the team, then back to the hardwood while the team would do their running. Often when Free and his team would return to the gym for their practice, Kobe would line up one-on-one with each of the players and tell them exactly the move he was going to execute against them. Even with that foreknowledge they were powerless to stop him. Once in a while someone would get lucky and Kobe would miss a shot. Then he would let them go on offense while he practiced defense.

After witnessing this display of dedication and passion day after day for an entire week, Free began to question his dream of professional basketball. He was a damn good player, but watching Kobe made him wonder if he loved the game enough to have that kind of singularity of focus and dedication all day, every day. His heart was whispering to him that he needed to take a second look, to respect the yearnings of his soul. The answer was obvious: “I love the game, but don’t have the passion to dedicate my entire being to it like Kobe.” However, there was something that called to him, that he could see himself spending that kind of energy, dedication and hourly commitment - his music. This eventually led to his co-founding the conscious hip-hop group “Luminaries” who have traveled the country performing with the likes of India Arie and Michael Franti and may soon be touring in Asia.

Free is also dedicated to using his gift to influence young people to follow a more conscious and peaceful path in their life. So, after seeing him perform, our very own Hoolie (demonstrating her gift of persuasion) brought him over to YMC to work with our youth. Drawing upon the dedication that he witnessed back at the College of the Canyons, Free will often spend all night in the recording studio and then all day working with our kids – mentoring them in music, finding transitional housing, encouraging them to learn non-violent problem solving skills, and just giving them a taste of his infectious spirit.

So, is this the ultimate path for Samuel “Free” Harris. Who knows? Perhaps another epiphanal mentoring moment is on the way. For now, we’ll keep inviting him to inspire our youth…

…and offer a word of gratitude to Kobe for allowing Free to witness that kind of passion and dedication, planting him firmly in his destiny, leading him to Youth Mentoring Connection.



Youth Mentoring Connection/Urban Oasis

Boarding House Mentors

No comments: