Don’t Be Afraid to Step in It, but Step Up When You Do


Photo by DeShaun Craddock

Today I read about ?uestlove’s offensive remarks he made while touring Japan. Then I read his statement he posted to his Facebook page addressing it. Maybe I’m biased because I’ve been a fan of The Roots and ?uestlove since I was in high school, but his response was honest and heartfelt, and not some ass-covering, canned PR auto-reply. Here’s an excerpt:

—look. i’m a human being and dumber yet, i’m a public figure. if you’re lucky enough to be either of the aforementioned, then not only should one stay clear of saying or writing hurtful things, one should actively work against feeling comfortable, thinking hurtful thoughts. given that black culture consistently finds itself at the butt end of so many offensive “outsider” jokes, I should be way, way more sensitive (after all, who’s zooming who). I for one, should never allow my cultural bias to take precedence over my “examined life” (clunkers be damned). i know the whole kinder and gentler thing reeks of a self serving political correctness, but eff it, it’s “all me”.
Ahmir Thompson / “Questlove”

Here’s my take:


Want vs. Expect

The Mrs. and I just got season four of Mad Men from Netflix. Needless to say, there are some aspects of Don Draper that I can totally relate to. I’m not the cheating, distant dad type, but I do relate to what I see as his internal struggle between who he really is, how he was raised, who he wants to be, and who he is expected to be (at home and in the office).

In the last episode we watched, “Christmas Comes But Once a Year”, Don has a conversation with a woman psychologist who had helped devise a test to help his firm gauge what their audience wants. He opted out of taking the test and she confronted him. In the conversation she said, “[Life is basically] What I want versus what is expected of me.” (or something to that degree). Don agreed and I think, so do I.

On and off I’ve struggled with this. I often know what’s expected of me—from my family, from work, from friends—and I usually know what I want. But the two, especially with seemingly always-increasing demands on my time, rarely seem to balance out; the expectations feel like they outweigh the wants and I get stuck in funkage.

Sometimes I get around this by staying up late. After the kids are in bed, and things are cleaned up, and preparations for the next day are somewhat done, I feel like I have space to do what I want. Only problem is, it’s usually fairly late in the evening and that first call from a kid in the middle of the night or early morning is already weighing on my mind.

So I’m curious, do you agree? Is life simply what we want versus what’s expected of us? How do you deal with this in your life? How do you balance the two?