2018 is here. As my American Literature students know, Henry David Thoreau urges us to “live deliberately.” They also know that Langston Hughes wrote repeatedly about the tragedy of “a dream deferred,” part of which can be understood as the need for intensity and focus in pursuing our dreams. One thing I’ve learned in this life is that I need focus. Therefore, I am declaring, for me personally, 2018 will be a year to protest, write, heal, and drum.
On the first day of last year, I said I’d dust off my protest boots. I did, but only a little. This year, I might wear them out. It’s time to engage more deeply in the tragedy of American life today. I am committing myself to confront the issues I care about– with more passion. I will get into the McKenna Center, the soup kitchen at my school, to serve and learn. I will show up for more protests, especially the local protests regarding police violence against people of color.
I will write with more focus and determination. I don’t usually have writing deserts but I could waste a lot less time and write more consistently, more project-based writing.
I also commit to continue the health changes I began in October. As a person living with low-grade prostate cancer, I will maintain my gym and running routines.
Finally, and new for me, I will return to drumming. Years ago, I had a magnificent set of congas that I parted with during a move. A while back, I received a beautiful Djembe drum, from a wonderful group here in D.C. with roots in Ghana called Drumming Up from Poverty. One way I will enter 2018 more deliberately will be to drum regularly. At first, this will be a solitary effort. But I will eventually get to classes at Hands on Drums DC. Maybe I’ll eventually get to the Sunday drumming circle in Malcolm X Park here in Washington, D.C. Sometimes it’s important to be a beginner, to learn from others. I am hopeful that the return to drumming will also help my renewed focus on protest, writing, and healing.
Photograph: My djembe from Hands on Drums, DC. Taken by J. Ross