I’m not a Twitter and Facebook guy. You like it, fine; it’s not for me. I text rarely. I get all sorts of requests to be someone’s “friend” on the internet; sorry, but I pass. Even email, for me, is selective; apart from family, perhaps five or six friends, that’s it, and most emails I don’t keep. One I did keep was a note to my friend Terry Ferreira in New Jersey – the gent who rode a bicycle from Guyana to Canada; that Terry Ferreira. In it, we were apparently on the subject of people who don’t commit to things they undertake – a pet peeve of mine. I don’t recall what triggered this particular exchange; it might very well have been the indifference of one of our West Indies cricketers (Terry is a Test cricket maniac) in a match where his approach had been casual, as it can be these days.
I’m not sure I know the source in me of this attitude that you should put everything you have into whatever you turn your hand to. Maybe, like so many of my traits, it came from my mother, but it’s there. It could be a speech you’re planning to give; it could be a song or a poem you’re writing; it could be a piece of furniture you’re making, or a business you’re trying to start. The only way I know is full bore; giving it all you have; the solid commitment approach. Not only in me, but I expect it in others; I don’t understand how you can take on a project and give it any less than all you’ve got to give. If I call you to be involved in something, and you know other commitments are in the way, or your heart is not in the thing, just don’t take it on in the first place; I can live with that. But don’t give me the “sure Dave”, leaving me with certain basic expectations, and then, as the Guyanese say, “when time come,” you don’t produce.
Worse yet, don’t start out displaying a lot of enthusiasm, and four weeks into the project you’re late or unprepared or you haven’t put in the time to get your piece done. For me, probably the worst trait a human being can have is contained in two words “not caring.” The tendency in Caribbean people in particular – where I’m always leaning – to often “settle for less” is something that enrages me every time I see it. The musician not bothering to learn the right chords, or the carpenter who makes the door not quite square, or the dancer who doesn’t care about the detail of hand placement; those shortcuts, those “it can wuk suh” instances, always leave me, first, open-mouthed, and then unbelieving, and finally furious at the attitude. The fact is that it cannot “wuk suh” if we are serious about making successes of ourselves in whatever we do. It is an axiom I learned outside, as many of us have, and one I continue to preach when the instance presents.
So it was probably something like that behind the email I sent to Terry, and the intensity of what I was feeling comes across through the words. Here’s the note; some of it shifts to dialect; sometimes it’s the best language for us:
“TERRY: On the subject of ‘trying’ that I raised with you earlier… you and I were always back and forth about Lara. You know why I loved Lara? Yes, a major part of it was that glorious, sweeping stroke, starting from high and coming through like a scythe, pure ballet… no other batsman I ever saw could play with that kind of controlled grace… but the other part, equally important, is that the banna never folded. Okay, off the field, Lara story could give you nara, but once the stumps were in the ground, and the umpires showed up, the banna was on the mark.
“BCL always came to the crease to put out. It wasn’t the runs. It was never the runs. It was always not giving in. It was the execution. Sure, sometimes he would score duck, but he would do it playing a shot – not backing down. Even when he made duck, he made it going for something. Hear him talk about the 375, how on the third hundred exhaustion overtook him; he had gotten 300, take that and go, but his mind told him there’s more; dig in; keep going. Yes sometimes the situation or the bowlers would tie him down, but usually at those times Lara didn’t t’row ’way his wicket; he buckled down, held the fort until they tired, and then he turned on the heat again. How much he scored was secondary; what was crucial was he put up a fight. That’s what I loved about the man. You can’t possibly mek dem runs against England, like in the Barbados match, but he did it. Don’t fold; like in the 275 in Australia when almost everybody fold.
“That’s one of things I love about you. I’ve never seen you fold, ever, in anything. I love it especially in a woman; the kind of woman who when things are falling apart, or somebody ‘busin’ her blue about some action, or she’s being advised to shut down, she doesn’t fold. She keeps going. She finds the grit somewhere. You got to love that. I’m drawn to that like iron to magnet. For me, it’s the key. In all the people I’m drawn to – my sister Mell, my first daughter Luana, my niece Allison, my friends Vic Fernandes and Henry Muttoo – that’s where it is for me. That’s the litmus test. If you don’t show that, if you’re not committed, if you don’t stand up, if you’re not putting out, I’m not interested in your r—-. As Caribbean people, that is our failing – we’re often settling for less. As I said earlier, if you’re not trying, if you’re not putting out, I gone. If you don’t give a damn, guess what? Me too.
(PS In sending the email, the spell-check highlighted “I gone,” and said it should be “I have gone.” You see how sometimes dialect is superior?)