The path to light neither begins or ends with me. It’s a path afterall and it’s true destination will remain unknown. Light emits ray and it often falls on people open to its ways. I am open to the journey and all the curves along the way. Those that deflate or drive, alter or align certain values one achieves when you bare your bosom to the sun. I am open to the bewildering aspects of the journey too, like why do I have to keep falling each time I get up. Or why am I vested in the good of others, their derision too, and not what matters to me.

Becoming light is tedious, full of strife, plenty doubt, with a heavy dose of failure. Becoming light is be like a tree, a naked tree in the middle of Fall, with no green leaves for cover. All have fallen, and lay by it’s side. And the tree, this glorious tree which once stood as bright as the distant moon, has nothing more to say. So to is the journey to becoming light. My daughter and I read Langston Hughes ‘Song’ yesterday. We both agreed that this writing, so effortless, so evergreen, illustrates what it means to become light, showcases how it’s a journey that never end, one full of pain and strife we gladly accept. We wished Song would go on, like a distant tune echoing through a windy, lonely night. We are children of the night after all and we refuse to be afraid of light, refuse to be afraid of the dark, refuse to be afraid to bare our souls to the sun, refuse to be afraid to open our life to strife. Our fists maybe sore from knocking on closed gates. The gates keep closing too no matter how hard we knock and we are knocking furiously. But we will wait. We will wait until the moment when we truly become light.

Langston Hughes, ‘Song.’

Dreams show us what we can be.

Unending dreams based on stories untold.

Music unheard.

Art unseen.

Words unspoken.

Visions untapped.

Ideas unimaginable.

Strength unknown.

Intensity unrelenting.

Wisdom understated.

Prayers unceasing.

Truth unapologetic.

Love unstoppable.

Failure untiring.

Revolution unexpected.

Territories uncharted.

Possibilities unseen.

Stars undenied.

Fire unquenched.

These fires in my head. Transformed into visions beyond words is unspeakable.

Dreams help you say it in your own way, unconcerned about the underlying consequences of your dreams knowing it is destined to be undenied. Structures of your thoughts become unbreakable with dreams undefeated. Dreams created for change unintended until they started to manifest unassuming. Impossible places turn into possibilities unwavering. These dreams that take us to new places of clarity undeterred.

I’ll rather dream these days unhindered by anything or anyone. I’ll rather hold on to my dreams unfiltered by the norms of today. I’ll rather soar to new places far and wide, uncharted places too that only dreams may allow undaunted by anything or anyone. I’ll rather go to spaces that value a wandering spirit that dreams unrestrained. I’ll rather be with people that dream unfazed by yesterday, but prepared to light a torch for a tomorrow full of dreams unknown.

Dreams show us what we can be. An undeterred dreamer, a writer, a mother, me, however long I choose to keep dreaming unhindered by your unwillingness to dream. Keep dreaming unending dreams.

Everything ceases the moment you discover Langston Hughes. Jacqueline Woodson shared this in her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming. I have been dreaming and Langston Hughes is my keeper. He helps you become intentional with words. To him they matter and can be fire within, setting a world ablaze when used with precision. He was skillful at this, hence why I keep dreaming, of words, of joy, of timeless things I can do, because I dared to dream. ‘Hold on to your dream,’ he once wrote, ‘for if they die, life becomes like a broken-winged bird, unable to fly.’ I am holding on to them and because of Mr Hughes, I am prepared to fly. See my take on his powerful poem ‘Dreams.’

Let your dreams be like the glowing moon. Impossible to reach, but still, hold on to your dreams.

Let your journey be as golden like sunsets at dawn. Impossible to describe, your journey full of gold.

Let your joy be like countless circles of light. Impossible to count, your circles full of joy.

Let your questions be as endless like rivers without end. Impossible to debate, your questions that flow.

Let your voice be loud for justice and peace. Impossible to silence, your voice so loud.

Let your soul be full of grace. Impossible to break, a graceful soul like you.

‘Bear in mind, that death is a drum,’ notes Langston Hughes in his poetry entitled ‘Drum.’ To him, it beats forever, until we answer it’s call. The call is not for the dead, but those living. Death is a drum calling those living to come. I can hear it’s pulsating beat. It thuds louder on days like today. Emotions are high. Hearts are broken. Everything seems surreal. As the drum keeps beating. She lies in state. We look in a daze. This is truly not a dream. And the drum keeps beating. Mama is crying. No mother should bear this loss. Still the drum keeps beating. We feel helpless. Hopeless too. For a life gone so soon. Yet the drum keeps beating. Death is truly a drum. Calling those living to come. Come as you are. For life itself is nothing, nowhere. Cancer too, may have won this round. As the drum keeps beating. We look for signals. There is none. So we watch. As they start to lower her down. The drum beats louder now. We watch till the last call. The last sands fall. As we all heed the call. Of a drum that keeps beating. We are breathless. Speechless too. There is no air. All seems lost, even time, and a day. Still, the drum keeps beating. We beat Angie’s drum, louder today, keeping Langston in mind. Beating this drum forever. As we too now bear in mind, that death is indeed a drum.

Have you heard about Fire?

Not the real thing as in flames or burning or combustion.

But a quarterly literary magazine set up by Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Wallace Thurman, Aaron Douglas, Richard Bruce Nugent, Gwendolyn Bennett and John P. Davis, to do one thing one only (in my opinion): to express the truth within oneself.

It’s is a vivid portrait of life as a black artist at a time when being a writer or an artist was not fashionable both literally and figuratively.

They had a credo first set forth by Langston Hughes and it notes the following: ‘We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual-dark skinned self without fear or shame. If white people are pleased, we are glad. If they are not, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly, too…If colored people are pleased, we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn’t matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how. And we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.’

I had to quote this one word for word to illustrate the fire within all of us. ‘Few are indeed destined to succeed so brilliantly at that which they set about to do,’ the magazine notes. I agree.

Fire didn’t succeed. But it lives on years later and for new generations for artist because it’s vision remains true even today.

Art should always be in service of humankind. Health too. We do so not for health sake, but for our own sake, for people sake, and the sake of the whole human race.

We are like a Phoenix, those of us in public health, grappling these days about the public’s health, and like Langston Hughes once noted, one day we will rise from the fire to which we have consigned ourselves too.

And like a burning flame, we will light the path forward for public health to truly become the public’s health.

Welcome to an unconventional and adventurous journey I have decided to embark on with public health. The destination is unknown. But I look forward to becoming the light within.

The original cover of Fire magazine created in 1926.