My grandmother passed away on July 13, 2015. It’s never easy to lose a relative, no matter how close you were. But there are two things that gave me comfort with the news.
One is knowing that she’s no longer in pain. There’s a relief that comes with that.
And secondly, knowing that she left the people and places she touched, better off. Whether it was through wisdom she imparted or plain ole selflessness, that’s what I think it’s all about. Progress. Making things just a little better.
Funerals are tough for everyone. But when it comes to emotions, I’m usually pretty steady and reserved. That’s probably not the healthiest thing, but that’s the way I am. If I’m feeling sad or discouraged, I keep it to myself — except for when I watched Wall-E. No holding back those tears.
But I’m most affected when others around me are. I’m instinctively connected to others that way. Connecting with people is a big part of my DNA.
After the funeral, we made our way to my grandmother’s house for the repass. It was great to get family all gathered together. That never happens as frequently as it should.
At one point, my cousins and I were hanging around on the back porch like old times.
Some of them are really talented — poets, DJ’s, singers, artists, etc. Their musical inclination trickled down from my grandma to my aunts and right on down the family tree.
My cousin, Lucas (“LuKane”) recently released his latest album, “Phase 2: Love, Peace and War”.
I haven’t asked, but I’d bet the stage name, “LuKane” is an ode to “Liu Kang”, his favorite character from our childhood days playing Mortal Kombat on the Sega Genesis.
When I listened to the album for the first time, I was through the moon for him. Not because he’s my cousin but because I’ve been privy to his journey for so long.
He’s been writing and rapping to some degree long before high school.
All these years later, I can see the fruits of his labor. I can hear the polish in the audio quality. I can feel the passion in his lyricism. I can sense his joy in the process. Compared to his aptly titled, Phase 1, this project is more insightful, more lyrically captivating and tells a more compelling story.
You remember that saying parents used to preach? Practice Makes Perfect!
I think we know now that’s not entirely true.
Practice Makes Progress.
And that’s what we’re aiming for.
I was listening an episode of “The Moment” with Brian Koppelman the other day. His guest was the actor / producer / writer / director, Ed Burns. You probably most likely know him from the film Saving Private Ryan, but he’s got quite the body of work.
The two were was talking about a film that Ed was trying (and failing) to get made for about 4 years. He would continually re-work and re-write and re-think the project in an attempt to revive it.
Koppelman wanted to know more about that process.
Here’s an snippet of that conversation:
Brian Koppelman: How do you fire yourself up to keep going?
Ed Burns: What choice do you have?
BK: That’s how you look at it, but some people make another choice to go, ‘oh, they tell me it’s no good…’
EB: [interrupts] My thing has always been, and I’m lucky in that I like to write…Every day, it’s not a problem. I do the same routine every morning. 9:30, I sit down, I open the lap top, till 1:30 I’m goin’. Doesn’t matter if I think it’s shit, if I’m in a good groove or pushing the boulder up the hill, I just commit…
BK: [interrupts] You generate pages…actual pages of dialogue.
EB: …and I don’t even concern myself. Even when it’s garbage, I don’t stop to re-read it, I don’t stop to really think about it…My dad always used to say, “head down, ass up and just keep moving forward”.
BK: Every writer should have that taped above their computer…
As a writer, I agree with Koppelman. But I think that sentiment applies to anyone working towards anything, really.
Suffice to say, I’m proud of my family.
I’m proud of my friends and colleagues who are working on their crafts, careers and character every single day.
It doesn’t matter if you feel like you didn’t make any noticeable improvements. Trust me, you’re improving if you’re putting in the work.
As long as you give a valiant effort to get from zero to one, you’re moving in the right direction.
But you’ve got to do it every day.
Every. Single. Day.
When you’ve put in the work for a while, even if it’s just a couple months worth, I recommend taking a look back to see how far you’ve come.
Even if it’s just a few inches, that’s progress.
Don’t linger much before you get back at it, though.
The funeral was an opportunity to see the progress we’ve made as a family. Younger cousins and relatives sprouting up over you. Voices all mutated and unfamiliar. Aunts and Uncles turning into grandparents. It made me smile.
And not a single one of us is perfect, but we’re progressing.
And grandma would be proud of that.
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