Thursday, August 23, 2012

I no longer blog...

on blogger.

If you've somehow stumbled upon this post, fret not: you can visit the blog and keep up with my adventures and rants.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Muse or Something Like It

Muse - (v.) to think about or ponder something deeply; (n.) a person, especially a woman, who is the the source of inspiration for an artist. Ancient GreekΜοῦσαιmoũsai: perhaps from the o-grade of the Proto-Indo-European root *men- "think" in Greek mythologypoetry, and literature, are the goddesses of the inspiration ofliteraturescience and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths.

When people speak of their ideal mate, they usually speak of wanting a companion or a partner; one who'll help bare the burden of the world in search of the truth like the X-Files' Mulder & Scully. When I think of the future Mrs. Snyder, I tend to agree on compatibility, but I also want to be inspired. It's not enough to say "you can do it" or "I believe in you" - actually being a catalyst for change and motivation for self- improvement is what really matters.

Right now, I'm in some sort of long distance relationship-y thing, where me and a friend from high school, whom I recently reconnected with,  are talking about life and dating and... *gulp* marriage (not with each other, but in a figurative way). The talks have shifted the tectonic plates of my mind and caused me to think about what it is that I really want out of any women that I may one day marry.

Of course, when there are newer and much better ideas and opportunities that arise, you always want to go back to look at the situations in which you wish could have been improved. I was once dating someone who believed that your sig-other was supposed to "make you better" and "upgrade you". To a degree, this is true. . but to upgrade isn't just to switch old with the new; its to improve upon and make better the things that were successful. To her, "upgrading"  equalled changing. Change how you dressed. Change your friends. Change your life and lastly change your ideas. Our biggest problems (aside from all the lies and bullshit we told eachother) was that I didn't agree with what are roles should be within each other's lives.   What was missing in our misinterpretations about partnership. Being a partner means being an inspiration in growth.

I would hate to still be the Branden of 2012 in 2022. And I would definitely hate to have spent a significant amount of time with someone and didn't experience anything new. Shit,  you should have been alone if the relationship you're in doesn't provide anything - at the very least a new set of experiences and ideas

Monday, May 21, 2012


I've been trying to do the best I can, but my best hasn't been good enough. We, the millenials, were told from early on that if you go to college and stay out of trouble then you'll be able to live the great American Dream and live a life of picket fences, seven day vacations, and upward mobility. But for most of the people I know, our twenties have been a revolving door of disappointment cause by a volatile job market and the changing landscape of the economy. For many of us who've endured the workforce since the almost collapse of civilization as we know it economic meltdown of 2008-2009, the world of the working is almost a dead end. Fewer full time jobs, greater wage to cost-of-living inequality, and fewer firms willing to take chances on new hires hasn't been the bed of roses that we were promised upon graduation.

I've been blessed enough to have found employment and opportunities for advancement but I haven't found upward mobility. I feel as though I'm muddling and stuck in idle. To spin the title of a Royce Da 5'9 album that I enjoy, success isn't certain. And this idleness has done a number on my confidence.

I feel like a passenger of the Oceanic Flight 819 from "LOST", but instead of an island of smoke monsters and electromagnetic energy, its as if I've been returned to the isle of awkwardness and anxiousness that I inhabited as a teenager. The fears and the nervousness are the same, yet, the problems are now more complex. The island of awkwardness and anxiousness is man made, however, and may very well only exist in my mind. Fear and self loathing in Baton Rouge accompanied by regret. Regret for not making better choices. Regret for not taking risk. Regret for living this life. As if I know what this life is. Most importantly; regret for not knowing what to do next or why I'm on this island.

For weeks, I've been a flurry of thoughts and ideas; a dichotomy of emotions incapable of being articulated aloud. Grappling with writer's block and a lowered ambition, I've been lost in, what many of my friends and family refer to as, a quarter-life crisis. A crisis of ambition and of opportunity.  It's as if I can't figure out the right next step for life and I couldn't buy a clue on how do fix it. And while this isn't uncommon for people who are my age and who are new to being "full-fledged adults", I feel as if I am in a period in my life where something's got to give.

When do you reach the point in life where you realize that you aren't the person you dreamed of being? When is it that you realize, your dreams of greatness, where just that: mere fantasies that you used to preoccupy your time?

Hopefully, when you look in the mirror, time has not completely eroded the mountains of potential and possibility that you possess. 

Hopefully you remain optimistic. And that's all I really can do.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Workings Of A Thinking Man

Time has slipped past me, as the days on the calendar have turned to weeks and the weeks into months. And in paraphrasing the words of the great philosopher Timothy Mosley, "its been a long time. I shouldn't have left you without a dope blog to read".

I feel trapped. Well, not physically trapped, but mentally and intellectually trapped in a maze where I can't figure out which direction is which. So many of my ideas and feelings have remained trapped deep within the inner most workings of my mind without a proper channel for escape. And as hard as I've tried to liberate these ideas and emotions onto pen and paper (or in this case, the world wide web), they remain clinging to bondage like the slaves who refused the pathway of freedom of Harriet Tubman's Underground Railroad.

Like most 20-somethings, I've yet to really figure my place in the world. What am I doing here? Is there something better out there? Some of us may know what we want to do and have an idea of who we want to be but are clueless on how to get there. I, unfortunately, no longer know what I want to do or how to even get to this grandiose state of self actualization. Where some people are excited about the doors being opened in their professional lives, I'm fearful.  Once upon a time, I knew where to go and what to do. I was certain that I would graduate college, become go to law school, become a lawyer, marry my college sweetheart and then become the first black president of the United States. At the age of 25, the only thing in that list I'm sure about is that I won't be marrying anyone I dated in college and that if I wouldn't be the first black president.

In February, I found out that I would not be receiving a contract extension from my job; effectively laying me off for the second time since I've graduated college. While we live in a tough economy and I work in a tough industry where results and fundraising is the mark of survival, getting the pink slip twice in such a short time in life would unnerving to anyone. The eminent loss of my job isn't what really bothers me. The fact that I'm fine with being laid off is what really bothers me.The fact that I want to move in a completely different direction away from everything I've been interested in is what's the most unsettling. But, I've been doing Community Organizing in different capacities since 2008 and I just don't have it in me anymore. I want to go back to grad school and - brace yourself - get an MBA/MPP and work on policy and social entrepreneurship.  Who am I?

Where I was once confident, I am now unsure. Where I was once strong, I am weak.

And I do not like that shit one bit.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Gotta Have Faith

I've been putting off writing a deep, introspective blog post about my understanding of religion and my faith journey. One part of that hesitation has been the obvious lack of time to create a post containing the depth and nuance that I'd like to give this topic. The other part is a bit more latent: I'm afraid don't quite know what to say about faith. All of this changed last week when I joined one of the churches that I organize in Baton Rouge, St. Mary Baptist Church.

Now let's take a step back from that previous post and I'll try to explain why I was a bit hesitant to write about my faith.

To say that I grew up in a church would be an overstatement; I have attended Baptist churches all of my life and was taught at a young age about Jesus Christ, Christmas, Easter, Moses and that sort of stuff. But I was never a sing in the choir, Sunday school every week type guy. You see, my Mother and Father both were "7 day a week" church goers growing up but they became very relaxed about church when my brother and I were born. Their philosophy was to teach us to be good people, expose us to where they got their foundation for morality and then let us choose. Much of that probably wasn't by design since both my parents worked two jobs and went to school in addition to raising me. When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I was Baptized and became a member of a small Baptist Church in Detroit which wasn't the church my parents attended. It was a completely spur of the moment type thing. But I went to church for about two years and did those church type things like vacation bible study, join the church basketball team go to Sunday school, and yes even sung in the choir.

But it didn't last long. I didn't feel as if I belonged at the church I attended and I felt the socioeconomic differences between myself and the other kids were too glaring. Even at church, which claims to have a focus of "come one, come all", where God was the subject, I still felt glares and discomfort of not being within the ranks black middle class and Jack & Jill crowd. It was even more uncomfortable to have adults whisper about me as 10 year old around my clothing and "Where are my parents and why aren't they members?"

So like many people who rebel against organized religion, I let the opinions of the few develop MY opinion of the whole.

I'd like to say that I was a "free thinker" or a "Universalist" from age 14 till about 22. But in reality, I really just was a contrarian. Oh sure, I believed in God and even in Jesus, but I read more and more about scientific creation, Hinduism, Buddha, and cared less and less about joining a brick and mortar church. You could do it all from home, as I thought. Then I began to believe that it wasn't me and it was everyone else. I even went to a Mosque to watch people pray while I lived in South Africa. What was it that attracted people to worship? How could these people surrender themselves and their egos? The mosque in South Africa looked nothing like the churches I saw in Detroit, but yet there was something strangely familiar. There was a community and there was a level of trust and commonality between the members and what was being learned. It was a sort of faith that was as different as Durban, South Africa is from Detroit but as familiar as memories of a forgotten song. I believed in a higher power, but I didn't exactly know what.

I'd actually have to credit two of my exes in college for actually getting me to go to a church and challenging me to develop a larger world view on faith. I wasn't a member nor had I gone to church consistently, but it did get me thinking again that the world was not centered around Branden and his needs. These initial thoughts about God in college gave me the seeds of an intellectual curiosity that helped me challenge (and support) some of my thoughts about "prosperity preaching",  doubt, the role of the church in politics and communities and tolerance. It also helped to give me an anchor when I was down on my luck and hopeless in 2009. I had something to tell me that I would be okay and not to give up faith.

Faith is what ultimately brings me to where I am today. This may not be the most articulate sentence ever but I like having a tradition and community that centers my morality and values. Faith to me is the notion that I can have as many questions as I'd like and I don't need to have specific answers. If I were to continue this test analogy, faith is failing the test and understanding that the failure is not the end of the world but merely a lesson. Faith in a higher power for me isn't about believing God will make me a millionaire or that I won't get hit by a car and become a paraplegic , its about knowing that I'm not alone in the world even when I feel like it.

That was one of the biggest draws of joining a church in my new home of Baton Rouge: feeling connected to the community, to a tradition and to people around me. And while I will not be separated from what I've learned intellectually about different religions, I'm starting to understand that faith does not equal religion and does not equal a "one size fits all" approach. I believe in tolerance. I believe the commonalities that exist between the Abrahamic exist to bind us together and be bound as brothers. And I believe that it's okay to doubt and relearn. Doubting leads to self discovery and self challenge. It also can lead to the strengthening of faith as it has done so for me. At the end of the day, faith and this "spiritual growth" is more about a focused belief that the things that I learn and I see matter for a bigger picture - one that I'm not aware of how it looks but is being built piece by piece.