Just do it

“I thought Jordans and a gold chain was living it up”

Artist: Nas

Perspective is an interesting thing. What once seemed life or death important is now simply a footnote in my life. And other things, like being healthy, both mentally and physically, which never entered my mind before, are what I think about now when not thinking of my company.

Like, when I was a kid I was obsessed with shoes, OBSESSED. I still love them. I was very dedicated to my obsession. Being the first of 10 in line for what looks like a black Friday sale. Flying to wherever the next sale was taking place. I spent as much time searching for them as I did trying to make money to buy them. It may seem weird to you but when I need to decompress, I go to my shoes. I can take a minute to look in my closet and visit my most cherished belongings, my Nikes and Vans. All 300 of them. The red and black Jordan 1’s or the cement grey of Jordan IV or the original Air Max with the first air cushioned sole. These “things” as some people would call them mean the most to me for their beauty but also because I worked my ass to get every single one of those pairs of shoes.

I wasn’t always the CEO of my own company, not even close. I grew up broke. I won’t say poor because we weren’t poor but we were never a family of means. If I wanted a pair of shoes that cost more than $50, I had better find the money on my own. I didn’t have anything in my life that made me feel the pride I felt wearing the newest shoes. Other kids may be going home to a nice house but I had my Jordan’s and by the time they got their pair from their parents, I had already moved on to the next kicks that just dropped. Nothing made me happier than buying them and reveling in everyone’s jealousy. As a kid of the 90’s there was never any shortage of amazing shoes or clothing. The hip-hop and clothing culture was my culture, my people. On the other hand, I spent my life looking at this culture as being a way of defining myself as a human, actually believing that I could define and shape my life my what was on my feet. It wasn’t until I had a shift while living in New Orleans that wasn’t great. As much as I didn’t like, it led me to a place of clarity. I can be my own idol and live out my own dreams. Wearing and doing things because I want it and not because I think one of my idols would want it.

Now, flash forward to 2013. I’m in New Orleans vigorously trying to get my company iExhale off the ground, little did I know that short business trip would turn into a year and a half. The nice part about this is that I’m not longer a little kid. I’m financially secure and I’ve found a purpose I believe in. New Orleans did something I wasn’t prepared for, it shifted my obsession. When you think I’d be flying to New York at a moment’s notice just to snag the newest special edition Vans that I just got an alert about but instead I’m on my way to lunch to try some famous fried chicken at Willie Mae’s Scotch House. Then it was over to try “the best” po’boy in Louisiana. For dessert, I’m headed over to a place called Debbie Does Doberge. The make this doberge that it is 11 layers of cake and pudding and buttercream. All of that would be followed up by another visit to Willie Mae’s for another piece of fried chicken. I just never new fried chicken was supposed to taste like that.

So, I’m gonna admit that I have a problem with needing a vice in life. Where it once was shoes, it graduated to cars and watches. Before you know it, it was now food. Over the next couple years, I packed on 40 pounds. 4–0!!! I won’t bullshit you and tell you it wasn’t amazing. Like going down in flames of glory, it was awesome. Then it wasn’t. My back is shot and my knees sound like someone cracking their knuckles. Now, after all these years of indulging in everything, I can’t even enjoy it.

All of my, gorgeous shoes sit in a closet for me to look at because I have to wear New Balance’s for my knees and back (Doctor recommended). So now, $30,000 worth of shoes just sits there and collects dust and I can’t bring myself to sell them. I wasn’t good at sports, these are my trophies. And tonight, instead of taking my fiancée to a nice dinner, I’ll be eating lettuce and an orange. I didn’t say salad, I said lettuce. There’s too many calories in dressing apparently. That’s ok though, because this is all about balance — not “New Balance”. I tipped too far one way and I need to get back to the middle.

Living both extremes can really help you define yourself as a person. I know that I don’t need the best or rarest shoes to be proud of myself. I also know that I don’t need every meal to be the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten to be happy. The meals are better when they’re sporadic and the shoes are better when they’re simply a pair that I really want. All things are better if they are done for the right reason. Not done to impress other people but rather make yourself happy. It took me 22 years of buying and 32 years on this earth to learn that. That’s my perspective.

“I sport New Balance sneakers to avoid a narrow path”

Artist: Phife Dawg