Life: Unbound, Unrestrained & Uncontained
Roam – (v.) move about or travel aimlessly or unsystematically, esp. over a wide area.
When I made the decision to “roam”, it was anything but aimless. I’d known what my aim was from ever since. The day I was born my father stopped the doctor from smacking my bottom, interceding in his treacle Jamaican accent, he said, “Yuh’re a doctah, Meh sure sey you cyan find a better way to see if meh son is alive or not, then to box him pon him batty”. Later in life he’d go on to add that he didn’t want me to start out life feeling the sting of a white mans cold hand on my ass. It was perverse and sent the wrong message right out of the womb.
I’d been born unchained and I wanted to continue to learn, to see and to experience life unbound, unrestrained and uncontained. Most children start walking by the time they hit 1 year old. I was walking at 6 months, speaking by 8 months and by the time I could read my first book (Black Beauty, which taught me how to spot a sham religion), I knew nothing would hold me back.
Nothing, that was, until July 7th 2006 when I signed over my independence to officially join uncle SAM’s “army of the employed”. Once my membership to the economic agenda had been officiated I was welcomed with open armed taxes and adorned with a to-do list of other bills that would require my attention – else I wouldn’t be allowed to live without looking over the shoulder of my credit score.
It should be noted that it took me a lot longer to learn how to “walk” down the long halls of corporate America than it did the corridor of my parents 2-bdrm apartment on Morris Ave in Da Bronx. Regardless of my efforts, it somehow always seemed like the more I tried to keep my balance, the harder I’d lose my footing. Other times it felt like whenever I began to get a good rhythm going, someone would “discretely” mention my level of “comfortability” in a way that gave me the impression that my “comfort” somehow made them uncomfortable. There were times I had to suppress an urge the laugh at myself for playing along with something I knew I had no interest in, all to avoid disrupting employee morale.
Within the first 2 years my suspicions were confirmed after having a secret meeting with a senior staff member. During the course of our lunch it was said that my lack of “fear” for management and executive titles sent the wrong message to employees about the hierarchy of the company. After digesting all that was shared in that meeting, the next three years went by much like a succession of local stops on an express train ride. Flashes of memories blend together in my mind long enough for me to recall some minor details. Not because they have any particular significance, but because they somehow coloured the usual monotony of my 9 to 5 work experience.
In December 2011, I stockpiled my vacation days and booked a 23 day trip to Nigeria. Africa is commonly known as the “motherland” within the Caribbean community and holds a mystical place in the hearts of its lost children scattered throughout the colonized world. Through all my experiences in Africa the most relevant to this particular story came in the form of a book entitled, “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. Given to me by the brother of a chief from an Igbo tribe in Onitsha, the story left such an impression on me that I read it twice that week. I absorbed all of Okonkwo’s victories, his trials/tribulation as a clan leader and also his inevitable departure from the story when things started to indeed “fall apart”. The larger theme faced by the clans in wanting to maintain their sense of cultural identity amid the growing threat of Britain’s colonial agenda, somehow reminded me of my personal struggles to maintain my own identity in corporate America’s economic agenda.
Listen to enough people speak of their first experience in Africa and the phrase “life changing” is sure to come up at some point. After I met my cultural mother it’s hard to define exactly what changed in me really. If I had to try, I’d say that the experience put a face to the name. For the first time I could identify with the land of my forefathers on a more direct level. I’d breathed African air, tasted African food, drank African palm wine, got stung by African mosquitoes, swam in African waters and listened to chiefs speak of the history of their tribes in ways that made me feel something along the lines of insecurity, for not having a deeper understanding and appreciation for my own history, and in some senses, a lack of cultural identity. For the first time in a long time I felt a stirring inside myself. That urge to run ahead of the crowd had been awakened or maybe it’d never left but I couldn’t hear its voice anymore. Whatever the reason, my eyes were opened anew and what I saw wasn’t youth and a lifetime dedicated to realizing America’s corporate wet dream. These new eyes focused on a voyage of self-discovery. Viewing my own story with my own eyes and defining my history for my kids so that their kids can someday to tell the tale. The 17hr flight home was all the time I needed to workout the financials that would allow me to leave my job on the up side of debt and also in “good standing”. After I’d calculated the number and committed to its execution I began looking into my escape route.
Karim Spaulding, age 35, is a self proclaimed, “Student of life”. Born in New York and raised between, there London and Kingston, Jamaica, Karim developed a keen curiosity of the world. With a B.S. in Economics and 8 years of experience in corporate America, Karim is set to grow his design company, Colourful Money, to new heights of success. Though money may be the bottom line in his business, in his personal life Karim knows that health equals wealth and a strong mind and body sets the perfect foundation for spiritual growth. Karim walks the path of a modern day warrior of the light.