I don’t look up to many people. My dad wasn’t much of a dad when I was growing up. I looked up to my mom but she passed away before I left Arkansas for NYC. I tried to look up to religion, find the wisdom in the purpose, but every time I told them who I was, they said if I didn’t change I’d go to hell. I tried, in the name of God, to change, but I could not deny my taste in music, in art, in life.
I’m not saying that man should put all his/her faith in science. It’s been wrong many times. But some things are indisputable. Such as the law of the conservation of matter: “Matter can not be created or destroyed, only transferred.” There are still a few people I look up to. Though they may have never met Tchaka, I look up to them for the same reason I look up to Tchaka: their wisdom, their kindness, their ability to listen without judging. And I know there are people who look up to me. And though I can never be half the man Tchaka is, I can do my best to live up to his standard. And that is why I don’t say Tchaka was a good man, I say Tchaka is a good man. Because he’s still alive, our physical limitations don’t allow us to visually see him, but if we look with our mind’s eye, we’ll see him everywhere.
For example: I went to help the BAC move from Queens to Rhode Island the day after I heard about the accident. A couple days later we were in Rhode Island. I was fairly intoxicated and there was an old Fire Truck parked outside the circus. The town had brought it there for the kids, I guess. Anyway, I was climbing around on it and decided I’d get behind the wheel and pretend to drive it. I was playing with the buttons on the dash, because I thought “There’s no way they’d put a working fire truck outside the circus and not lock the door.” But sure enough, I managed to turn the engine on. So there I am, super drunk, with no driver’s license sitting behind the wheel of a running fire truck.
Thankfully, after everyone rushed over and screamed at me to turn it off, I finally figured out how to turn the thing off (it’s keyless) and we left it alone the rest of the night. The next day, when I was taking Bosko around to take pictures with people I decided I wanted a picture of him in front of the fire truck. There were people sitting in front of it and I asked them “will it be okay if I take a picture of my little friend here in front of the fire truck?”
“Sure,” they replied, “as long as you don’t try to run away with it.” They were completely joking, but they had no idea!
I looked at Bosko and said, “They’re talking to you, buddy.”
Right now, a lot of songs remind me of Tchaka. This one in particular I play every day:
“Wherever you see a cop beating a guy,
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Wherever there’s a fight against the blood
And the hatred in the air,
Look for me, mom I’ll be there
Wherever someone’s struggling for a place to stand
For a decent job or a helping hand
Wherever’s someone struggling to be free
Look in their eyes, Ma and you’ll see me,
You’ll see me.”
(Bruce Springsteen “Ghost of Tom Joad”)
Because that’s the kind of guy Tchaka is. Wherever someone needs help, he’ll be there. Also, wherever someone’s having an awesome adventure, Tchaka will be there too. Tchaka is the spirit of good times, and he’s the courage we summon in the bad times. He’s the anticipation of a new day, and he’s the limitless possibilities of the dreams that visit us as we sleep. He’s our angel in this life, and our guide in the next…