By Virgil Taylor
My name is Virgil Taylor, today I’m launching my new segment for the Hannan Center Age Out Loud blog called On a Positive Note. I guess I should probably share a little about myself, and how this endeavor came to be. I’m a native Detroiter, born and raised in the Motor City, I don’t think it’s all that necessary to say exactly when I was born. Suffice it to say that I grew up in the Motown era amidst all the social change of the revolutionary 1960s. During my childhood America was experiencing a lot of social change, people of color were not only expressing their discontent but demanding civil rights. I remember images of Bull Conner and his police force using fire hoses and attack dogs on peaceful Black protestors in the South. I was too young to participate, but I watched the march on Washington, and Dr. King delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech at the mall in Washington, D.C. on August 28th, 1963. I grew up with the changing music of the 1960s and the radical change in everything from clothes styles and hairdos to women’s rights and war protests. Of course, I was just another impressionable kid, but the experiences of my youth certainly provided me with lots of insights, ideas, and opinions that would influence how I’d navigate life… here all these years later, I have a lot to say.
For the past few years, I’ve been compelled to regularly share positive thoughts and ideas on my social media platforms. Some people that have known me over the years have I’m sure been curious about this ‘positive stuff’ coming from me. Not that I haven’t always been a ‘fun loving’ kinda guy… let’s just say that ‘loving’ as in compassion wasn’t at the top of my agenda. So what changed, the honest answer… I really don’t know. There are a host of things I can possibly point to. Maybe it was all the ugliness I was seeing in the media, or maybe it was how politics seemed to be affecting people in recent years. I honestly don’t know, but I do know that I found myself doing more reading and researching. Then for some reason, I was compelled to share positive stuff more and more. A funny thing happened as I continued along this path. I started noticing how people were reacting to me. I’ve had people contact me on more than a few occasions to say how much something I shared helped them. An unexpected benefit from the kind comments was that I started feeling better about myself. Mind you, I’ve always been rather fond of ‘me’, but this feels different, and I’m enjoying the feeling. One of the remarkable things about the advent of social media is that it’s a platform that is easily used by vast numbers of people. I never sat out to reach the masses, I just wanted to share my thoughts, and I realized that sharing positive thoughts helped a lot of people. Unbeknownst to me, I was attracting more attention than I realized.
In the early spring of this year, I received a message on Facebook from a friend (one of those friends I didn’t actually know). Richard Reeves from the Hannan Center contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in meeting to discuss some ideas he had. I had no idea what he wanted to discuss, but he seemed like a decent guy, and we had lots of mutual friends. The fact that Richard was an artist meant a lot to me, and I’d actually seen him at local art events, though we’d never met… We were both busy, so we agreed to meet sometime later in the spring. Well, turns out that Richard had been following me and liked some of the stuff I shared on Facebook. When we met he wanted to know if I’d be interested in working with the Hannan Center, doing some writing, and maybe working on some other programming ideas. Needless to say, I was ecstatic, I’d long planned to do a blog, maybe a podcast and I’m always interested in opportunities to get more exposure…. Well, my new blog courtesy of the Hannan Center (thanks to my friend Richard Reeves) is now a reality. For everyone reading this, it goes to show that you never know who’s watching you. I’m so thankful for this opportunity, and I’m hoping some others might be inspired to share things they love, who knows who’ll be inspired/influenced by what you share?
For the record, I want it known that my platform is A-political, it’s not gender-based, race-based, or grounded in any specific philosophy or ideology. I’m not a religious person, I was raised in the Christian tradition. I love and cherish my upbringing, but there’s so much that I want to explore. Not knocking anyone else, but religious ideology is a tad too limiting for me. I’m sharing that info, so folks understand my perspective as I move forward in the coming weeks. My platform is secular, I’ll address matters of a spiritual nature, but not from the perspective of any religious ideology or doctrine. I am not claiming any special status, I didn’t have an epiphany or anything like that. I think my love of positivity was born of necessity. Like anyone else, I want to be at peace. I want to feel good and to be fulfilled. One day I realized that being at peace and feeling good is an inside job. I have to be intentional about being happy. I believe that positivity is a state of mind. I think it’s important to realize that a positive state of mind isn’t experienced in the same way by any two people. That said, it occurs to me that no one really wants to be angry or agitated all of the time… does it happen, of course, it does. We all experience feelings we could do without. What I’ve realized though is that feelings are temporary. Realizing this, I’m reminded of something that my mom used to say to me when I wasn’t feeling my best. Mom’s gentle admonition still resonates with me whenever I’m feeling poorly, she’d say to me, “Let’s not focus on how we’re feeling, but rather ask yourself, how are you thinking?” My mom’s words would always lift me up, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. I like to rely on that advice a lot these days. When I’m feeling lousy, or moody, or when I’m anxious or annoyed… Mom’s words pop into my head, “How are you thinking?” On a positive note, my thinking can always be adjusted to a more positive state. It ain’t always easy, but it can always be done, don’t believe me, try it… Peace, love, and blessings y’all…