I went digging into the iPod recently and started listening again one of the most underrated albums of 2010: Distant Relatives by Nas and Damian “Jr Gong” Marley. I’m not going to gush here about how great the album is, but I can state that it is an acquired taste. I do have my favorites on the LP, but I will say that Damian Marley does a great job when and how he samples a song. Case in point: Land of Promise– featuring Dennis Brown.
This song has roots in the Dennis Brown + Aswad – Promised Land track. I can remember listening to the deep bass of this track (the deepest I’ve ever heard in one song) as a kid and feeling this song, even though the lyrics never hit home. Now that I’m older, I can state that it is the beat that is doing the lyrics justice – the perfect blend of production in an ultra classic song.
What stands out for me in both songs is the following line by Dennis Brown: “there’s a lot of work to be done in the promised land”.
We all these days are on our own exodus or pilgrimage to a promised land. People are chasing goals and dreams left and right, while some are the goals and dreams of others. In a space where overnight success is commonplace, we often forget the hardest part of being successful is not the initial breakthrough but is maintaining success.
Everyone is guilty of the following habit at some point while search for the “promised land”. Sometimes we hope to find what we are looking for instead of actively searching for it. Now I’m not knocking such a practice but it does happen to even the best of us from time to time. Many of the things we either want or are working towards in this life are so long-term that it feels like all we are doing is going around in circles.
There are times while on our journey that hope is all that we seemingly have. Perhaps adversity has hit home and knocked us down to one knee. In times like that if feels like there are many rivers to cross but no way over. Still we must be careful of misusing hope. The elders often argued that hope is to be used to give one the extra edge needed to triumph in the face of adversity, not the sole motivator to cause change. Hope can be a fleeting and fragile thing and sometimes we lean on the pseudo-hope that is listless grinding it out to get us through.
As we all chase after our goals and dreams, we should remember that it’s not about getting there at all costs. Depending on what your promised land is, the journey is just as important as your goal.
In my own journey to this point I am learning to appreciate it all: setting the goals, who I meet along with way, and the lessons learned. The promise land is really promised to no one. Even when we do get there, Dennis Brown’s line still rings true:
“there’s a lot of work to be done in the promised land”.