Robert Lashley Nails It

Editor Staff, Posts, February 27th, 2014

Robert Lashley


The last time I nailed it was when I decided to get my shit together this year. I quit drinking, and actually decided to seek counseling for a lot of the shit that was going on with me. For the longest time, I had been playing a role — the sweet yet tragic black male artist archetype, and I didn’t want to play it anymore. I’ll tell you a story that might not seem germane at first, but bear with me. Last year, my Uncle Gee demanded I do two things. The first: re-read Blind Faith, the story of Lula Mae Hardaway, Stevie Wonder’s mother. The second:  listen to Talking Book, the first of Wonder’s staggering 70′s albums. At first, I didn’t necessarily get why he wanted me to take these two in together: I was horrified by Wonder’s pimp of a father, moved deeply by Wonder and his mother overcoming horrific obstacles, and moved by the genius of that album. And I didn’t know what he was getting at. Then I listened to “Blame It On The Sun,” one of the several love songs he wrote about his breakup with Syreeta Wright, (particularly the bridge).

But I’ll blame it on the sun
the sun that didn’t shine
I’ll blame it on the wind and trees

I’ll blame it on the time that never was enough
I’ll blame it on the tide and sea
But my heart blames it on me

And with that last line, it clicked for me. In owning up to his own mistakes in “Sun,” Wonder not only wrote a great song, he took agency of his own life and any power his father had over his. Listening to the album afterwords, the motifs from that song pop up over and over — an artist growing to be an adult, making his own decisions, willing to learn and grow from failure, and not letting the past speak for individual mistakes.I am tired of letting Bob Lashley speak for my mistakes. In so many ways, I had let him dominate the actions in my life. From the incident that led to my grandmother’s death, till I was 23 and a half, I was a self-pitying asshole. Even when I started to do the complex, continuous work of being a male ally worth a damn, my severely self-destructive behavior was dominated by my past. Yes, I was doing a lot of good, and had a lot of good qualities, but by being this sweet-sad/drinky/druggy black man with one foot in the grave, this person who was hurtful toward himself instead of other people, I had hurt the people who loved me as much as I did before, if not moreso.I didn’t want to hurt them anymore. I didn’t want to hurt myself anymore. I had repeated sexual contact with my father from age 9 to 14, and the man did enough traumatic, epically abusive shit outside of that. The sentence is hard to write, hard to even read, triggering for friends to hear, and unspeakably difficult to have as a reality. But I want to live. I want to show love to my friends. I want to grow as a writer. I want to grow as a person. I want to add, not take from the world. I want to find some kind of happiness everyday.

I still got things I need to work on, obstacles I need to overcome, and a brain that’s frazzled beyond belief because of trauma, but that doesn’t stop me anymore. My issues are MINE and MINE ALONE, and I will keep improving as an individual. Bob Lashley doesn’t speak for me. I can’t find the words to the joy I feel in that sentence. That’s one of the reasons why I keep writing.

–Robert Lashley



More than one editor and/or contributor was responsible for the completion of this piece on NAILED.