Bob Marley and the signs: It’s the ancestors speaking

Whether it’s the amount of seasoning to add to my favourite dish or the voice that tells me it’s better to go the long way instead of the shortcut, my ancestors are always whispering and I’m embracing all their signs.

Despite going to sleep late and getting up early, I awoke in a great mood. I own an awful lot of black t-shirts, so as they are folded away — some inside out — in my drawers, it’s not easy to tell which one is which. On any given day when I sift through my options, what I uncover is often a surprise. Today, I stumbled upon the t-shirt with the name “MARLEY” sprawled across the chest above an image of the legendary musician’s face and dreadlocks, all printed in white on black.

When I walked into my mum’s bedroom, she looked at me and said, “Oh, that’s a nice top, isn’t it his birthday today?”. It was at that moment I realised my ancestor was directly speaking to me. It was the sign, symbol and whisper I needed to carry the spring in my step for the rest of the day.

Although I sometimes feel disconnected from my Jamaican heritage — because I just don’t know enough, the music that sends bassy vibrations through every fibre in my body has always been reggae or a subsequent derivative. The legacies left behind by bands such as Bob Marley & The Wailers, Toots and the Maytals or artists Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs paved the way for so many of my beloved musical genres today. Hall parties with family members from far and wide, long car drives in the front seat of my dad’s car and, of course, my mum’s CDs that I scratched to death in my early DJ days, carefully crafted my love of music. So each sentence that I string together feels guided by a gift bestowed by the musical ancestors. Their magical voices don’t just rest in my mind, they leave glaring signs (like the one this morning), keeping me on track and my purpose in sight.

Embrace the signs

I couldn’t say where the signs come from for you, but I would strongly recommend that you embrace them. I have come to accept that my subconscious is able to pick up on all the things that I consciously position in the back of my mind. I have always had ideas sprawling across pages and typed into Google Docs, all of them heading in opposite directions. And my interests seem to multiply overnight to the point that I can’t always keep track of them. I used to be disturbed by this as onlookers deemed it as a lack of focus. Now, as a writer, I search for ways in which these thoughts can bring meaning to others. The sign Bob Marley left for me this morning wasn’t necessarily an indication that I would write about him in this piece though I have. It’s his earthstrong, so I knew it was something a little more spiritual.

Bob Marley via The New Yorker

There was another idea that I had prepared to finish writing today, but as the day went on I chose to let it go. I started this blog as a passion project, and being the perfectionist I am, I set ambitious goals with strict weekly posting schedules. Above all, I wanted each post to be perfect in the form of a personal but well-researched article. Robert Nesta Marley reminded me to relax and stop worrying about every little thing. Letting the piece go is not at all a loss; in fact, my original idea is blossoming. It has gone from mere roots, a stem and leaves, to small petals that are forming a flower. By embracing this sign, I’m breaking free from the restrictions I allowed pressure to build, focusing on the art of writing itself and simply pressing “publish”.

Writer, Journalist and Editor

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