I AM: F.O.B FRESH OFF THE BOAT
Building bridges, not fences.
The discerning chef is always seeking the best ingredients for her recipe. She often relies on the advice of the grocer, the butcher, or the fish monger with regard to the cut, portion, and flavor. She asks "is this fresh?" The grocer smiles confidently, and with pride answers: "it's fresh off the boat, highest quality!"
The plane was in its ascent as the thoughts of job interviews and social encounters entered my mind. A few minutes earlier I shared hugs with Imani, Che, and Uncle Keith, a few precious moments before my journey began. It occurred to me that we are a migratory species just like birds, fish, aquatic and land mammals, plants, insects and reptiles and that I was engaging in a universal ritual. Everything migrates, not just people and animals, ideas also migrate, religions, concepts, philosophies, systems, symbols, methodologies and practices travel across the seas captured in photographs and books, cocooned in chest cavities and crania.
The plane landed, I rose, stepped forward, confident, humble, with gratitude. I will share my experience, I will give my talent, I will teach my dance. Where am I from? Barbados. How long have I been here? Just arrived, I am F.O.B Fresh Off The Boat.
The F.O.B Fresh off The Boat symbol is derived from the Orchid, for centuries a worldwide symbol of love, luxury, beauty, strength and virility. Their seeds travel on the wind seeking a fertile environment, suitable to their delicate nature, where they can germinate and thrive.
Epiphytes are those orchids that attach themselves to tree trunks where they thrive in safety high above the ground. They take their nutrients from the sun and the air.
Lithophytes are much more prone to danger among the rocks of the forest floor where they can be trampled or eaten by predators.
Like the orchid mankind travels on the wind seeking fertile ground and conditions where dreams may germinate and all of his talents and abilities may flourish.
The journey begins with an idea, a dream, a desire for more or better. The idea expands until it no longer seems impossible. There is a chance of success. The risk is assessed, the reward seems sure, greater; the penalty for failing more tolerable than the reward for relying on existing paradigms. Confidence builds till it cannot be contained, discussions and plans evolve. Family members come together to be told of the enterprise, they invest their crumpled savings, their lockets, a pen, a tie, a musty suit. The priest gathers his flock, they pray, and their collective hope is launched into the ethos with the anxious tears of the native son and the blessing of the universe: F.O.B Fresh Off the Boat.