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Is It All Common Sense?

By Christian LeePublished 9 months ago Updated 9 months ago 5 min read
Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

Since childhood, I would listen closely to everything people said. It was a hobby. Two decades later, in my early 20s, I started to treat it like a profession.

I enjoy dialectics, the professional art of getting to the root of a problem. There were signs of this respect and love for language in my pre-teen years. The one contradiction that troubled me the most was hearing the notion that something obvious equates to common sense. Instead of highlighting the opposite, that not all common sense things are obvious, I explored the controversial cliche: common sense is not common.

This quandary haunted me for a long time. For one, I always reminded myself that “rare” is the opposite of “common.” Second, I realized that depending on the situation, every individual’s interests, whether aligned or not, are expressed differently.

Let’s thank medical science for proving this uniqueness in every individual: the proof is in the DNA. In my own way I came to love and embrace rarities. Everyone does common things e.g., eat, go out in nature, read a book, socialize. By “rarities” I mean doing an activity that’s foreign to the social norm. For example, when I first took poetry seriously, I found myself studying the tradition. I also read some Modern poetry.

For the brief time I went to college, I participated in a poetry club formed by my former English professor. To my surprise, most of the aspiring poets expressed little to no interest in formal poetry. I felt like I was in a rare place, yet I didn’t feel isolated, just as much a commoner among the commonwealth.

At some point I stopped going to school. I only wanted to work on music and poetry. I also lacked the discipline to take any non-art classes seriously, besides Mandarin. But I needed some kind of order in my life. I was working, reading literature, and learning music all at once. A few inspirations were Shakespeare, W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, Friedrich Nietzsche; the streets of New York City; Jazz and Hip-Hop; memories.

Without realizing it, I was building a relationship with language, in a deep and spiritual way. The more I read the more I started to write. A former coworker intimated this would come, something like, “Yeah…that’s where it leads.” It was one of those brother-bonding moments. His message seemed obvious, but does that make it common sense?


Let’s rewind to my pre-teen years. I’m either nine or ten and watching television just as much as I’m outdoors. One day, a sort of pale-colored and slightly blurry music video appears on the screen: ‘The Light’ by Hip-Hop artist Common. The beginning of the video depicts a playing vinyl record, already spinning, and then the beat drops. It’s a clean and kind of booming kick drum that picks up with a nice pop on the snare drum alternately, while the hi-hat is on autopilot mode with a sound emulating tick-tock. Common introduces his voice with indefinite words, mouthing a style and cadence ad lib.

‘The Light’ takes the listener through the mind of a man who seeks a genuine romantic partnership. Common is a poet, also largely recognized as a conscious rapper. Not because of this natural vocation is he a voice of wisdom for the romantic life. It’s because of his love for language. This pertains to self-respect, and in turn, respecting others. I come from Christian faith, but I never took Christian morals seriously. But I understood right from wrong. And at some dark point in my life the lines grew blurry.

I found romantic love in a friendship that should have stayed as friendship. When I was a teenager, my first circle of guy friends experienced the romantic life early on. I had a quiet perspective about how I should spend my time; call it “rare.” I enjoyed playing sports, being outdoors, and being around people.

But I had a long streak of shyness in approaching women. My first girlfriend was at thirteen, and even then I didn’t take that relationship seriously; my first kiss was gross.

As for the friendship that sunk, an ex-friend was interested in and pursuing a romantic life with this woman—prior to my betrayal. Yes, I had knowledge of this, but even when initially talking to her, the idea of romance between us never marked a footprint in my mind…

Until it did. I suffered from pangs for a while. It was going to be, or felt like, hell, to tell a best friend what I did, because I knew I had to. I did a human thing, natural, but rare in the sense that it will never recur in my life—at least from my end.

For relationships—not only romantic ones—are a two way bridge. We all understand this. It’s common sense, right? Maybe.

In the last verse of ‘The Light’ Common says…

My heart’s dictionary defines you: it’s love and happiness,

Truthfully it’s hard trying to practice abstinence.

The time we committed love was real good

Had to be for me to arrive and it still feel good.

My same first circle of guy friends criticized me for my resilience in not caring for a romantic life. But celibacy, although they thought it was this, never appealed to me. I simply thought that virginity is sacred—for man and woman equally. And who we share that with impacts our lives eternally (at least in my book…to be written).

I wanted to say for better or worse. But that implies some moral dualism I couldn’t sit with: Heaven, for me, is the light that shows transcendence out of trials, tribulations, tragedy—call it a Triple Threat Triangle if you will.

Anyway, in finding this light, I made a choice to believe in Common’s message in the song, as the chorus says…

There are times...when you'll need someone,

I will be by your side.

There is a light, that shines,

Special for you, and me.

Finding aurora was a painful journey. I felt like I was in a vortex of darkness. By my side this whole time was poetry. I believe in her. I love her just as Common loved Hip-Hop in 1994.

(Fun fact: Up till the mid 1990s, Common's first rap name was Common Sense, but had to change it due to the title first professionally used by a Reggae band.)

It’s 2023. My next romantic life, whenever it takes shape, will reflect integrity, peace, and mutual understanding.

That’s all the love and common sense I know.

Let me know how you like this story. Drop a comment; like; subscription; coin. See you later, perhaps in your next Vocal story. :)


About the Creator

Christian Lee

My nom de plume is Lee Arachnid; think: spider-poet. Here you will find non-fiction and poetry. I interweave elements of nature and my personal experience into uniquely crafted stories. I love idleness, Felidae, literature, and soundscapes.

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  • Test9 months ago

    A fascinating and deeply resonating read. I love the backdrop of the hip hop somg that charts the narrative. Your voice is extremely engaging and and I was hooked from the beginning 🤍

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