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Life Lessons: Buster Spiller

It’s Life Lessons time again and today it’s Buster Spiller in the hot seat. I enjoy reading all of these but Buster’s made me wince in pain a bit and then experience pure joy at the end. Sound like it would make a good play? Funny you should mention that….. Read on to find out more about Buster Spiller and remember, we’re always on the lookout for new stories to tell. If you’d like to be part of our Life Lessons feature, drop us a line; we’ll get the questions right out to you!

Are you happy at the moment?

It’s ‘complicated’ – LOL. No, but I am ‘content’ living in the moment while I work towards that elusive state of ‘happy’.

If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?

I would say to me “stay focused on school and get good grades. Sure, you have shit to think about that’s heavy but not having the educational foundation you need is going to have a major impact on your future employment and what’s available to you”. And true to form, my 16-year-old self would say, “I don’t care about that, I’m focused on right now and being accepted”, to which I would reply, “Okay, go ahead. You won’t be singing that tune when a lucrative job is staring you in the face and despite having the experience to do the job, those final 17 credit hours you left when you dropped out of college because of the same attitude you have now as a 16-year-old, comes back to haunt your ass!”.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

The most important thing I’ve learned this year (which actually started last year) is I have the ability to rise above petty people and not be mired down by their drama. Just like I have my own ‘learning curve’, they have theirs. And besides, dealing with pettiness prevents me from reaching my goals. So let it GO and stay focused!

What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

I am applying for an artist residency locally with the goal of completing a stage drama on a forgotten piece of civil rights history and start/complete a work of non-fiction on a related topic. Receiving the opportunity will allow me to live part-time in the company of other artists from other disciplines and write without distraction, while holding down my home at the same time. My application is nearly complete, which I’m proud of.

What’s your secret to happiness?

I don’t have a secret to happiness but I do have the secret to contentment, which is: accept life on life’s terms and you won’t be disappointed with the curve balls life throws you on your way to ‘happy’.

What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

I don’t have a ritual or grounding practice but I do make a habit of looking up into the sky and mouthing “Thank you, God for keeping me and my household” whenever something good or bad happens, or when I receive divine clarity to move forward.

What’s your biggest regret?

Never sending a letter I wrote as an adult at the urging of my, then shrink to my junior high school counselor who blocked my entry into the national junior honor society. Even though I was an A-student and nominated county-wide for “Student Citizen of the Year”, she told my mother she thought I was immature and that her decision was final. I overheard the conversation between them waiting outside her door and when my mother came out and tried to assure me that I was still a winner, I told her, “I will never succeed at anything ever again because when you do your best, somebody can take it from you.” Those words were a self-fulfilling prophecy for me that immediately resulted in bad grades, hanging with the wrong crowd, dabbling in drugs, and ended up with an addiction in my adult years. I dealt with all that dysfunction after stints in counseling and managed to craft out a fairly decent adult life, complete with success in the work force, owning a theater company, being an advocate for the voiceless, running for public office four times, receiving recognition from the White House for a program I managed targeting inner-city youth, and just all around recognition as a civic leader. But for some reason, the things I really want to do like complete a novel or have the courage to try Broadway, I never follow through on. When sharing this with my mother, she brought me back to that conversation I overheard and that’s when it became clear. So I wrote the letter, read and edited it over and over, found her address, but I never mailed it. I wanted to share with her that despite the words she spoke on my impressionable mind and the path I ended up following as a result, I had still made it and was successful despite…

What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

Not to EVER let a person define you based on their perception or society’s perception of you. You define who you are and other people need to orbit around that or go to another universe. You have the right to be who you say you are without definition or analysis.

What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

It used to be self-doubt and sabotaging my efforts but I’ve worked through those. Right now it would be smoking cigarettes. Even though I’ve really cut back, I want to get to the point where I do neither because then, the healthy dietary habits I have could really thrive.

Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

I am proud that God chose to see past my stupidity and save me from the three suicides I attempted as a young adult. I’ve learned that life is truly worth living and even if I’m having a shitty day, I know all things work together for those who love God and are called according to God’s purpose. I’m a walking miracle and I never forget it…”it does get better”…

When were you happiest?

I was at my happiest when I was a fully engaged parent to my then ,teenage son. I was at my best as a human being when I was actively parenting. I work with children now, although not directly, and it’s not the same. When I’m a functioning daddy, I’m in bliss. When I’m not an active dad, I feel like a piece of me is missing and I can’t feel the gap.

What ten words best describe you?

Spiritual. Insightful. Intelligent. Creative. Resourceful. Loyal. Curious. Competitive. Proud. Me.

 

Buster Spiller is a freelance writer, playwright, performing artist and the founder/artistic director of a Dallas-based theater company. Buster’s work has appeared in a number of publications, including the Dallas Morning News, Dallas Voice, Dallas Weekly, Windy City Times, along with being published in an anthology in 2011. Buster has been a community activist and leader since 1994, loves politics, works in education, and hopes to go to law school in the future. Buster currently resides in Dallas with his partner, has two sons, a daughter, four grandchildren, and two pooches.

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