Also a poet, he released a CD of his work, “Purple Galaxy” in 2010, a “spoken-word meditation on transcending sexual identity.”
A graduate of Georgia State where he majored in African-American and women’s studies, Akili not only worked as a counselor but as a yoga instructor.
“Dear Universe” is described as a “lighthearted and insightful collection of inspirational letters that invites each of us to transform our social and spiritual lives.”
Earlier this month, he was recognized by BET as a Health Hero because “Dear Universe” gives those who read it a pathway to heal.
Akili said he wrote “Dear Universe” as a way to deal with a “particularly bad time in his life.” He dealt with the pain by writing down his emotions “so I could remember those words and keep them with me.” He began each entry with “Dear Universe” and after many, many entries, he had a book.
We asked him about combining whimsy with seriousness in this book as well as about his name and its connection to a trendy phrase.
Why combine a mix of whimsical and seriousness into this book?
I believe that a big part of spiritual and emotional wellness is learning to have fun with yourself. So I wanted “Dear Universe” to reflect that. I didn’t want to create a “doomsday” book or a book that was so “deep” you had to be a spiritual guru to get anything from it.
I wanted “Dear Universe” to engage people in a lighthearted way that doesn’t minimize the emotional and structural challenges we face but also doesn’t erase the beauty and humor of everyday living, learning and growing. So that mix is intentional. It’s also intentional that “Dear Universe” isn’t academic — It’s a progressive fun, spiritual book that you can share with your family no matter where they are on the spectrum of spirituality and start a conversation!
“YOLO” has become a trendy phrase in the past few years for “you only live once” and I’m curious to know if there is a story about your name.
When your name becomes a modern day catch phrase, you definitely have stories (laughs). Now everywhere I go people want to have a conversation.
All I can say is that it’s very awkward when folks add your name as a way to justify all types of “curious” behavior (laugh) and that despite the definition I definitely don’t believe you only live once. In fact, I’m almost pretty sure I’ve been “here” many, many times.