How To Be A Human Episode 002 – How To Be a Conscious Human When the World is on Fire with Tyler Merritt

Today’s episode is a beautiful conversation with Tyler Merritt. It’s less like an interview and more like sitting having a conversation with your two best friends all cozy on the couch. Before we get started let me introduce you to Tyler Merritt! Tyler Merritt is a Nashville based actor, comedian, vocalist and creator of The Tyler Merritt Project. His Television credits include ABC’s Kevin Probably Saves The World, Netflix Messiah, Netflix Outer Banks, HBO’s limited series The Outsider, Apple TV+’s upcoming series Swagger, and Disney+/Marvel’s upcoming series Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Prior to “Before You Call The Cops”, Tyler was best known for being the face of the worldwide teaching curriculum for The Gospel Project for Kids.

In 2018 Tyler’s viral video “Before You Call The Cops” (released by The Tyler Merritt Project) was viewed by over 18 million people worldwide and voted one of the Top 20 videos of the year by NowThisPolitics. In 2020, “Before You Call the Cops” recirculated and has now been viewed by over 60 million people and has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, MSNBC Live, and Access Hollywood. Merritt has also been featured in the Las Vegas Review Journal, The New York Times, MSNBC, and the Huffington Post. His most recent viral video “The Playlist” is also stirring the much needed conversation of how we see and communicate with each other. Raised in Las Vegas, NV he has always had a passion for bringing laughter, grace and love into any community that he is able to be a part of.

 We’ll be talking about everything from our families, to embracing our wildly messy selves, to what the meaning of being Human is to Tyler.

 You can listen now by pressing the play button above, or scroll down to read the entire transcript.  

Grab some tacos and join Tyler and I! 

 

How to be a Human – With Tyler Merritt

We are changing the global conversation on emotional health and self love. Our feelings are just feedback. And that feedback is constantly giving us valuable insights as to what still needs to be healed. It is that simple and it is that complicated. When you continuously follow your passion, and do what brings you joy, adding more pleasure and fun to your life? You can’t go wrong. You can’t fail, I pinky swear that to be true. Welcome to How to be Human with Leisse Wilcox. I love this conversation.

 

Leisse

Hello, hello, and welcome back to How to be Human with Leisse Wilcox and I am, I don’t even have the right word for my emotions right now, talking to Tyler Merritt. Welcome to my show. It’s such a pleasure to connect with you. And it’s such a pleasure to hear your voice in this way, not just on Instagram or any other means of consumption.

 

Tyler

Let me tell you, I am so happy to be with you. Because when you admire somebody from afar on social media, it seems like you’re miles and miles and miles away. So when I finally connected with you today, I kind of, my heart kind of sighed a little bit, Leisse, I’m not going to lie. I was like, this was an exciting moment happening right now.

 

Leisse

Oh, me too. And are you in Nashville right now?

 

Tyler

I am in Nashville, Tennessee currently, it’s a pretty pretty day. Where are you at? Where are you?

 

Leisse

I’m in Canada. I’m just about an hour east of Toronto.

 

Tyler

Okay, okay, I did a radio interview for a Canadian radio station. It was probably about four months ago. But the moral of my story is that Canada is, why is everybody so awesome there?

 

Leisse

Not everybody is as awesome.

 

Tyler

Okay, my bad, my bad.

 

Leisse

We have a few. And if you want, I can introduce them to you. But if you want I’ll just keep them in my back pocket.

 

Leisse  

Interestingly, in February, I had, I don’t know what you have. Every every now and then on a full moon. That sounds very ominous. I have really intense dreams. And they’re like spirit driven, meaning dreams. And in February, I had this one dream. And I went to sleep. And I would hear Tennessee, Tennessee, Tennessee, Tennessee, Tennessee, Tennessee, and I’d wake up and I’d be like, okay, like message received. I got it and went back to sleep. And it was Tennessee, Tennessee, Tennessee, Tennessee. Like it happened all night to the point I got up in the morning. And I was exhausted. And I was like, I don’t know what significance Tennessee holds for me. But apparently it’s big. It’s very big. 

 

Tyler

Wow!

 

Leisse 

I know. Interesting. 

 

Tyler

So is that how the dream ends? there’s no, you then saw a beautiful Black man and realized that you were to move, I was waiting for the punchline there. But…

 

Leisse

I know I mean, like I could go to a couple different punch lines. But I haven’t, for a long time, I’m pretty obsessed with America and Americans. And I am also quite convinced that I’m going to marry an American. And I’ve always thought that he would be either from New York or Texas. And then this dream was like a redirect. I’m like, oh, who knows?

 

Tyler

New York, New York or Texas? 

 

Leisse

Yeah, it’s like one or the other, I guess. 

 

Tyler 

Wow. That’s a pretty strong variation. I think like wishing out into the universe, very specific cities. Because…

 

Leisse

Like Austin. 

 

Tyler

Yeah, exactly. 

 

Leise

Anyway, my intention behind this podcast really is to have a conversation on really what it means and how to be a human. And I very, very rarely read formal bios. But oh my god, I’m going to read yours because not only are you a real life, human, but you also play one on TV. I want to make sure I get all your accolades in here because, like colour me impressed. So, Tyler Merritt is a Nashville based actor, comedian, vocalist and creator of the Tyler Merritt Project. His television credits include ABC  ‘Kevin Probably Saves the World’, ‘Where are you now Kevin?’, Netflix ‘Messiah’, Netflix ‘Outer Banks’. HBO limited series ‘The Outsider’, Apple TV’s upcoming series ‘Swagger’ and Disney+ / Marvel’s upcoming series ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’. Prior to ‘Before you Call the Cops’, which is how I found you that phenomenal video that also got featured on Jimmy Kimmel. Tyler was best known for being the face of the worldwide teaching curriculum for the Gospel Project for Kids. In 2018, Tyler’s viral video ‘Before you Call the Cops’ was viewed by over 18 million people worldwide, and voted one of the top 20 videos of the year by Now This politics. In 2020 ‘Before you Call the Cops’ had re circulated and has now been featured. Over 60 million, by over 60 million people and has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, MSNBC and Access Hollywood. Merritt has been featured in the Las Vegas review journal, The New York Times as a VC and HuffPost. His most recent and unbelievably poignant viral video ‘The Playlist’ is also stirring the much needed conversation of how we see and communicate with each other. Raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, he has always had a passion for bringing laughter, grace and love into any community that he is able to be a part of. Does that sound familiar? Does that sound right?

 

Tyler

I was really impressed by me right now Leisse, like you read that. I’m like, I would love to meet that guy.

 

Leisse

That happens to me, when I go on a podcast, I’m like, wow, this woman is really interesting.

 

Tyler

Well, I appreciate your reading that because I know that there are many listeners that are in your community who have no idea who I am. So that that helps out a little bit.

 

Leisse

So I was watching basically all the previews of the shows that you’ve been on and will be on because I’ve seen your YouTube videos. And they’re like, next level, they’re also incredibly emotional. So then I started to go down and then you like, you know, you are this like, Oh my god, such a kind person, like a graceful person. And maybe it’s just a social media persona. And so congratulations, because I am buying it, hook-line-and-sinker. You just exude grace and emotional vulnerability, and I’m watching all your previews, and they are fucking terrifying. Like you’re on the scariest shows! What is up?

 

Tyler

I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you, here’s what’s great about TV. And working as an actor. So I kind of stumbled back into television, I did theater professionally for a long time. So that’s why or for earlier in my life. That’s why you will see if there’s anything you will see in my social media is references to musicals. 

 

Leisse 

Yup I noticed!

 

Tyler

Typically, if you’re not into musicals, I can lose you, like if you’re not, like, you have to Google half of the references that I think, I am a musical theater fan, like ridiculously and so, but I kind of leaned back in to, through a series of things that happened, I ended up stumbling back into film. And so what’s great is I get to pop up in some of these shows that I love. ‘Kevin Probably Saves the World’ had Jason Ritter in it and he was fantastic and I was able to work with him. I’m not allowed to really talk about ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ because Marvel has done like a million MBAs. ‘The Outsider’ I actually worked on for three days with some really incredible people. And then I was put on the cutting room floor. And then a friend of mine was like, but I saw you in the outtakes. I’m like, yeah, that’s fantastic, doesn’t matter. And nobody saw Outer Banks, which is a show on Netflix they thought was going to be this big, huge thing. And I’d actually audition for another role for one of the main characters, fathers, and they liked me enough to bring me back to play another role. So that show ended up completely blowing up, which is really fantastic. So all that to say, I have really lucked out to be able to be in some really, really, really great TV shows. And there’s more to come. But I will say this, though Leisse, like the joy of my life, way beyond that is the community that I’ve been able to build between Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, with a Tyler Merritt project. Because we have really built a group of individuals that not only care for each other, are starting to really find a place that they feel safe, they can find encouragement and find words to be uplifted. But there’s an honesty and truth that I always bring with her from the perspective of a Black man in America, which sometimes is difficult, and sometimes not so much. So in between, I mean literally one day I can be talking about a TV show that I love. And the next minute I can be talking about how Black men in America are being killed at a rate that is absolutely ridiculous, but because of the span of the relationship that I build with the people in this community, they are able to hear me in a way that knows that I’m not just bullshitting them, you follow me? Am I allowed to cuss on this because I cuss a lot. 

 

Leisse

Yes!

 

Tyler

So most of my thought process behind and going on in my head is Tyler don’t cuss.

Leisse 

Unless your mom is listening, because I don’t think your mom would like to hear us swear. 

 

Tyler

You know, I had to deal with just recently Leisse, I had to deal with reality. I told my mom, she had read something that I wrote and she said, you know, you cuss a lot. And I was like, Mom, the only person I don’t cuss in front of is you and dad, and like, kids. Like, kids don’t hear me. And you know like, there’s a switch that happens. But everybody else in the world is like that.

 

Leisse

I have three little girls. And we’re all painfully aware of how much I swear because I don’t do it in front of my kids. And they watch it like it get to the surface of my lips and tongue and they watch me like swallow it back. I am familiar with this switch.

 

Tyler

Wait, wait, I know this is, we’re talking to me here. But you have three, you said you have three girls? 

 

Leisse

I do. Yeah. 

 

Tyler

How old are they?

 

Leisse

Eight, eight, and ten.

Tyler

So basically what like third grade and fifth grade?

Leisse

They’re superlative. They are sweethearts. They’re just like the best kids.

Tyler

That is fantastic. My niece and nephew, Zoe, and Declin are eight and ten. So and, again, I post them on Instagram as well. I’m actually an only child. But so these are like adopted nieces and nephews. And so I have you know, but they aren’t, you can’t tell them any different. That I’m not uncle Tyty to them. And that age group. I love that age group so much. 

Leisse

It’s awesome. I know. I know. It’s very, it’s really fun. It’s like, when people think of what parenting is going to be like they think of these years. It’s like a very short window. I know. But I am and I’m a single parent, right. So I’m in like this sweet spot with my girls. And I just really love it.

Tyler

That’s fantastic.

Leisse

Anyway, back to you.

Tyler

Sorry. I love, I love me some kids. So the idea of you with three girls running around, is kind of fantastic.

Leisse  

Well, we’re always looking for new recruits to our family so come on up! I feel like you would let them piggyback on you and they would be into that.

Tyler

100%.

Leisse

So you’ve built this phenomenal community through the Tyler Merritt Project. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? 

Tyler

Yeah, sure. I’ll tell you, probably in 2016, is when the idea really burst, right? I was just realizing, because of all the communities that I’ve been plugged into, I was going online and I was finding, it’s so easy online to be kind of segregated, right and be broken up to where you can have all, you can have a group of gay friends you can, if those are your people, then that’s all that’s your feed. And that’s you know, or you can have right wing Christian people, or you can have, you know, super left wing, you can have, you know, so there’s all these segregated communities online, but because of my history, and kind of where I had come from, I ended up being one of those rare individuals that had a swath of people like, I’m talking like, from the farthest, farthest right to the farthest, farthest left to the, to the most stringent, like tight lace people to like, let’s go to gay parade. You know what I mean? Like, it was just, it was all over the place. And so I realized that my community was so much wider. So I had the ability to say things to people, and many different people would want to listen. And this was just in my personal every day, you know, communication with people. And so around 2016 when Philando Castile was shot here in America, and a few other Black men’s lives were taken. I was trying to figure out where my voice could land in the midst of this. And something that I was getting from people which is so highly frustrating and I can’t I cannot tell you how frustrating this is, is I was having many of my White friends say to me, oh, man, Tyler, that’s really hard that happened to somebody but that would never happen to you know, you’re one of the good ones. Or you know, you’re smart enough to know, or dot dot, dot, dot dot, and I found myself getting outraged in a way of like, I don’t think you want that’s not how this works. This is not about like, let’s, let’s kill the bad Black people and let the good Black people live. And so I found myself going, how can I communicate to a group of individuals that may not have the proximity or perspective to understand what Black men in America are going through? And because I had this platform, I went, Okay, how am I going to do this? And this is what I did know, Leisse. I knew that. We have like a ground base. level of things that we as people want and desire, we want to be loved, we want to be seen, we want to laugh, we want to know that we are known. Right? Right. And that our experience matters. Exactly. All of those baseline things, that that’s universal, it doesn’t matter who you are, what color you are, where you are. And so with that base understanding of going, Okay, so this is who, who we are as a people and what we want, how can I begin to communicate from that base ground. And so with that Tyler Merritt Project birthed, and I said, so the first key here is going to be love. And letting people know that they’re loved letting people know they are seen. Next is going to be humor. Because although I’m going to cover some really, really difficult things that are tied into who I am as a Black man, laughing and smiling matters. And so I begin to litter when I tell you that I went out on a mission, I began to expand up so that I could start to really get a feel of the material that I was going to start putting out in the world, if it was going to work on a wider, wider audiences, I began to study the psychological understanding of how people receive words, how they hear words, how they want to be listened to. And of course, I already had the background with kind of the placement of entertainment, like I knew what people would want to see and what people would want to hear. Or at least I was hoping. And so in 2018, in I believe it was April, I began to put together this material. So it was two years of me just really like going in deep before I let anybody see what I was actually doing. And once I did the groundwork and felt like okay, I have something that’s going to matter and make sense. I began to create material. And of course, like all things, it started out very, very small. With a handful of people that were like, okay, I like what’s happening, I see, I see what you’re trying to do here. But what I’ve found is, if you let people know, their love, let people know they are hurt, you let people know they are seeing your options and ability for them to listen, grow exponentially. 

Leisse

Because you’ve created an emotional safety, or level of emotional safety. 

Tyler

Exactly. 

Leisse 

And when the people will feel safe. Now we can connect, if there is no emotional safety, there’s zero connection, and you bridge that gap so beautifully.

Tyler

And that’s exactly what began to start happening in this small community. So I started putting out, you know, just some things that were funny, but all of them had some context to a Black experience. Like I put out a video, one of the first videos I put out was because we have a hockey team here called the Predators. And it was called something to the effect of ‘Nine Things Black People Should Know if we’re going to go to a Predators Playoff Game’ or something like that, right. And so originally it was 12. I don’t remember now. But the moral of the story was, I was trying to communicate the fact that there’s this world of hockey in Tennessee, that not a lot of Black people are a part of, but I’m a part of it. I have now experienced some of it a little bit. And I’m going to poke some fun here to kind of give my White friends an idea of what it feels like, for me, as a Black man to experience something that I’m not completely familiar with. And that it’s okay to realize that new things, sometimes they’re funny. Sometimes they’re unexpected. And it’s okay to not know everything. But you get into those situations and you begin to learn them. And that video began to spread quite largely in Tennessee. So then I started getting some more followers here and there. And then shortly after I released a few more and then ‘Before you Call the Cops’, and I created that video on a friday and Huffington Post reached out to me on a Monday. Yeah, it went. It was crazy. 

Leisse

Wow. 

Tyler

So all that to say it’s a sweet place. It’s a sweet community that started with the idea of love. It started with the idea of acceptance. It started with the idea of learning by laughing. But I tell people this all the time, do not get it twisted. The Tyler Merritt Project is about the Black man experience. And though it may not always feel that way on social media, literally you might. I posted something recently with a picture of myself and my friend’s cat because that cat wouldn’t stop leaving me alone. And, you know, trust me is even though it seems flippant. I am very specific and intentional about letting the community of people that are involved in my life know that I’m not just a man but I am a Black man and that is important and it’s beautiful.

Leisse 

This is so wonderful. It’s so wonderful. Um, I mean, I have the lens of a White, hetero-normative female, right. And so like, I’m watching this, and that comes through to me in all of the best ways. And I think that what we, how do I say this, I think that one of the ways or one of the many ways, and one of the many reasons this is a particularly welcome gift that you’ve given to the world, is that we need to have the conversations and the thought leaders and the examples that take people out of caricatures. Right. And I mean, again, I’m a straight White woman, and I can observe in the Black community, there have been many detrimental caricatures created, right. I mean, I watch it like there’s this whole mommy wine culture thing that I can’t watch shows about families, because of the way that women and mothers in particular are portrayed because I’m like, this is such a load of shit, like I can’t participate in my life is not at threat. And so like, I can only imagine what the caricatures, and what the, like the narratives that are kind of handed out. Like, we have to bust that, right. And I think that it’s when we talk about dismantling systems, you’re literally dismantling systems through your own conscious creation. 

Tyler

Which I think brings me to this point, which I think is really important. I know this to be true. There are many of your listeners who are listening to this right now who have thought to themselves, I have ideas, there are things that I want to do. And I’m sure there are individuals who are going, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to start, I don’t know. But this is speaking specifically, to the individuals that feel like they have a voice but don’t necessarily know how to put it out there. I have some theory, I’m about to give some really, really deep advice that people should probably pay for, I’m going to start. I’m going to give them years of therapy by giving this advice right now. So prepare yourself and you as well Leisse. Are you ready? Here’s the advice. Start. That’s the advice, start. And I know that sounds ridiculous. This is what I do know, as long as that that piece that you have in your back pocket, or that idea, or that creative thing, or that fight, or that dream or that passionate thing that you have that is inside you is released to the rest of the world. It is simply something that is inside you that we do not know of. And this is the truth, Leisse, you know this more than anybody I was watching your one of your recent Instagram lives, that the internet can be a shitty place, like the worst, just the worst. And I disappeared off social media for a couple of years pretty much for that reason, because the internet is the worst. And so it can end up bringing in our biggest fears, our biggest insecurities, it can begin to tell us that we are not worthy. All of these things. But in reality, if we do not start that thing that is significant to us, if we don’t start that thing that is significant for who we are, we don’t know if we have the ability to have an impact on a world that really, really needs us. In the world of Tyler Merritt Project, this was the difference between me going and I had this idea for this video, do I put it on paper and put it out in the world? Or do I not? Or when the playlist came along, it was the same content that was like I had this idea of a playlist or a most recent video I put out called ‘The Talk’ where I talk about the conversations that Black men or Black people have to have with their children. If you don’t put it out there, it’s just never going to exist. And right now in the current climate we are in by God do we need the voices of significant individuals. We need your voice to be heard to impact the kind of change that I think all of us with true, real true good hearts desire in the world.

Leisse

I couldn’t agree more and you know, again, another intention backing this podcast is that from my work as a coach, and coach is like the worst term in the world, sometimes I think there should be professional human or like life consultants because I hold space for people, right? I hold space for people, and in holding space for people and helping them navigate serious transitions in their life, I get this incredibly privileged front row seat to watch the human experience unfold time, after time, after time after time. And I am very, very certain that we are all living an incredibly shared human emotional experience. And the kicker is that we all think we’re having that experience in isolation. So we want to keep it to ourselves. Right? And I mean, you’ve said it, I can, I can back this up to be true that we all have a story to tell. And I would argue that 99.9% of us think that story does not deserve a seat at the table. Or, you know, I know, like, yes, it does, because we are all just humans. And we are all just having this lived and learned and earn experience that needs to be shared and witnessed in all the right ways. And I think that, you know, 2020 was a big year, I think that we’ve headed into this Age of Aquarius. And I really believe that this is part of that collective consciousness, that energetic shift that we’re talking about, is that I think people are starting to detach from the like, Oh, this is for them. And this is for them. And this is for me, it’s like no, what you want, you want for a reason. It’s like being part of your soul’s plan. It doesn’t, it doesn’t pop up randomly, right? It’s a part of you. It’s a part of your design, it’s a part of your like, quest on the hero’s journey.

Tyler

100%

Leisse

If life is a video game, this is like, this is the little coin that you have to jump up in ding, like, this is NBA Jam that I played for one week in march madness.

Tyler 

I love how you just had a throwback Super Mario example. You’re like, forget everything else, just reach up and grab that coin.

Leisse

Grab that coin. And if a turtle shell comes flinging at you, don’t worry, you just jump over it. But no man, life is a video game. This is just a part. It’s just an obstacle. It’s just a part of the video game. What I want, I want for a reason. And in those moments of real dark fear and despair, where I’m like, Oh, my God, I’m not going to get what I want. I have to really bring myself back to the centered place of like, No, you want what you want for a reason. And you have to keep that vision alive. And I think that what you’re saying is like, if you feel the need to start, it’s because you need to start. It’s like It’s that simple. And yes, you’ll be met with turtle shells, shall we say, flinging at you as tests and challenges. And that doesn’t mean to stop, right. And in my book, I wrote a chapter called the Art of Failure. And that’s it like you got to learn how to start you got to learn how to fail and repurpose that failure into something else that moves you forward, as opposed to something that holds you back and makes you feel ashamed. 

Tyler

100% I can’t stress enough Leisse, like the sheer importance of knowing that your story matters. And I do think that we live in a world right now where it’s easy to go, Wait, this is their moment, or this is their time. And let me be clear on some levels. I agree with that 100%.
That doesn’t mean that your story doesn’t matter. You know, that doesn’t mean that what you have to say isn’t significant. And that what your individual story, the impact that your singular story can have, that it can’t be life changing. It can’t be world changing. What I hate, and it’s so easy to seep into the minds of well to do individuals, that that doubt of and that insecurity of thinking that maybe what you have been through isn’t important. I think that no, I think that I know this for a fact, people ask me all the time, Tyler, how are you able to continue to walk in the grace and support that you do for people that say shitty things to you, for people that continue to act like they don’t know any better or continue to come at you with all of these hateful things? How have you not lost your mind? Let me be very clear. Don’t get me wrong. There’s moments where I want to punch a wall like, you know, kick a shin and all of that, but 99% of the time. I’m such a flawed individual and I’m so wholly aware of my mistakes, and so wholly aware of the lessons I’ve learned because of those missteps, that it is almost impossible for me to not have grace, love and understanding for almost anybody I come in contact with. Because I really do truly believe that we are all just a bunch of flawed individuals trying our best to, to do the best we can. And let me be clear, when I say flawed, I don’t want to say flawed in a way that tries to put guilt on anyone. Because that is the opposite of that. It’s really more the understanding of knowing that we are going to make mistakes, but what we do with those mistakes, turning those mistakes into lessons, turning those mistakes into things that change us or make us for the better. Those are the things that build us. And those are the things that make our specific stories significant. And so many times, we find ourselves in a position of wanting to be covered in shame, wanting to be covered in guilt, wanting to be covered, and I’m the only person who’s ever gone through this wanting to be covered in I have failed, be it because a marriage has fallen apart. Because your kid is the worst kid in the class, be it because you find yourself just being an asshole most of your life, or whatever. You know what I mean? Like we find ourselves going, I have too much shame, I have too much guilt, I have too much embarrassment, I have too much of those things to do anything in this world that would make my story matter. And I really do believe Leisse that that is one of the biggest things that is keeping us separated as people, because so many of us are afraid to just say I’m fucked up a little bit.

Leisse

I know. And that’s I mean, so you know, I work in the personal development industry, right? And that’s the biggest misconception is that people seek out therapists and coaches and healers and other Like wise words of wisdom, because they’re broken. And it’s like, no, no, no, you are not broken. You’re just healing. And that’s kind of the point, right? Like, if we were all born in what we think or what we like, what our expectations of perfection look like, we would all be born into enlightenment. And that is not what the human experience is. Like the human experience is about fucking up and doing better. Literally, nothing is static, everything changes. Everything is fleeting. And when you know I’ve called, I’ve coined it emotional alchemy, that when you take some of these dark, heavy experiences that have happened, and you consciously transform them, and you make them something that’s uniquely and beautifully your own, you’re left with this incredibly, like beautiful, golden shining thing in your hand. And it’s like, that is the point. We’re not supposed to be perfect. We’re supposed to be these like, works in progress, and we’re learning. And if you continuously show up in a way in which your actions are fueled by intention, and you are actually doing the best you can, some people are still assholes, I get that maybe their journey is about being an asshole. And like, that’s what I mean, they become excellent teachers, remember those few people I was going to introduce you too? They become excellent teachers. But, you know, it’s not about the experience of being perfect. It’s about being flawed and seeing the beauty and the and the perfection in that.

Tyler

Yeah. I don’t, I don’t think that, I just need to be clear here that if it was not about that, I would be frozen and not able to move. Do you know what I mean? Like I would be at a place of just not being able to succeed in anything. Because I wouldn’t want to leave my house. I would be frozen in the mistakes that I’ve made. And the decisions that I’ve walked through, and I’ll tell you this, you loosely joked about the facade of social media. And trust me, I have a lot of friends who are like, look at my life. And I’m like that ain’t your life man. That is not your life. I was at your house yesterday, and your kids are literally running all over your house on your wall. Don’t make it look like that happy Christmas picture of y’all sitting at a bar and like, sipping hot cocoa, sucking on a lollipop, that is not your life, bro. Like and the fact that you even pulled that picture off is amazing to me. 

Leisse

There is a reason it was a picture not a video, just saying. 

Tyler

Exactly, like, Oh, I want to see the long form version of how right? Like even the idea that you got everybody dressed the same. I just want to know how that happened. I feel you on the persona of how people put out. So in my world here, here’s the honest to god truth, I am single with no kids, and I am in my 40s. And I have zero F’s to give. Something about once I hit my 40s, I was like, I no longer have, my alphabet no longer has F anymore. My alphabet is F-less Now, like I have zero F’s to give. And one of those things that happens in that is there’s a, there’s a kind of truth that gets spawned in that. And so, oftentimes, and this is just the truth. If I’m online, and I post something, which you’ll see quite a bit, I’ll just post a meme that I’ve created that will say something like, no day, but today or tell the people you love that you love them. Now, these aren’t things that mean I’m sitting around going, how can I say something that might be relatable to people? What’s really going on here is things that I’m having to tell myself as a grown ass man, that I decide that I want to share with other people. Like this isn’t it’s not a moment of me going, I think I need to go out and say something, you know, meaningful. And that’s also why there’s many days where I don’t say anything, right? But if I wake up one day, and I go, oh, man, gosh, the only thing I need to hear right now is that somebody loves me. Then I am very most likely to go online and say, Hey, I just want to let you know that somebody loves you. And I’ll do that because it comes from a real place. And it comes from the fact that if there’s anything that I am, above anything else, is a lover of people. I love to listen to people, I love to hear their stories, I love to know what makes them tick, both good and bad. I’m learning as I get older, I’m much much more interested in your failures than I am in the thing that you succeeded in. Like, as morbid as that might sound but now I’m like, I really don’t want to know about the gold coins that you won. I want to know about how the turtle slammed you off the course.

Leisse

How the turtle slammed me in the face when I didn’t quite reach the gold coin?

Tyler

Exactly. That is so much more interesting to me. That’s so much more interesting to me. Because my love, that allows me to let you know that you are loved, that you are accepted, that there is grace for you, that there is understanding for you and that you are able to face tomorrow and knowing that tomorrow that is there is filled with people that care about who you are. So above all else and my love for people is pretty much what ignites all of those things. Be it a really upset, you know, pissed off. You know, I do this thing called I take my coffee, hashtag Black, which is just these little segments of me talking about, you know, some sort of experience of some sort. And sometimes I’m angry sometimes I’m not, you know, but all of those things are still rooted in love for people. And that’s the world I want to live in.

Leisse 

I love that frequency. I love that space. I love that intention. I love it. Are you pretty extroverted?

Tyler

Yeah, yeah, I am. I am. I am. Well, let me let me let me say this. I’m an extrovert. I’m an extrovert. But this pandemic and being alone has taught me one thing I love being alone. Like I definitely I love, because I love people. I’m an extrovert, right? Um, but I am definitely one of those people though that I need my quiet time to like, I don’t always have to be on. 

Leisse

How do you recharge?

Tyler

I walk a lot. When I say I walk a lot. I walk about four miles a day. And my source, I live here in Nashville. There’s a dam that I walk at, and I’ll leave from my house and go park over in a parking lot. And then I’ll begin about a four mile walk. And that walk for me is my is zen for me. And I will put on different variations. For example, the ‘Playlist’ video is actually parts of me being on that walk but that was inspired based on the walk that I’m on all the time and I will typically put on music, I will get out of my car, open my Nike run app, and I will start a playlist of some sort. Oftentimes, it’s me listening to the entirety of a musical, or there will be me listening to gospel music or to rock music, it can be anything. But that’s, that’s a very important piece for me, is that what I’m listening to, because oftentimes, when I’m listening to what is speaking to me, and because I love music, I’m also super sensitive to music, like, like sensitive in a way that if, if, during this podcast, if there was music playing on the background, I would not be able to focus. So super sensitive to music. So when I go and take my walks, I’ll put my headphones on and get lost in that time, then there’s a bench at the dam that I walk to, that I call my bench. And I go to that bench. And I have had moments of life altering, life changing moments on that bench of me just talking to God, talking with myself. Just being able to just stop for a minute and, and go, you’re okay, it’s going to be okay. And moving on. Sorry for that little beep that keeps coming in, I’m pretty sure it’s on my site. So the other thing that I do, and this is a tangible thing, and this isn’t a commercial for anything, I promise, but this is something that I use. I use the Calm app, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with a Calm app at all. But I started using a Calm app about a year ago. And it sets up meditations and time just to kind of be alone in spoken word moments. And I use that quite a bit to just kind of get away and I’m a prayer to I pray, let me be very, very, very, very clear. I am not like, I’m not praying all the time, but I definitely pray in such a way that I still like God and I have an understanding. And he knows I cuss a lot. We’ll put it that way.

Leisse 

I think we have the same God! 

Tyler

I don’t have that New King James Version kind of relation. When I go and talk to him I’m all ‘doth thou hear me Lord’ you know, um, that is not the God I talk to.

Leisse

What was the first concert you ever went to?

Tyler  

Oh, man, New Edition. And, and I don’t know if you’re familiar with New Edition, but I’m telling you, I just said that. And there’s some people on this podcast that just like their heart, like clapped for a minute. But New Edition is like the first like Black boy band outside of like, like Jackson Five. And man. Oh, man, when I tell you Leisse, even just talking about it right now make my heart excited

Leisse 

Which book would you say has really had influence on shaping your life?

Tyler

Oh, man. That’s a big one. Oh, man, I would probably say, man, that’s a hard one.

Leisse

It is, I know.

Tyler

Stuart Scott wrote a book called Everyday I Fight. Stuart Scott was a Black commentator for ESPN for a lot of different things. And he died of cancer but wrote this book right before he died. And man that impacted me. But that would be probably more of a serious book. There’s a lot of, I am very much so into books where people are talking about their lives and their experiences. I don’t know if you’re familiar with who Lena Dunham had a book out. I absolutely loved Lena Dunham’s book. I loved it. It was one of the first books that made me jump from reading the book over to listening to the audiobook and then flipping back to the book. Like I never did that before. But sometimes, you know, you read a book and you’re like, God, please tell me that this person is narrating the audio. I need to hear them say these things.

Leisse 

I narrate my own audio book and this sounds so arrogant but like stay with me. Like I obviously lived the experience in my book right? And it’s like, right, I’m more self help and just feeling like you’re just curled up on the couch chatting with me. It’s really lovely. And so I lived it and I wrote it and then I recorded the audio for the audiobook and in listening back to the audio because we had to edit it obviously, going back over the audio and then reading the book in print when it actually came out, it was the coolest experience because even though I was the creator, and like the consumer of the experience, it felt like two radically different experiences, even listening to the audio versus reading it. There’s other parts of our brain that get different messages out of it. And that’s my own book. That’s my own book. How did I get stuff out of this?

Tyler

Like, I am really moving me right now. 

Leisse

I’m really connecting to this person.

Tyler

No, I hear you. Tina Fey wrote a book that I love and listen to her, Amy Pohler. I love listening to humorous books. And reading humor, cuz it’s hard to write funny, like this. It’s hard to write funny. So I love reading books that are really genuinely like a kind of laced with humor. But yeah, no, I feel you 100% on that there’s something about listening to somebody narrate through an audio book that just fills it feels special. In fact, it pisses me off anytime I go over to like, look at a book and find the person who wrote it didn’t narrate it.

Leisse 

Is there a smell that when you smell it, you’re like, instantly transported back to childhood?

Tyler

Yes, anything that smells Christmassy, like, cinnamon, you know, all of those Christmas scents, all of those Christmas events. So I’m a candle guy. Let me say something Leisse, I am extremely gay on paper. Can we get this straight? Like I am so gay on paper. Now let me be clear, there’s nothing wrong with that. Like, if I was gay, I’ll be like, yeah, I’m gay. But I’m not. Yeah, because I love women. But I am so gay on paper Leisse. Like, I’m realizing this. If you’ve never heard of me before, you’re hearing me talk about I can I love me some musicals, let me tell you about all the candles I’m burning. I am one to definitely purchase a candle that has anything to do with Christmas like at any chance. I will start burning that on January 1 and ending on December 31.

Leisse

I love that. Okay, my final one of my final questions for you is knowing that you are also a lover of music and that it plays like you know, that soundtrack of your life kind of role in your life. Is there a song during which if you hear it no matter what the circumstance could be driving, whatever it is just like it just brings you to life to the point where you don’t even notice other people around?

Tyler

Oh, I was wondering where you were gonna go with what does it do to you? Because you said it brings you to life. 

Leisse 

I’m talking about the kind of dancing in your car, that like you’re parked at a red light and you are in the moment. 

Tyler

Okay, I need to give you two different answers. Okay? Cuz there’s, there’s us, oh my gosh, this is I can give you a million but I’m gonna just sum this down to two different things. Okay, there’s a song, one of my favorite groups of all time, is a rock group. My musical tastes are all over the place. It’s ridiculous, but it is a band called Counting Crows. And there’s a song called Anna Begins by Counting Crows. Now, let me be clear that song is not the song that answers your question. Okay, but that song, if Anna Begins comes on. I am immediately like, I’m full with emotion. Like as soon as I am it’s something inside of me like shifts to moments in my life. And it’s just you know, that’s one of those songs right? Now, on the other scale, the song if it comes on that like it doesn’t matter what’s going on, but suddenly I’m like, I will turn up in my car and the hood will come out of me and like the kind of gangster will come out of me but not really because it’s actually not really a gangster song but Mo Money Mo Problems by P Diddy and Mace and Notorious BIG that song comes on. Don’t get me started Leisse, like I’m telling you. It does not matter what I can be in church in some way. If someone’s phone ring is accidentally that I’m like, excuse me. I’m gonna need to get up, you know, do my thing. Me and my best friend Mike wanted to cruise back in college and for me a cruise was about three things: the food, the girls, and the club. And in the club they would play that song like three or four times a night on this cruise. And when I tell you man, I still have memories of being sore the next day because every part of my body was just letting it go, man. So yeah, that’s my, that’s my jam. Never heard that song again. Know that I am somewhere. I am somewhere going ham.

Leisse

Okay, my actual last question, no second. Did you watch the last dance series on Netflix last year?

Tyler

With Michael Jordan? Um, of course. 

Leisse

Okay, good. More importantly, like the show was excellent. But the soundtrack, like did you listen to it?

Tyler

Oh, man. Like I found myself going online to make sure I wasn’t the only person who was freaking out about the soundtrack.

Leisse 

Everybody everywhere exploded with glee with that soundtrack. It was like DJ Khaled wrote this, like Another One. 

Tyler

Leisse how are we not best friends? My life is being sculpted by you right now. 

Leisse

Tennessee, Tennessee, Tennessee, Tennessee. My final final question. In your own words, what does it mean to be a human, like if you were going to give your own encapsulated advice? How to be a human?

Tyler

Hmm. For me, it’s pretty simple. I really truly believe that humanity is the ability to see other people. And for me how to be a human is to realize that you’re not alone, that we’re in this world with other remarkably beautiful, wonderful, flawed, damaged, perfect, humans. And it’s those humans that make me more human. And I have yet to have any children that I know of. I’m just kidding. That was just a joke. That was just a joke. I just started pulling out that moment where it was just a joke. But when I look at my niece, Zoe and Declan and my other nephew, another Jordan and man, when I look at these kids it’s hard not to get emotional just thinking about it. But when I look at the innocence, when I look at the hope, when I look at the wonder, when I look at how they are just mesmerized by the smallest of things. Not only reminds me how human I am, but how wonderfully lucky I am to be one. And I really do think that seeing each other, at least for me, is that the key to being human, and more so to being a better human.

Leisse 

I think that’s a pretty good answer. Thank you. Thank you so much it honestly, thank you so much for sharing this space with me and for agreeing to come on the show. It’s been such a pleasure to talk to you.

Tyler

Hey, no, thank you. Thank you for what you’re doing Leisse, and I’m not just saying this loosely. Thank you for the positivity that you’re putting out in the world. Thank you for the togetherness that you’re putting out the world. It’s okay that we, I know the term coach or whatever can sometimes be weird, but you really are helping individuals. And I’m just so glad that you’re on my team and we are on the same side. 

Leisse

Yeah, likewise. How can people find you and connect with you what’s the best place or best place to reach you.

Tyler

Instagram is always fun because there you will probably get some of the weird things. Like me posting about a cat, my friend’s cat. Thats @thetylermerrittproject. Facebook is probably the biggest community where people will come together and really kind of give their thoughts because it’s really more of a commentary place. You can just find me there, The Tyler Merritt Project. And then on Twitter, it’s @TTMProject. And then on YouTube as well, YouTube, I don’t use as much really, because I purposely set out with Tyler Merritt Project to make everything accessible. So I didn’t want you to have to go to just one place or wherever you take, you know, your social media in, is where you can probably find me on some level. And I want to say I, one of the reasons why I was so super excited to do this podcast is because I know you have your own community of individuals. And I say this to the people in my community often is I am so glad that we found each other. And I don’t say that loosely. I am so glad in this life, and we’re able to connect with more people. And if someone from this podcast does come by and find my social media, please message me and say hello, and tell me that you’re a friend of Leisse. Because if you are then now you are a friend of mine.

Leisse

Oh, that’s fantastic. Thank you so much. And enjoy your day.

Tyler

Thank you Leisse, thank you.

 

You can find Tyler Merritt online at: 

YouTube Channel

Before You Call The Cops

The Talk

The Playlist

Have questions? Comment? Enjoyed this episode? Want to connect with me on social media?  Wahoo!

Instagram: @leissewilcox

Website: leissewilcox.ca

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