Personality

My dear readers. That “target” I talked about in my last post has been completed, mostly. As my thanks for reading my posts and giving me positive feedback I have decided to give you a little excerpt from one of the 17 pieces I’ve written. I laughed a lot while reading this, I hope you do too. Be inspired!


PERSONALITY

Alright, let’s do this.

You’re gonna fail.

No I’m not.

Jack looked around to check if anyone was nearby. He didn’t want anyone to witness what he was about to do in case it went awry. Private embarrassment he could take – but public humiliation was a whole other matter. He was pleased to see that no one else was in the cafeteria. Most people didn’t come to school during the summer break. They had lives to live and parents with lots of money to spend… or not, and instead they had to work odd jobs to help their family put bread on the table. Jack hated it when his thoughts went off track like this. It wasn’t his fault but he hated himself for it.

Focus!

With sweaty palms he slowly approached his long-term crush, the beautiful brunette called Emily. “Hey Emily,” Jack muttered as if half-afraid she would actually hear him.

Emily looked up from her book, a collection of short stories by O. Henry. She seemed puzzled, “Hey… sorry, do I know you?”

HAHAHA!

“Shut UP!”

Excuse me?” Emily did not sound pleased at all.

“Sorry… I wasn’t talking to you. I mean – hey, we are in the same Chemistry class. The Mad Cow is our teacher?” When he noticed her confused expression, one that easily gave away the fact that his words didn’t ring a bell, his soul was crushed. Jack nervously fidgeted with his spectacles. “I sit next to you. We’re lab partners.” Was he that unnoticeable?

“Oh… you! Hey! What’s up?” Emily smiled the awkwardness away, or tried to. Unfortunately for her, Jack had noticed that she hadn’t even used his name. She really didn’t know him at all. “How are you?”

“I’m alright actually. How are you?”

“I’m good…” she responded, curious to see where Jack was directing the conversation.

Awkward silence prevailed.

Aren’t you going to say something?

“It sure is very hot in the summer!”

Oh my God! What is wrong with me?

“I guess that’s how the season was differentiated from winter.” Emily smiled then glanced at her novel as if she was itching to read it again.

“I read O. Henry too. He is a brilliant writer.”

She perked up at that. “He’s amazing isn’t he? A shame he’s not around to write more stories.”

Happy to see a renaissance in the conversation Jack exuberantly exclaimed, “A real shame!”

And that was it. That was all he could say to his crush. The conversation didn’t go nearly as well as he’d hoped it would but there was no redeeming the situation because Emily had already started packing her bags.

“Well it was a real nice chat dude. I gotta go now. Stay awesome!”

Jack’s heart thumped like a rock band’s drums in the middle of a solo. Emily thought he was awesome!

You know she just said that because she’s nice right? Otherwise from that incredibly awful exchange even I would disown you.

You talk too much…

TO BE CONTINUED…

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Education

Education is a key component in life – education is all important.

My parents managed to hammer this point home from before I could run. “Ayanda Joe Munikwa,” they would say, “you are a wise and intelligent young boy and if you apply your mind you will make it in life.” They haven’t ever stopped repeating those words… I haven’t stopped believing them.

Why do I consider education to be all important? Other than having been brought up with this ideology being drilled into me at school and at home nearly every waking hour – why would it matter? My hero, Nelson Mandela, considered education to be of prime importance and it is easy to see why. All of the things we do and hope to achieve require some form of education and life-threatening situations may have education called upon as well. For example: During the December (2014) holidays I had an encounter that I believe I will never forget. A young boy had been swimming in a hotel pool and his parents allowed themselves to become distracted by other things, after all, the young boy had floaters attached to him and the pool was nearly full of children. A few minutes later shouts erupted from the pool area and they found that the boy had been upended in the water and had silently drowned amidst all of those people. That was not where education came in. No one at the scene knew CPR. No one. The lifeguard, as his post was usually boring and he was only very rarely called upon, was drunk in some obscure corner of the hotel. That young boy died that night, had I known how to administer CPR at that time he would be living today, instead I left his life in the hands of a lifeguard who was not in complete command of all of his senses. I see that boy’s numb, lifeless face every time I near a pool.

-Excerpt from my Personal Statement (2015)

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People Help the People

Birdy’s song is not as iconic as many songs past, but the chorus sticks like young Joe did to a video game controller.

‘People Help the People…’

I think human pride can be a good thing in that it can be a motivator to achieve goals beyond the norm. Unfortunately it often goes hand-in-hand with the idea that, “I can go it alone”. As social creatures we were never designed to live that way and if we did (in the not so distant past) it would normally mean death.

I’ve been doing some reflection. I’ve met a myriad of people in these last couple of years. Some have formed strong bonds with me and others came into my life just to leave it. I’m sure the same can be said of myself at times, I’ve mastered the art of going MIA, I’m working on it. However, I strongly believe that in each and every one of these individuals was something I could have – should have picked up to better myself. (Even removing that selfish aspect, it allows you to look at people with respect and reduces contempt.) Upon reflection it’s so easy to see what I may have missed in the moment.

In a short space of time I’ve met characters with such trememdous self belief and honesty, organisation and vision, creativity and drive, humility and confidence, intelligence and wisdom that if I were to start naming names you’d call it flattery… But it would all be true. Certainly the opportunity was there to glean into their character and see what produced such awesome traits, then develop them for myself. In hindsight, simply asking some of them would have sufficed.

Luckily for me, memory and attention to detail (regarding people stalking :D) allows me to reflect and learn regardless, but the next time I’m in a room with someone I’ll do my best to learn something from them to better myself.

I challenge you to do the same. You never know how much that one thing you pick up may impact your life positively. Let the chorus ring out. Let ‘People Help the People’.

Thank you for your time:)

Talent Working Hard

D! That was my average in Art. I eventually got better to the point my teacher mistook one of my drawings, of a robot – for a lion. I was so terrible I had to label my art, else-wise it wouldn’t be understood. I drew cars in high school the same way I’d drawn them when I was 6… the upgrades arrived 12 years too late 😀 To say I was bad at drawing or painting is an understatement. I had no talent whatsoever.

If you didn’t know me then you’re about to find out; I was an incredibly sore loser! Joe wasn’t comfortable with his fluctuating D grade (normally trending closer to E than C). It was embarrassing to the point I disowned myself (as seen by the temporary switch to 3rd person). Sure I’d often act like I didn’t give a tosh in front of the boys but deep down it really hurt. That awful grade would have an adverse effect on my class position come end of term and even if it didn’t – it just doesn’t feel nice to fail. It never does.

So, I worked! One day we were given an assignment to do over the weekend. That day I told myself, “This time I won’t fail!”

The assignment was to draw a hanging cloth using pencil. I was incredibly stoked about it having made my decision to (finally) succeed in the Art department. Art had given me way too many Ls. I got myself one of the kitchen cloths and hung it from a nail in the wall (fitting for it was designed to hang art upon). I duly informed everyone in the household of the importance of this piece of work and that the cloth should not be moved under any circumstances. I guess there was a steeliness to me at the time for no one questioned me or even so much as sneezed in the direction of that cloth.

Two whole days! Half of Friday, all of Saturday and part of Sunday I spent honing my image of the cloth. Carefully caressing the edges and smoothly shading in the shadows. At the end of it I don’t think I’d never been prouder of anything in my life up to that point. My young sister was impressed by something I’d produced for the first (and perhaps last) time. Coincidentally (or is it?) she’s now the artist of the family and a bloody fantastic one at that I must add.

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(This isn’t it by the way. It’s the first thing I was drawn to when I searched ‘hanging cloth pencil’)

Monday arrived and it was nearly time to hand in our bodies of work. A friend, Felix was his name (I guess still is unless he’s changed it), was mid-conversation during break time, some 20 minutes before the Art lesson, when someone mentioned the homework that was due. “Oh no,” he said. He hadn’t done it. I was feeling real smug as he went about scrambling for a sheet of white paper to use, eager to show off my masterpiece.

Long story short – I got 89%. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was a masterpiece. I’d worked my socks off, paying immense attention to detail. I can’t recall a time prior where I’d put as much effort into anything that wasn’t leisure than I had during that period. The people that knew me were shocked. Phrases like: “You didn’t draw this, did you?” and “Wow. Must have been a fluke.” were bandied about. I had the highest mark in the class IN ART! Me! Unbelievable right? That was the case, especially because that was factually incorrect. I had the highest mark of everyone whose assignment I’d compared my work to. To my astonishment Felix had received the highest mark. 90%… The man had natural talent I instantly concluded. “Impossible!” I exclaimed internally, heart being sliced apart with a metaphorical weed hacker and whatever was left behind put through a figurative shredder. Maybe I do him a disservice and there were an untold number of hours behind the scenes that led to him having such obvious skill, but he had bested all of us – me especially I felt – in 15 min without a point of reference. The man’s cloth hung on a nail inside his head. It’s not like Art is a subject about competing but I was a sore loser remember. I therefore became incensed. I was so angry I wasn’t even mad.

This event got me thinking for a long time. What if he had actually tried, like I had? Wouldn’t he have gotten an even higher mark? I was speechless. The saying goes “Hard Work Beats Talent, When Talent Doesn’t Work Hard”. That didn’t turn out to be the case in this story. But what if talent DOES work hard? What happens then?

I guess this is just a reminder of a previous post , only this time in story form. Find your talent then work hard at it. I don’t know what he does now but if he’s anything like the talented individuals that worked their socks off in the past – we’ll soon find out because he’ll be well-known all around the world.

Thank you for your time:)

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(I guess this is a good representation of what I saw Felix’s assignment as through my filter of envy 😀 gg Felix!)

This Is Me

“I am who I’m meant to be, this is me.”

There’s a reason ‘This Is Me’ won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. I believe that as humans there’s an innate desire to find our purpose. That identity is one of the fundamentals in this pursuit. In this universe, with 7.2 billion others, we seek something, some point for our existence – to set us apart. But it’s incredibly easy to lose sight of that goal.

Distractions can come in any form. By definition a distraction “is something that prevents you from concentrating on a goal”. And concentration is “the ability or power to focus all one’s energy and attention”.

Unfortunately something as grand as finding, let alone achieving your purpose can’t be done if you allow yourself to be distracted. A sin I’ve definitely been committing myself.

If you want to sing this beautiful song with as much gusto as I do, it’s about time you shed the distractions and focus. Then you’ll stand out from the rubble like you were always meant to, singing: “This Is Me!

Thank you for your time:)

Thanks For Teaching Me How To Love

“How?” he asks beyond incredulous at this point. “You’ve seen the statistics, you watch the news, you talk to you people, your friends, clients, classmates… So tell me, how? How can you be so naïve? Why do you still believe? It just doesn’t work.”

My answer?

“Ah… but it does. I’ve seen it.”

I’m sure you know the saying: monkey see monkey do. I’ll be the last to call myself a monkey but kids do learn a lot from seeing their parents/guardians in action. I will have you know, this guy’s been doing a lot of seeing, this guy’s been doing a lot watching – when your guard was up or when it was down. I was listening when the words were smooth. I was listening even when annoyance had long barged in. I was learning – I still am – how one ought to love and how one ought to accept being loved.

As your son I’d like to utter words that might seem odd to you now but ring true nonetheless. You’ve done a stellar job! Thank you… and I’m so proud of you. I need look no further for a greater example of how I want my marriage to be. Yes the journey is still ongoing but you’ve done real good so far, hontou ni (there’s that Japanese becoming useful). Obviously this is from my selfish point of view but I hope you keep it up… so your grandkids can learn this lesson from me, their mom… and from you too.

It’s because of you that I can say these words with ease and with meaning. I love you 🙂

So… to my heroes, to my parents, to my inspiration –

Happy anniversary

Courage Born From Disobedience aka I Used To Be Afraid Of The Dark

Fears… phobias are just a few of the things we often keep close to our hearts. We don’t like to talk about them for fear others will ridicule us or worse, use the knowledge against us. Fear is a powerful thing; it’s enough to start entire revolutions – or stifle them. Fear can win wars or lose them. And yet sometimes the smallest thing can help spark the courage you need to overcome that fear. I used to be afraid of the dark. “Used to be” because I’m not anymore. In fact, anyone who knows me knows I now prefer a dark room and night time to day time. All for one simple, ridiculous reason.

From the 7th grade onwards I developed an insatiable appetite for reading. This was a localised fascination, it had to be fantasy (and largely still is) simply because of the creativity it inspired within me. *I’ll discuss how I became fond of reading in tomorrow’s post.* However high school loomed and the work grew more intense. I would no longer have the countless hours to pore though fantasy and science fiction novels the size of dictionaries day in, day out. I had to be realistic. This is what my parents told me.

“Focus on school, read the books later.”

Now I know what you’re thinking. This post is about fear of the dark, what does it have to do with reading novels and high school? Firstly let me rephrase the term “fear of the dark”. I possessed (especially in my younger years) a quite incredible imagination as often is the case with youth. All I needed was space and time to create whatever universe my whims led me to. I only fell just short of the imagination Oscar for never having had an imaginary friend. I had an imaginary army but never the one friend who would take up space at the table etc for that would have been near suicidal. It was this intense imagination coupled with the housekeeper’s fascination with horror movies, ones I had to watch with her at all costs, that made me fear the dark for a long time… yes even into my teens.

So I would sleep with the light on. “I need to read,” was the typical response. It wasn’t nearly as intense as the phobia I wrote about earlier in my blog though. So long as I was already in bed with my eyes shut, I’d have been fine. But that was rarely the case so the light stayed on… until I was told to stop reading novels at night. I had to wake up early in the morning since my bus to school left at 0630. Immediately my mind went into detective mode because the love for reading was too great to let go instantaneously, much less for something as mundane as waking up on time for school. How to beat the system? That’s what I pondered for a few hours at most. The answer finally came.

“Good night. I’m going to sleep.”

Then I would switch off my light, proof that I was actually sleeping… only to go into my  blankets, produce my latest novel from under the pillow and switch on my Nokia’s torch. This is how I read Stephenie Meyer’s ‘New Moon’ in one night. I did this often enough that the fear of the dark evaporated. I needed the dark for me to do what I loved; read. And I read. I went through 6 to 8 books a month this way. In a school of 700 students the librarian new my name and would set aside new books for me to devour. So repetitive and exciting was the new habit that even my study habits tweaked to accommodate this mindset so that even now I’m extremely productive in the hours from late evening to early morning.

And that’s it. I told my parents about it a while ago and they had a laugh. It was silly beyond belief. But one can’t deny that it got rid of an unnecessary, hindering fear… even if it may have replaced it with a less than necessary habit. The young man no longer feared the dark… he was just borderline useless early in the morning.

Good Pain

From the balls of my feet to the nape of my neck is a low-burning sensation. With each motion (more likely attempted motion) the flames are stoked and burn brightly. My limbs have been rendered near useless. I feel as if my bones have transformed into jelly – my muscle fibres into marshmallow. Sitting up my lower back screams at me, crying tears of sweat for the slowest motion. As I lie down again my calves beg for relief. Just one session of parkour, “just a taster” they said and I feel I’ve had my fill for seven generations. And yet I absolutely loved it. I’m no masochist but I’ve never felt better. Each step takes more effort than the last. At times I feel as though I’m one hundred years older; putting on clothes or getting out of bed feel like impossible tasks. But each time I manage to do something, even the really simple things, the euphoria kicks in. I have gained a greater appreciation for every part of my body – because at long last I now feel every part of that body. Oh it’s pain alright… but it’s so damn good… it’s good pain.

Perhaps I should have listened to myself and one funny brunette I know. Maybe I should frequent the best place for my body, the secret the world would love to hear about; in her own words: “Gym!” 

Or maybe I’ll go back to the parkour session next week. Maybe I’ll shake off the cobwebs in my underused muscles and awaken them with a sweet, sweet dose of good old pain.

Man O’ My Word aka Be My Hammer, I’ll Be Your Thor

Dear Blog,

 

Hey you! Yes you! Haven’t you heard?

You can count on me – I’m a man o’ my word.

And you’ll believe it, coz I’ve said it, then it’s gotta be true.

You won’t believe me? Fine then – believe you!

You say it more than I do, I know it sounds absurd.

“Ayanda Joe Munikwa, you’re a man o’ your word!”

 

Maybe if we say it enough times it’ll finally happen.

Coz the sheer number of promises I’ve been snapping is amazing!

Now I’m not making excuses, I put that PhD to the side.

I laid down my pride and decided I wouldn’t ever lie.

Even if it’ll save me trouble later, better to stay humble now.

I don’t want to stumble so I’ll mumble, goo goo gaga, ciao.

 

In the future, even now, trust is gold.

So I’m sorry I’ve been missing truth be told.

I said I’d take care of you. I didn’t even forget!

The truth of it is I just chose to neglect…

 

But I’m a man o’ my word. That’s what we said!

So I think it’s time we finally prepared,

For a rollercoaster ride like never before!

Where you will be my hammer and I’ll be your Thor!

Love,

Joe