My Biggest Misconception

This may sound ridiculous, I hope it doesn’t coz every pore already oozes absurdity, but I always believed that after a certain age a certain invisible switch would be magically flipped and “adulthood” would sssslide in smooth as an eel (unlike me in them DMs).

I always thought that when I became a father I wouldn’t think like I do now. After all my wise father isn’t really the same person in his mind as he was pre-marriage surely? Right?

Ahem, turns out – THAT IS NOT THE CASE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! What made the realisation dawn on me was what I thought to be an innocuous conversation had after talking about my 90 year old grandfather and the Liberation War:

Joe: If there was a war between Zimbabwe and… Zambia for example, would you pack up your bags and take Kim and Mom to safety in a neighbouring country, or would you stay and fight?

Dad: I’d join the army… the Zambian army 😀

Classic dad joke. This plus numerous other exchanges raced through my mind and BOOM. Nuclear bomb went off in my mind. The first mental lightbulb in ages it seems.

Now that I know it was a massive misconception, looking at my father I’m supremely impressed… and looking at myself, I’m very worried 😀

Thank you for your time:)

 

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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!)

Filled to the Brim

I am overwhelmed.

Simply passed by me like a rose petal floating in the wind you did.

My long dead nose hunted down your scent; hungry for your soul.

The centre of my being became tethered to your own.

Fetus-like I clung to you for life.

Your joy became my elation.

Your disdain became my grief.

All my life – callous and vain

Drinking from your cup I’ve done

Merrily, uncaringly, sloshing about till my garments were drenched.

But in this drunken state I finally see…

– Hence –

If everyone has a cup of love to give

The one I give to you is filled to the brim.

P.S. It feels great to write love letters for people you’re infatuated with.

Writing letters of appreciation to a family that’s loved you all your life feels even better.

Thank you for your time 🙂

Everyday Is Mother’s Day

I think about my birth, my gift of life gave you pain,

I think about the people in my life… some leave me but you always remain,

Even when I am your source of grief my joy is at the top of your list.

Even if you are cold to the bone, keeping me warm you cannot resist.

You’re the epitome of sacrifice, a close definition of love.

When I see you being selfless I see that there really is God above.

I see Him perform His acts through you,

As you care for me and my sister too.

Through being human, through being emotionally blind,

I had failed to see the truth, I had shutters on my mind,

But through some miracle, through some inexplicable event,

I finally see what I was supposed to see-something even my ignorance couldn’t prevent.

You are a rare gem, you are a bright beacon in a storm of darkness,

You are my favourite poem-all of you, including your bluntness.

All of my success I owe to you and your perseverance,

I owe it to your love, your attention, your constant vigilance.

Your prayers were not in vain;

I will be worth all that pain!

Through what won’t come , through what may,

By your side, Mom, I’ll forever remain.

PS This is a re-post from before I had a blog but it still applies perfectly

Thank you for your time 🙂

The Best Landlady

Hey there. It’s me your former tenant; remember?

I used to live in your place 21 years ago.

I’ve just come back to say thanks again.

I’m more grateful for your care than you’ll never know.

 

I was broke without a penny to my name.

The warmth you offered to this day is unrivalled.

Offering me your inner room without shame.

Prepared for me long before my arrival.

 

You fed me well too.

All free of charge!

As a former tenant of your womb.

I can confirm you are the best landlady.

 

 

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.