Creativity: End In Style

I rate all stories I read based on the prevailing feelings at the end. If I don’t feel anything or if I feel frustrated that I had wasted my time – that goes down as a bad book or even a bad series in my eyes. Some books can be mediocre for the most part then have an absolutely banging conclusion. I believe anyone who wants to write a compelling piece (if your readers are anything like me) should put a lot of thought into the ending. Avoid at all costs putting an expected ending (unless the entire plot is meant to be predictable and produce cozy feelings i.e a ride more than destination kinda book) as this may leave a reader like myself pondering why they even bothered picking up the book in the first place. Also – no cliffhangers, please? Open endings are fine but a cliffhanger is the most cruel form of torture one can conspire (aside from any other kind of real torture).

To keep it short, if you’re going to end a story, why not end it in style?

The Pit

Nobody likes the pit. It isn’t a pleasant place to be in, but when you look back more often than not you’ll have a different perspective of the pit. The pit isn’t always an intended destination, but it can turn out to be for your good. The pit is the place where despair and desperation marry, their union seeks to take control of your life and smother you with their baby, depression… if you overcome this trio however, the pit will be where your character is built and you develop the traits required for you to flourish when you achieve what was once thought impossible. If you let it, the pit will weed out all of your shortcomings and jumpstart your transformation to being that man or woman you aspire to be.

One of my favourite true stories involves a bragging annoying teenager who was loved by his father above all his many brothers. He was egotistical and vain and would often share what he envisioned himself becoming, demeaning his siblings in the process. What did they do when the favourite child’s pride became too much for them? They threw him into a pit and told their father that he’d gone missing. In the pit the arrogant teen’s pride was instantly stripped away, replaced by a deep appreciation of life and everything that he had and a realisation of the value of others. In the pit he stopped envisioning things falling into his laps and developed a mentality of discipline and hard work steeped in iron-wrought principles that would not bend under intense pressure. It was in the pit that the metamorphosis he needed for his visions to come true occurred and years later when he was promoted to be the most important man on earth, the pride he had prior did not destroy him. On top of that he went on to forge an unbreakable, genuinely positive bond with his siblings. The pit gave him humility and the ability to forgive. That guy was called Joseph.

So the next time you find yourself in the pit, a pit you could have fallen into because of your own ignorance or poor decisions; or one where you might just be a victim of circumstances, look up and grasp the image of the sky above knowing that…

the time in the pit could be what propels you way above the clouds, far beyond the stratosphere to leave you dancing among the stars.

This marks the conclusion to the Individuality series. I will definitely return here once I’ve completed reading ‘Slight Edge’ and implementing more of these techniques in my own life. See you tomorrow for the start of the Creativity series.

Slave Or Friend

Approach me slowly.

Hush – don’t rush.

Breathe softly.

Your tongue whips out…

Yet you obey me.

Good girl! But…

 

That was never my mission!

I created a slave!

By commission or omission?

You dug your own grave!

It wasn’t my decision…

Then…

 

You finally misbehave!

You break my vase!

So you’re not a slave?

I’m so mad – I rave!

But…

 

I won’t raise my hand.

I won’t raise my voice.

You’re my only friend.

You’re my only choice.

 

You walk with me to the park.

You’re my best friend.

You comfort me with your bark.

Yes… Together! ‘Til the very end!

 

I love you Fluffy.

 

A Smashing Night

Conversation via Facebook one day after party.

Boy: It was nice getting to know you… till you absolutely crashed that is ūüėā

Girl: Hahahaha life! ‚̧ It was nice to meet you too… any chance you know where my phone went?

Boy: LOL! I mean… oh no! Sorry I have no idea where it went. Hopefully it’s still got battery. What’s your number?

Girl: Haha! Unfortunately I don’t know my number ūüė¶

Boy: What… oh I was only asking so I could call your phone and see if anyone would answer. (basically implying: I didn’t mean, “What’s your number?” like that.) Hopefully you didn’t throw it at the party-goers downstairs ūüėā

Girl: People have tried calling my phone haha… I know we were a bit high up. Wait… did I try and jump?

Boy: Several times! We had to hold you back – you animal.

Girl: OMG!

Boy: ūüėā

Girl: What else did I do?

Boy: Well for one thing your timing was always superb. Just after joking about your life being a wreck you crashed to the floor literally a second after finishing your sentence. There was also flower pot, key word being was, till you got your hands on it.

Girl: OMG! Why? That’s crazy.

Boy: Hahahaha yeah. That was only the tip of the iceberg.

Girl: Wait there’s more?

Boy: Oh yeah! You did this weird thing where you sort of crouched down like you were doing squats using your behind to balance on every sturdy object. You did so on every wall, the fridge, the radiator… it was kind of like you were marking your territory.

Girl: Ahahahaha I can’t.

Boy: The more you drank the more easily distracted you were. I barely got two words out of you before you disappeared to mark new territory somewhere out of sight. XD

Girl: Ahahahaha OMG! As long as I was still nice.

Boy: Your irises were all black. Your pupils were that dilated. Looking into your eyes was like staring into your soul.

(Aside: This makes me wonder, does this guy even know how to pull punches? Also is he implying that the girl has a black soul?)

But you were friendly and your loco self was adorable xD

(Ah so he CAN pull punches)

Girl: Did I do drugs?

Boy: Alcohol is a drug so technically, yes you did. But in the context of what you mean, no, I don’t think so. To be honest if you weren’t so friendly tempers may have flared.

Girl: I’m glad it wasn’t too awful then.

Boy: I did laugh my ass off though, so good first meeting. Stay safe.

Girl: Ahahahaha you too!

 

PS: I still need to practise fleshing out my female characters so I’ll be doing a lot of reading now. As well as actually talking to girls *gulp*

Rejected

“Unfortunately you’re not what we’re looking for at the moment.”

“You have shown great credentials but unfortunately you will not be…”

“You’re great but…”

No.

 

Rejection sucks!¬†There’s nothing like giving your best or opening yourself up only to have someone else decide you’re not good enough. Very few of us take rejection well, I’m definitely still learning and have a lot more to do but I’ve been given some advice that has helped make it easier. It’s still pretty damn hard though.

Rejection comes in all forms… maybe even literal ones. You apply for a job, scholarship, internship, raffle prize – and you’re told you won’t be receiving it. Sometimes you don’t even get that courtesy and you’re left guessing for ages until you figure out that it was a “no”. Humans don’t like hearing that, “no”. It hurts. How most people circumvent the painful feelings is by saying things like, “I never wanted it anyway.” or even “I’m too good for that place.” Although it may numb the heart a bit to the pain, this is one of the worst ways we can react. It is widely accepted that a key component of growth is,¬†ironically, acceptance. You know who reacts¬†badly when not getting what they want, every single time? Babies. As we grow we have to learn that sometimes things don’t always go our way. At some point in your life you will get rejected. #Fact

I guess rejection helps give life purpose. If you had everything at your disposal at all times, with no effort required – what would be the point? I know you’re probably saying “I’d rather have things fall on my lap all the time than feel the sting of rejection even once,” I sympathise with you even as I type this, but I believe it’s something programmed deep inside of us that makes us want to succeed and break barriers. How can you succeed when there is no competition, no opposition? What barriers are you breaking when everything goes your way instantly?

The good thing is this and I’ll ask that you hold on to it.

‘Rejection will let you know that you are aiming high enough’.

If everything is moving smoothly without a hitch then you aren’t extending yourself. It’s like going to the gym and doing a session with 50 g masses. It will be easy to do because it’s not hard for your body. The heavier the weight the more difficult it is to complete sets. You know you’re at your level when you can just about finish/fail to finish. Anything less is too lightweight for you. So rejoice for a little rejection, you’re in good company.

Then comes the matters of the heart. I so wish that love was a feeling that one could concoct in a pot and dish out at parties. I wish cupid actually existed and would shoot love arrows at whoever you aimed at. But that’s not how things work, those are just wishes.¬†Regarding this sensitive issue, there are several definitions of love. I have one that I think is consistent with how people that say they love each other act (or should act). Here it is:

Love is wanting to do what’s best for someone at all times. Love is a choice, not a feeling that just magically happens.

If love is a choice, if you have to choose to do the very best for someone at all times then surely you can choose not to? As beings of free will we deal with choices daily and therein lies the conflict. I could want to do the very best for you, always… sometimes you may even know it, but you just won’t have it. It’s your choice. You may be the best thing for said person in the whole wide world – but even though we know broccoli is really good for us, many¬†people still despise it.

So sometimes you will get rejected. If there’s anything you’re going to take from this blog post, take that! Everyone gets rejected. Even though you may feel like you’re alone – like your pain is your own and no one else feels like you do, the person you’re looking up to right now was rejected one way or another. This should help you to move on and try again with even more zeal, more enthusiasm. The feelings of pain and frustration, use ¬†them to motivate you so that you don’t feel the same way again. After rejection ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • “What is it I can improve?”
  • “Am I the reason for this rejection?”
  • “Is it worth trying again?”

The last one is a bit tricky but unfortunately sometimes we reach that crossroads when we need to know to let something go, especially when it comes to relationships. Human beings are stubborn creatures, sometimes they won’t budge no matter how much you shower them with love and attention. It’s funny how a majority of us are attracted to those who don’t care at all about us and sometimes don’t even acknowledge our existence yet there’s someone out there willing to love you as much as you’re willing to love your “crush”.

In the end, failure or rejection doesn’t define you. ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ It’s not that you were rejected that matters… It’s all about what you do after.

 

Fire & Ice

“You’re so beautiful.”

That’s how it always started. A thought. Simple, precise, never uttered by word-o’-mouth but conveyed via thought and somehow understood. I remember one dream I had, when I was around 14, quite vividly. I believe at that age I¬†had already reached the height of my creativity. It was perhaps the best time to write down plots to future books because the ideas bouncing around in my head back then were, I believe,¬†phenomenal. Of course writing them down would be considered a wise decision… so of course I never did follow through. Today I’ll recount as much as of the dream in this post as is enjoyable.

Stunning. That’s is how she appeared to me. A being of pure energy. Dazzled as I was somehow I wasn’t too overawed. I was caught between two states, of both wonder and serenity. Seeing her¬†made me realise my concept of beauty previously had a fixed volume in my head, a virtual box that contained all the amazing things in the universe. She shred this box to pieces, expanding outwards to unfathomable depths, gorgeous beyond even the scope of words in a thousand dictionaries. I could not describe to you how she appeared. She never looked the same for longer than a second as her appearance seemed to be in a constant state of flux. Her hair would grow long and hug her temple. It would caress her neck – it would disappear altogether – yet her appeal never diminished. She must have been slight for even though she exuded power and elegance there was a vulnerability that drew me towards her like bees are drawn to symmetry. Something within me yelled, “Protect her!” But I don’t think she ever needed it, or ever would – after all, she wasn’t human.

The moment flowed for an immeasurably. It could have been an instant – maybe I spent hours gazing at her – either way there was not a hint of discomfort between us. She gave off a powerful glow at the start, radiant like the sun at midday. It was bright out yet you the blue light emanating from her skin was blinding. I should not have been able to see her without shielding my eyes but I did, clearly I was pulling the strings to this dream. I immediately knew something was wrong when her radiance began to ebb. She was dying. How I came up with this conclusion only God knows but I knew she was and I instantly picked up the reason why.

Behind her falling towards us like a comet was an orange streak, a violent fireball with malicious¬†intent. I could feel the loathing seething off it’s dark red flames. The closer this comet grew towards her the dimmer she shone. I saw fear in those beautiful pale eyes though if you asked me what colour they were today I’d say “none and every”. It pierced my heart, that. I could not come to appreciate that look of fear, wouldn’t. I knew deep down that if I could shelter her from danger I would even if it cost me my life. Obviously I, being just a man, could not do so. In what rational world would a being of flesh and blood be the protector of one of pure energy? My mind saw the flawed logic and reconciled the impossibility by shedding off my skin and revealing a cool body beneath. There was a sizzling as my true form came into contact with the air for the first time. Ice. Ice colder than anything you can ever imagine; as tough as diamond, as fluid as honey – that is what hid beneath.

The rage from the comet intensified. Arms and legs extended out of the ball of fire that hurtled towards us. I could hear abusive yelling although I couldn’t perceive a mouth on the figure of flames as it tried to take me down. We hit. The collision was spectacular! A blast of steam and sound radiated out as we tumbled across an empty parking lot leaving dark streaks along the tarmac. Once on our feet rapid blows were exchanged. The fight was on.

The being of fire was kinetic.¬†He flew, rapidly, then swooped down like an eagle and swept flames like massive whips towards me. A “broad” range of emotions swirled across his face – namely ranging from rage to fury. He hurled fireballs towards me from all angles. He was fast… but I was cool. I slid across the surface, a coating of ice preceding me, staying on the ground the whole time. In my mind a being of ice cannot fly. Ice is dense, fire is not. Thick shields of ice rose up from the ground beneath me and the fire man pounded them with fireball after fireball until he realised he could not burst through. There was no way he was getting a scratch on her. Not on my watch, so he came for me instead, I – her protector. Like a peregrine falcon in for the kill he dived, gaining speed at an alarming rate. I stood my ground and increased the ice around my feet, encasing them, making myself immovable. No matter the consequence this would be the final action.

We collided once more. There was a resounding, bone-chilling whoosh as a thin film of chipped ice spread in all directions. In my hands was the being of fire, immobilised and slowly dying down, the cold stifling the heat… until he disintegrated with a sigh, one of relief. It seems like the being of fire didn’t like his role in my story, perhaps he was acting outside of his will. Either way it felt good. But that shallow feeling of victory was dwarfed by the sheer elation upon seeing the look of pure joy on her face. She was safe, bright and beautiful and that is all that mattered.

 

Inspired

It’s 21:33 as I write this in my room. I hear a train bouncing along train-tracks not too far away. Sweet music interspersed with footsteps somewhere down below. The singer has a male voice, not too incredible but soulful, passionate; more than enough to draw one’s attention… more than enough to make one wish to be musically gifted. Do you ever feel the same? Whenever I come into contact with someone displaying their talent I go through these 3 phases:

  1. I am awed.
  2. I appreciate them via word of mouth or internally.
  3. I become inspired.

That third bit is what I am going to talk about today.

Inspiration, motivation, stimulation, catalysis. My nerves just light up like fireworks whenever I hear that perfect score in a movie *note SpiderMan (Raimi) and Unlimited Blade Works*. I can feel the goosebumps crawl up my skin whenever I hear that pitch perfect voice. My pulse races when I reach the climax of that 1000+ paged fantasy novel I randomly picked up somewhere, or witness Lionel Messi score the winning goal in El Clasico. There’s just something about talented people working that energizes me…¬†and I love it!

I become a different person when I’m inspired, in my opinion a better person as well. I would strongly disagree with anyone who claims that I have an inferiority complex, quite the opposite I’m afraid, but I would understand the sentiment. I often do walk down the street thinking I’m not good enough. That’s because in my mind I’ve set this incredibly high bar of moments where I have felt magnificent, of a character whose personality embodies the very best of all of my traits. When I’m inspired I push this character through the monotonic self I sometimes clothe myself with. For example:

Someone: Hey how are you today?

Me: I’m good. How are you?

While you may see nothing wrong with that exchange inspired me would be absolutely appalled. Inspired me is instantly suave, honest, jovial, comedic, witty, compassionate, bold and a lot more. He refuses mediocrity and would rather be shut in a cell than be drab even for one second.

It’s crazy isn’t it? How watching something, listening to something can make one change their perspective so radically. It’s a sort of high that dies down with time but one I relish. This is why it’s important to note what you watch as well as what you listen to. Seeing someone do fantastic things makes me want to do everything to the best of my ability.

I watched Spiderman: Homecoming last night. It was raining and I would have missed the bus unless I ran for it. So I RAN. Inspired as I was I ran faster than at any point previously. I’ve never truly pushed myself on the track-field, why would I? My heart was never in it… But I ran for that bus and stressed every sinew to extend my stride. I could feel the thudding of my feet as they beat across the wet surface. I glided across the street and felt like how Bolt must have felt when he broke the record in Beijing ’08. I felt ecstatic, pulse-racing as I caught the bus. I was even content stepping out of it when I realised it was the right number bus but going in the wrong direction. Why? Because I was inspired.

My Baby

My blog, my baby… I haven’t really been taking care of it. At 21 years old it seems I’ve been a very bad parent. I haven’t taken care of the thing that I have treasured, something I have brought into this earth.

How can one be so irresponsible? Do I even have a heart? It is never ok for one to only care halfway; it is better not to have cared at all. Maybe it’s immaturity, maybe I had her too young… no. That can’t be it. Others have given birth to blogs a lot younger and done well. I cannot use my age as an excuse. Besides, as age goes, I am considered a man now, I cannot hide behind my age.

“Well she doesn’t love me back,” I think, “She doesn’t make it easy for me!”

Maybe if she fed my ego with more follows, likes and comments I’d tend to her daily. Maybe if she showed me a little more respect. HAH! That’s not good enough either. Taking care of a human baby is a pain. All they do is take… but babies know no better, it’s only when they are older that they even think about giving affection. So only when my baby is older will she give back my affection. All I can do is feed her – right now it’s all about what I can give to her. The fact that she’s even around should be enough for me to give her my attention, she’s mine! My baby… mine.

a flip switches in my mind

I don’t ever want to neglect you. Never again! I heard you crying and I ignored it. I chose to sleep instead… anything but be the responsible father I promised you I would be when I brought you into this world. Yet you kept on crying. Your soft whimpers drew me close once more; and here I am. Daddy’s back.

Look at the instant smile on your face! You’re giggling already? The sun breaks through the wall of clouds. My heart melts and I break down. You’ve already forgiven me in spite of days of neglect? If everyone was like you this world would be so much better than it is. Seeing you smile has given me life, your welcome has spurred me on. I will take care of you. I will no longer neglect you. So keep smiling baby girl! My baby… mine. Daddy’s back… and he’s here to stay.

My Second Most Embarrassing Moment

As penance for not going through with my daily posts I’ve decided to add this more personal one. If I don’t put up a daily post in the future I’ll post my most embarrassing moment to date. Hopefully that won’t be necessary.

PS This post ties in quite nicely to my last, so do check it out.

Occasion: Prize-giving Night/Ceremony.

Setting: First place at new school after having failed miserably during the first couple of months of ‘integration’.

Location: Eaglesvale Preparatory School, Harare, Zimbabwe

Time: Sometime after 6 pm (which is usually full on night time in Harare.)

The night had gone better than planned. I felt immensely proud of my achievement and I was happy to note that I had brought joy to my parents as well as my little sister. Can you imagine that she elected to sit on my lap throughout the proceedings? That was really adorable, wasn’t it? Now she’s far too tall and old to do so without breaking my hipbone. Sitting to my right was the second placed student, Ruva was (I should probably say is unless she changed names) her name. She was giggling the whole time, something I guess I’d long attributed to her nature. If something was funny she’d let those around her know it, a redeemable trait if you asked me (at the time).

If you read my last post then you’ll understand why I was elated. I was beyond ecstatic on the night and the excitement I felt was just waiting for the right person then it would burst out of me… I could feel it bubbling throughout the ceremony, just waiting to erupt.

The proceedings kept the students winning prizes segregated from the main student body as well as their parents. So I would only be seeing mine (possessive pronoun because I love them) when they got to the car. Parents would have tea and cake, refreshments of all sorts waiting for them… students would have to find out where the cars were parked and wait there, in the dark.

I found the car. Mitsubishi Chariot, huge thing, especially to a ten year old version of myself – one who hadn’t encountered SUVs before. I waited in the dark¬†for my parents to come so I could give them both hugs and share squeals of delirious delight.¬†Then I saw my mother approaching, in the dark, and ran to her like a wild animal let out of it’s cage for the first time in years.

“Mommy! I…”

I’m sure you get it now… It wasn’t my mother I’d run towards… It wasn’t my mother who had witnessed me screaming gleefully… No, it wasn’t my mother… It was Ruva’s! And boy did she laugh.

I can hear it even now, eleven years on. I feel if there was an escalator between heaven and earth the people at the top would have been trembling from the shockwaves of her laughter. I’m sure that even in the vacuum of space it could be heard. So loud and genuine was her laugh that it shattered all of my ego. My large, proud head was brought down to size and then some. Oh – to top it off, her Mom giggled too…

To this day I don’t know why I reacted the way I did. Maybe I could have kept my cool better? But I was 10 and this was a major achievement for several reasons. Ruva’s mother was a bit on the plump and short side, especially in the dark. In 2006 my mother fit that profile. It was also dark and they were walking towards me. But I’d made a massive mistake. Before today only four people knew about it. The three that took part included. Only one of them remembers it vividly. (Unless I have DID/MPD.)

After the whole debacle, the next day even, I was told that they’d seen me make my way to the car and had wanted to congratulate me on my first place award. That obviously didn’t happen as planned. Completely bewildered by the awkward proceedings, Ruva’s mother found it best to abruptly change direction and her daughter and she went to the car using a different route.

“Ndiye Ayanda akangwara wacho iyeyu?” she asked incredulously as Ruva’s earth-shuddering cackle FINALLY subsided. This loosely translates to, “This is the genius you were telling me about? Really? This guy?” Only to have her daughter start laughing again.

Needless to say everytime I talk to my friend I recall this meeting. Thankfully she doesn’t bring it up (too often). It may have happened over a decade ago but it still ranks second on my list of embarrassing moments.

 

 

An Example Of Excellent Parenting

This is why I cannot accept defeat in failure

In the summer of 2006 (normally winter in the northern hemisphere) my parents attended their first Parent – Teacher Consultation at my new school. I’d moved a few months prior and had just received the worst report card in my, then short, academic life. Their response to the ordeal they faced is just one of many reasons why I feel blessed to be their son.

The backdrop of the story is this. I’d previously attended a government run school for the first four years of my primary education. Consisting of nearly fifty students a class it was quite competitive at the top end. Yet with their influence, great teaching and, I believe, some natural talent (as well as ‘luck’) a young Ayanda Joe Munikwa came top of the class on three separate occasions in the four years I was there. The joy of my first prize giving ceremony will come later, maybe tomorrow? ¬†We’ll see. Anyway I’d been moved to a private school. My parents had invested a great deal of money because they wanted what was best for me. Personally in their shoes I would have bought a new car, tv or something; but not them. They did this only to see me failing at nearly everything I touched. I was below mediocre. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was so confused at the time I thought “dictionary” and “diary” were synonymous (story filed for yet another day). It seemed like nothing was going according to plan.

So with all this having occurred, my parents dressed smartly for the Consultation. If you thought I was a fish out of water, you should have seen their more than slightly nervous expressions as they exchanged looks. They looked gorgeous by the way, no bias. Anyway they headed in to the classroom at their appointed time to meet my teacher; The One Who Shall Not Be Named.

I’m sure you picked up the Voldermort link. I still talk to one of my closest friends, who was in the same class with me back then, about him. Maybe it was the stress of twenty odd kids looking fresh faced and seeming not to understand anything. Or maybe it was the stress of the impending inflation that was even then gnawing at every working adult’s pockets. Maybe he was just naturally bitter and mean. But boy did he love taking it out on us and anyone he came across. His personality was as blunt as his face, but I appreciate him now because even he has turned around. (A story for ANOTHER day)

The man I spoke of above was the man they were going to meet. I was convinced he hated me. When they came back and told me what he had said I was even more convinced. Apparently I was “beyond help” and, to put it bluntly, “stupid”. He was also perplexed as to how I passed the entrance exam in the first place. I was apparently one of his worst students. While they recounted his words I could see in their eyes two things, pain being one of them. But even deeper, even at that young age I could see it, the second thing,¬†resolution.

“I know you. You’re my intelligent boy! My genius! Maybe you didn’t do so well this time but I trust you more than I trust this teacher. Final exams are coming up. Go show them what you’re made of.”

I didn’t cry in their presence, even then I tended not to do that. But I did when I was alone in my room afterwards. Then I made a conscious decision to kick ass in school, prove my parents right and my teacher wrong.

Needless to say I came first. Every year for the next three years of my primary school education. Even when they introduced streaming in the sixth grade where the “top students” from both classes were merged into a separate class. Oh I also broke their (then) recent record for the National Exam. This isn’t me just mollycoddling my ego, this is just to prove a point. None of those meagre achievements would have been possible if my parents had chosen to withdraw their love and support.

Sure there are different ways to approach the problem – the problem of my plummeting grades after sending me to a supposedly better school. But I believe they chose the right way, not only because of the exam results that followed but because of the opinion of them that was formed in my mind that day… one I still hold to this very day. And one I hope to inspire in my own children in the future.