From Venus…

Standard

Admittedly, resentment and bitterness only hurt oneself, so I may be a little bit unsteady but I’m still holding on because I don’t think He’s done with me yet. I’m not capitulating as I watch but it seems like something is unraveling and I just might have the power to slow it down because inevitability cannot be stopped. It’s mother’s day and the least I can do is share the memories we made together that I’ll forever cherish till we meet again. There’s some irony in God’s playbook because He made man from dust and woman from man’s bone. Now metallurgy not required, we undeniably rely on fact that bone is stronger than dust but there again in full display is our inability to grasp divinity.

It’s been close to 2years since you got called home however your legacy still lives on. Everything I am today, I owe to you in some way. I recall rolling my eyes when you inexplicably went into the tale of my childbirth to my friends but that’s the beginning of just how amazing you were because you made a choice, you had me. I tell people that I wasn’t your favorite but despite that, you poured your entire being into raising all 7 of us, 3 of us felt your ire directly however, that’s why I could contribute in those after me and that’s how I am the father I’ve become, ill-health or not. So thank you, because raising 6 sons is not a feat for the faint hearted especially when you factor in the cities we lived and grew up in.

We have always been dog-lovers but as a young kid, you bought me a night shirt that I still remember and it had the picture of a cat with the words, ‘I’m just PURR-FECT!’. That in itself marked the choices I made and still make because nobody’s perfect but I strove to be as close to it as I could because you showed me how. You taught me to acknowledge that I was in charge of my life’s story; you taught me to believe in myself. Nothing couldn’t be surmounted as long as I believed in myself and today, I pass that message to the next generation. You had your own flaws but when it came to us, you laid it all out and even though you banned fighting at home, I still got into it outside because the streets crush the feeble and I will never describe or be described as feeble.

You bought me my first tie, even though it was to placate me and little did I know that wearing ties would be a signature. My childhood pictures are replete with images of me in bow ties and I look at them today and appreciate the big picture you saw of me even then. Dining was a formal affair especially dinner because you had already committed to teaching even before motherhood and so dinner was always a family affair. With you, there was no defined roles determined by gender and I’m thankful for that. Notwithstanding the fact that we grew up with house helps, you always said, “I will never raise up another’s child to the detriment of mine” and so there was no distinction between what I or the house help could do. It was confusing back then but now I understand.

You took me to purchase my first pair of grown-up shoes (driving was still years away), standing by the side while I made my selection knowing there was a budget to abide by. And when peer pressure came, you never buckled because you taught me that it was more important to be different and true rather than being part of the crowd. You taught me that contentment and self-esteem was a choice, because the road less traveled was usually the better route to take. You taught me to treat ladies with respect even before I had a sister, a trait that’s fast disappearing in today’s world. Chivalry is still as important and more needed today where the battle of self-identity has been flipped on its head; what’s right is right regardless of time.

You took the time (how?, just another pointer to who you were) to teach me driving at 15, intricately weaving in the need to be responsible at the same time. Reading your crime magazines ensured that I could deal with fear and also understand that the heart of man is desperately wicked. Striving for excellence, I knew you were in the auditorium when I got my first award/scholarship as a freshman in high school, because even though I didn’t see you, I could hear your car keys jingle each time you applauded – that was your thing; wearing your car keys on your pinkie. Your ability to effectively utilize the network (and undervalued profession) of teachers ensured that I sought the straight and narrow even when the exuberance of youthfulness came calling with whispered lies and well conceived folly. You were strict and harsh when the occasion called for it and just the memory of the last ‘whupping’ was enough to keep the foolishness away for a season.

You nudged me to understand that salvation was important and essential, making my personal walk with God a decision I made entirely on my own. Acknowledging that there’s more to life than meets the eyes was the foundation of my Christianity and yet I’m still learning and paying it forward till date. Discarding ego, I learned crafts (it was your standard) that positioned me well enough to understand that being your own boss was better than being the best employee. I learned culinary skills from your glossy magazines and catering books as well as being in the kitchen with you. You taught me that adventure was good because curiosity could be a villain. You taught me that freedom was not the absence of rules but rather the opportunity to be disciplined and control myself at all times. You taught me that vulnerability wasn’t a weakness however, building relationships that bettered me would always keep me growing.

Thank you for being the best mother that I needed and happy mother’s day! Till we meet again in Zion, continue in your rest and I hope I made you proud.

Adieu!

Your Vantage Point…..

Standard

Your Vantage Point

It is in the nature of human beings to emulate, and most of the values we uphold to this day are those that have been passed down from generation to generation. The rather amusing thing about this ability is that more often than nought, we have not applied ourselves to understanding and so in most cases, there is an application without the due diligence that is obtained from a personal comprehension. The same applies to our spiritual tenets, we take for granted what are actually blessings because we have not taken the pains to develop a personal relationship with The One who blesses and so just like little kids playing on the beaches, we are content with the splashing of the waves when we stand to get a better experience by swimming.

One African proverb that readily comes to heart is this, ‘Parables (idioms, proverbs) are the sauce with which words are eaten!’ The question that so easily comes to the fore is can words be eaten on their own? And would the experience of eating words with the appropriate sauce be more satisfying than if the words were just eaten alone? In almost every cuisine known to man, there will always be some form of sauce (gravy, soup etc) accompanying the main dish that will ensure the exercise of feasting will not just be a dreary one, soon to be forgotten. “Bean porridge hot, bean porridge cold, bean porridge in the pot three days old. Some like it hot, some like it cold, some like it in the pot three days old!” This age long nursery rhyme so succinctly categorizes man and the differences that make us unique individuals however the truth is that our idiosyncrasies are usually a function of where we stand, contextually.

One phrase that can be quite bewildering is something that I picked up during the early stages of working in the corporate world; ‘The reward for hardwork is more work.” What is the motivation or idea that drives individuals to come up with such phrases? The word ‘reward’ as I know it tends to the positive, just like the word ‘penalty’ tilts to the negative and recalling the basic economics I was forced to learn, Abraham Harold Maslow was the prominent American psychologist best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. A theory of psychological health predicated on fulfiling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self actualization. I have since learned that ‘self’ is not the best parameter for evaluating achievements because man naturally is inordinately selfish. And so when you realize that work is defined by whether you classify it as a want-to or a have-to then the reward of more work is definitely suited for the former.

Growing up, I can still remember the day that in a fit of rage, I told someone (cannot remember who) that the person was useless. Fortunately, my mother was privy to the incidence and in the ways that only mothers can, she made me understand that as long as God created, then there must be a use. It almost borders on utter recklessness and abject insolence to tag someone created by God as useless, that is like engaging God in a debate on the depth of His Wisdom and Power. Suffice me to say that after the lesson of never succumbing to the urge to call another living human useless was very firmly passed across, I would have blended very well with a herd of zebras if I were to run bare-assed. Since then, I believe that urge was effectively dealt with and I do not think I have ever called someone useless since then. The truth is that we are all placed in positions and locations either to learn or to teach however the onus of tagging ourselves as useful or useless is strictly ours alone.

Most times, the frustration that we allow to pile on ourselves is not so much as a variable beyond our control, it is rather our inability to see the teachable point of the moment we find ourselves in. Whether it is in the stillness of the night, or the rowdiness of the hospital room, or the unrelenting waves of help sought by another, there is something we can take away from that moment. It could be the irascible nature that surges to the surface when we get cut off in traffic or the sheer ‘audacity’ of not being acknowledged for the role we played in helping another achieve their goal – regardless of what the cause is, we can influence the effect as long as we realize that a vantage point is determined by what we choose to learn and pass on. It is not about the keenness of our eyesight that makes our location a vantage point, it is the inherent and often untapped ability to take a step back, breathe and look again. “The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.” – Alexander K. Trenton 

Just a few years before I took to writing, a friend of mine who used to blog back then used to affectionately refer to me as her muse. I saw it as a complement and still do even though Hodeejah has stopped blogging however now I know that in every moment of every day, there is something to motivate you to keep pressing on. We are inadvertently constrained by our human limitations but that does not, in any way, restrain us from giving our best each time we are opportuned to be called upon. The privilege of being called upon is not a testimony to your skill or prowess in a particular field, it is rather another opportunity to divest ourselves of the plaudits (their reasons unknown) of our fellow sojourners and show in word and deed that we are social beings. True strength is not an individual index, it is the sum total of the distinctive nature of our diversity when we come together pleasantly, bound by the same goals and objectives. True strength lies in associating ourselves with individuals who are unafraid to love and be loved, unafraid to correct and be corrected and are unafraid to stand back to back with you even in the face of overwhelming odds. That is your vantage point if you choose to acknowledge and wholeheartedly accept that there is a role that only you can play in those circumstances.

As the hours usher in another new day, I am still learning that the path that lies ahead of me may not be what I was once used to, despite that, it is my decision to make each point I find myself at, a vantage one. Borrowing a leaf from the tale of the seven blind men of Bombay as they each described the elephant from their own perspective, let us remember that we may be adroit at what we do but when we refuse to pay attention to the input from another then we mockingly and woefully proclaim ‘my lifestyle is how I deem it to be based on the whimsical cravings of my insatiable self’. For some reason, when you truly apply yourself to a task with all your heart and strength (remembering that our actions should be directed towards pleasing God not man), the succcess of that task definitely transcends the literary definition of success.

In order to succeed at every point and location we find ourselves, it will be relatively comfortable to realize that losing is actually a lesson in winning because until we conquer our fear of failing, then success might not amount to more than the wishes of a child. Our inability to take in life’s lessons is not usually about where we stand but our self-imposed constraint to not look around and see. Even in brokenness, there is beauty!

עד ניפגש שוב, תן את היופי של ארשת פניו לזרוח עלינו!

Adios!