THE FOLLY OF CHOOSING PAIN, WHEN YOU HAVE AN ACTUAL CHOICE

I am fascinated by the subject of pain, and will perhaps write more about it in the future. I cannot imagine that there is a human alive today, or ever, who has not explored the phenomenon, feeling, emotion of pain to some degree. True pain however explores us, and not the other way round. It rips the fabric of our existence apart and reveals the rawest most tragic aspects of us.


Although it is possible to see the mercy in this; the opportunity to rebuild where pain tore down, I think most people have not experienced that sort of raw pain. I think most people’s fascination with pain is quite unhealthy in the most unknowing way. Perhaps the expression I am looking for here is melancholy, not pain; for no one can experience true pain and view it through the lens of mere fascination. No. Pain is real and it haunts.


It is perhaps a misunderstanding, or rather an ignorance of this, that makes pain’s baby cousin, melancholy, look so attractive. It is the brooding, the gliding over gladness or potential avenues for joy. It is the separation of oneself from the rest; the lone wolf syndrome. It is in the detachment of emotion from ones human experience, the tarnishing of one’s daily living with echoes of bitter sentiment in order to gain some sense of ubiquity. This is the irony of it all, the narcissistic, self-involved nature of this intentional exploration of emotions that are not flowing naturally into, through and from a person. I am not saying there are no natural melancholies, what I am saying is that to intentionally pursue the option of some variation of pain is to diminish the experience of those who find themselves internally and externally ravaged by it – without a choice.


At its core, I would argue that true pain is characterised by a desperation to no longer feel it. It is characterised by a natural repulsion, a feeling of entrapment. I think it is fair to say that it is not entrapment unless the person wants to be free (of course with the obvious exception of those who have never known any different from their state of entrapment).


I cannot even begin to imagine the impossible prospect of defining pain, so I will not. Pain is different things to different people and different things to the same person even, at any given time. I do not reckon that, anyone who has experienced true pain (someone please hit the subjective button) would, given the choice, let it back in. Why? What is people’s fascination with the down and out? Is it a need to be asked if they are okay? It is all certainly very difficult to construct into meaningful language.


The subjectivity of it is undeniable, so I hate to take a judgmental stance on anyone’s claim to pain. However, the pleasure of its derivative, melancholy can be just as obvious. I have seen people describe their personality as melancholic, with a smile on their face. I suppose my qualm is the nagging thought which questions why anyone would choose down over up, sad over happy, alone over company, contrived outward turmoil over inner peace. (A question that might be answered if one thinks of this as a coping mechanism of sorts, in its own way.)


Forgive my simplistic proposition; it is just that I know there are people who would that they could choose up, happy, company and inner peace over all the alternatives but they are physically unable to do so. Some cannot even get up out of bed to feel the sunshine on their face, not because of a physical deformity, but because pain crippled the legs of their mind and no crutch is able to hold them upright.


I think true pain happens to people and not the other way round, and when it happens to you, you know. I knew.

If you can, choose to step out and feel the sun on your face. And when you do, remember all those who cannot do same, and be grateful.

LANGOLIERS, FAITH AND OTHER MIXED FEELINGS

 

Leaving my job after only nine months was altogether the dumbest, bravest and most self-aware thing I have ever done. Thinking back, it felt like jumping from an airplane that was just about to take off and onto a tarmac quickly giving way to nothingness. Sort of like that scene in The Langoliers when the eponymous creatures attack and “eat up” the reality the characters are in. Am I right? (Goes to check YouTube footage); yup, I was right. That movie still creeps the proverbial out of me!

I had never been so sure of needing to do something and so insecure about it at the very same time. It was an ok paying job, but the experience and exposure were priceless and it was in an industry i loved where i was allowed - nay - REQUIRED to write as often as possible. In other words, Heaven (only sometimes though, let me not get too carried away). I was a fast learner so It was smooth sailing really. I was put on the toughest account and managed pretty well for all my greenness, the future certainly seemed bright until I knew that It was bright but not by way of the tunnel I was in. I would have found some bright light at the end of it, but it would not be the light I most needed. So I jumped off a fast moving ship into uncertain waters (I am full of metaphors today aren’t I).

The more I think about it, the more I realise that the mixed feelings have not been fully dealt with. However, I am more comfortable in my professional skin (whatever that means) than I was before, although not as comfortable as I need to be. I did not necessarily know why I had to leave then, but the universe vibrated in that direction and I obediently followed and thereby learned a thing or two about faith.

It is neither the question nor its answer, no; faith is a choice to ask questions and to seek answers. It is a response to an innate need which cannot be explained and nor should it. It is a reaction to dissatisfaction and the possibility of realities more fulfilling than what is immediately obvious.

Faith can certainly be blind, but so can an acceptance of what is. Comfort itself is perhaps the greatest form of blindness.

I am not sure I have yet found my footing. No, if I was a character in that oh so awful movie, the Langoliers would certainly have eaten me up along with my reality. When I went back to verify my memory via YouTube though, I discovered something interesting. The Langoliers only eat up the reality of yesterday and what is past. So even if a part of me is stuck in my past, making me Langolier bait, even if I have not yet fully found my place outside of my comfort, I still have today. I am in charge of how today turns out. The Langoliers have no power here.

mood:nail biting

ECONOMIC CLIMATES - PISSING ON US AND CALLING IT RAIN

I walked into the Forex Bureau with the confidence, strut and air of one who was going to walk out richer. You know that feeling? The anticipation of admiring looks from the teller at the counter, perhaps a joke from them about how you are going to spend the money which you would brush off with a wave of the hand in false modesty. Oh, that we would all experience that, but never mind all of us, this was my turn and my moment – and I was going to savour it. Moreover, in the current “economic climate” – I usually hate such clichéd buzz phrases, but this one rings true, it literally feels as though someone from on high is pissing on us and calling it rain – It is a welcome prospect to become GH¢ 500 richer by means of no work done. This was about to be my lot, and I walked the part.

You see a dear person from London had come to Ghana and had, as we say in “Christianese”, blessed me. I accepted as gracefully as one might, and quickly pocketed the money. I had seen it was five notes so I knew it was £100. Ironically, I had been government bashing that morning: “look at the state of the economy”, I said. “What is the government doing? My self-righteous fervour was in full-flight. Well, all that changed when I was handed a lump sum, which thanks to my proclaimed mismanagement of the economy (over years, transcending any single government) was worth a lot more than usual in the local currency. I took it all back in an instant. “Thank you big men”, I thought to myself and indeed openly expressed. Your mismanagement has done me well. I kept the money safely in my drawer and when it was time to claim my riches, I took it out and with the self-assurance of a lottery winner and placed it straight into my pocket, without doing a double check or recount, eager to do the needful before the cedi decided to put up a fight.

So given this backdrop, imagine my utter horror when after I presented the notes and said, “I’d like to change a £100 please”, the teller looked up at me and asked “what is this?” For a moment I thought he had not heard me so I repeated myself and this time he actually laughed as he asked, “What is this?” it was at this point that I realised that I had in fact been given five GH¢ 20 notes! Now as you laugh at my foolhardiness, bear in mind that 20 pound and cedi notes actually look a lot alike! Besides, given who it was that had “blessed” me, it was hardly a stretch to imagine that I had been given some £’s? Right?

I have resolved that, given the “economic climate”, the only reason this happened was because my subconscious mind wanted to believe that I was to become a little richer than usual.

If the economy had been managed properly over the years, I would never have had this subconscious need which would in turn never have yielded such embarrassing results! Can the “big men” please get their shit together and stop raining on us please. Ain’t no umbrella big enough for this… (See what I did there?)

FOOTBALL SUCKS… AT ME

There was a day in Junior High School when the boys decided to have a “gala”. This was basically a sporting event where the football would be thrown into the middle of the field and kicked about recklessly; no teams, no rules, a free-for-all, and anyone could play.

So here I was, running around with everyone else with no plan, no clue and no skill. I am panting heavily; heart beating hard against the ribcage with the rhythmic eloquence of feet running in despair at the sound of a fire alarm, jowls fluttering with every jolt and halt. I do not recall my feet touching the football once, but if it did I know what the reaction of the rest of the boys would have been.

Oh, I would have been hailed like a Jesus entering Jerusalem, like a Mandela walking free, like the electric bulb in Ghana burning bright after twelve hours of darkness. For a moment in time I would have been an Alexander the Great, but trust and believe my downfall would have no doubt been akin to his as well. I received no cheers on the day of the gala but I can describe the euphoria well because it happened once. Well almost happened.

In Class four (Year four, Grade four – call It what you will), I had such a moment of glory when the football found its way to my two left feet, and boy did I dance like an expert – for all of fifteen magnificent seconds. I dribbled with the grace of Ronaldo (the fat one) all across the bloody field! Shouts of “Obed! Obed! Obed!” filled my ears and my heart to the point of bursting. The goalpost was in sight, a tale for the ages was only moments from manifestation. I could feel my feet being lifted off the ground in joyous celebration. Perhaps this is why I kicked the ball into the bushes inches from the goalpost. The legend of my one triumph on the football pitch was never to be. My two left feet found themselves again.

It was on the back of this shame I flitted around that gala field, unseen, unheard, unfelt. I would have nothing to celebrate that day, this I knew, but I needed to feel a sense of male purposefulness; so flit I did. As I stood, well more like hopped from leg to leg in order to not look unengaged, on the fringes of the game, those frakking teachers Mr. Amanor and Mr. Oko, ever the bullies, walked past me with looks of amused opportunity on their faces. “Are you also playing”, they asked in the most condescending tone of voice they could muster. “Yes”, I said with a stupid and hopeful grin on my face – all the while still hopping – but I do not reckon they heard me in between the laughs they were exchanging.

“Do you not know I almost scored a frakking legendary goal in Class Four”, I wanted to shout! “I was almost a goal scorer you bullies”. In that moment, I knew in a sort of serendipitous way that football would never take me seriously, so never again would I give myself to it.

I cried though, when Asamoah Gyan missed that penalty. I actually cried. Tears did not stream down my face so as to glisten in the moonlight in that graceful sort of way when looked at from a certain angle. No, my facial muscles lost all control of me, causing a contortment of very ugly proportions. I had an ugly cry over a moment in football.

As another world cup begins, my indifference finds itself being tested as I have committed to watching the first game, in a communal setting no less: a pub to be precise – it does not get any more footbally than that! I will be sure to mind my P’s and Q’s for one night only and attempt to contain my vexations. I profess my disdain for the game at any given opportunity and I truly have no love for it. Sometimes though, I sound and feel more like a scorned lover, rather than a true hater. I could never find my place in football’s rubbery heart so I acted out? I do not even know anymore.

Very recently I introduced myself to someone and they immediately had to go there. “Oh you are Lambert”, they said. “Like Lambert from *insert name of random football club*”. I made it clear that, if they were going to use football analogies, they had already lost me, for I had not a clue about the first thing about the game. In that moment, I lost them.

mood: yawn

- MotivateThink

NAKEDNESS: THE SEXUAL CONSCIOUNESS OF A CHILD

Thinking, never mind actually writing, about children in a sexual context is a very uncomfortable process. Especially in times when we have become more aware than ever before of the sexual violations children experience; an awareness that requires levels of sensitivity and care in all handlings of the matter.  All the red flags for what is socially acceptable as far as children and sexuality are concerned will go sky high at the least suspicion. We are very careful; to ensure that children are shielded from the debauchery of the hyper-sexualised society we are steadily evolving into. So we side step sexual issues and we smooth talk our way out of curious questions about sex that are posed, often unknowingly and innocently, by children. No one teaches what to say, when and how much to say about sex to children. The fear of sexualising children by dealing with sex is so paradoxical because all children are inevitably sexualised much in the same way as they are socialised.

A child cannot do anything with a naked body unless we imply that there is something to be done with it which they do not yet need to know. The only possible outcome of said implication is that very need to know. As far as children are concerned, I deem it morally criminal to make nakedness immediately akin to sex and sexuality, without a middle ground, and yet many of us find ourselves doing so. I found myself guilty of this when some months ago one of my nieces walked into the bathroom while I was showering in all my naked glory to deliver a message from her mum. She walked in boldly and clearly with nothing in her mind but the intention to do her mother’s bidding. My reaction was something a lot less innocent and informed by my own sexual consciousness. I quickly turned around, in order to hide all my bits from her innocent view, and asked her if she did not know I was showering and why had she walked in, and to go out!

Regret took me just about as quickly as those words escaped my mouth, for in that moment I realised that I had robbed my niece of an innocent unknowing. I had made something very innocent seem a lot less innocent which would in effect trigger a notion and curiosity in her mind; a notion that naked should be equated to “bad” and a curiosity as to why that is.

Months down the line, this still haunts me. What did I think she would think of my nakedness? What did I think she would be seeing other than a human body? Why was such an immediate reaction triggered from me? I sought to curb what I thought to be a sexual situation but I may have in a weird way triggered it. The butterfly effect.

Now this is probably all playing out only in my mind. I am certain my niece is having a wonderful childhood devoid of haunting images of her uncle’s bottom. However, this scenario begged the question, how often do we turn innocence into a lesson in all that is bad, thereby peeling away innocence itself?

You may be able to tell by now that this is not the blog where the answers are going to be given. I hope that we will all question the way we teach children about nakedness and its obvious sexual implications. It is part of the growing up process that curiosity will be sparked, things will be seen, feelings will be caught, questions will be asked. Is there a gesture more innocent and childlike as asking a question? If children are still asking about things we feel awkward about, then I would like to suggest that they are probably still guiltless and we are given with the privilege to steer their worldview and approach to life as regards that matter.

So sexualisation is inevitable, but it should be an intentional and educational process led by parents and adults of influence. If we knock down questions, if we hide nakedness (whatever nakedness represents to us) sexualisation will become what it should never be for a child: a sporadic learning led by friends and experiences. 

mood: time out

- MotivateThink

GRATITUDE AND GENEROSITY: KEYS TO HEALTH AND HAPPINESS

The pursuit of happiness is universal. There is no one who would rather be unhappy, depressed, unwanted, alone and afraid. Unhappiness to me looks like being naked and exposed in the most extreme climatic conditions imaginable (which for me would be extreme heat) and having no one to perhaps complain to about just how horrible you feel, and all the while the weather is slowly chipping away at your sanity and making a mockery of your very existence (just try to imagine that for a second). I concede that it is quite a melodramatic description; but if you think that is an extreme description, try being unhappy and see how it feels for yourself. Unhappiness feels like abandonment, without comfort in sight.

Without wanting to make a blanket statement about all people that feel unhappy or unhealthy, I think that is a fair to say that, unhappiness is directly linked to unhealthiness, and vice versa, as far as I can tell. There is a distinction to be drawn with regards to being unhealthy and feeling unhealthy; the lines may blur at various points, but again I think it’s fair to say that the former is a physical state of being and the latter is often a mental state (regardless of one’s physical state). So that, there will be several people that look healthy, but feel unhealthy – sometimes because they are unhealthy but often because of other “issues in the tissues”.

Regardless of what the causative factors are, I am finding increasingly in my daily walk with my inner self that, gratitude and generosity are at the very least a first step to a healthy and happy life.

I dare argue that, all unhappiness is rooted in some form of self-centeredness. This form of self-centeredness is defined by an inability to look beyond oneself and present circumstances to see the good in the world and an innate good in self. For me, a great approach to being happy has been having an outlook of gratitude. Gratitude is invariably laced with hope. Every time we say thank you for something, or for nothing at all in particular, but just because we are, there is an air of hope that is released for that moment and which goes on to affect the way we approach life subsequently. It sounds really simple but it is such a resilient truth.

Perhaps the angle I will include to this principle is, be thankful to yourself for not giving up. You have essentially gone through the various seasons of life and where others let go, you held on. When others fell short, as did you, you did not stay down. What others discarded (of themselves), you found light in and made a choice for the rejected (you); thereby injecting life into some dark place. Your choices may not have always been the best they could have been, but you continued to face life regardless and found that the only consequence of making and then facing mistakes head-on is strength. Where others were determined in their unhappiness, you decided to be grateful. Be grateful for you.

Generosity might not seem like the most obvious therapy for unhappiness or unhealthiness. However, as I implied earlier, there is a case to be made for the role of selflessness in finding a personal space of true health and happiness – or at least, the beginnings of it. And there are few things as selfless as giving.

 Again, I would like to present an angle that slightly differs from the status-quo. We are used to giving what we have, when we can, when we feel like it or when we have it. There is one thing we have which we are hardly ever generous with though. It is a thing of limitless supply. It is a thing of infinite value. That thing is you, and it is me, and him, and her. Giving of our very beings, and giving off our essence and presence. Sharing our time with someone. Sharing our light. Sharing our love. And in spite of our present circumstances, giving our hands and hearts to help lift physical and emotional burdens - and not because we have got all the answers. Often people do not even need our answers, they just need someone to talk to till they navigate the path to their own enlightenment.

Above all, the greatest thing I have discovered we can be generous with is our own weakness. I have found how strong I am, not just by confronting my weaknesses, but by sharing of the experience of having them. The greatest lesson for me in this has been to no longer feel the need to share only about past weakness, or even worse, pretend like they are past! The journey to strength for me has been defined by the actual practice of strength. I tell it like it is and I am stronger for it and so are those who hear it.  

We are a limitless resource because; we have the ability to document our lives and keep sharing long after we are no longer here. I embrace the potential my life holds to further the cause of my happiness, health and strength and that of other people’s.

Where unhappiness, and certain forms of unhealthiness by extension, often occur as a result of the feeling of having no one. I have found for myself that, selflessness opens the door of the heart and spirit to the right people, allowing them into your life at exactly the right time, and not always for obvious reasons. It also allows you to experience the satisfaction of taking your life by the horns. I no longer drift in the uncertain waters of my own dire emotions, waiting for anyone that isn’t already here to come into my life and to the rescue.

I give my life purpose by learning daily the joy of giving of myself to those I have, and saying “thank you” that my life has not been left to bitter chance. I am grateful for this revelation. 

- MotivateThink

mood: day dreaming

Anonymous said: What inspires you to write? To be more specific what inspired you to write "Setting Back Time"? It's very trippy

settingbacktime:

I felt a sort of need to explore the perspective of the protagonist, who represents a portion of my society in Ghana who never have the consequences of their actions questioned beyond a very shallow extent. Any more detail than that, and i’ll be spoiling my story. Lets just say i’m asking “what if”, to what is a seemingly inconsequential action. Inconsequential not because it isn’t wrong, but because society has become immune to it. I’m attempting to do this while exploring the protagonist’s psyche as well; perhaps that’s where the trippyness comes from nerd

It’s going to be a heck of a challenge for many excellent individuals to enter into University in Ghana this year. To you guys i say, do not fret. It isn’t you who has failed, it is the system.

A system that is adamant about ignoring individual strengths, lumping all persons into a box and assessing them accordingly.

It is ridiculous that creative persons won’t be able to enter into university because they supposedly “failed” in “Integrated Science”. It is annoying that aspiring doctors will see their prospects cut short because of a lesser grade in “Social Studies”, and the absurdity has no end. I could go on.

Whilst the above-mentioned subject areas (and all others unmentioned) have a place in the overarching academic spectrum and syllabus of the system; this question arises in my mind: at what point does the singular abilities and strengths of the individual become the focus of assessment, rather than this churning-off-the-production-line farce we are beleaguered with.

Perhaps it is for the best. After all, the university system is no different is it? Most individuals would still have to endure years of having their talents and strengths relegated to the abyss, in favour of… on second thought, I do not care to even delve into the impractical courses on offer in the universities, nor do i care to discuss their first cousin; the lack of opportunity thereafter.

Inequity abounds.

So my advice to anyone out there who is faced with the very vivid reality of not making it into a university this year is that, look to your strengths! Look to your talents. Research into how you can profitably harness them. Build a brand around your dream and then chase after the “come true” bit. Believe they can! It is possible. And there’s enough room for everyone. The gaps are vast and ready to be filled.

It is only a backward society that will make you believe that your destiny is tied to a piece of paper and further pieces of paper that piece of paper affords you.

If you don’t get in this year, try try again but don’t sit idle in the meantime.

Our system failed you, but your story has only just begun.

- Lambert Akwa (a survivor of -successive- bad grades)

Do the sundance and forget how life goes

 

Hug a tree and become one with nature

Sow a seed and watch life un-lived mature

Spread your wings and dream of how blind bats fly

Hold your peace for earths melted iced tear

 

Kiss the stranger and give him a hug

Be the beggar and plead for free alms

Ask the mother ‘where is his Papa’

Celebrate the occasion

Its look at the world through your hearts eye day

 

Harbour delusions of selfless grandeur 

Stand firm between the barrel and the victimised

Be the harbinger of doom to death by war

Live the line between herenow and thereafter 

 

Be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

© 2010 Lambert

mood: thumbs up