Monday, 18 September 2017

#STAYWOKE—THE SANITY I GET WRITING.




Writing, as is reading, is one of the best remedies I have found accurate to the perils of human frailty. If there is any evidence for anyone whom the two magical twins, writing and reading, have impacted immensely, it is me. I see the light every day I am reading or writing. I crawl out of the darkness. Being a reader, especially a voracious one, is one of the greatest things I have ever given to myself, entwined with one;writing. One raw fact is, if you don’t read, you can’t write: there is no in-between. Walter Kirn put it better, couldn’t agree more with this: “a writer who isn’t writing is asking for trouble.”

I am a stubborn person at times; I don’t “fight small wars” or react [see; respond] to things that are so small, in most of the social media expletives and blogs I have written through the years (even in real life). If one thing, above the all motivates me, it is “the pride in me”. Yes, pride is a motivator, as is written: Prove people wrong. They say it can’t be done? Do it. They tell you it is a waste of time? Waste away. Never let anyone define for you how to be, how to use your time, or what you or anyone is capable of. Turn the naysayer into a competitive guidepost, recasting every doubting Thomas into a secret twisted cheerleader. However, be careful not to cop out into spite: don’t center on them, they are just ammunition. Take their judgment, harness it into your next pride, and ride them past the fools over the hills, and towards a dream. When I thought writing this piece, I told myself one thing, I was going to commit the writer’s chief sin: recommend it as my “babyfor my readers—read on.

The world needs men and women of courage, resilient souls; grace-filled brothers and sisters: a universe of personhood and human decency. Sometimes the most disturbing question isn’t whether I am doing enough to please the world but rather, whether I am doing extra-ordinary things. At times, the extra ordinary isn’t about doing much, it is doing a little but with a purpose of lightening someone’s burden, and in the end that is what is reflected unto the world. Save for the present-day social media melodrama, where “idiots” are making a “change”. In a world where there is hopelessness, the extra-ordinary is giving someone a glimmer of hope—that tomorrow, no matter how blurry it is today, is going to be better. In a world of lack, providence is the real hero. That is extra ordinary stuff, don’t look any further.

So-
I have been building a brand for some years now, as a writer: I now have a second reputation, writer; poet and essayist. One raw fact, it is a rugged path I have travelled [still travelling]. Do I at times look at my own report card? Yes, I do that all the time. I keep tracking my growth as a writer, not just on the audience or readership I have, which is evidently there in large numbers here, but rather; how effectively do I put my thoughts across? 

I was reading a fine piece on publishing and found something I wish I had written. Scott hit it outta the park, he writes: “your reasons for writing should transcend fame and wealth as neither are likely from writing alone. Most books you read have been written by writers who pay rent through other means. If you want fame and wealth from writing, be committed to the long term. This takes the pressure of each book, and you will open to learning instead of foolishly trying to hit a grand slam on the first try”. Those are very fine words from      a very articulate article, one of the beautiful things I have read on writing lately. As I type this, I am listening in to this song by Tricia Brock, “What I know, and to what I just wrote above, these words from the song couldn’t go unnoticed: “to hope that keeps saying, carry on.”

Edward Deci, one of the leading researchers on human motivation, says in his classic book, Why We Do What We Do (see Notes): “the researchers found out that if any of the three extrinsic aspirations—for money, fame, or beauty—was very high for an individual relative to three intrinsic aspirations, the individual was more likely to display a poorer mental health. For example, having an unusually strong aspiration was associated with narcissism, anxiety, depression, and a poorer social functioning as rated by a trained clinical psychologist.

In contrast, strong aspirations for any of the intrinsic goals—meaningful relationships, personal growth, and community contributions—were positively associated with well being. People who strongly desired to contribute to their community, for example, had more vitality and higher self-esteem. When people organize their behavior in terms of intrinsic strivings (relative to extrinsic strivings) they seem content—they feel better about who they are and display more of psychological health.”

In Behold Humanity, the truth isn’t far too removed from the raw facts; it’s beautifully written that only a fool would ignore those stellar words of inference. As is written, “Pain and pleasure are not twins or mirror images of each other, at least not as far as their roles in leveraging survival. Somehow, more often than not, it is the pain related signal that steers us away from the impending trouble, both at the moment and in the anticipated future. It is difficult to imagine that individuals and societies governed by the seeking of pleasure, as much or more than the avoidance of pain, can survive at all.”

I am not going to sugarcoat nothing, there are people you don’t need in life (see Becky); people that want to always want to hear the bad news about you, people that instead of empowering you drain you to the bone, even if they have potential or are “rich” and “famous”. These people you don’t need them, they are blood sucking parasites, if all they do is suck it out of you. Society should be and must be about people empowering people, without strings attached. But here is the truth, it has sunk so low that instead of empowerment, it is now about individual rise—someone will just use you to rise, after that you are done. It is not over for you though, there is one raw fact, and no one has ever been noticed that wasn’t doing something they wanted to be recognized for: you have got to get down and do your thing. For me, I have to keep writing.

A lot of beautiful stuff has been written on how to be your own boss and none is removed from ‘getting help if you need it’. I read something  from Adam Grant in the New York Times article I ‘eloped with’ a week ago about networking, and I must say, I would buy him a cup of a coffee for writing very real things in my personal life, he writes: “it’s true that networking can help you accomplish great things. But this obscures the opposite truth: Accomplishing great things helps you develop a network”.

The Mathew effect, as Adam Grant writes, ‘from the bible, “For unto every one that hath given, and he shall have abundance”. If you establish a track record of achievements, advantages tend to accumulate. Who you will know tomorrow depends on what you contributed yesterday. Yes, that’s what, as I earlier wrote, the sun shines for everyone.

To write is to commit, to both reading and writing itself—failing at writing is because you are not writing. The magic is, “more than anything, writing is a kind of work. Even if you love it, even if you are brilliant, even if you have amazing ideas, it will require many hours of effort to finish writing an essay or book. You will be giving up other activities to create that time. This trade may simply not be worth it to you. This is fine, as you might realize the problem is simply you like the idea of writing far more than the reality of how much time and effort is required”

In life, once you do/write something inspirational, you may not know who you are empowering but one thing is for certain, a life is being changed somewhere. Personally, most of the cognitive restructuring I have had in my life is centered on one thing, above the all—the power of “yet”—one of the best ways to keep your mind open to new possibilities is to harness the power of “yet”. “Yet” is a very productive and healthy word to add to a sentence when you are describing something that hasn’t happened to you. For example, instead of saying “I haven’t achieved my goal,” you can say “I haven’t achieved my goal yet.” This keeps you honest with the fact that you haven’t achieved something, but that doesn’t mean you won’t achieve it in the future. The past doesn’t dictate the future—and reminding yourself of that can keep you empowered and motivated during tough times.

The dark side of positive thinking offers to humanity wisdom that is very profound—‘we as humans are dream beings. We can accomplish many dreams in a lifetime, but we won’t be able to achieve them all. More important than the life goals we accomplish before we reach the grave is how we are living right now. With some consciousness and a sense of humor, we can embrace the wholeness of our being and live a life with a soul. Beyond our “concepts” of positive and “negative, there is the beauty, the mystery and the magic of our true being, deserving to be honored and celebrated. It is available for each of us in this very moment’—thoughts and words without deeds will accomplish nothing, which is why I keep writing: the end is not certain, but it is a work in progress.

In all honesty, writing is a lonely occupation at best. Of course there are stimulating and even happy associations with friends and colleagues, but during the actual work of creation, the writer cuts himself from all others and confronts his subject alone. He moves into a realm where he has never been before—perhaps where no one has ever been. It is a lonely place, even a little frightening—thing is; if you write what you yourself sincerely think and fee and are interested in, you will interest other people.

We live in a very frail point in time; more people are more concerned about being famous than they are about doing what is right—even if fame isn’t the end goal. It is very important to note though—you will never be famous—and that’s okay; ‘the most beautiful lives, I have learned are not often the extraordinary ones. They are the ordinary ones lived with dignity.’

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

#UGBLOGWEEK: THE FUTURE IS US—WRITERS AND ARTISTS—READERS




The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts- C. S. Lewis

Image Source: here
Writing is one of the most important things histories and the future looks at—scientists love to argue otherwise but the real truth is that the world rotates a lot around stories—stories shape the narrative of what is and what will be, erasing this truth is erasing the truth about humanity. More often than not, many of my readers ask where I get the courage to write what I write and I honestly tell them, “the truth is a balance of the past and present, if you keep a keen eye on the realities; even the unnerving stories become ‘easy’ to tell”.

If there is anything I have learned through the years, there is one thing that can give you a voice, especially if you are one of the voice-less, writing and art is the way to go. If you put up a piece of work for the world to read, or paint a photo or take a picture, once you share it with the world, you don’t leave your audience the same, someone out there is watching you and they will keep learning from you and you from them—that is not rocket science—visibility is two way. So, if you have some good ideas, don’t hesitate to share them with the world, they could be the wings you have been waiting for to take you next level, or give you a bigger audience: like me

Writing is a process, often times comes with procrastination for many (at times ) but there is no in-between, you either start on the project or let your gift to the world dwindle away; the bad news is you could be sleeping on what the world needs to be a better place. I read somewhere: "sometimes the words will flow freely, fingers nimble across the keyboard, the hours dissolving into one another as the daylight sleeps away….[…..]….there are lots of practical things that a writer can employ to help themselves out of a writing slump, the most obvious and perhaps most helpful suggestion, although it may feel counter-intuitive, is to take a break. It is all  well and good to have a strong work ethic, maybe a target word count each day, or an expectation of how much time you should be in touch with your work-in-progress, but efficient working is more about words produced or the number of hours spent welded to your desk chair".

As I wrote earlier, my mentor C. JoyBell .C, can best tell how and why my audacity of hope is always shinning anew every day of my life: “I have come to accept the feelings of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it.Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you are going, but know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you”.

I often look back at all the bickering and yammering I have been through: the background noise from people who think and thought I am just a ‘little man’ grasping at straws, I sit back and take a good laugh and cry to God to make a way for me.  It’s been tough but I have never for once considered giving in to people’s whims—that’s not who I am, especially when I know I am doing right; looking for people’s approval would be the last thing I need. In life, you have to come to terms with the world and accept the world is full of mean-spirited people: that may never applaud your hard work no matter how hard you try, the best thing to do therefore, just do your thing—your life is yours alone to shape, throwing it in someone else’s hands is the last thing anyone should do, my report card from the university of life has taught me that already. Go out there and be the change you want to see in the world.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

“El Sol sale para todos,” “the sun shines for everyone.”



Grace Abaho Sr

We cannot live lives of other people but we can be authentically ourselves by the lives that give us a definition of hope, a look beyond the abyss we might be into, a way through our messy lives and a path to the bright side of life. Often the unfortunate part, we are blinded into the thoughts of repetitively thinking that somewhat, rock bottom is our place to stay, that as long as nobody lifts us up, we are never going to make it through: that is a lie, rock bottom is not a conclusion, it is a foundation. Yes, you may need someone but the first person you need for self-liberation is you. At times your help, even the one you expect so much, so soon, may take so long to come through, or even never. Once you pick your stead, tell your story, this is what this article is about— that a Paradox is also a way of being that’s key to wholeness, which does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus once said, “Of all the things which wisdom provides to make life entirely happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship,” let me be your friend herein.

There are so many times when I reflect on what I longed to be as a child and who I am today, where I am, honestly; sometimes, it is frail but one profound truth remains: I found myself and I can give a part of me that is good, at any rate. There is no god-send picture of myself that I will present, or have ever presented; it is a message straight out of my heart: the explanation is creativity embedded in artistry. Yes, the common traits that people across all creative fields seem to have in common are an openness to one’s inner life; a preference for complexity and ambiguity; an unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray; the ability to extract order from chaos; independence; unconventionality; and a willingness to take risks.

“…I stand among you as one who offers a small message of hope, that first, there are always people who dare to seek on the margin of society, who are not dependent on social acceptance, not dependent on social routine, and prefer a kind of free-floating existence under a state of risk. And among these people, if they are faithful to their own calling, to their own vocation, and to their own message from God, communication on the deepest level is possible. And the deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond words, and it is beyond speech and beyond concept.”The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton

Healthy reminder is: things do not always work out so well, of course. History is full of tragically failed visions of possibility, and the more profound the vision, the more likely we are to fall short of achieving it. But even here, Merton has a word of hope for us, a paradoxical word, of course:

“…do not depend on the hope of results. …you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.”

In broaching the possibility of being, in some way, against self-criticism, we have to imagine a world in which celebration is less suspect than criticism; in which the alternatives of celebration and criticism are seen as a determined narrowing of the repertoire; and in which we praise whatever we can.

Our masochistic impulse for self-criticism, he argues, arises from the fact that ambivalence is the basic condition of our lives. In a passage that builds on his memorable prior reflections on the paradox of why frustration is necessary for satisfaction in romance, Phillips considers Freud’s ideological legacy:

In Freud’s vision of things we are, above all, ambivalent animals: wherever we hate, we love; wherever we love, we hate. If someone can satisfy us, they can also frustrate us; and if someone can frustrate us, we always believe that they can satisfy us. We criticize when we are frustrated — or when we are trying to describe our frustration, however obliquely — and praise when we are more satisfied, and vice versa. Ambivalence does not, in the Freudian story, mean mixed feelings, it means opposing feelings.

[…]

Love and hate — a too simple, or too familiar, vocabulary, and so never quite the right names for what we might want to say — are the common source, the elemental feelings with which we apprehend the world; and they are interdependent in the sense that you can’t have one without the other, and that they mutually inform each other. The way we hate people depends on the way we love them, and vice versa. And given that these contradictory feelings are our ‘common source’ they enter into everything we do. They are the medium in which we do everything. We are ambivalent, in Freud’s view, about anything and everything that matters to us; indeed, ambivalence is the way we recognize that someone or something has become significant to us… Where there is devotion there is always protest… where there is trust there is suspicion.
[…]

We may not be able to imagine a life in which we don’t spend a large amount of our time criticizing ourselves and others; but we should keep in mind the self-love that is always in play.If we give in to fears that come with lowest of the lows, it is so often very easy to assume that those who “have it all” are okay but beware of excessive choice: choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress. And, in a culture that tells us that there is no excuse for falling short of perfection when your options are limitless, too much choice can lead to clinical depression. 

In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains at what point choice—the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish—becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. In accessible, engaging, and anecdotal prose, Schwartz shows how the dramatic explosion in choice—from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs—has paradoxically become a problem instead of a solution. Schwartz also shows how our obsession with choice encourages us to seek that which makes us feel worse.
 “In the course of studying learned helplessness in humans, Seligman found that it tends to be associated with certain ways of thinking about events that form what he termed a person’s "explanatory style."  The three major components of explanatory style associated with learned helplessness are permanence, pervasiveness, and personalization
Permanence refers to the belief that negative events and/or their causes are permanent, even when evidence, logic, and past experience indicate that they are probably temporary ("Amy hates me and will never be my friend again" vs. "Amy is angry with me today"; "I’ll never be good at math"). 
Pervasiveness refers to the tendency to generalize so that negative features of one situation are thought to extend to others as well ("I’m stupid" vs. "I failed a math test" or "nobody likes me" vs. "Janet didn’t invite me to her party"). 
Personalization, the third component of explanatory style, refers to whether one tends to attribute negative events to one’s own flaws or to outside circumstances or other people. While it is important to take responsibility for one’s mistakes, persons suffering from learned helplessness tend to blame themselves for everything, a tendency associated with low self-esteem and depression. The other elements of explanatory style–permanence and pervasiveness–can be used as gauges to assess whether the degree of self-blame over a particular event or situation is realistic and appropriate.
The last word: Expressing emotion when you’ve gone through extreme pain is not weakness. It is humanity. For every man that willfully shares a story, or an insight, be thankful—even if it makes you mad in the heat of the moment, just think about it, hopefully you will something—always.




Saturday, 22 April 2017

FOR DR.BESIGYE: "EVERY TIME, EVERY DAY."



Every time I see Besigye smiling, I smile
Every time I hear he is well, I pray for better days
Every time he is tortured, I stand out to his plight
Every time he is jailed, I see the hypocrisy of the jailer
Every time he has a court appearance, I wait for the next lie they have against him
Every day that passes, I don't get it:
Why is a man the Museveni government claims lost the election; so popular than the one they foist on us?

When will justice be served?
Shall the president of the people continue to be harrased?
All these questions I don't have immediate as answers,
But I know: it takes us, the people.
Don't demonize us.
Don't torture us.

Don't take our Patience for stupidity.
Don't think its okay to suffer at your expensive.
The Museveni government,do you copy?
                                                 -Grace Abaho Sr.  ©For Dr.Besigye

Now about Museveni’s slew of lies,they can go on and on if I were to begin. I will singularly deal with one lie he told in the 80’s: ‘the problem of Africa is leaders who hinge to power”—(PS: remember, you can never get a second chance at making a first impression).This, about leaders that Museveni said is both true and false—it is true that actually they are a problem and a lie because he told it to take advantage of the people. Sadly the lie saw him to power, that’s how he won the war with just 27 men. And today, Museveni calls these people rats, mad men and all the other names you can imagine that are horrible.

You tell me: who said Africa has a problem of leaders who hinge to power? (see Museveni),who has refused to go?(see Museveni),who lied and has lied and lied?(see Museveni),who is thwarting the will of the people and is defiling the constitution right, left and center(see Museveni). Basically, that’s the erosion of civil liberties.

I can’t be party to that sort of moral silence that shortchanges both our rights and our future:it has to be common sense logic against Museveni’s trickery and concealment. The rule of the law is not rhetoric; it is the very fibre that binds a society together. Government’s core mission should be to protect the right to life and liberty of all the people but the current administration has decided to willfully allow some to blatantly ignore the laws to suit their political agenda making itself derelict in its duty to protect its citizens. Are you going to keep watching and let this happen? If you do, that’s your fault, we need to know defiance is an option for those who have been abused again and again—it has to be us against them. When the water starts boiling, it is foolish to turn off the heat. Advocacy beyond this line can feel like pale tea to those who have lived their whole lives below it but that’s all you have, your call

As I wrote earlier, if you and I shake the honest nest, Museveni is a very toxic leader, the direct opposite of Dr. Besigye: A leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to create conditions under which other people must live and move and theirbeing, conditions that can neither be eliminating or shadowy as hell. A leader must take special responsibility for what’s going on inside his or her own self, lest the act of leadership create more harm than good. Political leaders, parents, clergy have potential to cast as much shadow as they do light. Refusing to face the dark side of leadership makes them abuse more likely. All too often leaders ‘do not even know they’re making a choice, let alone how to reflect on the choice of choosing’

Claremont graduate professor Jean Lipman_Bluman uses the term toxic leaders to describe those who engage in destructive behaviors and those who engage in dysfunctional charateristics .At the same time; derailed leaders act vs. the interests of the subordinates and the organization; they bully, manipulate, deceive and harass followers; they may be stealing from the organization, engaging in fraudulent activities and doing less than expected. Constructive leaders, on the other hand, care about subordinates and help the organization achieve its goals while using its resources.Havard professor Barbara Kellerman believes that limiting leadership solely to good leadership ignores the reality that a great too many leaders engage in destructive behaviors. Overlooking that fact, Kellerman says, undermines our attempts to promote good leadership not by ignoring bad leadership, nor by presuming that it is immutable, but rather by attacking it as we would a disease that’s always pernicious and sometimes deadly”
The former President of the United States Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘the government should fear its citizens’ .Our government, on the contrary, laughs at us. It raises enormous hand and says, ‘go to hell’. It isn’t even trying to pretend anymore—what I would hope, what I would call for is a peaceful yet drastic change in how we function as citizens. We should be utterly unforgiving of corruption and entrenched injustice and we should make government officials guilty of such indiscretions pay dearly for it. The renowned Ai Wei Wei eloquently warns us that, “If you don’t act; the danger becomes stronger”., this has been proven a thousand times every day of our lives: things are not getting any better, it’s crazy when people instead cheer on steady regress as steady progress, a very scary situation to be bystanders to.