Monthly Archives: October 2011

Keep Working…

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When I was young-er I knew that Manu Dibango was a great African musician. I cannot say anyone told me this but I just knew. I knew he was in the class of Youssour N’Dour, Salif Keita and much later I discovered Habib Koite. I think these musicians are Africa’s biggest export to the world musically. The weird thing is until recently I could not pin point to a Manu Dibango song. Once upon a time I stumbled onto a Manu Dibango’s record in my dad’s LP collection. I was thoroughly impressed but then again my dad’s collection is the stuff of collector’s items but that’s a story for another day.

I have a strong liking for Capital Jazz Club. The major disagreement I had with it was the timing. It is on Sunday evening. Throughout the years I fancied listening to Capital Jazz Club but I couldn’t bring myself to sacrifice my ears on Sunday evening. Then my brother pointed out I shouldn’t consider myself a real fan if I wasn’t willing to make the sacrifice. That sparked something in me and now I listen to Capital Jazz Club avidly though not religiously. Anyway, when I was listening to “The Club” as Jack Ojiambo (the host) fondly refers to it I stumbled upon a Johnny Walker advert on Manu Dibango. In the advert Manu talks about his song “Soul Makossa”. He said that when Soul Makossa came out people said it was an overnight sensation. But he continued to say it took 20 years. He said it took 20 years of hard work and practice before he came up with Soul Makossa. Bet you’re all wondering what is so significant about the song Soul Makossa. Michael Jackson sampled Soul Makossa in his song “Wanna be starting something” and Lionel Richie did the same in “All night long”. Manu continued to say whatever you do keep working and then he finishes with the Johnny Walker tagline keep walking.

The moral of the story is building something good takes time. In this age there is a lot of pressure to succeed. You look around and the guy or girl you grew up with is in a high flying job, driving your dream car and where are you? If it’s not the girl or guy you grew up with it is someone else maybe younger than you; depressing isn’t it? Of course pressure seems to come from everywhere. Look at the property pages in the newspaper awash with splendid houses at astronomical figures and you wonder when will I get there. When will I afford my slice of urban splendour? And there is a new car make every so often that makes your mouth water and you keep your dream alive and say one day I will drive that. Then you retreat to yourself and ask when? When seems like so far off. Then you start to feel really stressed out and inadequate. So you work harder, sacrifice more of your time working and plotting and planning your future. I have news for you. Those are premature grey hairs you are manufacturing. People talk about how life is a rat race and how they don’t want to be in a rat race. But the truth is no one holds a gun to your head and asks you to run. You take your two feet in there and you start to compete with other people. Like in all races there is only one winner. With the rat race it is no different, so we are killing ourselves only to be disappointed when we cannot keep up.

But then there is another way to look at things. Life is a process. What is more important than getting all these big rewards for your efforts is growth and maturity. Growth and maturity come from working at things for a long time. You need to work on your character, your skills, and your life purpose. These things take work and time. Allow me to digress a bit. I have a high affinity for food shows. There’s a show which features diners in America. In a particular diner they make doughnuts coated with bacon. It sounds strange but I reckon there is a method to their madness. When they make their doughnuts they mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients of course. One of the dry ingredients is yeast which makes the doughnut to rise so that when it is cooked it is this big fluffy ring of goodness. The thing that stuck me about their process of making doughnuts is that they let the doughnut sit for 24 hours. The host of the show asked again “24 hours?” Yes they said. Then he said “I love these guys”. The host of the show owns a restaurant or two and he knows lots about food. But even he was impressed that they would let their dough sit for 24 hours because he knows the product at the end is of superior quality. It won’t be your typical dime a dozen doughnut literally.

Still on food, it is common knowledge that a good wine is one that has been matured for a long time. Give a wine taster a 2011 bottle and he will only taste it out of politesse. Even the makers of Tabasco sauce proudly say there chillies are matured in oak barrels for six months. When you think of your average tomato or chilli sauce you would say “six months, are these people nut?” But you’ve tasted Tabasco sauce right; you know it’s not your average chilli sauce. What does this mean; if you want to be a dare I say a superior quality being you have got to know it is a process. Like the song Makossa there is no such thing as an overnight sensation. And if you think about it those overnight sensation songs fade to oblivion as quickly as they came.

Finally I will leave you with a story I have heard twice: the story of the Chinese bamboo tree. I am sure some of you have heard it, feel free to make any corrections where I have exaggerated or something like it. A person bought a Chinese bamboo tree seed and planted it. He watered it and tended to it for a year and nothing came out of the ground. He watered and cared for it the second year and still nothing came out of the ground. The third year he did the same thing. He watered and cared for it but nothing. The fourth year he still continued to water and care for it and nothing came out of the ground. By now someone must be saying insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. But still the fifth year he watered and cared for the plant. Around the third month or thereabouts something emerged from the ground. It was the Chinese bamboo tree. He continued to water it and within 5 weeks the tree had grown to 90 feet. This is a valuable life principle, invest in your character, abilities, life purpose and keep at it. It will surely pay off one day.

Would you.

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I was going through my stuff and came across this poem I wrote. Enjoy!

If you did not know me, would you let me have a say

If I gave you nothing would you give me time of day

If I was chased with monsters would you for me slay

If my soul was restless would you for me pray

If I was in the mood would you with me dance and play

If someone indignified and discredited would you for me start a fray

If I became a bit misdirected would you stop me from going astray

Would you do all these for me would you find a way.

 

I ask you all these because I’m in need of a friend

Someone to whom warmth and kindness I will extend

Whose criticism to me will be to mend

Time in laughter and joy we will spend

When either of us are lacking it will come naturally to lend

In tears of misery on each other we will depend

I pray to the heavens it is you they will send

To have a friendship not even death will end

 

Now you must be wondering what I see in you

It is your warmth and kindness that seems so true

Although I barely know you I may not have much of a clue

I still imagine a winter’s day with you, the sky will be blue

With that shine in your eye I believe good times we will accrue

It makes me smile the adventurous things we will get up to

I honestly see you fitting in my shoe

I can only hope you feel the same way too.

Truth: Let me tell you.

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Truth: Let me tell you..

Whoever came up with the expression “the truth hurts” left out a part of that expression. I reckon the full expression should have been “the truth hurts but lies are septic”. Anyone who understands the word septic knows it ain’t pretty. It comes from the word sepsis which is usually used in reference to a wound which has gotten an infection. I can feel my stomach turning at the thought of it because like I said it ain’t pretty. The same thing with our interactions with others where there are lies the wounds that are resultant might as well be septic. They take ever-ever to heal, they hurt to a point of numbness, the festering sore spreads on and if there is no anti-biotic death is a slip away (think slippery slope). Since childhood we have been taught to believe the truth hurts and of course it does. Centuries later there has been plenty of evidence to show that lies hurt more than the truth but no one has coined a phrase about it. I could be mistaken though there might be an expression showing how harmful lies are but it is not in common usage. At this point I hope you are busy opening another tab to google this. Anyway, please do find those expressions about lies and let me know in comments.

The truth is scary, telling it and receiving it. But I think we humans have made it a bit difficult to speak the truth. Let us all trace our steps back to childhood. If you are lucky you grew up in an era where parents were parents (no offence to modern day parents). I mean parents those days were the king and queens of their castles. As you know kings and queens have royal sceptres with which they wield their power. In those days the royal sceptre was nothing fancy with diamonds and gold it was just a big old stick. More to that; as with any kingdom there were a pre-determined set of rules with which people were to live by. As you can now imagine the sceptre was used to enforce those rules. Some of our parents liked the military style of things “do now and ask questions later”. So when mum tells you not to stick your fingers in the sugar jar (read sugar dish) she just wants you to follow that rule. It does not occur to her to give any explanations as to why you shouldn’t stick your fingers in the sugar dish. Though you don’t understand the fuss with nibbling grains of sugar, you knew better than to question it. More to that; you knew the consequences of doing otherwise and so even when you risked it and you got caught you deny, deny, deny (sugar grains around your lips notwithstanding). Why? Because we imagined the consequence of telling the truth would be very severe. So you lie hoping you cleared your tracks well enough, because you think that is the only way you will get away with it.

When I think about this I really wonder if perhaps I got this all wrong. My memory is a little hazy about times in my childhood when I told the truth and there were positive consequences. So I would like to ask you, do you remember ever telling the truth and there being positive consequences of truth telling? Because I know when I lied and I was caught there was hell to pay. A fine example of positive consequences of truth telling is Barack Obama’s election campaign. When he went about his campaign he let it slip and people knew that he was how should I say this, a crack head in his past life. That was very good strategy on his part. He knew leaking the news himself would diffuse any sensationalism and all that other stuff that sells newspapers and tabloid magazines. But on the flip side if he kept the lid on his past transgressions, people would dig and find and it wouldn’t come out like (can’t believe I’m about to say this) a tiny fart; it would be kaboom!

In psychology we learn about reinforcement. A reinforcer is something that increases the likelihood of a behaviour occurring again. In this case I am of the opinion if a parent were to respond reasonably when the child told the truth this would reinforce truth telling making it more likely to occur again. Respond reasonably does not mean you let the child gets away with mischief all willy-nilly. I would say make sure the child knows you appreciate their honesty then make them understand that you are punishing their mischief. You may not be a parent but this information you can use later. However you are in a variety of relationships; the question is how do you respond to truth?

Does your friend, boy/girlfriend/spouse know they can be honest with you or does the idea being honest with you seem like a visit to the dentist: sharp machinery will come out, some drilling without any laughing gas. When people justify telling lies they say I don’t think she/he can handle the truth. Of course that is so overly presumptuous because who’s to say you can’t handle it? But then again people can read signs based on how you behave. How do you handle conflicts? Do you hit the roof, go into a verbal tirade, get defensive, throw objects or withdraw and give a cold shoulder? What I would say is encourage people around you to tell you the truth. For a start let them know the truth is important to you because honesty is the fuel that drives trust. Then when someone tells you a hard hitting truth before you say anything calm down; sometimes the best response is no response at all. If the person has made the kind of confession that has your head throbbing and your eyes searching for sharp objects in the room, give yourself a time out. You can walk away to clear your head or you can tell the person to get out. If you are the bearer of bad news, do respect the person’s decision not to want to share oxygen with you at the time and leave. Though the truth hurts it needs to be confronted. Like a fresh wound after applying pressure to stop the bleeding you need to prod to see how deep the cut is so you know how to administer first aid. So even if it is too much for you that you need to walk away you need to come back (when you are calm) to talk things out to see how the matter can be resolved.

All of the time telling the truth at the earliest opportunity is the best option. Telling the truth early is like a small cut it can be bandaged and it heals quickly. But when a lie is told which needs to be covered for with another lie the cut gets deeper and with time it festers and you know the rest is a gory mess. So folks help people tell you the truth and you tell people the truth.

Truth: Let me tell you.

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Whoever came up with the expression “the truth hurts” left out a part of that expression. I reckon the full expression should have been “the truth hurts but lies are septic”. Anyone who understands the word septic knows it ain’t pretty. It comes from the word sepsis which is usually used in reference to a wound which has gotten an infection. I can feel my stomach turning at the thought of it because like I said it ain’t pretty. The same thing with our interactions with others where there are lies the wounds that are resultant might as well be septic. They take ever-ever to heal, they hurt to a point of numbness, the festering sore spreads on and if there is no anti-biotic death is a slip away (think slippery slope). Since childhood we have been taught to believe the truth hurts and of course it does. Centuries later there has been plenty of evidence to show that lies hurt more than the truth but no one has coined a phrase about it. I could be mistaken though there might be an expression showing how harmful lies are but it is not in common usage. At this point I hope you are busy opening another tab to google this. Anyway, please do find those expressions about lies and let me know in comments.

The truth is scary, telling it and receiving it. But I think we humans have made it a bit difficult to speak the truth. Let us all trace our steps back to childhood. If you are lucky you grew up in an era where parents were parents (no offence to modern day parents). I mean parents those days were the king and queens of their castles. As you know kings and queens have royal sceptres with which they wield their power. In those days the royal sceptre was nothing fancy with diamonds and gold it was just a big old stick. More to that; as with any kingdom there were a pre-determined set of rules with which people were to live by. As you can now imagine the sceptre was used to enforce those rules. Some of our parents liked the military style of things “do now and ask questions later”. So when mum tells you not to stick your fingers in the sugar jar (read sugar dish) she just wants you to follow that rule. It does not occur to her to give any explanations as to why you shouldn’t stick your fingers in the sugar dish. Though you don’t understand the fuss with nibbling grains of sugar, you knew better than to question it. More to that; you knew the consequences of doing otherwise and so even when you risked it and you got caught you deny, deny, deny (sugar grains around your lips notwithstanding). Why? Because we imagined the consequence of telling the truth would be very severe. So you lie hoping you cleared your tracks well enough, because you think that is the only way you will get away with it.

When I think about this I really wonder if perhaps I got this all wrong. My memory is a little hazy about times in my childhood when I told the truth and there were positive consequences. So I would like to ask you, do you remember ever telling the truth and there being positive consequences of truth telling? Because I know when I lied and I was caught there was hell to pay. A fine example of positive consequences of truth telling is Barack Obama’s election campaign. When he went about his campaign he let it slip and people knew that he was how should I say this, a crack head in his past life. That was very good strategy on his part. He knew leaking the news himself would diffuse any sensationalism and all that other stuff that sells newspapers and tabloid magazines. But on the flip side if he kept the lid on his past transgressions, people would dig and find and it wouldn’t come out like (can’t believe I’m about to say this) a tiny fart; it would be kaboom!

In psychology we learn about reinforcement. A reinforcer is something that increases the likelihood of a behaviour occurring again. In this case I am of the opinion if a parent were to respond reasonably when the child told the truth this would reinforce truth telling making it more likely to occur again. Respond reasonably does not mean you let the child gets away with mischief all willy-nilly. I would say make sure the child knows you appreciate their honesty then make them understand that you are punishing their mischief. You may not be a parent but this information you can use later. However you are in a variety of relationships; the question is how do you respond to truth?

Does your friend, boy/girlfriend/spouse know they can be honest with you or does the idea being honest with you seem like a visit to the dentist: sharp machinery will come out, some drilling without any laughing gas. When people justify telling lies they say I don’t think she/he can handle the truth. Of course that is so overly presumptuous because who’s to say you can’t handle it? But then again people can read signs based on how you behave. How do you handle conflicts? Do you hit the roof, go into a verbal tirade, get defensive, throw objects or withdraw and give a cold shoulder? What I would say is encourage people around you to tell you the truth. For a start let them know the truth is important to you because honesty is the fuel that drives trust. Then when someone tells you a hard hitting truth before you say anything calm down; sometimes the best response is no response at all. If the person has made the kind of confession that has your head throbbing and your eyes searching for sharp objects in the room, give yourself a time out. You can walk away to clear your head or you can tell the person to get out. If you are the bearer of bad news, do respect the person’s decision not to want to share oxygen with you at the time and leave. Though the truth hurts it needs to be confronted. Like a fresh wound after applying pressure to stop the bleeding you need to prod to see how deep the cut is so you know how to administer first aid. So even if it is too much for you that you need to walk away you need to come back (when you are calm) to talk things out to see how the matter can be resolved.

All of the time telling the truth at the earliest opportunity is the best option. Telling the truth early is like a small cut it can be bandaged and it heals quickly. But when a lie is told which needs to be covered for with another lie the cut gets deeper and with time it festers and you know the rest is a gory mess. So folks help people tell you the truth and you tell people the truth.