Friends with food

Standard

I think I am a little vain. I imagine some of my friends’ eye brows furrowing thinking, a little? I wouldn’t blame them. At the moment I am on a default exercise programme. Now before you get excited when I say exercise I mean the kind that will not break a sweat. Don’t get me wrong I love sweating as much as the next guy but if it involves pain I will take the easy way out. My exercise regimen consists of a 30 minute walk 5 days a week. I call it exercise because when I talk about it to people who spend a lot of time in vehicles and chairs, they are impressed, and maybe a little envious or not. If you’re on the other side of the divide and you break real sweat through adrenaline inducing work outs, a one hour walk might make your eyes roll but hey I don’t care. I will keep walking for vain reasons like I’m losing inches. If walking does what jogging could do and with less pain, I will take it. Anyway the vain part of the story stems from what I think about losing inches. What can I say I love it! Every time I talk about it I have this celebratory tone like woohoo! I’m getting smaller! On the surface I am thrilled about being smaller but deep down the thing that makes me do mental cart wheels is I can look at all food sinful, eat it even and enjoy it thoroughly, knowing full well it will not remain with me for too long. For someone who loves food this is like having your cake and eating it too. Allow me to digress a little but I reckon the expression would have made more sense had it been having your cake and ice cream. I keep asking, who is this who thinks cake is for having and not eating. In case you’re wondering; I am whetting your appetites so that I can talk about food.
My favourite scene in Eat, Pray, Love was when Elizabeth was in Italy having Pizza. She was tearing into a pizza and her new found Swedish friend couldn’t shake the guilt off having the indulgence of a large pizza because her pants were getting tighter. Then Elizabeth said we are going to enjoy the pizza and thereafter go shopping for bigger pants. I loved it! I mean really how liberating is it to realise that we shouldn’t be defined by external things. I once had some philosophical moments and I thought we should treat food like we would our friends. It made lots of sense back then, I don’t know if it does now especially since you can’t eat your friends. This is the part where I ask for your indulgence. In my epiphany I thought love your food but don’t depend on it entirely. Food is a necessity, it tastes good (depending) but it is not everything. Do not rely on food to sort out your emotional issues. Of course food especially sweets are amazingly comforting when you are in an emotional funk but the truth is if your friend figured out that you constantly go to them when you have emotional issues they would grow sick of you. Since they are your friend they might react by being passive aggressive and avoiding you. Food may take the passive aggressive route too but it won’t be so forgiving. It will hide in your body as fat and kill you slowly.
It has been said variety is the spice of life. Every once in a while you need to make new friends if only to broaden your experience of humanity. When your experience of humanity is broadened your adaptability increases. Adaptability is essential for survival. Same thing with food you need to try new foods every so often. Your palate needs to experience different tastes so as to make you more adaptable to the environment. You might end up in Cambodia where their food philosophy is apparently ‘bitter is better than sweet’. If someone gives you the opportunity to experience some novel food, you grab that opportunity. You never know where life will take you so even your stomach should be prepared for anything.
Then there are the toxic friends who do you no good. Yeah sure, they are loads of fun but they leave you high and dry. At this point I would like to clarify food includes drinks. You keep saying I don’t want to hang out with X anymore because every time I do trouble bites me in the behind. Foods or drinks with high sugar content fall into this category. When the sugar wears off, you crash and burn. At work there was a kid’s birthday party and there were marshmallows. My colleague and I helped ourselves to the marshmallows and I figured since I don’t enjoy the spongy super sugary taste of marshmallows as is, we should toast them. Personally I think in the case of marshmallows once you go dark you should never have to go back. So we went looking for some fire and well we decided to use the birthday candles to toast the marshmallows. Don’t ask! Anyway so we put our marshmallows on forks and we toasted them and you know the result, some ooey-gooey bundle of goodness. We were so pleased with our genius that we high-fived each other when we were bragging to our colleagues about our treat. Besides the marshmallows we had earlier had some cake with jam spread on it so you can imagine sugar on sugar. At first I was totally high! I mean you should have seen me super charged past 3p.m. Normally, the average person wishes the clock was a horse so you could kick it so it goes faster but then time decides to be a donkey at that time. Later on I was heading to town for a meeting and I ran into traffic and by the time I got out of the matatu I was so mad. I had to calm myself down throughout the entire 15 minute walk to the venue. In spite of my best efforts to calm down I was still the crankiest person at that meeting. Newton wasn’t kidding, what comes up must come down. I won’t even get started on alcohol because everybody knows first high then dry and literally because you need to hydrate afterwards. Toxic friends will drain you so the best thing is to avoid them same goes for food. Toxic food and drink should be avoided. Unfortunately some of us are weaker than others and we can’t entirely avoid these things, one word: moderation.
I always say moderation is key (if you haven’t heard me say it, I’ve said it to myself). There is a programme airing on a local TV station called Slim Possible that follows some women’s weight loss journeys. I know some people are having a blast being mean and criticizing them and I will admit my constant thought is “why let the weight get so out of control only to suffer later?” Honestly I feel sad that someone should have to repent for having a piece of cake during the week. Once, a friend blogged about his culinary creation and posted it on face book and the description was mouth watering to say the least. The funny thing is it sparked a debate on calories and death by heart attack and I contributed to the piece saying food is not the problem, we are. We lack control, we ignore all the signals our bodies send to us telling us to stop and then we blame it on innocent bacon. I mean bacon doesn’t call to you saying come and eat me and even if your mind is playing tricks on you and bacon is beckoning, shake your head, say no and live to enjoy bacon another day. Food is to be enjoyed but if you take advantage of food there are repercussions. Go on enjoy some food with friends today!

Advertisements

“The Me Date”

Standard

I was having a conversation with a friend who is a bit older than me and is a pastor and he was telling me that if you think you cannot date yourself then you’re not that dateable (for lack of a better word). Then he asked me “would you date yourself?” then he quickly added “don’t answer that; just think about it”. Though he didn’t want to hear my answer and I’m pretty sure I said it anyway; the answer was yes! I have often been accused of blowing my own trumpet, so do not mind my saying I am pretty awesome! I would date me in a heartbeat! Funny story though I am still single ha ha ha! A little while back I was having a conversation with a friend and I was saying I was going through a period of dryness. This also translates to a dry spell but I avoid using the phrase because it can mean a whole of things in different contexts. So what I meant by period of dryness is that I hadn’t had a date in a bit of a while (read months-I know right, don’t ask). In the course of the conversation I mentioned a book I had read called “The Thrill of the Chaste” by Dawn Eden. I had to mention the title because it has been so long since I have seen so witty a title. I think this book title still takes the cake though “Humble Pie” an autobiography on Gordon Ramsey’s life comes close. Sadly I did not buy Humble Pie but I digress. The Thrill of the Chaste is about; as the author puts it a sexual revolution of a different kind. The gist of it is: everyone is doing it (sex) so go against the current and don’t do it. At some point the author was talking to single women about putting themselves out there. In a sentence she was saying, “Get out of the house!” She said “if you’re reading this book at home get out of the house and read this book at a coffee shop”. She also advised taking a laptop to a coffee shop and surfing the internet, going to a play alone among other things. The interesting thing is this wasn’t new to me. I have gone to a coffee shop alone and surfed the internet. I have had nice lunches all by myself but what is it that was different about what she wrote? I think for me it was finally! someone who endorses spending time alone.

See when I was in university I would tell my friends that I loved to go out to coffee or lunch to nice restaurants alone and I was sadly called weird most of the time. For most people having meals alone is inconceivable. I know people who say they would go hungry if they did not have company for lunch. I used to find that so amusing but maybe it’s because food always had a special place in my heart. I would pick food over loneliness any day. Anyway as much as I found it amusing that some people cannot enjoy meals alone I cannot say being called weird for eating alone did not affect me. With time I found that I would be out for a meal and I wouldn’t enjoy it as much because loneliness would creep in and I would wish I had company especially male company I must admit. Thank goodness I realized I am the kind of person who sometimes needs her space (maybe a lot of the time but I love company still, I really do). I realize I have been this way for the longest time. I have been a reader of lifestyle columns for ages and I remember reading about the independent woman who could do lots of things for herself. Now I know calling myself an independent women is walking on slippery ground because the term has been demonized in all sorts of ways and sometimes with good reason; but I have to say when Destiny’s Child coined the phrase I was sold. A little later probably in high school I told myself that life offers no guarantees that people will always be there for you constantly so learning to be alone would be a good skill to learn. From then on I relished the thought of having coffees and lunches on mi own.

Like I said spending time alone is not new to me but then something about the book made it take a whole new meaning. It started a new phenomenon I’m calling the “me date”. The essence of it is since I think I am so awesome who better to date me than me? Sounds a bit quirky right? Last I checked quirky is charming and that’s exactly what I’m going forJ. It occurred to me that most of the times I had been out with myself I did not think of it as a date with myself and we all know perception is everything.  Now with a little more perspective I could not wait for the next time I would go for coffee alone. So I planned it and you should have seen me trying to figure the best day of the week to go. My planner is a witness with dates marked out and cancelled. I figured out the date then I had to pick an outfit. Then I organized how I would make sure my hair was done so I would look really dapper. That morning it wasn’t ordinary soap it was shower gel. To top it off a good book to read landed in my hands just days to the date. I admit I secretly (not so secret anymore) hoped the book would be a good hook for conversation with an interesting guy (tongue in cheek) but I tell you that’s not all I hoped for. It really is true what they say, anticipation is half the fun. Thinking and doing the same things I would if I was going on a proper date created such a buzz of excitement that I counted every day until the date. Then I had the date and it was just tea and a brownie but I savoured every bite of that brownie as it melted in my mouth. I also devoured the book and I smiled and winced even chuckled in equal measure depending on the ebb and flow of emotion the book required of me. I have to say it felt good to be me that evening. When I got home I said to myself “that was nice”. Now as I write this, hours later I have to say “it was epic”. The last famous words, “we should do this again sometime”, come to mind.

It has been said that being alone need not be lonely. I now know this to be true. It is so important to appreciate your own company and to treat yourself well while you’re at it because then you realize you are a gem. When you realize you are a gem then you will be able to say,” I would rather be alone than stand rubbish treatment from someone else”. Please don’t be the character in the Evanescence song whose title I cannot recall who sang “anything is better than to be alone”. I think those are the most heart-breakingly desperate words ever and anyone who even remotely thinks that may not have much future left or whatever’s left may be bleak at best. So do you want to feel good to be you? Put on a different thinking cap, dress up, get out of the house and enjoy yourself (like really enjoy, yourself).

Inspirational Love

Standard

This past week there has been a lot of talk about love because of Valentine’s Day. This is how you know how hallowed the day is when I tried to type it in with a small “d” the computer gave me the green grammatical error line, oops sorry Microsoft word. Historically Valentine’s Day has been termed a day of lovers but it is a day of business people too. Next to Christmas nothing puts a smile on business people’s faces quite like Valentine’s. Heck you don’t even need to be a business person; you just need to be enterprising. Since last Tuesday the number of flower and gift vendors has reduced like the liquid in 24 hour lamb. The good thing is the vendors who are left are in it for real love. These are the guys who make life tasty like the liquid left after 24 hour lamb; it is a delightful sauce that makes waiting 24 hours for a meal worth it (I’m not sure many people would agree with this but well…). The point I was trying to make (using all my thousands of words that I need to use in a day) is love should be an everyday thing. It should be expressed as often as there are breaths. A random gift or bouquet of roses or a single stem, a sweet card and a kind word does not require occasion.

The subject of love is fodder for books, music, cinema, TV, conversation in bars, coffee shops, salons and living rooms. I don’t know about you but mi thinks most of these conversations are based on trying to understand what this thing called love is. I cannot say I understand it either but I have a little insight on the kind of love I would like: the inspirational kind. Oh so many years ago there was a movie called The Best Man. The sound track of the movie was called “Best man”. It was sung by Ginuwine, Tyrese, R.L and Case. I must admit I couldn’t remember who sang the song until I googled it but when the song was fresh I would have been weak in the knees if I ever ran into any of these guys (thank God for time and distance). In the song the persona talks of this girl who changes his life for the better. That he was a boy when he met her and he has grown to become a men because of her influence and she has helped him be the best man he can be. I thought the song was golden I mean it’s really sweet that she influenced him for the better. I realized that love should be at the least inspiring many years ago and now I am more convinced of it.

A few weeks ago there was a discussion amongst my youth fellowship on sex and love was invited into the conversation. One guy said the most awe inspiring thing that love means adding value. It means you take a person who was ok when you met them and you love them into a higher level. Sounds good doesn’t it? Who doesn’t want to be in love right about now? Have you thought about the people you have ever related with are they so much the better because they encountered you? Let’s start small let’s go to your family. Can your family members say that your good qualities have rubbed off on them? Or did they pick up most of their bad habits from you? Are you adding value to their lives or are you taking them down a notch or ten? So many questions right. Let me let all of us off the hook and stop asking.

Relationships are a two way street. Whatever goes down between two people who are in any kind of relationship is the responsibility of each of the party involved. I would like to hope that you are inspiring the people you relate with but they also have to decide to be inspired. A few months ago I was hanging around this guy who was really interesting and I liked him. I realised that we had something in common a passion for food. Around that time I kept telling myself I was waiting for some perfect opportunity to experiment in the kitchen. When we had a conversation about food and he mentioned he likes to experiment in the kitchen and he actually does, I thought to myself why not me? I haven’t seen the guy in ages but the desire to experiment in the kitchen has stayed with me. I have since cooked for a few friends and family and it was amazing! I want to do this for the rest of my life. People may walk in and out of your life but what you keep with you from these encounters is entirely up to you. Sometimes we get hurt but even when we have been hurt there was some good in that relationship. What was it? Can you figure it out and take it and run with it. The truth is if you choose to hold on to the hurt and the pain then you lost and when you lose so many times you are in danger of feeling like a loser. On the other hand if you can take something that will benefit you in a future relationship then you are so much the better. What can you take you ask? Where do I begin? How about you take those characteristics you found admirable in the person and practice them. Like your ex was a good time keeper you can learn to keep time. I know it sounds silly but maybe your new ability to keep timing will elevate your status and you never know who is watching. Maybe your dad was a lousy husband to your mother but he taught you to be philanthropic, take it and run with it. Your ex was a go getter, borrow a leaf or better yet get that leaf! This person has a great relationship with God, start asking God what you can do to have an awesome relationship like that with Him if not better.  At the end of the day, if you are in any relationship and you choose to inspire the other person and be inspired by the other person then no matter what happens everybody is a winner. Last I checked winning is cool!

The Village Dance

Standard

When I was in high school in my Social Ethics class I learnt that the village dance was a great part of courtship back in our African ancestor’s times. Now that I think of it I also remember reading of the village dance being a precursor to courtship in Ngugi wa Thiong’ o’s “The River Between”. I am pretty sure Nyambura* caught Kinuthia’s* eye during the village dance. In our modern times I beg to ask what happened to the village dance. Some people may argue that it has been replaced by the rave. To that I would say the rave is a watered down version of the village dance of yester year or more like it is a spiked drink version of it. This is because you don’t need an expert to tell you, the rave is hardly good soil for good marriage mates. But for those who were lucky enough to find a good spouse in the midst of all that loud music, high temperature and smoke, good on you mate! You see the village dance had some romance to it though the participants those days would have never used romance in a sentence. The romance I am talking about is in the propriety of the dances at that time.

The men, they were brave. They had just undergone initiation probably slaying a lion and they felt fearless. So at the dance, when the guy identified the object of his admiration, he walked up to her and asked for a dance. I imagine thoughts of rejection may have crossed his mind but he figures he was out in the wilderness and came back alive, so what if a girl doesn’t want to dance with me? The women, they were poised and graceful. They had come from training in womanhood. They were confident that some good guy would ask them for a dance. All she had to do was make eye contact for a fleeting second, look down and smile. And if he didn’t come then he wasn’t it. It was simple. Things were so easy back then right? Now it is all so complicated.

I recently read an article about social dance and it made me think the principles of social dance could very well be applied for dating in modern times. With that in mind I propose that the village dance be brought to life with a few modern twists. For a start the traditional dances could be replaced with ball room dance but the exception is the “mwomboko” because it was ballroom dance. When I say ballroom some people may imagine some stiff sashaying around a ballroom but it doesn’t have to be that way. I prefer Latin ballroom like Salsa and Tango etc. Usually the guy asks a girl to dance. The girl is at liberty to decline or accept. If the girl declines it is not at all a reflection on the guy. He should move on and ask another girl. For the girl if you want to be asked to dance, it has been said stand at the edge of the dance floor. Put a smile on your face and stamp your feet like you are enjoying the music. This sends the message I want to dance and someone just might oblige you.

Now that you are all partnered and on the dance floor, the man takes the lead. Leading is supposed to be oh so subtle it is a gentle tag, a lifting of the hand. There should be no pulling and pushing. A girl should never lead herself or try to lead the man, it maketh the man mad. Men this would be a good time to remind you to watch your hand. Your hand should never go too south, north is always best. Don’t be the guy who finds a dance opportunity and decides to make maximum use of it by taking his hands on a tour. Like in the village dance of yester years self-control was a mark of quality. During the dance it will not kill you to have a good time. Have fun and try to look it. Also away from the dance floor, work on your dance technique.  If you have the ability to dance really well, it increases your popularity on the dance floor. For the fellas there will be no getting turned down. For the ladies, there will be a line waiting to dance with you. The rules of social dance say you shouldn’t dance to many subsequent songs with one partner. In other words even if the person you got paired up with is an absolute delight do not hog them. After one song set them free and find someone else to dance with. When I did salsa class in university, this rule made total sense. It was all about variety and variety is the spice of life isn’t it?

Another rule that cannot be ignored is don’t take dancing too personal. You danced with someone, you had a good time, the chemistry was palpable and you hope they felt the chemistry too. Wrong! Don’t assume that. When I did salsa class in university I always told myself it’s nothing personal it’s just salsa. Trust me it is better that way. If you take the dancing too personally and hope for romantic attachment afterwards, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and maybe heartbreak. Granted there are people who find romance from dancing it should never be the sole intention for dancing. I mean there are better reasons to dance like improving on your technique, getting a bit of a work out, meeting new people etc.

In conclusion what can social dance teach us about dating? The guy should initiate and take the lead. This means the guy should be confident. The girl should be warm and receptive remember look like you want to dance. Guys, be respectful just because you are hunters doesn’t mean you should maul the deer because she agreed to dance with you. Finally, enjoy each other’s company and unless there is information suggesting that there could be more, don’t put all your emotions in that basket. Social dance has been compared to a five minute encounter at a cocktail party. You have five minutes to impress but if you don’t, it’s never that serious same applies to dating. While it is argued people date to find marriage mates, I would also say like dance dating is good exercise to build your personality and character (if you meet inspiring people, it will rub off on you). So go on, dance away.

 

*names haven’t been changed to protect identity rather they have temporarily slipped my mind.

 

Embrace Discomfort

Standard

Sometime last year my friend was driving us to a place close enough to the CBD. See we live in a country where traffic in the central business district is a complete nightmare so drivers avoid it like most people avoid pumpkin in a meal. For those of you who are confused right about now, pumpkin must have bribed its way into becoming a pet name if you ask me or other pumpkin averse people. So as he was driving us we passed some gorgeous houses on Dennis Pritt Road and State House Road and these houses are the stuff of dreams. Then he said the most interesting thing: he said he likes to drive around the “better” neighborhoods because it makes him uncomfortable with his current status quo. I found that very interesting and yet it made sense.

Discomfort is not something anyone enjoys (I mean its discomfort). It doesn’t get any more enjoyable than that but yet there is a point to it. I dare say we should embrace discomfort. Look around you at most of the successful people you know or have heard of. What do they have in common? They all grew up in discomfort and that is putting it mildly for some. They had to contend with less than the prescribed three meals a day. They did not have the best clothes. They may have had to walk long distances to school and luxuries that some of us consider so basic were just fantasies for them. Discomfort has a way of reinforcing our desire to change the status quo and it does more than that it causes us take action. Just think if you were wearing an ill-fitting pair of shoes and it was the only pair of shoes you owned, would you not want to work harder so you can afford another pair of shoes that fit better?

A few weeks ago I read an article and it made me uncomfortable. It was about rich Kenyans under 40. There are people on that list who are 27 years old. I am going to be 27 in the not too distant future (God willing) and after reading the article and pondering I need a miracle. But that is beside the point; what can we do to reduce our discomfort about things? Well, one of the things I have learnt over the years is that hard work is a huge factor in getting to the place you want to go. Besides working hard you need to work smart. Working smart is the best option because sadly because some hard jobs don’t get people pay that is anything to write home about. Instead people would rather toss the letter in the dust bin rather than send it home. To get out of discomfort you might have to get your hands dirty (and I don’t mean soiling your hands with shady business). Quite a number of people on that list started in agri-business. Allow me to digress a little. For the longest time my dad has decried the decline of agriculture in the rural areas. The young people in rural areas have been made to believe farming is a dirty job (literally) and they would have better luck coming to the big city. As a result farmers have a difficult time finding farm hands.  Yet what I find amazing, is that there is an emerging wave of graduate farmers who are taking it upon themselves to feed the nation.  I have to confess all the times my dad mentions Jembe and I in the same sentence I chuckle but I kid you not I’m so proud of graduate farmers everywhere I will soon join them: watch this space.  Another thing I learnt is you need guts. I went to a meeting last weekend and guts was defined as Getting Used To Sneers. You might choose to do something that people will not think too highly of and that is too put it mildly. We have innumerable stories of people who did very unglamorous work in the beginning but years later became the subject of envy. Whatever you are doing don’t let anyone despise you. The truth is you need to start somewhere. It was said at the meeting if you get used to sneers you will get used to success. It still spells G.U.T.S.

I have gravitated a lot towards enterprise and money but it does not stop there. I don’t care what people say there is more to life than money and quantifiable success. Are you uncomfortable with your relationships with family or friends or significant others? It’s ok. What are you going to do about it? The natural response by us mortal ones is to complain about the other person not doing this or that, not understanding where I’m coming from etc. This is selfish! Yeah I said it. Please don’t think I’m writing from some lofty horse. I am guilty of being selfish too. When it comes to our relationships, time for self-reflection is an underrated necessity. When you self-reflect you will see that you have been selfish in one way or other unless you don’t have a pulse. Feel the discomfort of your selfishness and work on it. Once I read a quote that I will paraphrase that said “everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing themselves”. I know it has been said so many times it’s a cliché (people please find another line but) “change begins with you”. Think about it one it only took one person to decide eating meat was bad and now 1% of the French population is vegetarian. <Random fact of the day> The French love their meat so much that a vegetarian association had to lobby the government to get a more diverse meal plan for their schools. Would you like other people to be kinder, be kind that’s one kinder person in the world; a couple billion to go but still minus one mean person.

I think we are still in the season of making resolutions and one that makes the top ten lists is “I want to go to church more often”. Mi thinks people make this resolution because they are uncomfortable about their spirituality. I challenge anyone who has made this resolution to do one better. Resolve to know God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Going to church is great but knowing God even better. I was watching a spy series and the male agent never liked to read the manuals of electric machines because he preferred to figure it out on his own. The result was the percolator caused the coffee beans to come out in an explosion. Don’t be that guy. God gave us a manual called the bible. You don’t have to figure stuff out all on your own. I find that when you read the manual you might even discover how to use the extra features on the machine. Who knows what else you percolator can do.

I finish with asking you to watch the movie Rio. Blue was a blue macaw (go figure) that was found by an American girl after he was smuggled from a forest in Rio de Janeiro. Being found was great because he got to live a cushy life in a house in America. His cushy life contributed to his not learning how to fly. The story went on and he went to Rio because it was thrust upon him to save his species by joining with a female macaw, something he did not want to do. A lot of times they were in danger and mostly because he couldn’t fly and he kept bringing the female macaw down. To cut a long story short, Blue had to save his female macaw friend from the hands of the smugglers and since she had hurt her wing he had to carry her and fly. The moral of the story is when we are too comfortable we don’t invest in skills (among other things) which we really need. However life throws discomfort in our way so that we can use our wings and fly.

Be in love always…

Standard

I have a confession to make- I have sat in a shrink’s chair and been shrunk. At this point I would like to apologize to the inventors of the English language for the blatant abuse of language. I cannot promise I will not do it again. Anyway what I’m saying is I went to a therapist and received therapy. Now all ye who thought I was crazy; your suspicions have been confirmed. I don’t mind though, the best quote I have read in two months said, “What other people think of you is none of your business”. At some point during therapy we delved into relationships. I was (can you believe it) telling the therapist I need a boyfriend, lol! Then she asked why? To which I replied “I think it will add some excitement to my life”. Do believe I am smiling as I write this because I was so young and foolish back then, (this hasn’t changed I am stillJ). Then she went on to teach me a valuable lesson. She taught me that the right attitude is not, “I need some excitement, let me find someone who will bring it my way” or “I need love let me find someone to love me”. She said if your life is not exciting enough when you’re single, it will not become more exciting when you are coupled. If you lack enough love when you are by yourself, no one will give you the love you need. The right attitude therefore is my life is exciting let me share the excitement with someone and I have love, let me share it with someone who has love too.

The idea is wholeness begets wholeness. In any relationship the ideal situation is a whole person joining another whole person. When two whole people get together, they raise each other up in the same way iron sharpens iron.  When a whole person gets together with someone who is half-empty (for lack of a better expression), the whole person will be drained and the other person will be worse off than when they began and it will be disaster all around. Do you remember the movie “Jerry Maguire”? If your memory hasn’t been affected by the pressures of 21st century living you might remember it. If not, take heart you are not entirely to blame. The most famous scene was where (in no particular order) Tom Cruise’s character passionately and emphatically tells Renee Zellweger’s character; “You complete me”. Renee Zellweger’s character says, “You had me at hello”.  The line I have a problem with is “you complete me”. There is no human being who can complete another. Expecting someone to complete you is totally unfair because it is asking the impossible. If ever there was someone who can complete anyone it is God the creator because He knows all about your empty bits best and if you let him he will fill them up.

The other question is how you become someone who has love to share rather than someone in need of love. A simple answer is practice. I recently read the longest article and it talked about women no longer desiring marriage as before. There was a lot to sift through but I found something very useful from it. The writer said we spend so much time worrying about being single we forget that being single does not shut us out from all avenues of expressing love. This got me thinking that indeed we do esteem the romantic relationship too highly that we forget there are other relationships to be had. It is not uncommon to see someone get into a relationship and then months down the line you start to wonder what their face looked like because you really haven’t seen them in months. On the flip side those who are single feel like having a significant other will totally elevate their social life.

What I’m trying to say is if you’re single there is no better time to practice love like the present. Look around you, there are sisters, brothers, cousins, nephews and nieces, and not forgetting friends who could all use you special brand of loving. If it had not occurred to you, I’m telling you now; no one can love another person the way you can. Loving, no doubt require some sacrifice especially in terms of time and resources but whoever said the best things are free, lied. The better than best things or exceptional if you will require sacrifice. The time and energy spent loving other people will translate into a becoming more loveable with a more attractive personality to boot. This is because love begets love. When you love people, people will love you in return and when others see that you’re loveable they will be intrigued if nothing elseJ.

I will finish with a quote from Oscar Wilde. He said, “One should be in love always that is why one should never marry”. The first time I read this quote I only found the first half and I thought “interesting”. Later on I found the whole quote and I thought I disagree with the second part of it. Be that as it may, I think Oscar was on to something. My understanding of this quote is there are no excuses for walking around feeling woiye (read, woe is me) because you are not in a romantic relationship. Instead we should be filled with love for God, ourselves and the people who have been fortunate enough to cross our paths. As the prayer of St Francis of Assissi goes, seek not so much to be understood but to understand and seek not so much to be loved but to love (special emphasis on the love part).

The Art of Pain

Standard

Earlier on this year I kept hearing this song by Adele which I later discovered was named “Rolling in the Deep”. It starts with the lyrics “there’s a fire starting in my heart….” It continues into the chorus which says “We could have had it all, now you gonna wish you never had met me, rolling in the deep, tears are gonna fall rolling in the deep, you held my heart inside your hand, now you gonna wish you never had met me and you played, you played it to the beat yes you played it” (the italicised words are the echo). When I heard this song I was really curious because it has this brutal honesty which is so refreshing. After hearing the song for weeks without knowing its origin I was introduced to Adele.. I was introduced to Adele when Mnet Series sampled her album. She sang this song among many others in her Album 21. The interesting thing about the album 21 is that it is really sad and angry. Most of the songs talk about getting your heart broken and getting past it or just being plain depressed about it. Other songs are nostalgic of a love that is done and dusted while others cling to hope like it is a life line. What can I say, I loved it! The album reinforced what I knew all along; I love sad songs, angry songs, recovering from a bad situation songs because those songs are works of art. Don’t get me wrong I am not cynical. I believe in love and the beauty that comes with it; I really, really do. On the other hand, I believe that life brings with it painful situations and there is no need to gloss over pain. Glossing over pain does not make it go away; the same way bandaging an open wound does not make the wound disappear.
The lesson for today is the art of pain. I will describe situations and give illustrations of songs that best bring out these situations. We sometimes find ourselves in situations where we have been in a relationship and towards the end we realize that the person we were with is not who we thought they were. We feel deceived and it makes us want to set fire to the rain.
Bridge: But there’s a side to you, that I never knew, never knew
All the things you’d say they were never true, never true
All of the games you played, you would always win, always win
Chorus: I set fire to the rain, I watched it pour as I touched your face
Let it burn while I cried
Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name….
(Adele-Set fire to the rain, off the album 21)
This is a terrible situation to be in. Deception is never easy to deal with. The best thing is to learn your lessons and ran with them. The old adage goes, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”.
Then there is that time when you have been seeing someone, you have gone on a couple of dates but there is nothing concrete and you are not quite sure where you stand (pun intended). You feel like you are chasing something you can’t catch like you are chasing pavements. The chorus goes:
Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements,
Even if they lead nowhere,
Would it be a waste even if I knew my place, should I keep it there…
Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements,
Even if they lead nowhere
(Adele-Chasing pavements, off the album 21)
In such a situation my advice is don’t get ahead of yourself. If you know your place is friendship keep it there. Accountants will tell you “when in doubt, assume the worst”. A non-cynical way of looking at it is lower your expectations.
Have you been in a situation where the person you fancy is emotionally unavailable? The person could be emotionally unavailable because they are reeling from a past hurt. On the other hand you have been in this situation before where you spent your emotions on someone who was hurting and your heart was broken in the process. This time around you are gun shy and so you think:
Chorus: I won’t let you close enough to hurt me,
I won’t rescue you to just desert me,
I can’t give you the heart you think you’ve given me
So I’m saying goodbye to turning tables….
(Adele-Turning Tables, off the album 21)
What do you do when you’re in a situation where your heart has been battered, your self esteem bruised and your spirit broken? You take your heart and you get out!
Chorus: So I’m taking my heart and getting me out
And love’s something that I wouldn’t want to live without
So I’m taking my heart and I’m getting me out of
My own, my own, my own
I am taking my heart and I’m setting me free
And baby you are just another song to me
And the edge of your sword isn’t sharp enough for me to bleed
(Anna Nalick-Bleed, off the album Wreck of the day)
In the song she says she realised love wasn’t a good enough reason for her to stay. Sometimes people put up with a lot of things in the name of love. They endure physical and psychological abuse among other things but sometimes love isn’t reason enough and the only person who can set you free is yourself.
You might be wondering why the interest in sad, angry songs. In psychology class we learnt that when someone experiences trauma, the first course of therapy is called debriefing. Debriefing involves telling the story of the traumatic experience. Debriefing is one of the ways of processing the pain because as you tell the story of your trauma you re-experience the pain. With every subsequent re-experiencing the pain dissipates. Other ways of processing the pain include: journaling, singing, painting, letter writing etc. Given that not everyone is blessed with the ability to put their pain into words sad, angry songs come in handy. When you hear the words and you identify with them you get to re-experience the pain. With every subsequent re-experiencing the pain lessens and the bitterness dissipates and you heal with time.
Sometimes the pain of losing in love is insurmountable and you feel like you are driving away from the wreck of the day, but there’s someone you can turn to:
Driving away from the wreck of the day,
I am thinking of calling on Jesus,
Love doesn’t hurt so I cannot be falling in love
I am falling to pieces…
(Anna Nalick-Wreck of the day, off the album Wreck of the day)
At the end of the day when you have experienced more pain than you can handle, the one person you can really turn to is Jesus Christ. He is the God of all comfort, he is the friend who sticks closer than a brother and when your esteem has taken a beating he is the lifter up of your head.