Writing; addiction or outlet?

By the time I figured out what that phrase meant, it had already passed its shelf life. An idealist at heart with bucket loads of naïveté, I expected to go out into the world and save it from itself. Initially, I misinterpreted the phrase to mean “love the outcome of what you do” and I give credence to the fact that for most people who do what they do for the money, this is exactly right.

For a mind bordering on solipsism, money and fame become repulsive but also an undeniable part of reality. As disillusionment takes its toll, one wonders where the fallacy ends and it never seems to. For a world that can’t be saved by an individual, what is an individual to do? Be an unwavering individual.

With billions of minds on this planet, each seemingly in competition for a few “good” jobs here and there (thanks globalization). What do I have to offer that I know would be a win-win situation for an organisation and I? My mind went over my hobbies and interests (I did try to find a job that would allow me to sleep in the early hours of the morning and wake up late evening but I didn’t really want to be a DJ). It seemed clear and obvious after that. I would have to become a writer.

Shortening a long story, I found myself in an interview for a writing internship in an organisation that seems to be doing exactly the kind of work I myself would like to do. What were the odds? This is where the happily ever after is supposed to come in, the screen fades to black and we walk out of the cinema. But there I was, with the internship that I wanted. What now? I spent a week trying to calculate all the consequences of all my possible decisions and fussed about my deliverables. I focused on everything my mind could lay its tentacles on and because of this, I missed the details. I froze, petrified in light of getting what I wanted. The thaw might be slow but I know it will be steady.

Writing will be my first consciously developed addiction.

And so, my first fable…

 

The Top of the food chain

 

Sometimes, when the moon is full and the stars are twinkling, all the different animals in the ocean are allowed to talk to each other. They sing and they dance, sharing stories of the different reefs and gyres.

One night, however, while the animals were socialising, a great net appeared from the surface of the ocean and scooped up all the little tuna, some turtles, dolphins and other sea creatures before closing up and rising back to the surface slowly. The animals screamed and cried. They tried everything to get out of the net but none of them had teeth sharp enough to cut through the net.

Meanderingly, Shark swam up to see what all the commotion was about. The animals begged Shark to bite the net for them but he laughed as he swam away.

“I’m at the top of the food chain” Shark thought to himself. “Why would I waste my time helping the animals?”

Many moons later, after all the animals had observed and timed the appearance of the net that had taken their friends and family, they began to gather again and share their stories at a safe depth. One night, they saw Shark swimming close to where the net was scheduled to appear and they tried to warn him. Shark prided himself as being the most fearsome fish in the ocean so he ignored them and promptly got scooped up by the great net.

Unfortunately, because Shark was the only one caught, the net was so light that it rose back to the surface before any of the other fish could help him. In that moment, Shark knew that despite his sharp teeth and his ability to scare other animals, he was not at the top of the food chain.

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Till death do us part

Something old

There are few things in life that stay with you long enough to leave a lasting impression on you. There are even fewer things in life that stay with you forever, even when you don’t want them to (no, this is not another post about millennials living with their parents). Looking back at my childhood, sifting through the encrypted memories to find the root causes of my adulthood failures, I’ve found maize to have the most regular appearance in the background of the rest of the drama of my life. The harried breakfasts that consisted of porridge doused in milk and sugar, laced with margarine. The tearful suppers when I didn’t want to eat tomato skins because they looked sharp enough to slide into my throat lining but I learned how to hide them inside my rolled up pap and it was an added benefit to learn how to swallow without chewing (food inhalation is a skill). After years of having pap for breakfast lunch and supper, I inevitably rejected this staple when my inner rebellion began. Anything corn was banished from my life with any flimsy excuse I could come up with. I even made new friends who didn’t like pap.

Now, as I rediscover corn and appreciate its nutritional value, rivalled only by its long history next to the human species and in my personal life; “something old” becomes something ageless.

Something new

After watching a few documentaries and learning about humans killing the planet, I decided to take responsibility for all the animals that my choices had killed. I decided to end my passive killing spree by converting to Vegetarianism. In the first couple of months, my head was a giant panic button. Whenever the thought of food came up (every 21 seconds), I would contemplate my decision to abandon all the protein in the world. Thankfully, my carnivorous ignorance came to an end gradually and I discerned a whole new world of food. From legumes to other, more exotic sources of protein that we don’t have time to expand on right now. Still, being a veggie didn’t manage to reopen my eyes to the magic of corn but this “something new” did manage to pave the way a more accepting palate.

Something borrowed

A meal is more than just a plate of food. A meal is an experience that your subconscious will remember long after your teeth have fallen out and you need an assisted living facility when all you can eat is liquid butternut. Childhood meals leave the longest lasting impressions and one of my suppressed memories (meals) is pap and mince. Pap, cooked until it collects into one big white, grainy mound on your plate. Mince, made into a thick brown gravy and if you’re feeling exploratory, mixed vegetables add a healthy dimension.

Now, as you may have guessed, I haven’t been able to realign my inner childhood memory with this meal because I’m a vegetarian BUT, some weeks ago, someone I trust suggested that I try soya mince. The boxed kind from Pick n Pay. I have to emphasise the trust because if anyone else had suggested it, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Generally, I’m not a fan of anything that TRIES to be meat. I’ve had a few scares since becoming a vegetarian and you don’t want to sit through a meal wondering if you’re eating something that had a life, a family. However, after experimenting with different ways of cooking the soya mince, I finally found the right combination of flavours and textures to light up those forgotten regions of my brain that can only be turned on by my food experiences. So, even though soya mince may have “borrowed” its name and texture from mince, it still tastes *beep* good.

Something blue

Do you ever have those days when no one gets you? When you try and share your thoughts with the world and the world turns its back on you? When I have those days (more often than you’d realize, what with my outgoing personality and easy glamour…), I turn to food. Good, home cooked, comfort food. For a long time, that food has been exclusively pasta, rice or bread. Unfortunately, the effects of their comfort wears off quickly and I’m forced to cook something else, with even more starch. Until now. Having pap, with all the memories attached and the starchy goodness that has blessed so many generations before me, I feel at peace with the world for much longer. Having pap is an intimate affair for me, see, I eat it with my hands and this comes naturally to me. Engaging with my food is as important as preparing it. In short, whenever I’m feeling “something blue”, I know that I can turn to corn. As I open my bag of tortilla chips and prepare my oven for the nachos, I soak my pap pot in hot water and wonder where my depression went…

Upon accepting that my stomach is betrothed to corn, I have gained a new excitement about food which I never thought possible. As I look to the future, a long life awaits those two and they have my full blessing.

Falling in love

You’ll notice the feeling of weightlessness
Before admitting to the senselessness
The unending gravity of the situation
Beckons in the manner of an incantation
Pain is pleasure, sublime
Pleasure is pain, in time

Rest assured, this is not the end
Gardens and Orchards, we have yet to tend
Living as man in a forgotten Eden
Dreaming as Gods, in a place still hidden
Love becomes the great equaliser
Desire remains a constant stabiliser

Heaven is a home, forbidden
Star-lit skies are left, unridden
Angels watch in silence for a sound
In their wounded hearts, nightmares hound
Paradise may be lost but love is gained
Pandora did say, all is feigned

I’m an adult now?

When it comes to being an adult,  I suck at it.  I have had no previous experience of it whatsoever and I’ve seen very little adult behavior in the people that called themselves adults as I was growing up and learning how to become said adult. At least, what little adult behavior was displayed was lost in the torrent of  mistakes that were made, which revealed the inner child of the person I observed. Basically, it took me a short time to learn that I should do as I’m told, not as I saw. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m finally convinced that this actually doesn’t work. I may try to make it work but you know what, the human influence on me is too powerful.  I am a creature that lives in a society that lives and breathes on it’s own and literally dictates my actions. We are people because of people and all that mambo jumbo spiritual jazz(which I totally believe in, so calm down okay)…

Now, as I approach my 26th year of watching people demonstrate the same behavior every single year and the few that manage to break the mold are the ones we’re told to be like, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, MLK…but we must do it without breaking the mold, like Einstein and other geniuses(well, I ain’t no genius so that’s not gonna happen). Basically, as an adult in this society, I have to think outside the box, provided that I stay inside the box. Well, it’s a good thing we’ve finally entered a quantum age because I think that the adults that came before me are going to get exactly what they asked for.  I want to  officially thank all the people that broke the rules to find the truth, all the women who sat in buses they shouldn’t have sat in, all the men who wore their sparkling dresses in an effort to  be themselves in a society that hated them and all the people today, who push the boundaries of freedom in an effort to create a place where we can all live in freedom.

But this “power” is useless if it isn’t directed toward a purpose, a reason for it’s existence. Rebellion is useless if it’s fruitiousness is questionable, the irony in that is subtle but enough to ignore for the purposes of this point that I’m about to  make.On becoming an adult, I’ve found myself bombarded with choices and with very little hindsight leaving me like a stunned deer in the headlights and unfortunately this deer looks like it’s about to go through a windshield…oh well, might as well embrace nihilism and move forward and enjoy the shattered glass and pretend they’re diamonds, thanks Rihanna, I’m gonna shine bright like you told me to.  -_-

Now, as I look at the system I live in, there are shouts for the political leader to stand down and this is mirrored in other countries to, since I speak of the wonderful rainbow nation that is South Africa. I’ve noticed that as most countries aka America(I don’t really see much of other countries, thanks to the efficiency of the American Broadcasting people, they really get their stuff out there and in your face) actually look at the root of the problem. Some still focus on Obama as the problem but I think people have hit the nail on the head when they think about other issues, like the prison system, the school system, institutions that deal with critical members of our society(criminals and children…yes, I think criminals should be dealt with in the same way we deal with children and mentally ill people).  In South Africa, everyone is screaming for the removal of Zuma and for some reason, they expect this to change the way South Africa works. After reading this article,  The Trevor Noah phenomenon, maybe there’s hope yet for my generation. What about the rest of the system? Why don’t we hear about the police brutality that occurs in South Africa? Do people really think that America is the only country that’s got this challenge? I saw a girl get dragged away by police officers(I’ll share the pics soon) and she may or may not have been in the wrong but I’m going to take her side because at one point, I actually did get stopped and they practically strip searched me in the middle of Long street, yes, I have witnesses, stopping traffic. I complied after a little resistance and pretended to take their names down because inside I was just too furious to think clearly. To stop me in the middle of the street and pat me down and go through my personal belongings like I was a common criminal and then laugh when I ask why. Is this freedom? Not to me.

So, in response, I ask, what do we do? How do we find out more about the South African prison system and what are we willing to do to get the truth in an ethical way that ensures that justice is maintained in this collapsing society. How do we find out information on a broken system when we’re told that we’re not allowed to do what it takes to get that information?

Do I really want to become an investigative journalist, an “ethical” one?(whatever the hell that means, which leader is ethical here?) On becoming an adult, they tell me that I have to do something I love but I must also be rich. What a load of crap.

Psychology festival of learning

It’s been difficult to come up with material for this blog…which I think is understandable, given the nature of what I’d planned for this blog. Addiction is never easy to admit to, much less talk about jovially and I applaud the people who can. I’ve had a few that I can’t own up to quite yet but once in a while I reach a point where I simply have to let it go and then it becomes something I can own and live through and thrive because of it. One such addiction has been more focused on the brain, I’m addicted to figuring out what I am and I still feel ashamed about it sometimes but I think it’s time to let go of that shame and own it.

I decided to feed my addiction by allowing the good nature of the Universe to lead me to good people who understand that this world needs more carers and their lives become a vote for exactly that. Because of this, I got to attend what I thought would be a blaring affair of amplified instruction on something slightly related to psychology but watered down for the masses (my pessimism has no place to go so I’m taking care of him until he gets back on his feet). This event turned out to be quite the intimate affair. As I walked in, bracing my ears for the onslaught of speakers, I was serenaded toward the entrance by what can only be described as an enchantress. Her singing lulled me into a state of sweet compliance and this continued all through the night. My perspective was changing, coming all this way might actually have been worth. (They had really good food you guys, like, I’m vegetarian so I know good food when I taste it hey, just saying)

The South African College of Applied Psychology(SACAP) hosted the Psychology Festival of Learning and held sessions, almost workshop like programs. I know my being got a real work out in those sessions. On the first night I attended, after gorging myself on the mini-quiches that were laid out buffet style, I panicked at the thought of falling asleep after my little meal but as it turned out, I didn’t have a chance to. The next two or so hours were dotted with short, 15 minute talks that reminded me of those refreshing bursts of spritzer on a hot Cape Town day. From the story of a local hospital(The Lentegeur Spring: Recovery and hope in a psychiatric institution) to conceptual tools aiding conscious change and inspiring us with the story of a man named Andreas Banetsi who saw the plight in his own community for psychological services and is pushing to meet that need with fierce determination. I mean the guy bought a bus and is using it to give people a safe environment to come to terms with their reality and live healthy lives, that’s hero material right there. That was an amazing night. The kicker was using Uber to get home, loved it!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it for the full day program on Friday…folks needed me. Forget the food though, the menu for that Friday program was a feast in itself. Anyway…I did sate my mind on Saturday. Also dripping with choice, Saturday gave me an Introduction to Mindfulness(pretty serendipitous if you ask me) and as a beginners guide to walking through a mini existential crisis was Knowing Ourselves as Such. The speakers, Mandy Johnson and Patrick Madden, made good use of the intimate atmosphere and got to know each participant on a personal level, which I feel is impressive, making 8 people(the participating audience) feel instantly at home and gently guide us through such a personal experience without any pressure or discomfort is no little feat. If the levels of sincerity and honesty in that building could be measured the readings would have set records for decades. I’ve never experienced my humanity with so many people in the same space and felt so accepted and whole.

My gushing will stop now, you know how it is when you get your first hit of what you know will be a long and prosperous addiction. You can’t stop thinking about it and I wish I wasn’t a “don’t kiss and tell” kind of guy but I am. Hell, I’ve bitten the apple on this one, probably with the same amount of fervor that Eve did those few years ago in the Garden.

The subconscious

With our advanced technology, our flights to the moon and back, exploring our solar system and observing long dead stars. With our certainties regarding God within religion and philosophies giving birth to entire civilizations. With our riches whether we deem those to be diamonds and fast cars or grandchildren and time to read some books. With everything we’ve achieved and everything we’ve fought for, human rights, land, freedom of speech, Kings, Queens, emperors and of course, religion. We still don’t know what on earth we’re doing here.

As I read more material and discover new ideologies I can only adapt my thinking as best as I can with the most recent and compelling new piece of information. Sometimes, I have an answer that I’m so certain of, I know I have to get everyone else to see it. Then it’s shattered or at least put aside by a new realization or experience. We don’t know who we are or what we are, we have ideas but they’re just ideas.

One idea that’s stuck around for a very long time is that we are One. We are a unit that has been divided and spread over time and space. This idea seems to make sense, everyone seems to think so. Sometimes one of those inspirational quotes actually get into my head and plays with my thoughts. The one that’s given me a new certainty was the saying “Everything around you is a reflection of yourself”

I’ll pause for a second and go back. I have to mention that through this journey I’ve been on, I’ve been getting to know myself. Getting to know my fears and loves. My desires and peeves. I’ve been getting to know my own mind basically. The thing is, the more I understand my mind, the more I pay attention to my subconscious, the more I understand the concept of oneness. This leads us back to the subconscious, we’ve been told that we’re all from the same consciousness. This piece of information is common knowledge. The only thing that separates us is the material world. If that’s the case, then essentially, each person you speak to is part of the same mind as you. A part of your mind that you don’t have direct access to. In each of us, that would be our subconscious. For a few hours I toyed with the idea of solipsism, I saw vehement arguments against it. Then I remembered that the imagination isn’t the subconscious. They’re very different concepts.

Another saying… “Everything in life is a lesson” …if you look at human existence from the perspective of a single entity, each and every single trial and tribulation has taught us something. As a single entity, we are complete in our experiences and abilities. As a single entity, we are, essentially, God.

ME: Cappello

Today, I really needed to get some work done that needed a good wi-fi connection and my own was too frustrating so I decided that I might as well enjoy the experience of using someone else’s wi-fi by drinking their coffee as well. Walking down the famous Long Street, I decided to go against my previous judgement and enter Cappello(yes, it’s a double “p” wordpress). So, this place is known for its alcohol, at least, that’s the only reason I’m aware of it, the fact that it’s a cafe is often overlooked. More often than not, you’ll find rowdy crowds, listening to some kind of hip hop type of music and smoking hubbly(that pipe with the water and the flavored tobacco, I tried it once, I got very ill). The general atmosphere of the place doesn’t appeal to me for those main reasons. The patronage I’ve encountered seem to lack the ability to understand what personal space is, if I wanted to get rubbed up by strangers I’m sure there are many other places in Cape Town I could go to…I, however, don’t need that kind of stimulation. Today was quiet, which delighted me as most other restaurants were jam-packed with people on their lunch break and I really didn’t feel like being part of the crowd, working themselves into a state trying to get the flustered waiters attention, no thanks. The usual sickly sweet smoky smell was absent and this was an endorsement(for me, I’m sure there are people who crave it) so I happily sat down and ordered an espresso grande(item on the menu), only to get told that they were out of stock. Cue moment of questioning silence…”alright, how about a double espresso” I ask. The waiter then left me for a few minutes to rethink my decision to sit here while he went to find out what was available for consumption.

I eventually got the coffee that I had to struggle for(I wonder what’s in an espresso grande that isn’t in a double espresso) and it was surprisingly very good. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t want to prejudge after I had come this far in my mission. It was deep and sweet, not bitter at all but still dark. It was like caramel but without the sugar, I regret letting it cool so much, the flavors worked better while it was just below scorching. It was also very strong, the caffeine kick came pretty quickly. There were no dregs at the bottom, I had guessed as much after the first few sips anyway, there were no grounds to press between my teeth and tongue. Overall, it was worth it, I only got bumped two times but one of them actually apologized, progress.

A few side notes about the actual place, it was really nice to find it empty, I wouldn’t have looked at it twice had it been full. It has a great view of the street if you like people watching as much as I do. The tourists looking all scared, excited and slightly baffled, the surfing store across the street with lots of eye candy(If you’re into that…I’m a gentleman), the music is consistent so if you like it the first time then you’ll probably enjoy going there lot. I would avoid sitting outside because it’s on the side-walk of a busy intersection so unless you’re in a huge group, be careful with your belongings, you don’t want a grab and run situation on your hands. Also, the wi-fi really sucks.

I wanna try the rest of their coffee 🙂