Indaba We will come like avengers from the four corners of the earth where we have been scattered and gather. Here around this fire we will tell stories of how we triumphed blazed through failures like wildfire and jumped the line of discord that tried to derail and intimidate. Here we will remember that we are someone mighty and valiant our Ori go before us and we are not afraid. No we cannot be stopped our energy comes from remembering. We are forked lightning that can never be stopped.
I saw this quote recently and it coincided with some hard truths I stumbled upon. Lately, I have felt immobile by regret, discontent and a feeling of utter dissatisfaction with the state of my life. I know a part of this was burn out but it was also a malignant feeling of seeming never to truly be making progress in any area of my life. It came from a sudden attack of feeling stuck in life and realising that I was not blameless in this. I realise that the time has come for me to admit and accept some hard truths and this episode of discontent has revealed some true gems that have birthed great discomfort for me.
Some Hard Truths:
- The hand that wields the sword is more dangerous than the sword itself: I am pretty sure that you have heard some version of this before. However, for me, it has come to mean that I am not blameless in the state of dissatisfaction and discontent I am experiencing now. I have continued to make the same mistakes expecting a different result because of how earnest I am about experiencing change. I am earnest but my actions have done more harm than good. I need to take accountability in this regard.
- Do not wait on something outside yourself or your environment to make you feel complete or happy: Again I am sure that some of you have heard this before. But we need to recognise the truth of it. I have lived in denial of this. When you look beyond where you currently are and think that things will get better when you leave where you currently are then you will always be miserable there. I have to find the good in and learn how to be content again where I am.
- Do not make excuses because they trip you up and keep you grounded in the same place: It is so easy to blame everything on others or circumstances. Do not make excuses take action and own up to your part in whatever has gone wrong.
- Big things happen from small moments and actions: I have to stop resting on great expectations with Bollywood productions. Just do the small things and let go of those big plans.
- You control the journey you will experience in life: It is so easy at times to blame others for where you are at a certain point in your life. “If you did not have to do this for her”, or “If you did not have to go there for him” are thoughts that can hide the fact that you made decisions whether based on desire or out of a sense of duty, fear or guilt. It does not matter, you chose to help, to give and to be where you now regret you have been, what you have done and how much of you and your resources you have given.
- Make things right as soon as possible whether or not the fault is yours: It is a lot harder said than done but having peace of mind demand this is done. So whether we want to or not peace comes from making peace.
- It’s not that you cannot find time to pursue your dreams, it is that you have not made time for them: I have wasted so much time doing truly meaningless things time I could have spent working on those things that aligned with my goals and vision for my life. I now have to work on being disciplined and pursue my dreams actively.
- Lack of fear and self-confidence stunts you, not what others say or do: At some point we have to decide to move forward in spite of it all even our own limited view of our abilities.
- Don’t wait on the approval of others: We often turn to friends and family to get validation or a word of advice about something important t o us. However, learn to be more confidence in your ability to make the right decision. I have realised also that what I want more than sound advice is to place the final decision on someone else. So now I need to practice making the decisions that need to be made without expecting others to tell me what I should do.
- Your ideas wont wait on you to manifest, when you put them off they eventually find another more capable source: With this I will be simple, your great idea is your great idea until someone else makes them come alive. Then they become a wish never fulfilled.
- No one is limited or needs more than who they are: It has become so easy to compare yourself with others, without even realising it. Then one day it all comes to a head and you realise you have been making a list of all your shortcomings and they now overwhelm you: “What have I done, achieved in this life so far? Nothing”.
- Self-help books do not produce change in your life, only your thoughts and actions can: I have read a couple of self-help books and while in the moment they were great they were not this miracle text that delivered on results the way I erroneously felt they would. I now realise that they can help toa degree but I have to do the work, show up and make the time to work on improving areas of my life that need the work.
I know that as with anything else truly being accountable is the best way to learn from those truths highlighted above. But in a world that seems to change so rapidly nowadays we need to stop and pay attention, then take action.
When I would hear about a tragedy happening to someone, whether I knew them or not, I would immediately say, “that is so terrible” and immediately think, “thank God it’s not me!” I was relieved I had been spared the suffering that person was enduring at that time and I prayed fervently to God that it would never be my experience. You see, I naively believed that I was more special than others in their darkest moments. Little did I know that it was just that my turn had not come yet, but it would.
Now I believe that when one of us suffers we all suffer. Since the pandemic, I have heard too much of death and loss, of sudden tragedies and life-threatening emergencies. Through them, I have come to be more compassionate. So now my first thought is not that I must be lucky, but what can I do, what can I say to lessen the blow for that person. How can I be of service to ease some of their anxieties and pain? How much bearable those moments of loss, suffering and pain would be if we realised the importance of really, sincerely and authentically supporting each other. I know there is a sense of peace and comfort with knowing that many are with you, praying for you that many support and will lift you if you should fall and fall hard. It is good to know and this brings peace of mind that money or any valuable possession can never replace. W need each other.
For me, this is a truth I can see more clearly at times like these when uncertainties seem ever more present than they were before. We need each other, not to be separated by perceived advantages that make some feel more valuable, more visible and less silenced. We need each other because our very survival depends on it. Without each other, each of us will get lost along the way until there is no one who can if you a hand. No one to cheer you on, loudly and passionately, to the finish line
It is easy to turn away from someone else’s pain and suffering if we want to do so. However, because there are many threads that connect us in some way or another, it is impossible to avoid. So instead of trying to avoid the impossible, why not see your humanity in them and support, encourage and uplift them to where they can be healed. So that when your time comes there will be someone or many someones there to advise you, help you to find and apply the antidote and help to nurse you back to health. When one suffers we all will suffer and when one is honoured we all must rejoice.
Let’s make this week a Wisdom Week and start today on the right path by considering the value of moderation.
Moderation is the avoidance of excess or is defined as doing something within reasonable limits. Now, moderation is not an area I am NOT strong in. When I decide to do something anything, I go all in. There is no halfway about me. However, this is something that has time and again been detrimental to my achieving any goal I have, as I get into trouble a lot by having the most unrealistic mindset and acting in the most extreme and unnecessary manner. And this is can be so exhausting. It is certainly no sane way to live! No matter what it is, if I am trying to be healthier for example, in the past I have gotten to the point where I end up eating next to nothing because it seems even a “superfood” or the healthiest thing on God’s green earth has a disadvantage. So, quinoa is good, then actually not, well dark chocolate is way better than milk chocolate but actually, it’s not! This goes on until I end up with a way of eating that is so extreme that I cannot keep it up and worst is damaging to my health and well-being. In order to have the perfect diet I somehow end up with a really unhealthy one and I know the inability to approach the enterprise with a concept of everything in moderation is the main culprit at play. I have yet to master the art of thinking and acting in moderation.
The question is also, is this possible for everyone to do? Can we all live a life based on a framework of moderation? To be extreme is to be farthest from the centre. If we are always going to the extreme, we are always moving away from the centre, we are always awry. If we are always awry, then we can never see the way ahead clear enough to read those signposts that can help us to the other side of where we want to be. Always having to remind ourselves that we have to be the best version of ourselves and be positive, smiling, smiling and being on our ‘A’ game can be quite annoying, tiring and lead to frustration or even resentment. Even being kind can become sickly sweet as the giver can burn out faster than a forest fire. Stretching yourself thin to do good has its disadvantages it would seem because we don’t know how to straddle that middle ground and find our centre.
A part of this need to be so extreme I believe, stems from how some view moderation. Some believe in order to be successful you have to give all or nothing. But is it really a good thing to have no middle ground (centre), to compromise on nothing all the time? Me having such a mentality has not worked out well. You see the more I tried to be an extreme me, the further away I got from myself because no one can last long being off-centre. It will manifest in some unpleasant ways that will set you back further than you thought you would ever be.
So at this point, I am all for moderation in my life. I no longer believe that I have to be the best, just that I have to do my best which sometimes is just showing up, not because I have anything to contribute but because that is all I have in me to give on that day, at that time. And that is okay. There is nothing wrong with being moderate, in fact, it is the happy medium I now seek. I know it is not elusive or a unicorn, I know I will have to rethink, relearn and reevaluate how I look at the world and how I look at me. But I believe it is the star I need to see my way ahead and avoid potholes that my extremist mindset cannot see.
Do you still blame your situation on circumstances beyond your control? I do. All the time. And I know I need to stop. I know it solves nothing. I know it leads nowhere.
It is so easy to blame your problems on things outside yourself. It is so tempting to offload all of that responsibility onto something else, especially if you feel or know within your heart it is justified. However, what purpose does this serve? Does it mean that by blaming others or something else, we can work through or even solve those problems?
When we think about accountability, we often times, think in terms of someone else. It is hard for many of us to separate our feelings from fact and see that we may have a lot of responsibility for the undesirable seasons we find ourselves in. When the wound is fresh and we are blinded by the pain of a particular situation we ignore the fact that the vehicle that carried us to where we are, are based on the decisions and choices that we made. Yes, those behind it may be evil, wicked people, but did we know that they were evil, wicked people going in? Did we know we were entering blindly, lacking the proper wisdom and knowledge and still went in? Did we know that we were starting something that held no guarantee, but we did it anyway. Now we are devastated because the results do not match our expectations – even if we knew those expectations were baseless.
Yes, there are times when really, things just happen and we have to roll with the punches and make the best of a bad situation. On the other hand, what we choose to do after the unexpected, may require us to take some if not all of the blame for the way things turned out. Things happen, all the time, but how we react to those things is a choice we make, whether it takes an eternity or a split second to make that choice. At the end of the day it was a choice that we made. There is no going back from it and there is no hiding from it either.
Can we take accountability fully and stop watching as things fall a part? When we see things are not working out, whether with a project we are working on, a relationship, job or friendship, we may need to step into solution mode and stop blaming everything around us. Do you know someone who seems to never get along with anyone, never fit in anywhere and can never do anything right? Maybe we check those boxes? Well at what point does it become a matter of that person taking a good look internally, and not what others have done or not done, not focusing on what opportunities were given or not given, but at what that person did or not do, believe or not believe assumed or not assumed? Unless there are perfect persons walking here on earth, then at some point the continuous valley season some of us experience may more than likely have something to do with what we are doing or not doing.
Accountability is necessary. It is important to hold others accountable but it is more important in solving our own problems, to make sure that we are holding ourselves accountable. So no excuses, do not fall in the trap of being a bystander in your own life, take accountability, know what you are about, take back your power and do what is needed to write your story in the way you see fit.
I know we talk and think a lot about building wealth, building our lives and securing our future. However, sometimes we forget to really check in with ourselves to find out why we are doing all of this. Is it because it is what we should be doing or is it because we are trying to, “keep up with the Joneses?”
Is the foundation on which we build our lives shaky or is it firm? Are we operating from a place of genuineness or jealousy and envy? These are questions that we don’t want to even think about let alone try to answer. But we must. We must, because once we start making progress and begin to see the manifestation of what we worked so hard for it is too late to go back to sure up the foundation, and we know what comes next:
Now, going back to the issue of building. Building our lives is important, but what that is, is going to be different from person to person. We cannot build off the energy, ideas or lived experiences of others, but from our own knowledge of who we are, what we can accomplish based on that and what we have to work with. This idea came to me literally as I was minding my business by minding someone else’s – a terrible human condition – and came across a bible scripture. Now the section that really caught my attention and took me off someone else’s business and onto my own, is Psalm 127: 1: Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it. From that verse I started wondering how many of us really think about what goes into the base, the foundation of our lives. When we make decisions that affect the rest of our lives do we think about why we are making those decisions and can we even be truly honest with ourselves about that. Are we building to be validated by others or are we building because we see ourselves as valid enough to operate from a place that is at the core of who we are?
I have come to realize that it makes no sense to see someone else and desire what they have. Take social media, we all know that what we see there is often times not real. The lives presented to us are not real, the situations are not real and the bodies often times are also not real. Yet, we fall into the trap of desiring what we see there. I was recently watching a YouTube video that pointed out that some of those popular fast fashion sites cater to a particular body type. Yet, you will still find women who buy those clothes to look like the models on the site. These same persons will then proceed to berate and discredit themselves because they do not look the same in the outfits that were never created for their body type.
It is the same in many areas of our lives. We may see a popular personality that spreads sunshine and roses. Who tell us to just be positive and pray real hard and one day your live too will come up smelling like roses. But guess what? It is okay if you find another path to happiness that does not mirror that person’s path. It is definitely okay, if you do not end up with the same results after seeming to follow in their footsteps, because you my dear, are not that person. You are not them and will never be. Secretly, There may be too many among us, who fall into the trap of living vicariously through those who seem to have reached the spot they one day want to occupy.
Some persons begin to think of all they can do to reach the same place as those they see as having succeeded. They get all the advice they can get, or, watch all the videos they can watch and seek out those experts who can give them what they don’t have. And yes some want to pray the same prayer/s that got those persons what they have. But here is the thing, you have to find your own way. You cannot encroach on some body else’s vision and plan for their life. You cannot go to the places they have been to or do the things they have done. You cannot pray that person’s prayer because it is specific to that person. You have to find your own way. Find what works for you and take the path that you can travel. You cannot pray Ciara’s prayer if you are [insert your name here].
Life is too short to be chasing someone else’s dream and trying to live someone else’s reality. Take a look at yourself, know yourself and love yourself enough to work on living a live suited for who your are, and not what you think you should be. Have dreams yes and work towards realizing them but make sure it is being done because and not in spite of who you are. We all need to be reminded of this for time to time. So pray your prayer but make sure it is your own unique prayer