Blame The Game

Blame means responsibility for something bad or something that has gone wrong. The thing or person blamed always comes out looking bad and voila, you become the victim – poor you.

It’s easy to point the finger at someone or something else. Not only does it get us off the hook but it makes it easier for us to walk away from the mess we actually make.

Let’s Cast The Net wide…

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So, today a lot of us make the most of the blame game and can find a thousand reasons why things are not the way they should be. You’re not where you want to be, then you had a rough childhood, nobody loved you, no one helped you or you did not get enough time to do whatever you wanted to do.

Then there is the more ridiculous: you have a headache you blame the weather. You’re in a bad mood, someone put you in a bad mood, or you eat too much and naturally you may put on some unwanted weight, what do you do? You blame the food for tasting too good! Also, you are late, you blame the traffic, even though you got up late and did not leave out in time.

There are many ways in which we try to blame others for why things may be going wrong in our past or present situations.

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The fact is when you do this, you do not address the real elephant in the room. You.

I’m sure sometimes we do not realize we are doing it, because it has become so common place. Let’s say you make a mistake. Instead of acknowledging that you did and try to correct it, you may spend a couple of minutes trying to explain why you made the mistake. Also, that why could have a longer time than a couple of minutes, and actually waste everybody’s time!

But consider if you keep doing this, you cannot escape you and whatever problems you face now from doing this will only get worse.

Instead of casting the blame for you mess, stick around and clean it up.

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On The Shortness of Life

Do you get really anxious when the subject of the time you have to do all you want to do comes up?

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It’s not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it’s been given to us in generous measure for accomplishing the greatest things, if the whole of it is well invested. But when life is squandered through soft and careless living, and when it’s spent on no worthwhile pursuit, death finally presses and we realize that the life which we didn’t notice passing has passed away.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

If there was a great deal of truth in the words of Seneca, a Roman Stoic Philosopher, then the last part would be darkly humorous. Imagine complaining about something only to realize when you’re losing it that you had it all along but was too blind to see it for what it was. Oh the irony! And yet many of us are quite easily going down this truly ironic path. Life is too short! This is the cry of most.

Time is too short!

There aren’t enough hours in the day to everything that I want to do and accomplish!

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The ironies of ironies is that those who cry, moan and complain about the shortness of time and therefore life, are the biggest procrastinators. Again of this I and many many more are guilty. I think we would be hard pressed to deny this. So we waste time, then complain that we did not have enough of it to do all that we wanted or were meant to do. Sounds about right!

So Seneca encourages us not to waste time complaining about the limited time we have to live our lives but to maximize it so we live purpose driven lives that lead to happiness contentment and NOT regret. In his essay, The Shortness of Life, he gives specific ways in which we waste time. Now do these sound familiar?

We waste time by:

  1. Chasing wealth or what he terms, voracious avarice (sound nice to say too! Say it with me, Voracious Avarice)
  2. Pursuing things that do not benefit us and that lead to very little meaningful returns.
  3. Drinking and getting drunk, smoking, partying. Generally seeing live as a 24 hours happy hour event.
  4. Trying to be at the top of the totem pole. Generally trying to win popularity contests as we seek to ambitiously get ahead.
  5. Either try to conquer others or being anxious about being conquered.
  6. Trying to please those above us in order to be in their good graces. Even though that won’t to where we want to be. But we are too blind to see this, until it is too late. Oops, time’s up!
  7. Not really having a plan or as he puts it: Some have no goal at all toward which to steer their course, but death takes them by surprise as they gape and yawn (YIKES!)

Now honestly which have you been guilty of?

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He goes further in his writing to bemoan our shortsightedness in allowing distractions (vices) that take us off track and prevent us from using the time we have in a more responsible way. The good news is that all of us are screwed! The rich, and seemingly most “successful” among us, are also capable of falling into this trap. Clearly he was not partial in his assessment. He further writes of our very human need to attain recognition from others, even while we do not take time to look at ourselves, and recognize our worth, but expect others to do so. Another serious crime committed by us all is the fact that too many people allow others to “trespass on their existence” – attention everyone, do not allow instances where others control your lives while here on this earth! These are things that we need to hear; it’s not that others are wasting your time, but you are allowing them to do so.

Interestingly, he notes the importance of reflecting on the past for self-assessment and for not repeating the errors once made. Sometimes we refuse to look too closely at things we have done because we know that we do not come out looking good! We would rather stay in the present, thank you very much, to worry more about our future. It is handy to remember that our past informs our present condition and plays a role in our future state.

Finally, one of the most dangerous and most destructive crimes we commit , is the fine art of being busy doing absolutely nothing. While he believed in the importance of pursuing philosophical truths, Seneca did not approve of people who really did things that had no true value on the quality of their lives or the lives of others. All those meaningless activities just to kill time (pun intended) really are our Achilles’ heel, in making the most of what we have.

Seneca ends with zero sympathy, and exposes those who waste time preparing for death and their post-life image, instead of enjoying the time they have in the land of the living and makes it clear that such persons are not worth our time:

some people even make arrangements for things beyond life — huge tomb structures, dedications of public buildings, gladiatorial shows for the funeral, and ostentatious funeral processions. Yet in truth, the funerals of such people should be conducted by the light of torches and wax tapers, as if they’d lived for the briefest span.

Seneca obviously did not mince his words!

And so I end with a word to the wise among us, ensure you use the time you have to do the things that matter most to you. Things that enrich your life while you have it. That’s the only way to show that you truly appreciate the life you were given. After all, you only live once!

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The Jabez Prayer

I recently came across this prayer and realized that it was a very popular prayer – yes I am currently living under a rock – that is prayed by people across the globe. Also, I have learned that this is a very powerful prayer and that those who testify concerning it, recount how their lives have been transformed by it.

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Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!

People spoke of receiving mighty things from God when they pray this prayer. Now if we are honest when we think of receiving mighty things and God in the same sentence, material things may feature in the mix. However, for me enlarging my territory also involves the idea of making one more aware of themselves and the world around them. It means being more insightful of situations and people we come in contact with. It’s not just about getting what you want but getting what you need to be a more informed and aware individual. To be wise enough, humble enough, patient enough and having enough love to have a positive influence. God wants you to reach and stretch beyond anything that you could imagine for yourself. God can provide more than you can ever imagine – no matter how active that imagination!

Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.

For me this part of the prayer offers much comfort when faced with very trying circumstances. If we rely on a power greater than, ourselves then we are already winners against all the obstacles we may face. But also, God granted Jabez what he requested because he was an honourable man. It was not because he prayed ceaselessly and then did whatever he felt like doing. No, he was honourable, he had the right attitude – many of us have allowed our lives to be filled with too much negativity that comes from our thoughts and action and do not realize that that is what is stopping us from succeeding. It’s nobody’s fault when we stand in the way of our own blessings, because of a stinky attitude! It also important to be aware that you can be your own enemy and with spiritual discernment you can remove negative people from your space.

And God granted his request.

Here I am reminded to be careful what I ask for. Be very specific in prayer and be willing to accept that what you want will be granted. Granted we may not always be asking for the right things and we know when we are not, but refuse to admit it to ourselves, but God knows! Make sure what you pray for aligns with who you are praying to.

So, next time you pray the Jabez prayer, make sure to remember it goes much deeper and wider than the small mention it gets in the bible. And I will do the same!

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Strength…

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Inner strength is an experience that leads to a sense of peace and having a sense of well-being. Being strong is hard especially when others do not expect you to be. We can easily allow situations to overwhelm us to the point where we cannot move forward, because we only can see the path we left behind. When we would rather stay in the happiness of the “good ol’ days”, then we can say forget being strong and just be complacent.

I have had to be strong many times. The first was when my mother left me behind and I, out of sheer terror ran behind her only to be beaten back to my new home. I had to learn to live without her. To only see her once per week and sometimes months in between. I felt like an orphan.

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I had to learn how to be strong when my grandmother, my second mother, died the day before my first exam, in the first year of university. When I had to attend her funeral I made sure to cry before and not during it. I had to be strong when I was told after the first year that since my grandmother’s death the little money available to me to go to school, had evaporated over night. I had to be strong, when Mondays to Fridays I went most days at school eating very little or nothing at all because I did not have enough for food and bus-fare. I had to be strong when all it seemed I was working for was not to leave university without a degree. I had to be strong working from 6:00 a.m to 7:30 p.m Mondays to Fridays each summer, after her death, so that I could have some money to go back to University, even with student loans. At least I had a way out.

And once I left I thought, ” well, I no longer have to struggle, once I get a job” – how Naive! I lost my strength many times since then and from most of life’s hard knocks I have not recovered. But I still have to be strong in order to get back to my true strength to meet my true true self again. So I can say hi, hello, how are you to the girl I once knew.

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Ubuntu

My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours…

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

a person is a person through other persons…

Nguni proverb

Ubuntu: (South African: Xhosa, Zulu)

Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu term which means humanity. The term is often translated as, “I am because we are” or “humanity towards others”, though there are many other translations of the term it has been identified by ThoughtCo as a humanist philosophy associated with Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It is identified further as behaving well towards others or acting in a way that benefits the community . for others also, Ubuntu is a soul-force: actual metaphysical connection shared between people and which helps us connect to each other. Ubuntu will push one toward selfless acts.

In life you know you have your own race to run and so you run it. You find yourself in front as you approach the finish line. You know you will win. Ahead of that win is a large some of money, a title and fame. You are running your race and you feel really good, you are now almost there. Then from the corner of your eye you see someone has collapsed, He or she has fallen by the wayside. What do you do? Do you leave the person there because you have a race to win or do you leave him or her there until you have finished your race? If you stop to help you will forfeit the win but if you continue you can win and then go help. Many may feel that option two is a win win situation. You win and then you help. But while you are there celebrating your win you may forget about the distress of that one person; as hundreds of well wishers surround you. Even worse, while you celebrate that win that person who is still where you last saw them is slowly losing the battle of life.

Will you embrace the concept of Ubuntu, act against your own self- interest and self-ratification to support someone in need? In the process you would be building each other up.

Simon Cheprot helps Kenneth Kipkemoi cross the finish line after he
collapsed during the
IAAF Okpekpe International 10-kilometre race on May 25, 2019 in Nigeria. (source:
Daily Nation)

What’s in Your hand?

Many times we focus on what we do not have and we ignore what we do have. We do not take the time to nurture what we have and truly miss the opportunity to really transform our lives and the lives of those around us.


Sometimes the “little” that we have carry the greatest reward…

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It is a common mistake that we make and we do not realize how much we have cheated ourselves until its too late to really do something about it. It’s too late. Those three little words haunt many.

So what do you have in your hand?

what are the things that you take for granted because you are always hungry for more?

It could be material possessions, untapped talents or even the people who are always around. Those who keep us going when we do not have the strength to carry ourselves.Those who motivate us when we are paralyzed by fear. Sadly, they are usually the ones we take for granted.

When I think of all the persons who have touched my life in a positive way I feel truly grateful. I think of all the strong black women who have influenced me and I know I have been given a precious gift that money cannot buy. It may sound cliche, but let’s be honest it is the truth.The things that value the most, are the things that carry no price tag.The people who help to make us the best we can be.Those (simple blessings).

There are many times that we complain of not having enough.But we ignore the stories of those who have less but do not complain; they just get things done. Those who are oppressed but have the mental and physical superhuman strength, to survive abuse of one kind or another and smile laugh and cry but make it through those hard times. Those who walk with death everyday but do not stop living the best they can.

Use what you already have to transform your world. Look at what you have in your hand…