Thursday, 29 September 2016

Of Small Job and Big Power

I find the complete arrogance and impudence shown by people who have tiny jobs such as security guards, cleaners, secretaries, nurses, bankers and so on mildly disturbing. They seem to love to wield power even though they have little of it. I first wrote about this three years ago in a blog post I titled Misuse of Power, you may check it out here. Perhaps that was not an apt title because these people do not really have any power, they are just angry people who like to give others a hard time.
Sometimes bankers, especially tellers, are the worst. They are like those dementors in Harry Potter, they soak away ones happiness and replace it with moodiness and edginess and an urge to snap their necks. One of the most interesting things about bankers is that none of the monies they bandy about is theirs. Can you imagine being able to see all that money but not being able to touch any of it; it is kind of like being a door. Doors are what I consider to be the saddest, SADDEST things in the history of sad things. They let people into the party but they never attend the party themselves. Lucky they have no feelings. Bankers are like doors the way they are able to see but not touch. It does often seem like such a sad job and this is why sometimes one cannot blame them when they act like utter idiots:
‘I want to deposit some money.’ Person says to a teller whose face looks like a painting palette: There’s more makeup than face.
Teller stretches her hands. Badly bleached. Black knuckles. Black wrists. Fair arm.
Person hands teller some money as well as the deposit slip.
Teller hands it back. ‘You should give me the money first before the slip.’
‘What difference does it make?’ Person says.
‘Are you teaching me my job?’ Teller says.
Person takes a deep breath: Hands teller cash, then shortly after, hands teller deposit slip.
Teller looks through the slip. ‘It is not dated.’
Person collects slip and scribbles the date: Hands back to teller.
‘You did not write the account name properly.’ Teller says.
‘It is my account, I am depositing some money to myself, besides, what do you need the account name for, your business is with the account number.’ Person says.
‘Excuse me;’ Teller shouts. ‘I will not tolerate you teaching me my job.’
Person takes a deep breath, collects slip, looks at the clearly legible account name and draws a line over it then rewrites it above the cancelled one. He hands it back to the teller.
‘I am sorry,’ Teller says. ‘This is too rough. You will have to fill another deposit slip.’
Person asks for Account closure form and closes the account. One customer bank loses one customer.
C’est Fini!
This is such a bad thing, it runs from the security guards who stand huffishly by the gate with their stained white shirts and their dark blue trousers and tell you that you cannot go inside and ask ‘what can you do?’ and ‘Who do you think you are?’ when you attempt to argue with them, to the secretaries who wear Ankara prints from the last Ileya festival to work and tell you in their saucy, impertinent voices: ‘you cannot see Oga right now because Oga is in a meeting, you must go and come back tomorrow or the day after or next year or never ever.’ Or ‘You must be stupid to think that I will let you into my Oga’s office, do you want to fight me? Come and fight me now, useless man. I will call the security to get rid of you. Nonsense!’ Meanwhile Oga is in his office and has absolutely no clue what his dumb secretary has been saying to his visitors. This impudence on the part of tiny, miniscule, insignificant employees trickles all the way up, quite unfortunately, to nurses in hospitals. High-heeled and brainless are many nurses on most working days especially in public hospitals. They spend all day shaving their nails and painting their faces and talking about other people’s businesses and shouting abuses at poor, miserable patients who have no choice but to tolerate the maltreatment. ‘Doctor is busy right now. You are going to have to exercise some patience. You are going to have to tell me what your sickness is. What are your symptoms?’ They say, as if they have anything inside their head, shaking their overly made up faces so vigorously, you fear that the makeup would fall out of the face. It is often irrelevant what the severity of the patient’s plight is. The doctor is always busy. If you can’t tell me what your problem is, then you may die here for all I care. Sometimes, nurses are the worst.
On a final note, I do have some friends who are nurses and it is fair to say some nurses, just as I am sure it is with a few bankers and some secretaries and some security guards, are absolutely delightful and lovable human beings. The problem is that it is easy to generalize when some parts are bad. I mean, what would you do if I gave ten berries and told you three were poisoned?

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Blind Man's Circus

I have been a bit busy. There were things I needed to do. But I’m back now and that’s the most important thing.
How is life?
Interesting question, I think.  When someone asks how life is, I can’t help but wonder what the correct response is.  Is it supposed to be a personal question?  Is one allowed to just set off and REALLY tell the person how life is? Like, life is a blind man’s circus. It is a place, a place we hate but can't leave, even though leaving is not that hard. A place where we all pretend to know what we are doing but secretly we don’t, we are just waiting for someone to hold us by the wrist and lead us. Life is a thing, like a piece of paper, you can make marks on it and stuff, you can draw on it whatever you wish to draw on it, you don’t have to draw anything on it even, you can fold it by the edges and make it into an airplane or a boat or a gun or a flower: a rose and then you can paint it red with watercolour and you can pretend it is a real, sweet scenting rose and not just life folded at its edges. Nobody wants to hear any of these things, I don’t think. So why do they ask how life is? Why do we ask questions if we are unprepared to hear their answers?
I have been thinking about heaven and how relative a term it is and how maybe we have a wrong idea of the place. Yes, place. The first question is this: Is heaven really a place or is it an idea. I think that my imagination of heaven has changed a little in the last few years. Yes, I do think that heaven is a place, but not a place the way that the library is a place or the market is a place or the school is a place. It is a different kind of place, like, it exists on a separate dimension, a dimension different from the dimensions that every other place exists in. However, the composition of the place called heaven is what I think we may have the wrong ideas of. When I was younger, I pictured heaven as this golden republic where all the kinds of food you can ever imagine can be found and all you have to do to eat anything is as simple: think about it and it appears right in front of your mouth. What makes heaven heaven, is it the presence of everything we want or is it the presence of God? If it is the latter then we can as well say we are in heaven already, since, even at this moment, as you read this, God is with you. A lot of us have the idea of heaven as a golden republic, roads paved with gold just the way the bible describes it, but what happens inside? Other than the paved ways and golden streets, what happens inside the hugely ginormous mansions? More gold? Food? Books? God?
I have been thinking about the marketplace. The marketplace is a swirling vortex of entropy. It is chaos, it never stops: everybody is going somewhere; you cannot stand still in the middle of the market because you may be hit by a moving human body. There is something called Brownian motion in physics, it describes a phenomenon where particles suspended in fluid are in a constant state of random motion because they were unfortunate to bump into a fast moving molecule of the fluid. It is like the disorientation that occurs in your head after you accidentally hit it on a hard surface. This is what I am reminded of every time I go to the market. It feels as though everybody in the market is going somewhere even though nobody is actually going anywhere or knows where they are going. Most often, we are all looking for things and so we do not know where we are going because we do not know where we would find the things we are looking for. I think the only people who know what they are doing in a marketplace are the sellers, the ones who beckon on you to come and buy onions and tomatoes and red meat. They are strategic people, and they deserve some respect. They understand life. They understand the way in which the market works. They know that you cannot stand still, yet you cannot be sure where you are headed. They understand how life is a blind man’s circus, how he knows nothing except that there is space and so he just goes: walks and walks, aimlessly and confused, until someone holds him by the wrist and whisper’s in his ear: ‘this way.’ That is how they attract you: by telling you that they have what you are looking for, you can afford to stop moving now and go to them.
You can afford to stop moving now.
Till next time,, Keep dreaming!!

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Fighting Fires

I have been suffering from Writer’s Block for a little over a month now. I used to like to think of Writer’s Block as a convenient condition where a writer is consistently not able to come up with any type of content, mostly because he can afford not to. Although, no matter how much I try to dismiss the idea, Writer’s Block is a real psychological condition where the writer simply loses his ability to come up with new work and its duration could vary diversely from a few days to years, and that is usually the problem, isn’t it? the idea that this might be it, the fear that your writing days may actually be well and truly over. As a writer, it is a horrendous situation to be in.
I finished a novel called My Sister’s Keeper on the 4th of August, it is written by Jodie Picoult. One of the characters, Brian Fitzgerald, who is the main character’s father, is a fireman and, well, a part time stargazer. His first statements in the book: for every nineteen degrees hotter a fire burns, it doubles in size... Then: It is the biggest mistake rookies make: the assumption that fighting a fire means rushing in with a stream of water. Sometimes, that makes it worse... Then: A fire can't burn forever.
Fires, as I intend to look at it in this post, could be several things.
The first fire is feelings. I have been talking about feelings on the blog for the last three or so posts because I think that our feelings are not things that we ought to hide from. Feelings, just like fires, are subject to a lot of assumptions. Just the way Brian Fitzgerald opines in My Sister’s Keeper that rookies have the wrong assumptions about fighting fires where to them it only involves rushing towards the fire with a stream of water, people also have very inaccurate assumptions about feelings: that Person A feels this or that way about them, that Person B would react in such and such a way when confronted with such and such a comment or such and such a threat; that Person C would get angry when they say this to him or Person D would love them when they do this for her. This is probably why people act the way they act towards other people and it defines even more important characteristics such as goodness, friendliness, kindness. These characteristics are interesting because they are subject to what different people consider them to mean i.e., they are also relative. However, a good person is probably not going to intentionally attempt to act in a way that would make Person B react unhappily or cause chaos in Person C’s countenance.
The next fire is pain and it is very different from feelings. John Green said in a vlogpost titled On Pain, ‘language is always inadequate in the face of pain.’ I have known a bit of pain and so I know that John Green cannot be any more correct about it. Words just do not cut it, there just aren’t words invented (this is assuming that words are actually invented) yet that even comes close to describing pain. This indescribable thing could be either emotional pain, the kind you feel when you lose a loved one to death or to over-inflated ego, or corporal pain, the kind that makes you writhe. However, just the way Brian Fitzgerald says it, a fire can’t burn forever, Pain can’t hurt forever. There comes a period, either due to passage of time or an effective medication, when pain just ceases, it just stops. A second thing about pain is its irreverence. Pain, no matter how used to it you get, is never, ever your friend. And this reminds me of a beautiful novel I read once called Life of Pi written by Yann Martel, where a young man named Piscine Molitor (Pi) Patel, after a shipwreck, sails on a life boat for 227 days in the Pacific with nothing for company but an adult Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. For 227 days, Pi and the Tiger sail together, they get used to each other more than anything else so that by the time they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker, so extremely unceremoniously deserts Pi, the only living creature with whom he has spent the last 227 days. He wandered off into the forest. Richard Parker was never Pi’s friend, He was a Tiger, Pi was a man. This is how Pi describes it, I wept like a child. It was not because I was overcome at having survived my ordeal, though I was. Nor was it the presence of my brothers and sisters (fellow humans), though that too was very moving. I was weeping because Richard Parker had left me so unceremoniously. It is the same with pain. Pain is not your friend.
And the final fire, perhaps inevitably, is fear. Fear, just like feelings is very relative. Therefore, the fact that Person A has a fear for such and such does not mean that Person B would have that fear even if Person A and B are twins. This means that it is unlikely that fighting fear can be a group thing. Even if A and B have the same fears, the steps that A would take may not be the same as those that B would take. The absolute thing about fear is that it is a side effect of thought. You can only feel fear for something that you think about, and in this way, fear can be seen as a sort of clairvoyance, with your fear, even though it is mostly seen as negative, you are predicting what the future can be. Say Person A is terrified of snakes, and she finds a snake in her wardrobe, she becomes afraid because she is predicting that the snake she is so terrified of may harm her, this allows her to take some steps to avoid being harmed, it could be running away, getting people to help her get rid of it, etc. Brian Fitzgerald said for every nineteen degrees a fire burns, it doubles in size. The size of our fear becomes based on how long we let it burn. If Person A does not act quickly about the snake she has found in her wardrobe, her fear grows and grows until a point where her prediction becomes true. Fear is a rather complicated subject. Is fear a fire that we should extinguish, like the flames from a burning house? Or is fear a fire that invigorates and inspires and motivates us, like the flames of love? I will end with a quote I found by W. Clement Stone, Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

On Feelings

There is now a generalized consciousness among most people, I think, that life is short and so it is better to live it up as high as you can, to regret nothing as much as you can help it and, most importantly, as far as this blog post goes, to rid yourself of the things or people around you that do not bring you happiness in consistency and quality.
I hate to lose friends. The thought of losing friends scares me. It is hard to imagine how one could have had so much memory with someone and then, for reasons that are flimsy on most occasions but sometimes cogent, you and that someone just stop correspondence. It often does not matter, or matters very little how profound or beautiful the time you have spent together is, ego just takes over and the relationship ends abruptly.
But the thing I have not failed to notice is that it is absolutely necessary sometimes, for no other reason but for your continued peace of mind. I agree that I could be egocentric on occasions: not in terms of loving myself too much, but in my opinion of myself, quite simply, I think too highly of myself sometimes. It is a problem I know I have, therefore it is something I am actively trying to find a solution to. I think that a lot of us have this problem as well.  We want to feel that we do not need to be a certain way or do a certain thing because it seems too low. But perceiving a certain thing as ‘too low’ is strongly dependent on the person perceiving. Low is different for different people. What is low to you may not be low to me, vice versa. The point is I understand how our ego can take the place of common sense. How we could feel that there is no reason to be the person who fights for the survival of a relationship. It is easy to feel that way. It is also easy to feel that you have gained nothing but heartbreak and chaos from continuous friendship with certain people, a good example is friendship with someone you have feelings for. You could try but if the feeling is truly there, it is nothing but punishment to yourself, the way I see it.
It is not as easy, however, to cut off from someone, but sometimes it is the most rational thing to do. It becomes more important if your peace of mind and heart is at stake. Life is too short to hang on to shards of broken glass and hope that they would be kind enough not to tear your hands. Feelings are not as openly discussed as I think they ought to be. Feelings are essential and they are not just composed of love but of friendship, almost as equally. In the same way, heartbreak is dependent on so many factors and not just on the love of your life breaking up with you. There are so many components to heartbreak that breaking up with someone seems one of the most flimsy of all. Unrequited love, just like unrequited friendship, is such a sad and painful thing. And as such, I can only conclude that it is a sin against oneself to remain in harm’s way. 
I wanted to make this post as simple as possible but it is hard to not include a philosophical angle to it. Angles such as Eric Berne’s, a psychiatrist, who states “Some say that one-sided love is better than none, but like half a loaf of bread, it is likely to grow hard and moldy sooner.” It is a mirror of the classic example with which we like to describe anger, a hot coal, the longer you hold on to it, the more it burns deeper and deeper into your palm.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Little Drops of Miracle

It is interesting how we are able to rationalize our emotions and to determine the responses that make the most sense at any given time.
We are lucky to be here even at this moment when it seems as though we can hardly go a full day without hearing of a bombing in Baghdad that killed 250 people or a mass shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people or Donald Trump. There is a difference, I think, between an individual being upset about the bad things happening around or being pained because it is hard to understand how a person would gladly lose his own life and kill two hundred and fifty other people in the process, there is a difference between that and being depressed because ‘the world is an unhappy place.’ Things are really not as bad as they used to be, say, fifty years ago. For example, at least it is now illegal to discriminate against someone because his skin colour is black, women are no longer considered the way they were in the past, a little girl can get all the education she wants today and she can become everything she wants to become; the barriers in front of her are not as huge as they used to be. Technology and the internet have made things too easy. Kids do not just die uselessly as they used to because these days the childhood killer diseases (Tuberculosis, Polio, Measles, Diphtheria, Pertussis) have vaccines which when taken by the child, completely immunizes him or her of that disease. We have found cures for dreadful illnesses and we will find more. World Crude Death Rate has consistently declined since 1950 at 19.1 to 2015 at 8.1.
The world is not an unhappy place. We underrate happiness. We underrate happiness because we have this idea that there is nothing else to be seen therefore the littler things which ought to fascinate us become insignificant. Beauty is an important ingredient for happiness, as such, it should be referenced at every given opportunity. And beauty is not just expressed in humans; in fact, relatively, it is as good as negligible in humans. Albus Dumbledore said: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the lights.”
The lights are perpetually turned off. We turn them off because we imagine that they serve only to distract us, we turn them off because the things that make up most of the news are the many wrongdoings and wickedness. Nobody reports random acts of kindness.
The moon comes out every morning and goes to sleep every night. We are capable of meeting people each day, different kinds of people, fascinating and crooked in ways only them can be. In our world, you are you and only you just the way the next person can be nobody else but himself or herself. We are capable of making music: sweet sounds that nourish our existence, putting words together and finding sounds to go with them. We are capable of falling in love; of finding someone and deciding that that someone would mean everything to us for the rest of our lives. We are capable of laughing: finding something funny and just laughing; we are capable of making jokes and making fun of each other’s quirkiness and idiosyncrasies. We are capable of poetry and fiction and art and science; of discovering fascinating new things in the world that we are living in; of making up fantastic stories that make us cry and then laugh and feel content and feel anguish and anxiousness and every single feeling possible including those that have not been named.
We are capable of feeling: isn’t the most important thing? Being able to rationalize something in our head and determine what the appropriate emotional reaction or response to that thing should be. Because we have been blessed with this gift of feeling, we are capable of having the right responses to situations.
These things are little drops of miracle that we underrate so much to a point where their beauties and importance have become doubtful to us. Yet these drops of miracle are the ingredients that ought to make our lives and existence here on earth as pleasurable as possibly.