Welcome and thank your for reading Between The Lines with Jedi Ramalapa. There are times when it is unbelievable that I have been writing this blog for three whole years! It’s an achievement I am proud of and has for the most part been a mixed bag of everything that has moved me. It’s also been an amazing learning curve. Thank you my dearest for encouraging me and taking this interesting experimental journey with me, thank you for your precious time. Maybe if you read this blog’s “about” section and the actual content of the blog you may be confused about what this blog is actually about. Perhaps you find there is no point to it. Depending on how you look at it, you are most probably right. I often say I don’t expect people to read my blog when I am asked about it, and people often ask me …what is the point of writing it then? I do write because I love to, I’m free to write, what I choose to write about is limitless and that in and of itself is amazing. I’m moved to write and I share what I see, think and feel with whoever wishes to listen or know about what I see think and feel. It is something I do freely and always from a place of love. So I would love for it to be received like that, as something free or freeing which comes from a place of love – which means that though you are reading this now, I don’t expect you to read it. You are under no obligation to read my words. Even though I do sincerely appreciate each moment you spend reading each and every letter. Someone once said “words are the least reliable form of communication” and I’m sure you will understand why. Someone also once said “you teach what you need to learn”.
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself” Leo Tolstoy
I have been writing this particular blog post, the one you are reading now, for over a week and it has been brewing in my mind perculating, roasting like a strong cup of coffee. I have been turning myself upside down trying to answer this question: who am I? What am I here for? Why am I writing this blog? Why am I a journalist? What am I doing with my life? How long will I keep doing this? What have I been doing with my life?So what now? So where to from here? How can I make an impact in a field where everyone is ultimately a writer, a journalist: as long as you can read and write and use your phone, anyone can be a journalist if they so choose. This must be the easiest profession in the world. Your job is to go out to the world and ask whoever you meet five simple questions: Who (are you?) What (are you doing?), When (did you start doing it), Where (are you doing it), Why (are you doing it) and How (are you doing it). Arrange the answers in the most interesting way you can find and that’s it. Your job is done. You have a news story. This afternoon on my way here I bumped into an old artist friend of mine, I love artists. She was looking so cool in her rust –coloured scarf, grey and maroon t-shirt or jersey, dark grey track pants and sneakers. I thought she looked fabulous. “Every time I see you, you look different” she said sizing me up and looking at my grey-oversized-haram pants, a Lufthansa airways blanket worn as a scarf, long thick braids twisted with it, and an off the shoulder loose grey top, revealing a darker grey tank top and black bra strap. I said “Really?” A word so present in my lexicon I ‘m telling you really it’s true. I was surprised because I am always the same – in fact I have had the same grey pants for close to five years now… “Or maybe it’s because I don’t see you that often that it seems that way” she added. “Maybe” I said trying to remember what I looked like the last time we saw each other. “I like this look though, I like it” she said nodding. I thanked her, at a loss for words again (I often don’t know how to respond to people on the spur of the moment because tomorrow I might look completely different again, depends on the weather of my soul). Eventually I found my words somewhere and managed to say “you look fabulous”. She looked down at her track pants revealing paint stains and said “But I’ve been working”. I said you look cool none the less hoping I didn’t sound insincere or forced which can happen when you’re always searching for the most appropriate thing to say in a situation which should have been a light and simple case of hello? How are you and see you later.
But it’s the Detours that make life interesting…
So I started asking myself the same question. If I don’t expect people to read my blog, then why do I write it? Why keep it up for three years? Why not just keep a journal privately somewhere, where no one has to see it? Why do I have to make what I see, think and feel a public issue, why can’t I just observe what I observe and let it be just that – a private observation?
Because I am a journalist. This is who I am. The words could not have been clearer when I woke up on Good Friday to go to work. I woke up with this answer, speaking directly from that place on the left hand side of your chest near your breast. It was as if each beat uttered these syllables. Because I am. I am a journalist. I am a good journalist. And I don’t even care what you think Jedi. I don’t care what you think. I have been asking these questions since I could speak and it was often a source of embarrassment for my family or whoever I was with who happened to be uncomfortable with the questions I was asking or the person from whom I expected the answers. I kept asking questions despite how people reacted or responded to them. “Nobody likes to be asked questions” my younger brother once said to me. I know this. Who the hell do you think you are to ask me who I am, what am I doing, Why am I doing it, When will I stop doing it, How am I doing it? Who the hell are you? Yes I have been asking myself this. Who am I to ask people these questions? What gives me the right to pry into someone’s life, thoughts and feelings and use them to sell a story? What’ the point of it all. So I ask myself those five questions every day too and give you the answers for free.
TURNING THE PAGE TO LOVE…
Most people don’t like to be asked questions if what they are doing or being is perceived to be negative. If they have something to hide. If they want to continue doing said thing regardless of how it affects other people. Everyone fears being judged. So if a large number of people are suffering, are in pain or are enslaved, or oppressed because of you, then people must ask why you keep hurting others right? Anyone would do that. Or maybe nobody will. But I also found conversely that people often don’t mind at all talking about what they do, if what they are being or doing is motivated at the core by love. By a desire to make the entire human experience a more pleasant one, if they believe that what they are doing is “good” and comes from a place of love. So while both may be true, many of them can – through words and actions – be interpreted or explained in a way that could either be detrimental or beneficial to humanity. Sometimes people do things thinking they are from a place of love and sometimes those things end up having unintended consequences that bring strife or suffering to others. One has to measure the impact somehow. Or maybe there’s not point. Is my blog of greater good? Are the stories that I tell in this blog or any other media platform of benefit to anyone? Of benefit to me? Is that even a fair test? Where is the value in what I do? One way of knowing if what you’re doing is of any value to anyone is if people talk about it, respond to it somehow. So if I don’t expect you to read my blog and then you don’t read it, then how do I measure its value? My value?
So far, I have used myself as a measure. Is it of value for me to write this? Does it benefit my well-being to have a blog called between the lines that talks about everything and nothing at the same time? My answer to that is yes. I find enormous value from writing. At best it keeps me quite sane. Especially the fact that there is no ultimate moral reason why I do it. There is no greater good or a refreshing reward at end of the day. No black label for me. In my normal ordinary life I find moments of utter craziness between these lines. Ecstasy! Pure pleasure! Sometimes I lose myself completely and come back asking the same questions again and again: who am I, what am I doing here? What is this blog for? Sometimes this can be hilariously funny, so you could on a pleasant Sunday catch me giggling by myself in a corner (can you believe I forgot who I am?). In those moments I find silence. I find peace. I find joy In the ability to write something I have never written before, or write the same thing in a different way, or as my blog has been, tell the same story from multiple different angles. I find fulfilment in seeing some of my thoughts and feelings visualized on paper with a string of letters. In fact it’s the same with my clothes, I often can’t have a shower until I’ve visualized what I will look like after I have had the shower, i.e. considered carefully what I am going to wear that day. Even though I wear the same clothes almost every day, I always want to look different wearing them. Sometimes I don’t wear the same combination twice. Sometimes I wear the same combination all the time. Often I wish I could just forget about clothes altogether, wake up and go where I need to go and do what I need to do. I am trying through this blog, to understand, you, to understand me. Ultimately though you are reading my blog now because you are hoping to find ten reasons why you should fall in love in Johannesburg. So far I have not listed a single reason. Or it may be that I have listed all ten. Perhaps you feel disappointed, betrayed. It was a waste of time. If you sincerely feel that way, I am sorry. If you are still looking for ten reasons to fall in love in Jozi or anywhere else in the world for that matter, I think you will be well advised to just forget about it. There is no reason why you should or shouldn’t love anything or anyone. No reason at all. Unless there is every reason in the world to Love everything and everyone.