IDOLS : YES OR NO?

 

South African Idols Competition 2014
South African Idols Competition 2014

Two weeks ago while listening to the Redi Tlabi Show presented by Nikiwe Bikitsha on Talk Radio 702 , I found myself suddenly, stunned. I stopped what I was doing and listened. The host Nikiwe Bikitsha asked a question that startled me. “Idols yes or no?” she said opening up the lines for people to call in and share their views. To further expand on the topic she took a moment to share some of her personal views saying: “I think that reality shows like Idols should be discontinued, I think Idols has run its course, it’s boring” she said. I found myself hoping that, that does not happen.  I heard a part of me responding to her thinking you shouldn’t watch it if you don’t like it. Because what she said made me sad. It pained me to think that with her words she could shut the door to so many people’s hopes and dreams, let alone laughter. Discontinuing Idols would be a shame I thought. It’s hard enough finding something uplifting to watch on television.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO DO THAT?

I asked this question as I felt myself becoming more agitated with each passing comment on her show. Those who called in, agreed with her!  Idols, on its 10th season in South Africa this year, is a popular music talent show, originally from the US which draws thousands upon thousands of young people from across South Africa, some of whom travel for days and wait in line for hours for a chance to prove to the world and to themselves that they have something of value to offer and share in the form of song. Each year people stand in front of the South African stage and ask – can I sing? Once the initial nationwide auditions (which are the most interesting part) are over and those who can sing have been selected, the competition begins. Each week South Africans vote for a singer they like best. At the end of the competition only one Idol (singer) is chosen based on their talent and votes from the public.

Between comments from listeners Bikitsha added that she was particularly fatigued with the sentimental, personal drama stories used to enhance viewership and help the audience to get to know the contestants better. At which point I thought, hawu?! But that’s the best part of the show! She had ignited a fire in me.

I had to pause for a moment again to remember that I too once held those exact same views but now find myself disagreeing with her completely. The premise of her question; posed in a dismissive tone, was completely negative. Designed to generate answers that affirmed and confirmed her point of view. Meaning if you answered yes to Idols you would surely be relegated to the idiot box.  What I  observed from her voice was  judgment, categorizing Idols as one of those useless shows which made money from exploiting, desperate and ignorant masses, intoxicating them with a dream that is, ultimately impossible for them to achieve.  Had the question been asked differently perhaps one would be able to have a more open conversation about the value of Idols. What are the benefits of reality TV shows such as Idols? I knew, felt somewhere deep in my heart that there is value in talent reality shows like this one, however invisible they may appear  be to  with the naked eye, benefits that no money can buy. I didn’t know how to frame a plausible argument for why Idols SA should continue until I experienced it again, from a very different perspective.

A FAMILY AFFAIR

Last week a good friend of mine, a sister, called me from Toronto, Canada telling me that she will be home at the weekend.  Her mother was due for an operation and she didn’t know how long she’d be in town, could I come and see her? She asked. I agreed to go and spend the weekend with the family, it had been a long time since we were together. On Saturday afternoon, after a long taxi ride, driving through the monotonous dry township landscape, I arrived to find the family huddled around my friends’ warm apartment watching Idols. After my greetings and brief inquiries into everyone’s well-being, it became clear to me that everybody was worried or concerned about the impending operation and they didn’t want to talk about it any further either. Auntie was as busy as ever-moving from one room to another with regular stops in the kitchen making sure that everyone was fed, the dishes clean, and that the house was warm. While everyone else was busy on their phones, sleeping or just being. The family only came together to watch idols, a show, everyone in the family could agree to enjoy together. Other subjects were either taboo or just simply too painful to discuss.  I was also tired from my own life lived in intense introspection that I needed to focus on something else, something hopefully more cheerful. Seeing the smiling faces of Ma, Auntie, my niece, and sister I thought – let me give Idols a chance. We laughed the whole weekend. We parted in high spirits despite everything with me promising to audition for idols in the next season. I realized, that it is better to make people laugh or smile than to make them cry.  The next weekend after that I went to visit my sister for her birthday, her mother and father in law were there and Idols was the on program that we all agreed to enjoy together, we laughed the whole night. And comments were made about who could and could not sing. Which is a great thing about idols, it is a great program whether someone gets in or not, especially the auditions.  People who came to the show were such characters and were simply amazing to watch.  The most fascinating element of the show is the fact that everyone who goes to the auditions believes that they can sing, and sing beautifully. So the surprise when they are told No they can’t sing is what makes it so funny. “Yo, j I don’t wish to be one of these judges on this show, they are ruthless, yo!” Said my friend squirming on the sofa from pain and laughter. How can families allow their children to go out to the world believing they can sing, while it’s clearly evident to everyone that they can’t? “Hhayi my friend, even I can sing that song better!” She exclaimed each time a screeching sound emanated from the TV monitor reached her ears. We were all in stitches, laughing.  I felt bad about laughing at the contestants because it felt as if I was laughing at their misfortune. They really can’t sing, even though they truly believe they can. One contestant almost broke my heart when she said through her overpowering weave post her audition, that it must be my looks, while crying painfully. She believed that it was her looks that were not “right” even though we all heard and understood that she cannot sing. I almost wanted to reach out to her and say it’s not your looks, it’s because. It was painful to listen to you. The truth doesn’t hurt, it’s the death of an idea, a death of a dream that hurts.

IDOLS IS LIKE BUNGEE JUMPING

I hadn’t watched idols in years while experimenting with an idea, a dream I have long-held which has taken me up and down, all over the place trying to place a home for it.  Before embarking on this venture, a good friend invited me to try bungee jumping, to prepare my mind for what I was about to do. It was something I considered suicidal. I was scared. But because she had done it before, she assured me that I would be glad I did it. My sister had done it too and more than anything I was curious. In literal terms signing up to bungee jump is like saying, I’m ready to die, because the very act itself could be fatal. You are literally jumping off a bridge. Even though there are precautions taken to ensure everyone’s safety, the reality of it is once you jump off the rail, there’s a real possibility that you will die. Unless you truly believe with all your heart that you will live, you won’t be able to jump off the bridge. It was a very scary experience for me.   I don’t think I would have been able to do it, had I not had the chance to watch the man at the end the bridge, the guy who says jump speak to the jumpers. He was kind and sweet and allowed each person to take their time. I decided that I want to speak to him, so he can tell me his story – I thought he must be an amazing person. When I jumped, I let go and decided that my fate had already been decided and I would accept any outcome, and I will talk to the guy on the bridge. I closed my eyes tightly and experienced a darkness I had never known. It was like jumping into nothing an endless silent space where nothing and no-one existed except time, which didn’t move. I didn’t know I was safe until someone shouted, Breathe! I didn’t know for how long I had been hanging there – upside down with my feet tied together with a rope, I felt the catch and hear the shout then  I exhaled, and all sorts of emotions came through which I had no control over.  From the depths of my stomach came the most excruciating, painful cry I have ever heard. I cried for what seemed like forever, until I heard myself landing safely in someone’s arms, and watching my friend applaud me with such a wide smile I had never been so happy to be alive, and to see her there waiting for me at the finish line. I had done it. Jumped off a bridge and lived to tell a story about it.  With that jump I felt I had released all negativity, all thoughts and ideas that said: you can’t. Watching the video I saw that I dangled on the rope for what seemed like an eternity – my body, quietly and limply swinging in suspension. I think everybody breathed a sigh of relief when I screamed. My jump was such a free-fall head just dangled in suspension as if there was no one inside. Even for me it was scary to watch. It was the most intense thing I have ever done and most probably will never do again. In that way. But it is still an experience which I will always cherish and value in my life, because it taught me something invaluable. It matured me. I realized that I could face death and not be scared of it.  I realized that I did it despite the spine chilling fear which had me shaking like a leaf as the countdown started. I realized that it was not as frightening as I thought. I believed in myself.  Idols is the same thing. It’s like bungee jumping for the first time. It’s a moment of truth, testing an idea in front of the camera with millions of people watching you. Failing is a huge risk. And yet year in and year out people line-up to try. Why?

EXPERIMENTING

Like most talent reality shows Idols gives people the opportunity to try. An opportunity to test an idea or belief you’ve had about yourself. A way of either confirming what you know or what other people have said about you. Or discovering something completely new and unexpected, discovering things about yourself that you never knew existed, before you tried. It’s an opportunity to try something new, to pursue a dream,  to create. To show yourself and others that you too have something of value to share with the world. That you believe you have a gift.  This is core stuff.  So going out there and facing the three judges including the entire nation is not a small feat. It can be as scary as Bungee jumping. It’s a kind of death or a kind of re- birth of something. I value this about the show.  Because it made even those at home watching – who have no desire to sing for the world that they too can sing and they are not alone in their insecurities. I found myself thinking of how music has shaped my life, how beautiful voices have helped me through difficult lonely moments, telling me that I was not alone. Voices which celebrated with me pushing me to move and dance as if I was a part of the sound that made music possible.  Propelling me to not only see, but feel and experience beauty in life regardless of the circumstances. In music I found I belong, I have a home. Someone understands, or has seen or felt like I do, and come out of it with a beautiful song. Music is amazing. I love music so much that I find myself more often than not singing out-loud at home, imagining myself in some corner of the universe being a star – singing and mesmerizing people with my sultry beautiful voice, drawing out a smile from their hearts that is so wide it fills their eyes with tears, illuminating a shared love of beauty which binds us together, just by being myself and doing what I love. When I sing out loud and think this way, I think my voice sounds amazing, although not many will agree with me. It’s not a fact it’s a belief, an idea. But I have never tried auditioning for idols because I know people who can sing beautifully. And sometimes you have to test an idea, because you might just be the next Bjork or Nina Simone.  I support any initiative that will add beauty in my life.

THE CALLING

I don’t think Idols should be cancelled. If anything I think Idols needs an exciting host, someone who loves to have fun, who enjoys to play, who can see the light side out of everything and sensitive enough to offer words of advice and comfort to those who need it most. Someone who is playful, whimsical, a storyteller who can take audiences on a magic carpet ride as it where a journey of discovery.  Someone who loves live, adventure and has a lots of energy, patience and a love of people. A host who will make the show even more magical that it already is, someone who will bring added spunk and intrigue to the show.  Someone who can ask questions that allow a person to shine, that reveal more about people, someone who can encourage them as they go in, knowing how they must feel, and be there at the end of the “jump” to genuinely celebrate or empathise with them and help them realize that no matter the outcome, there’s always value in trying. Someone who cares, care free and a bit of a performer. Someone who understands the emotions that go with winning and losing. And someone who knows how to balance both, and take both the contestants and the audience at home on journey, opening up a whole new world to people. I think that’s what Idols a host who can create and find magic in everything and everyone, someone who can be still in the moment, go with the flow, and be the mediator the link, between the Judges, the audience and people at home. Idols needs a Host who is a storyteller. An entertaining storyteller, a lover of stories.  Add a great host to a list of already entertaining judges then bob’s you’re uncle. This is the only call I would support. To those of you brave enough to take the plunge, thank you. For entertaining us in these time which I can only describe by quoting Charles Dickens opening line to a tale of two cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…”   Thank you for being the Light!

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THE BEAUTIFUL GAME: MESSI YET SO WORTH IT

let’s do this again

Jedi Ramalapa

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  A LESSON IN HISTORY

You have to give it to Germany! I am yet to experience a country which is to a large extent the instigator if not the  cause of the longest and  deadliest war in our  common lifetime(s), an ongoing war in fact,  and still comes out of it smelling as fresh as roses in the dawn of spring! I mean can you imagine! This my dear is pure magic!  For the first time in my adult life I didn’t participate in the world cup event, either as an active fan supporting a country or continent or part of the audience. I didn’t watch a single game.  The one I tried to watch the semi-final between Argentina and Holland, left me pondering the tiny hole in my sock trying to think if I have a needle and thread somewhere to saw it up before it gets any bigger…

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THE BEAUTIFUL GAME: MESSI YET SO WORTH IT

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  A LESSON IN HISTORY

You have to give it to Germany! I am yet to experience a country which is to a large extent the instigator if not the  cause of the longest and  deadliest war in our  common lifetime(s), an ongoing war in fact,  and still comes out of it smelling as fresh as roses in the dawn of spring! I mean can you imagine! This my dear is pure magic!  For the first time in my adult life I didn’t participate in the world cup event, either as an active fan supporting a country or continent or part of the audience. I didn’t watch a single game.  The one I tried to watch the semi-final between Argentina and Holland, left me pondering the tiny hole in my sock trying to think if I have a needle and thread somewhere to saw it up before it gets any bigger.  When I lost interest in the little potato I checked to see how long I could hold a glass in suspension an inch away from the surface of the wooden bar table. I even found time to look around and observe a sweet couple drinking hot-chocolates while whispering sweet nothings into other’s ears. Cosy, warm and content in each other’s arms.  Then there was a middle-aged man whose movements where so precise you would think he was being remote-controlled: from his step out of his German car, the efficiency with which he sat down ordered a Guinness, made sure all his personal belongings keys, jacket, wallet were all properly in place before glancing at his wrist-watch and fixating his eyes on the screen above, all happening in a smooth single movement as if he alone was in the bar.  His purpose, why he was there, was clear from his demeanour. By half-time I decided to take a brisk, cold walk home, to save my time and hopefully do something a little more useful.  That’s the most I’ve seen of the world cup this year.

THE MESSI PART- ONE

I guess my heart was not in it because I saw how tense the situation had been just before the World Cup in Brazil. The people protested, screaming their lungs out, risking body and limb saying they prefer houses, improved healthcare and better standards of living to a show of football, but no one listened. The game had to go on anyway. So the protest, however fierce, angry and heart wrenching it was, still didn’t change the fact that those who wanted the game to go on collectively around the world (that’s all of us who watched it) were more powerful in their desire for the game than those who didn’t. So as soon as kick-off started we all forgot about the holes in our socks  to refocus on the matter at hand, the  beautiful game.  So I wondered how those whose yellow and green colours I had worn so proudly and sensuously after having squeezed myself in into a tight-fitting, Brazil National team jersey which pumped my breast up firmly to resemble balls from which warm delicious, creamy fresh milk and golden  sweet honey could drip, with just a hint of my prune like belly button peeping between heaven and earth, could possibly win under these circumstances: the people didn’t want it.

“They had no focus, they were too emotional or didn’t direct that emotion into a positive strategy on the field” these were just some of the comments I heard in passing after Germany emaciated Brazil with a 7-one win. The Giants of football had fallen at the hands of the most interesting country in the world. They call it German Efficiency, Discipline, Precision, Focus and so forth. “Germany has paid its dues to history, it’s time to celebrate!” No holocaust was mentioned there in my friends comment on Facebook. Why spoil a good story with facts. “It happened but we learnt from it” You should too.   So now here we are in the middle of 2014, almost a century since the Second World War when between 1942 and 1943, six million Jews, homosexuals, the disabled, and mentally ill were efficiently suffocated to death. Germany has won the world cup and is smiling from ear to ear, while Palestinians (Arabs) and the Israeli’s (Jews) are at each other throats, forcing an empty argument with heavy artillery through the mouths of infants. Germany has nothing to do with it!  It is the USA whose hands are dirty. Germany has paid its penance for the crimes it committed, they do what they can to support from behind but they will not be the face of it no. Too shameful. Even though its ethnic cleansing initiatives in 1942, are the reasons why Arabs won’t live with the Jews or why Israel is bombing Gaza.  The deal was the Jews would get their own piece of land after such cruel and atrocious treatment from the Germans, they had to be compensated somehow so they were allocated a piece of land – it was given to them. But nobody thought about what would happen to the people who already lived in that same piece of land, where are they supposed to go? So the fight started. Now nobody knows how to deal with the problem because both sides are entitled to the land by birth right, not to mention any holy book. One party suffers more because it has no resources, so other countries who are sympathetic to its cause support it where they can with arms or open disdain against Israel. Israel for its part sees nothing wrong with its actions, it’s something any father would do to protect the family. Germany is nowhere in sight.

THE MESSI PART : TWO

In fact Germany is so ashamed of the holocaust that no one in the country is legally allowed to even utter the word “Holocaust”.  You will be imprisoned says one friend, for just mentioning the word.  That’s how sorry they are about the whole thing.  The sad part is Germany is a very good country actually, besides everything, those who have been there, especially artists who lived in Berlin – sing its praises.  They have achieved a lot since the Holocaust, it’s a shame that people don’t see beyond history to appreciate something good. There are so many Good things about Germany, economically, technologically, their approach to arts and culture, education, etc. So much good.  In fact it is as we speak the power house of the European Union. It is the most stable, most organized country in the EU. Germany decides. So while its plan to conquer the world by the most efficient form of clinical brutality was abruptly halted, they did not give up the idea all together. The idea of a powerful race was still there continuing to grow, it didn’t die, the question was only: how to do this without ending up with egg on your face? i.e. indiscriminately annihilating masses of people to get what you want? Once they figured that puzzle out, they could continue with their plan without smelling like last night’s dinner.  German soldiers had to change uniform, from Khaki military uniforms, to civilian clothing, actually to anything their target is wearing.  They sent an invisible army around the world to infiltrate and take as much information as possible about the target in order to help. We are here to help, not to harm you in any way.

Regardless of the circumstances under which Germany defeated Brazil on or off the field. In football it’s fair game. There are no party  politics involved, no social issues, no business, mother or father dying, you have to focus on the game and that’s what makes you a winner. Everybody understands and believes that in soccer no one cheats, there’s no match fixing, it’s impossible. The game is based on your fitness, training, mental focus, controlled emotions and time.

Instead of being at the foreground, Germany decided to take a back seat and control things out of sight. Being the pioneer of an ambitiously brutal quest for power does not win you many friends,  you have to appear sincere, seem to care. By learning through German Efficiency, Discipline, Precision, Focus and so forth, it was easy for them to identify their opponents’ weakest point but instead of making fun of it, they thought of a solution that would have you freely and voluntarily handing over your power to them without them having to requesting it. This way instead of hating them, you will forever be in awe of their kindness. So that when they tell you it’s better to do things their way you agree, and why not, you stand to benefit from the deal too and it is a sweet one.   What they are doing in actual fact is making you play the game in their own terms.

THE BEAUTIFUL GAME

Every country has its own form of football and that is what makes it such a beautiful game.  In days gone by during the world cup each country would play its own game to the field. I fell in love with Brazilians not because they have an over-supply of sexy men or beautiful women, no it was Brazilian soccer that got me hooked. Those boys were dancing on the field! Their tackles were so complex it made the tango seem easier in comparison. No one could break their rhythm, focus and precision with which they passed the ball from one foot to another.  Football was still fun then, and men played because they loved it, enjoyed the game. You could a compose a beautiful song while watching Brazil move as effortlessly as a swift  gentle breeze, which lingered for a moment in motion for a tete a tete with the opponent while their feet moved faster than a piano master’s fingers over black and white keys, as if asking: Will you dance with me? Before moving in a blink as if nothing ever happened. It was simply beautiful to watch. The result of this was other teams were forced to bring their own game to the table too. Which s why soccer was so interesting to watch, why the world cup could never be boring.

Everybody was inspired to play.  Now our hearts are too heavy to score a goal. We start and then just forget why we’re in the game in the first place – while at the same time wanting to win.   Now we’re playing the game on German terms and conditions: Efficiency, Discipline, Precision, Focus and so forth. They know that for as long as we play the game based on their rules, even if they don’t win now, because they are letting us win, they will eventually win and win big, since they are the creators of the rules of the game.  In effect they know their game better than you. I didn’t watch the game between Brazil and Germany but many say,  it was as if Germany was alone in the field.

So based on this evidence Germany clearly deserved the World Cup.  The country has done well. I think if there is a lesson that could be learnt from these times is: You can always change your future no matter how horrible your past is.  You can turn anything bad you have done into something good, something to be proud of.  You can recover from any set back, you can create a future you want. With time, focus and diligence things will work out for you.

The other lesson is and this one I think is most important: Play your own game – the one only you can play. Because no one can play your game better than you can. Keep playing your own game no matter what anyone says,  because the bottom line is the point of the game is for is for one team to make another lose their game. The minute you lose your game the other team wins. So if you keep playing your game – in your own terms, you will never lose because everything that happens (even thought it might seem like a loss to others) is in your own terms.

By sticking to your game, no one can copy you, even if they try to, and end up doing a brilliant job of it  – it will always be a brilliant copy, never an original.

So be you. Do what you love, what you are naturally inspired to do. Love will somehow, save you, even from yourself.

Who knew that you can learn so much from watching a game of boring football?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUPPOSE GOD IS BLACK… and WOMAN?

God as A black Woman
God as A black Woman

I had such a laugh this morning thinking about this so I thought I should share it with you while it is still fresh on my mind. By the way the words  Suppose God is  Black  are not mine. They were actually the words of  President John F. Kennedy: the 35th president of the United States of America in office from 1961 to 1963 when he was assassinated. I found this out at the Rise and Fall of Apartheid :Photography and the Bureaucracy of Every day Life. A photographic exhibition open at Museum Africa in  Johannesburg South Africa. JFK said those words Suppose God is Black in reference to Apartheid Rule in South Africa during his visit in June 1966. No wonder. I got to thinking about this in more detail as I walked through walls and walls of black bodies fervently  seeking emancipation and freedom. I went to the museum to see the exhibition knowing that it is mostly unpleasant, many of the images on exhibit I had seen numerous times before, however I was determined to come out of it stronger than I was when I First went in. And Suppose God is Black was the first thing I came across : Thank you JFK.

BUT SUPPOSE GOD IS A BLACK WOMAN?

This thought arose as I studied the image (see above) of a white woman walking by the beach front, causally, while her black dog trailed  behind her. A few feet behind the white woman and the dog is  a black woman – her maid. The Dog was doing what dogs do…shitting all over the place and the black maid was doing what black maids do, picking up the shit the dog had left behind.  Now you may wonder how this is a) Funny or  b) Godly.  But the more I thought about it the more it made sense. First can you think of one single person who has cleaned-up your shit no matter how badly it stunk, wiped your puke, cleaned your nose, and took care of all your disgusting (let’s be honest) bodily functions and still thought you are the most amazing, beautiful, precious thing on earth?. Someone who  loved you so much they could eat you, cuddle you and will do anything to protect you, love you and make sure you’re happy after all of that? Yes you thought right it is your mother.  (I use this term inclusively of all kinds of mother(s)/mothering yes, men/fathers who do this are included too) But mostly it’s mother’s who do all the dirty work, the unpleasant stuff. So take this analogy and think about it in the South African context (or any  the colonial context for that matter). Who does all the dirty work?  Who cleans up after you, makes sure your dog’s shit is picked up, your house is clean, you have clean clothes, your children are well raised and taken care of? A black Woman. If you’re not doing it yourself, a black woman is doing it for you. So still, how does that make a black woman God you ask?  Don’t white women do this too?  Sure white women do, do that too… but if  I were looking for answers I’d go to the person who looks after everybody including white women. That person in my context is a black woman.

Still confused? okay let me simplify it. Though not all of us are religious, many of us believe that there is something or someone greater than all of us and we give that person or thing the name God, an omnipresent powerful force beyond our human understanding.  Of course if you’re an atheist then this would not apply to you. But enough people in the world believe that there is a God somewhere out there or inside you and everywhere.

So when, we, those who believe in the God figure pray. What are we doing most of the time? Dictating tasks /orders we would like him to do for us in that day. The list is endless…

please make him give me the promotion

give me some money from petty cash

i know i was late but can you make them understand why

buy me that dress

do you love me?

okay please get me that car

make Thomas love me

clean my house

cook for me

make my children happy

buy me a new cellphone

make me famous

make me rich

oh you forgot i asked you for a man ten years ago

where is he…

why aren’t you listening to me?

why did you give her that job and not me?

she’s evil, drinks and sleeps around

I am good.

I pray everyday

why aren’t you doing what i want?

i’m right and he is wrong

so I’ll be doing you a favour if I kill him

talk to me

why are you so quiet..

please don’t make it rain tomorrow!

i love you

please make all my dreams come true.

amen!

Well… think about it. When you “pray” to God, what do you normally want him/her to do? Solve your problems. You pray to God because things aren’t going so well, you can’t do it, can’t cope, not bothered whatever the case may be –  but you need stuff to get fixed. Bottom line.

However real or imaginary this God figure is, we understand at the most basic level that he/she is there for us: at our service so to speak. They are there to serve us, make us happy, get us everything we want and could ever dream of. So if we treat God like this in our secret place, in our closed hearts, how much so another human being?  So we treat maids in the same way, but with even more disdain because we think they are worth- less. So it is with the black woman/maid. She must be a miracle worker, solve all our problems make our lives easier, for free or if we insist at a nominal fee. But even then we’re free to choose how much we give her, because clearly God needs or wants for nothing.

So ergo my theory on why a black woman,  can be God. Because whether we smile at him and speak to her in scorn, we’re asking both of them for the same thing, we want God and the Black Woman, to do something, for our benefit  and our benefit only most of the time. The answer to all our daily ” can’t deal with this – don’t know what to do with this ” messy problems. We need them to intervene in our lives and make everything okay. Fix it! There’s nothing right or wrong about our intentions but whether we pray fervently at church on our knees, or standing in the kitchen barking orders for someone to do something for us, we are always in need of something or someone, if we think God won’t  do it,  at least I can tell a black woman to do it by whatever means necessary whether they want to do it or not, we think. I pay you to do it, so you must do or I’ll kill you.

At least God has a break. Black women on the other hand are constantly listening to silent and loud prayers from everyone. They can make your home look like paradise in a second, but you still don’t think they are good enough for you. You treat your Dog better than the Black woman.

But the good thing about a black woman is, even though she is as powerful as God, even though she can abuse that power which you give her thinking you’re doing her favour. She chooses again and again, not to. She unlike many of us knows who God is.  Which makes her the closest thing to unconditional love you can ever experience. She doesn’t like “we” all do, think that it is her who makes things happen by the strength of her own might.  She knows where her power comes from. She loves and respects herself and everyone, regardless of how they treat her. She is not without mistakes,  weaknesses in character, her vulnerability is the source of her her strength a strength which comes from a sacred place, a sacred union with source, our creator far outweighs her deficiencies.

She Loves  more than life itself. No matter how unpleasant or belittling an experience can be. She knows where her worth comes from, and it’s not in your words, or pitiful actions or the money you pay her. She knows who God is, that’s why she can and always does, serve you regardless of what you say or do to make her less than who she really is. Doesn’t the Sun?  It shines for all of us everyday, whether we deserve it or not.  The Sun does not depend on our goodness or evilness to shine. It shines everyday.  Regardless. Shine Black Woman.

UNMASKED: APPROACHING THE PAGE TO SURRENDER

unmasked

“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word “love” here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.”
― James BaldwinThe Fire Next Time

Recently a reader of this blog asked a question I have been thinking about this past week.   Before we get to the question though, I first want to express my heartfelt appreciation to you my dear reader for returning to the page with me and reading me. Thank you.  I am happy to be here. Grateful for the opportunity to share myself with you, to learn and to grow. Thank you. The reader asked the question:

HOW DO YOU TIE YOURSELF TO A CHAIR AND JUST WRITE?

It is indeed an important question. As you can tell by the tardiness of this blog this week, it is not all an exact science of routine and schedules that we often create for ourselves. For me personally it has and always is an exercise in: surrendering.

Writing this blog has been unlike my other writing for paid contracts for different media outlets and somehow in that space I find the capacity to “Just write” because I am on deadline or someone is paying me to do it.  But approaching this page and this blog requires me to always clear my heart and mind and simply surrender to the page. And that is not always an easy task.

Writing I have discovered is not for the faint hearted.  Any writer worth the title I believe will tell you of the often excruciating pain of approaching the page. Because in this instance it is ironically less about the subject you choose to write about – it is all about you and your soul. Facing you and allowing the words which you sometimes don’t have control over to land on the page – mostly – in black and white.   Self-flagellation is a common hazard, regret, guilt, all of  it stand between you and the page – you have to face yourself, learn from your mistakes, forgive yourself, and allow it to be what it is. And it is never perfect.

Often I have an idea of what I want to write about, but I don’t know how this will come out on the page.  What will it look like? Will I like what I read back? Is what I am writing true? Am I being honest? How much of myself: my inner turmoil, my anxieties, my narcissism,  my insecurities, delusions of grandeur and all the good and the bad that make me who I am right now, do I want to share with you? What do I want? How do I want this story to end?

It is much like writing the future. One which has nothing to do with anyone but me. And this my dear is the scary part. Jumping into the unknown. Writing is creating, it is Art. Building a world in which you would like to live, your world. The power of words can be overwhelming, a constant exploration of yourself. Some of my friends who read my blog tell me, it is sometimes as if they’re entering into my mind, and reading my thoughts and feelings, which at once make them feel as if they are with me even though they haven’t seen me in a long time.

SO HOW DO I DO IT:   FACING THE TRUTH

It’s a daily challenge in the Art of Surrendering. Since I decided to commit to a life of being a writer four years ago it has been a whirlwind romance filled with everything you can imagine, all the ingredients of an epic love story. Passion, frustration, Anger, Love, fear, rage, jealously, confusion, misunderstanding, mis-communication, lack of trust falling apart and falling back together again. Over and over each time. Hence it is not for the faint hearted.  At first it was a grasp for survival, I ran to the page to save myself, save my soul, to breathe to live again. To see myself tangibly written down somewhere – to know I exist. So I would write on my journal for four hours and then go to the computer and just write, through my tears, through my anguish, through pain, through the joy.  Sometimes I wrote for 8 or more hours at a time sometimes with just one hour of sleep. I had to be reminded to eat, drink, and take a bath, sleep, and walk.  Nothing else was real to me but the page. It was a form of “purging” getting rid of everything which was of no use for me anymore.  Most of it didn’t make sense, most of it had so many errors it would make any editor cringe in fright and disgust.  Often even I can’t bear to look at it. It is so raw. That was  my experience in the first few months of writing for myself. It was like medicine, bitter to taste but necessary to live.

Then  it was for no one else but me. A form of prayer saying to my creator:  Here I am. With all my errors, with my wrong punctuation, spelling, grammar and bad language. I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know where I am or where I’m going. But I’m here – because there’s nowhere else I can be.  I’m here.  Save me.

Then came the time when I decided to publish all of this unpolished, rough stuff on the internet. For all to see. And that was even a scarier. What would people think of me, would anyone understand what I am trying to say? Going through? What’s the point of it all? Why do I do this to myself when it will be easier to  do something else.  Will I lose friends, my ego suffered, had to die every day.  In many ways I could not help it. I felt I had no choice.  I jumped head first because it was the only option open to me at the time.

LETTING GO: LETTING LOVE IN

Today I choose to be here. Today I want to be here. Because there is nowhere else I’d rather be. Not because it is any less difficult, or less challenging. Each time I come to the page I reveal a part me that has been hidden even to myself. But this process has helped me to love myself unconditionally. To accept that I am part of everything and everything is a part of me. To love me with warts and all. It’s allowed me to see myself in the same way my mother sees me – a beautiful precious human being, a ball of love, a blessing.  And that is what I was afraid of, I was afraid of seeing myself as love. That was the hard part. I have to see myself as love first and foremost, always without a shadow of doubt. Love helps me through the storm just before I approach the page. And that’s why I come back again and again. Each time I fall deeper and deeper in love and the writing process is less about my mistakes, which I make all the time, less about my faults, which are all still there. I focus on love and then I come to the page knowing that I’ll be fine. I am safe. I am worthy. I am love. And often when I read back, I find myself laughing because I realize only afterwards that there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place.

Some days are easier than others. Mostly I find myself looking forward to being here, more and more everyday. I am learning to change my perspective, to look at the 15-20 minutes which sometimes turns into days into the same feelings you get  when you’re expecting to see someone you love you haven’t seen for a long time – those few minutes of waiting, of suspense and excitement those butterflies you get when you’re about to do something new but fun. I know that if I turn the corner I will find love. It’s exciting. Like reading a great book you don’t want to finish, a wonderful meeting you don’t want to end.  I change my feelings. Those same feelings of anxiety into ones of hopeful excitement, jitters of a lover impatient to  reunite with their beloved. Then it’s less scary and more exciting! Such fun!

I read a lot of people’s advice about writing, and many of it is very insightful and helpful. Some techniques I do incorporate in my own writing.  But If I were to give anyone advise or a suggestion on “writing’ it will be to focus only on love.  Our journeys are different and we have to find our own path one way or the other. The only way I found to be helpful, is to focus on love. Play the music you love, think of a person you love, find something anything  you love even if it is painting your nails in your favourite colour (which I have done this week in order to come to the page! ) so you can see something you love and appreciate, especially when the subject is a difficult one for you. Do it.  If love is too big a word or too abstract, think of something fun, something you enjoy, that pleases you, think of that.  Focus on Love and Love will find you.  Always.  Nothing else has worked for me. And with love it all works out it end, magically, effortlessly.  I surrender to Love  each time.