Tuesday, 31 December 2013

On Being Human


On Being Human

For a while now I’ve been considering the physical, mental and particularly emotional states in human development as people grow older.  Of course this has nothing at all to do with the fact that I have now reached ‘an age’ and by virtue of that advanced state, as in days gone by, I would be considered to be a ‘Wise One’ or other not-so-pleasant titles. :)
It's essentially these three distinct States of Being - Physical, Mental and Emotional - in which we humans deal with the process of living our lives.  Taking this into consideration, I’ve been hypothesising a lot about our human ‘States of Being’ and on reflection, there must be a powerful case for suggesting that, in essence, we are pure emotion encased temporarily in physical and mental moulds. Explore with me, if you will, why I believe this. 

There are very many verses in the Bible which deal with God’s Emotion and His Love for us. Here is another of them:
Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
We are made in the image of God and as with Him, I believe that our emotional states and emotions themselves, endure forever. If we consider the eventual collapse of our physical and, in a lot of cases our mental ability, and compare it with the enduring ability of emotion, 1 John 4:17 makes perfect sense, particularly the italicised section.
“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world.”

http://www.knaria.com/2013/11/love-poems-picture/
 
The States of Being
It's quite apparent that ageing of the Physical State is the most visually noticeable one and is obvious to the eye even when one doesn’t take into consideration genetic or other illnesses – people’s bodies age as a natural process.  One’s body gets to a point where, as willing as the mind may be to perform some task, the body is just not up-to the task.  There are always exceptions of course but this is true as a general rule.  One’s hair begins to grey or fall out and also begins to appear in the most unlikely of places – who knew that hair would find the inside of men’s ears to be so attractive a place to grow?; despite all superficial remedies known at the moment, one’s skin begins to wrinkle and develop all sorts of odd-coloured and -shaped pigmentation; then there are the more awful manifestations where cartilage and bone just doesn’t work as effectively any more, causing breaks from falls which would never even have caused a bruise earlier in life; and, instead of being able to hurl hay bales as easily as a twig as was done in youth, picking up heavy items is more likely to cause back problems than to strengthen one’s back muscles as was the case in younger days.  The list goes on. 

The ageing of the Mental State is generally not that noticeable.  This is the State in which alertness is most active up to the age of seven according to all studies which have been done in this arena.  After that, brain activity tends to slow down - it’s pretty much a downhill momentum from then and, unless a concentrated effort is made to constantly stimulate the brain, the slow-down can sometimes be complete before the end of one’s life.  This is very sad but it’s a reality with which a lot of people have to deal.  Alzheimer’s disease and senility are very real factors as one travels along the age continuum, so deliberately doing whatever is necessary to keep one’s mind active and focused is a good idea.

The ageing of the Emotional State is the state which fascinates me most.  Emotions are more potent than anything else in the human realm. 

As an example, I’ll concentrate here on the specific emotional state of what we know as ‘being in love’.  Paradoxically, this state is dependent on the other two states to a very large degree.  Although genders differ, in the early stages of life there is no discernible difference between male and female except for the different genitalia – physically both age in the same way; mentally both are like brain-sized sponges and absorb inordinate quantities of knowledge; and emotionally both begin to experience love, hate, jealousy, compassion and so forth. 

Later on, as the body grows and develops Physically, it attains puberty.  At this stage male and female become two distinctly different emotional beings and both enter into the biological awareness of the elemental reason for existence – procreation.  At this stage, Mentally, the mind discerns and targets those whom it considers likely candidates to share to fruition the culmination of procreation.   This is where the Emotional state of being in love begins to come into its own.  For a while and, until emotions settle down to a reasonable state of harmony, emotions jump up and down and in every possible direction.  This is quite normal, even if it is alarming and bewildering for young people at the time. 

Once the initial tumult of puberty is over, and everything that goes with it is aligned, the human being arrives at a time of emotional completion.  Couples fall in love for the first time, an unquestionably emotional experience, which then influences the physical and mental states until the three states conjoin.  The physical states of both parties desire and seek physical contact with each other; mentally their thoughts coincide more often and emotions cause physical manifestations such as rapidly beating hearts, stomach-wrenches and difficulty breathing, while thoughts of each other overwhelm their minds almost to the exclusion of everyone and everything else.  A simple light touch will cause the burgeoning physical, mental and emotional states to engulf them once more.  
Here’s where my fascination with the powerful Emotional State comes into its own. Unlike the Physical State, where the body ages and this is exhibited for all to see; and the Mental State which slows down as it ages and, in many cases, degrades quite severely; the Emotional State, once kindled, remains as powerful a force at the end of one’s life as it was in the beginning.   Love, that most powerful of all emotions, causes people to perform acts and services which would, if not for love, be quite unbelievable, such as the act of a person laying down his life for another (John 3:16). The Emotional State has the power to reignite the very powerful physical desires and mental thoughts attached to the emotional state each and every time a person ‘falls in love’, regardless of whether the person involved is 12 or 102.

I still have to explore this a bit more but, my initial conclusion must be that, as we are told in the Bible, Love (emotion) endures forever and is, therefore, stronger than anything else in the human experience!  There is much to support that we are indeed all Emotion, temporarily housed in fragile and transitory physical and mental states.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
 

Saturday, 28 December 2013

I thought a thought

It's a Resolution!

As we head towards the end of 2013 and into 2014, I'm revisiting a thought I thought a while ago. It's not a new thought; nor even a unique thought but, for me, it is a thought which bears thinking about. (That sounds like something out of Winnie the Pooh).

How about a different concept where we all stop 'fighting' for a cause because, quite seriously, the 'fight' is what we'll perpetuate?  Our brains are weird that way, they recognise our mood over our intentions and if it's a fight we want, a fight is what our brain will deliver.  

I'm not saying this will be something which is easy by any means.  In fact, it will probably the the most difficult endeavour I've ever undertaken but I do believe it is worth the effort.

How about rather than joining a fight for a cause which is dear to our hearts, we work on giving daily thanks to our Lord for the outcome we want?  Such as:  


  • Being grateful that people the world over have enough food instead of fighting hunger? 
  • Being grateful that all children are safe instead of fighting child abuse?  
  • Being grateful that all people treat others with respect?
  • Being grateful that the world in our care is well looked-after instead of fighting for the environment?  
  • Being grateful that we have the most honest Government in the world instead of fighting for the necessary change? (although, I have to admit, this will be a difficult one for me). 

Although I am really going to work at Praying for Change in 2014, I think I should clarify that I don't and won't sit on my posterior doing nothing.  God requires us to be involved and make a difference where we can.  It's the wording which has become so ubiquitous that is so dangerous.  Everyone, everywhere talks about "fighting" and "struggle" for whatever they're wanting to change.  In my small life, I'm changing those words to "praying" and "expecting", that's all... 

I am actively involved in rescuing animals in distress; 
I work in my local community to improve and maintain our suburb; 
I am actively involved with my political party of preference in our district; and 
I am very environmentally aware and am a good steward of what God has put in my care although I absolutely don't and never will buy into the hypey-hopey 'climate change' religion promulgated by Gore and espoused by corrupt regimes throughout the world.



In any event, that's a concept I intend to embrace and will work on during 2014!

For now, I am grateful that our family is happy, healthy, prosperous and safe.

Have a Blessed, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.  

May your life be filled with Joy; your heart filled with Love; and your mind filled with God's Peace that passes all understanding!  

Saturday, 21 December 2013

We're liable - Lungisa Toni

I met Lungisa Toni at the company at which I work in Johannesburg, South Africa where everyone called him 'Toni' although that is his surname. Actually, he encourages the use of the name 'Toni' because he says it's an easier name for people to remember.  

Toni is a committed Christian who lives his walk with Christ in everything he does on a daily basis.  He works as a security guard and is passionate about providing service.  Sadly our company has moved to new premises and in the move, the security company which was used was changed.  This means that I will probably not be in touch with Toni anytime soon.  However, I would like to showcase this man's abundant talent.  

During the last frenetic week of our move, Toni and I chatted quite a lot and I discovered that he writes, specifically in verse.  Not only does he write, but he takes the time to engage in his world around him in a very real way and it is this engagement which forms the basis of his poetry. 

Here is one of a few of Toni's poems which I am privileged to share with you.  (English is not his first language although one would never know this).  The picture I've chosen is the cover of Ron Myers' book 'The Wholly Liable' because of the uncanny synchronicity between these two men.


We’re liable, we’re liable

 Ron Myers - The Wholly Liable
Appropriate Synchronicity
Time to become realistic has come
Accepting that we are equally liable
For all that we disapprove of around
Socially, politically and economically
For our negligence and irresponsibility
Commenting and not acting, we’re liable

Eventually we have to accept
Without dealing with our perceptions
Without minding our contributions
Towards creative mindsets and routines
Surely we are also to blame for all
Hens lay eggs, what do we do? We’re liable

This our lifetime demands our efforts
For without us there is no world and life
We are the masters of our destiny
Freedom and democracy is smart always
Only for those in civilization pursuits
We’re liable to peace and prosperity

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Forest Finery - UPDATE with The Painting by Brian Rolfe

My inspiration comes from so many sources.  This painting by artist, Brian Rolfe, inspired today's poem.

On rare occasions one stumbles upon a person whose genius is so manifest in everything he or she does that one wonders if they are truly aware of the extent of their genius. A number of months ago, I was privileged to begin following one such genius. His name is Brian Rolfe and his art is an absolute wonder to me. Every painting I've seen speaks to my very soul and I would never say that lightly.
As usual this latest painting by Brian is magnificent and was posted on his facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/artbrianrolfe). It was this painting which inspired me. I truly hope I can do it at least some little bit of justice.



Thoughts of You

He paused and listened intently for a while
To the whisper impress itself upon his thought
Still he strained to hear the forest’s call
Then absorbed the quest as he knew he aught

Shades within shadows within shades hid from him
To burst then trickle through his consciousness
As that most ancient clan of primordial trees
Sketched and drew him to within their midst

Awareness pummelled the fragments of his mind
He knew this place better than he knew his life cue
But where was it, this mirage of life’s true meaning
Which quenched his thirst to make him hunger anew?

Monday, 25 November 2013

Crystal Nights

Love is such a powerful emotion and tender, romantic love is so very difficult to express.  In this poem I've attempted to portray the congruity and incongruity of the state of being called 'love'.  I can't remember where I found the picture so can't acknowledge it I'm afraid...

Crystal Nights


Shouted whispers and silent cries
Tell of my love for you
Yet still
I hide away
Within my sincerity
Within the strands of my intuition
As my Mind touches your Mind
As my Soul senses your Soul


Muted hues and vibrant shadows
Portray my love for you
Yet still
I hide away
Within my timidity
Within the filament of my unconsciousness
As my Hands hold your Hands
As my Body embraces your Body

Crystal nights and Opal lights
Bring my love to you
Yet still
I hide away
Within my honesty
Within the filigree of my conscious
As my heart throbs to your Heart
As my life breathes your Life.





Monday, 18 November 2013

Into My Past

Into my Past




First Passport at 16




If I were to look

Back into my past
What would I see?

A multitude of 

Hopeful

Cheerful 

Interludes
Dusted with
The Unremarkable 




Drum Majorette Uni Natal PMB







Would I change it?
The past
I see? 
The Unremarkable?
No!
Not now!
Not ever!
That boy

The loves
Lost
Along the way
Strengthen
Establish me
The mistakes 
I've made
Teach me 
My life





The day with Mom & Dad






Even more
Than
That
The loves

Gone

The lives


Lost




On being a Mom












The Unremarkable
Will not 

Ever
Nor 
Can it 
Ever
Return






National Secretary of the Year






If I were to look

Back into my past 
What would I see? 
Myriad buoyant
Joyful intervals
Many more familiar
Unexceptional phases







Representing South Africa in the US








Would I change it?
The past
I know?
The Unremarkable?

No!

Not now!


Not ever!

Into my past - 40 years apart


For my past 
Is

Me!

Monday, 11 November 2013

PENDULUM

For my friends and family who live in the Northern Hemisphere and are in the throes of Autumn. This is for you...

PENDULUM

The late Autumn days
Wheezed
Into whispers of Wintry wisps
Transforming temperate breezes
Into sodden
Numbing
Pain
Shivering
Sensitive
Sentences
In Circadian
Sidereal time
As
Predictable
As
A
Pendulum
Pulse


Monday, 7 October 2013

What exactly are Human Rights?

Society as we know it is balancing on the edge of a precipice.  Adding to the many troubles we face as a society, advocates of 'Human Rights' have perverted what it means to have rights and society is the poorer for it.

I'm not saying that I don't believe in human rights.  I do but, not in the way they are currently being peddled.

The Right

I am proudly tolerant
Believe in Human Rights
However there’s a caveat
When it comes to Human Wrongs

When human rights
Are harmed through crime

For those who transgress
Do human rights apply?

Yes
I believe they do -

The right to food and water
The right to clean themselves
The right to lose those human rights
They used
They enjoyed
They abused

The right to incarceration
The right to have rights withheld
The right to stay locked up in a cell
To be reminded of their debt
To think
To contemplate

The right to be held accountable
The right to work each day
The right to pay their debt
To be answerable and responsible
For their liability
To those they wronged

What they do not have
This is my true belief
They have no right
To benefits
From a society
They forswore

Yes
I’m proudly tolerant
I believe in Human Rights
Especially for innocent victims

Of crimes 
By Human Wrongs

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Elephants in Livingstone, Zambia

Almost a year ago to the day, I flew up on business to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, and took a slight detour down to Livingstone on the banks of the beautiful Victoria Falls. 

I am a proud African citizen.  I was born and brought up in South Africa and am blessed and privileged to have lived in Ndola on the Copperbelt in Zambia for five years.  I am just as blessed and privileged to have this magnificence right on my doorstep, to visit whenever I please.

Join me, if you will, and I hope that, through me, you can vicariously experience one moment in time which will stay with me always.

A colleague met me at the little, very rural, Livingstone International Airport.  As we were driving to the hotel, he stopped on the side of the road.  I didn't at first understand why but, a crash from in amongst the trees on the side of the road on which we'd stopped, alerted me soon enough.  A herd of elephant was ambling along enjoying the lush vegetation.  We thought, at first, that it was a small herd which had broken way from the herd which lived on the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls (Vic Falls to locals).  We were so mistaken, this was no break-away group.  This was a herd of more than 100 strong and was led by a matriarch who was, honestly, one the biggest elephant I've ever seen and I've seen a lot of them.

From the photographs, which were taken with my smartphone, so have none of the normal enhancements one can achieve with a camera, it's easy to be mistaken about how close the elephants actually were. However, if you look at the vegetation and the tufts of grass in the foreground, you can see that, even when the elephants were still at a bit of a distance from us, they were already fairly close.  Here, there is one tiny copse of trees between us and them.

Across the picture in the background from left to right are elephants walking trunk to tail
I don't know how long we watched as the herd moved slowly along.  I could have stayed and watched them for hours.  
A juvenile bull elephant enjoying his afternoon tea


Here's a young bull elephant, ostensibly oblivious to us, enjoying his meal.  He was, however, very aware of our presence but was happily chomping away so wasn't interested in us.  We kept a close eye on him and were ready to reverse out of there the minute he stopped eating.  Juvenile bull elephants are very unpredictable and if he had decided to charge our truck, he was that close (only a few dozen metres) that he could have trampled us in no time.  Also, with the herd all around, if he felt threatened, he could quickly and easily have alerted the rest of the herd and there's a good chance I wouldn't be here to tell the story. That's my arm in the rear view mirror on the bottom right of the photo.

More of the herd, passing by us.  They were really, really close.
Elephants are seldom in a hurry and this herd was definitely out on a leisurely afternoon stroll.  From the photograph it appears as if there is only one single line of elephants.  I don't know how many deep they were walking but I would guess that they were at least four or five deep.  Once again, you can see how very close they were to us.  

The magnificence of it will be etched in my memory forever.  

Elephants milling around, enjoying themselves in the mid-afternoon, African sun
The vegetation was tinder-dry, as you can see.  Here and there are patches of green but for the rest, it was extremely dry and brown.

Zambia has a sub-tropical climate and is extremely hot all year round.  As in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, we locals speak of having four seasons in a year but we really only have two - summer and winter.  In Zambia even these two seasons aren't clearly defined.  Winters are so hot that the only real difference in the seasons is that it rains in summer.

As an example, in winter, on a 'cold' evening, one would, at most, put on a light cardigan.  Winters are also exceedingly dry and rains only begin towards the middle of November, and perhaps earlier in the month if one is very lucky. To give you an understanding of how hot it is at that time of year before the rains arrive. There are very real health hazards. I don't mean hazards such as the anopheles mosquitoes which the rains bring with them and which carry malaria.  They are also a real danger but what I'm referring to is the heat. October is referred to by locals as 'suicide month' because the heat is so unbearable that people's blood literally heats up so much that it affects their brains.  There are more suicides in October in Zambia than in all the other months combined.

Due to the extreme heat, for a lot of the year, Zambia is dry and when I was up in Livingstone at the end of September last year, the vegetation was a reflection of exactly how dry the winter had been that year. Everything was sparse and brown except for patches of green here and there.   The Zambian countryside is a vision once the first rains fall - and that's a misnomer if there ever was one; the rain doesn't 'fall' in Zambia, it pummels the earth in solid sheets.  As the first rains hit the parched earth, one can almost see the new growths forcing their way through the soil and into the light.  Myriad hues of green appear out of nowhere and are liberally sprinkled with all the colours of the wild flora which spring up almost overnight.  

This photo is the only one I didn't take myself but it does give an idea of the rainfall.  This is typical of a 'shower' of rain  in Zambia.  When I lived in Zambia, we never considered even trying to drive in the rain. The two metre deep culverts which ran alongside all major roads, filled to overflowing in less than half an hour and torrents formed and became raging rivers where the road dipped, even slightly.  That's a lot of water.  Floods are a regular feature during summer and the average rainfall is 200mm per month.

Zambia - first rains of the season

A lot of very big animals - thankfully with their backs to us - up close and personal

We eventually drove away when it became obvious that the matriarch was intent on taking her herd across the road and, besides not wanting to upset her, if we'd stayed where we were, we may have been in danger of being trampled.

That evening, at sundown, we were sipping drinks on the banks of the Zambezi overlooking the Victoria Falls and watching hippo gambolling in the shallows but, that's a story for another time.

This is Africa at its very finest.  













Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Hurting People

There are hurting people all around us but we don't see them.  

It's not that we don't literally 'see' them, it's that they hide away so well within themselves that no one would ever know that they are broken.  Is this because of shame; shyness; arrogance; pride; self preservation; or of something else completely; and is the cause of it something we should even care about?

I don't think we can ever know how another person feels. 

What we can do is treat our fellow beings with respect and dignity in a manner in which we ourselves would like to be treated.  Perhaps in this way, we, at least, will not be guilty of breaking a person down to the level where they feel that they are worth nothing in life and that life is worth nothing to them. 

If we can just treat people with empathy and respect, we can prevent so many lives from feeling or becoming lost because as different as we all are, we are all God's children and all of us have a purpose and are someone in His eyes.  We don't have to agree with everyone.  That is an impossibility.  There are people with whom I, personally, vehemently disagree but I do try to not treat them in a disparaging manner.  The Bible, that wonderful (still best-selling book after all these years), tells us that even when we are faced with our worst enemy, the way to treat them is with love.  

"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:44-45). 

"Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:20-21).

God treats all of us equally and adjures us to do the same.  I'm not sure that I have the resolve to do so, yet, if I  could just care a little more; if we could just be more respectful, perhaps so many heartaches like this one could be prevented:

Reflections of a Life Lost
It's been months since I was made redundant from a job I loved.  It's been months of thinking and praying and trying to understand what I did wrong because, clearly, I must have done something terrible as I was the only one affected and the way it ended was the worst experience of my life. 

I've been trying to understand why this has hit me so hard at this point in time.  It doesn't make sense.   Surely, I should have gone through this pain at the time?  Surely by now I should have got over myself?  Surely shock can't possibly last this long?  Surely I can't have been in denial all this time?

I've been trying to understand why I haven't shed one tear until today and why, quite honestly, I can't now stop crying.  This is a very strange phenomenon for me.  I'm made of sterner stuff.  I rarely cry for anything which affects me directly and, until today, I can't remember when last I did.  I do lapse at times when I think of others' hurts and my eyes will leak and overflow a little but not like this; not like this.  It's as if the well of water within me is determined to force its way out until its last drop is spent. 

I've been thinking back over these months and looking at all the initiatives in which I've been dabbling; because, in truth, 'dabbling' is what it has been.  I haven't seriously started to do anything meaningful.  Each time I think about actually getting going on a project, my inner core seems to shut it down.  It's almost as if I'm trying to sabotage myself because my inner self knows that I'm merely fooling myself into thinking I can actually achieve anything worthwhile.  

This is not a good place for me.  It needs to end.  Somewhere deep inside is the strength I need and with God's help, I'll draw it out.

What happened to the person I used to be?  The person I was who honestly never let anything get me down; who stood firm in my resolve and who always did whatever it took to stay on track?  The person who was so incredibly strong?

That person appears to be no more. 

In place of the me who used to be, is this shell of a person; always smiling, it's true but, beneath the smile, there is a void, a chasm of nothingness. 


Is this how it is to be?  Is this what I've become?  Nothing?  

It feels like it.