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The Makings Of A Man: 31 Things The Last Year Taught Me

 

On the eve of my 31st birthday I caught myself devouring a shawarma wrap with such unthinking and savage dexterity that I actually had to take a pause and reflect on life itself. And in the middle of that pause all the ambivalence I had been nursing about turning 31 dissipated. In its place was a renewed enthusiasm. Suddenly celebrating my last calendar birthday (Apparently it’s a thing.) didn’t seem so frivolous.

I realise that this could be the most meaningful year of my life yet. In the bigger scheme of things 31 has its place. It’s a year-long step into the thirties. 52 more weeks away from the glorious twenties and one more step into the rest of my life.

Starring down at what was left of that shawarma I realised I have so much to be thankful for. I am eating. I am here. Not everyone made it this far. These years are blessings.

My twenties were all over the place. It was a decade of constantly moving between cities, countries and continents. My twenties were all about risky behaviour, confident assertions, and delusions of having it all figured out by 30. It was the decade of were trial and error was my modus operundi.

Not so much with my thirties.

Being just one year in, I can already tell that the thirties will be very different. My thirties are going to be the decade of negotiating my most precious resource, my time. It is going to be the decade of deciding what to ignore and what to peer into. My thirties are going to be about appreciating the deliciousness of slowing down and turning inward. This next decade will be about which parts of me get refined and which get sacrificed among the embers.

The way 30 delightfully whizzed past me, I can tell that my entire thirties could end up as a breathless blur. Like the gap of white space between a before and after photo between the twenties and forties. And this only serves to encourage me to live each day to the fullest and to create memories with the people that matter.

And to think it took me eating a shawarma wrap to finally embrace becoming a thirty something. I know. I am a weirdo, and I am so random, but I actually cool with that. I like the person I am becoming. I like the person I have grown into. Even if it’s not every one’s cup of tea.

Life is crazy and beautiful like that.

It’s become something of a tradition since I started this blog to share some of the lessons I learned during the year. I always try to do this around the time of my birthday. And this year is no different. So …

Here are the 31 things I learned in the last year.

 

  1. Becoming a writer was the easy part. Staying a writer, much harder
  2. Time has a great way of revealing intentions, the truth and character. Trust time. Time always does its work.
  3. You can’t learn if you aren’t willing to listen.
  4. You will have bad times , but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.
  5.  The internet is always in a constant state of either making you feel better or worse about your life. Just depends on the day. Also, The Humans Of New York Facebook page just might be my favourite on all the internets.
  6. Happiness depends on knowing when to be kind to yourself. Purpose, on when to be tough on yourself.
  7. There is a vast difference between advancement and culture. You can be advanced and modern without losing your culture.
  8. You don’t get to chase a new dream and keep your old life. When it’s time to dream be brave enough to leave behind the things you must.
  9. I still don’t understand how one would sip from one’s cup til it runneth over. Regardless Jay Z is still the King of the double entendre and metonym.
  10. Conversations that unlock a picnic in our minds, a paradise for our souls to meet. Delicate sips of an intoxicating essence. That.
  11. Understanding that acceptance is a form of understanding is one the greatest of understandings to understand.
  12. I have been supporting Manchester United for twenty one years now. And until David Moyes happened I had no idea what heartbreak really felt like.
  13. I love the smell of rain. Only a few things are more soothing than the soft thrum of raindrops falling outside my window.
  14. The harder we try to escape who truly are, the further we get from lives of meaning.
  15. The man who knows “how” will always have a job, the man who also knows “why” will always be his boss.
  16. Sam Smith is a really soulful dude. You actually feel his voice before you hear it. Also, ‘Latch’ (Acoustic version) makes you want to never fall in love, but fall in love at the same time.
  17. The ability to say NO out of respect for your well-being is a priceless life skill. When you can do it with ease, you avoid so much torment.
  18. Cenosillicaphobia is the fear of an empty beer glass. (See, it’s a thing.)
  19. The only thing that keeps me sane is reading and all these attempts at trying to nurture my own intellectual development.
  20. Most people will hardly understand what you’re trying to do until it’s done.
  21. Victory introduces you to the world, but defeat introduces the world to you.
  22. Life is a language we will never be fluent in. But that shouldn’t stop us from learning it even with all the mistakes it may come with.
  23. In solitude and silence many questions are answered.
  24. There is eloquence in true enthusiasm that is not to be doubted.
  25. The difference between success and failure is just a decision to keep trying.
  26. “Apologies” and “Thank You’s” are the best way to create a conversation on your terms.
  27.  There is no easy way out for big problems; but there is always a way out
  28. Experience is what you get just after you need it.
  29. ‘Bae’ is such a beautifully ambiguous word. And even though I have used  fleek’ on occasion, I am still not entirely sure if I use it correctly.
  30. There is no such thing as life that’s better than yours. No. Such. Thing.
  31.  Do you. Always.

 

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Makings Of A Man: 29 Things The Last Year Taught Me

In the last few days leading up to my 29th birthday I was in an unusually pensive state. The word unusually is deceptive. Let me give you a brief bit of context. I am a chronic over-thinker. My ability to think myself out of (and into) problems, has like many of my other traits, imprisoned and set me free me at various points in my life.

What was unusual about this particular period is that not only was I having thoughts within thoughts within thoughts (some weird Inception type thought process). I was undergoing significant paradigm shifts. The past year taught me a lot of lessons. All these lessons came from all the different people I interacted with, the challenges I faced and the words I read.

As I reflected on all this I finally began to understand what the last year had been attempting to teach me. So armed with a reckless enthusiasm and a furious animosity towards the past year I set about writing down some of the lessons.

Here are 29 of some of the lessons I have learnt in the past year;

1. You have to be honest. You have to have the courage to be honest with yourself and other people about who you are, how you feel and what you want. Lies will lock you up, with truth the only key.

2. Do not be afraid to walk away from people in order to save yourself or retrieve the person you once were. The people who are really for you will understand.

3. Sometimes a dream broken is a dream worth having. Don’t give up on your dream. God put it in your heart for a reason. If he placed it in your heart, he has already created the means for you to fulfill it. Stay in faith. Protect and fight for your dreams at ALL times.

4. Anything someone says before ‘BUT doesn’t count.

5. Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.

6. It’s not all about you.

7. If you admire somebody go ahead and tell them. People never get the roses when they can still smell them.

8. If a girl likes you she likes you even with your lack of game. Your lack of game might in fact be your game.

9. Don’t go around breaking young girl’s hearts. No Billie Jean. Sigh … This world didn’t deserve Michael Jackson

10. Don’t give fear the majority vote at the table of life

11. The grass is greener where you water it. You must be at peace with yourself and your path. Stop looking at what everyone else is doing. Focus on your own plan.

12. You are not alone in your struggle. Everyone is fighting their own Chimurenga. Lets be kinder to each other.

13. Doubt your doubts.

14. You don’t need Batman when you have got Robin Van Persie.

15. It’s better to be a Clown-Ninja, have everyone think you are weird and be at peace with yourself, than to fit their description of normal and be at war with yourself.

16. Silence can just be as therapeutic as music.

17. Consciously make your choices, or your choices will consciously make you. Deciding not to decide. Not a good look.

18. Twitter is unbeatable for aphorism, great for anecdote, decent for poetry, useless for analysis, and the eye of a newt for surrealism.

19. When it comes to your goals be the Michael Jordan of your Dream Team.

20. Sometimes a stranger is more likely to help you out in the way you really need to be helped than a ‘friend’. (I still can’t understand why this is.)

21. The toothpick kept in mouth is like a middle finger to fine dining.

22. “What” and “if” on their own are two words as non-threatening as words can be. But put them together and they can bring you a lifetime of regret

23. We are bigger than the worst thing we have ever done. Don’t let it hold you captive. Learn to forgive yourself and other people.

24. Never stop learning. If you are the smartest person in a room, you’re in the wrong room. Get out and find a room with people smarter than you.

25. Great writing is like that other thing: hard to define, but easy to recognise.

26. Love is simple. It’s people who are complicated.

27. Fulfillment and love come from honoring real emotional connections. Despair and chaos come from failing to rise to the occasion.

28. Breaking up with a lover is one thing …. But, breaking up as friends is heavy.

29. I am a grown ass kid. I have still got a lot of growing up to do.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Do You Remember The Time?

I remember one of my friends who had relatives in America brought the VHS tape over to our house. I put the tape into the VCR. We watch it, we hear the heartbeat, we see the Gravestone … SMOOTH CRIMINAL.Then dead silence.The neo – ancient Egyptian woman turns her head. Fingers crack. A cat purrs. Hat’s poised leaning over one eye like the past about to explode into life. Clothes rustle. Then Michael Jackson appears in a white suit -shining. He tosses a coin. For the longest time it falls into place in the jukebox. It feels like the whole beat of the song is taken away from the instruments and given to his body -it jerks, slows time, wheels.. His body seems to mark time and seems to move not with time and the beat, but in a relationship with it. He has  detached his body from those restraints. He is teasing time and space. His body is a needle, ducking head first into the stiff fabric of the world we know. The whole sepia coloured past world is tucked into his trousers. Now he scrambles history with his bod. He is more flexible than physics. He is a plastic man and cannot fail. My jaw drops. I am gob smacked. I am entertained

I remember after that,I wanted to be Michael Jackson. Forget having moves like Jagger. I wanted to move like Micheal, to sing like him and to dress like him. I also remember me and my younger brother, who was always the better dancer dressing up and doing our best MJ impressions in our parents lounge. Our well rehearsed  routines became standard entertainment at family functions. Ah the good old days. For a long time until sometime in the mid 90’s when I fell in love with Hip Hop MJ and his music would be my staple diet. His music was the be all and end all of my musical world.

Today Michael Joseph Jackson  would have turned 54. Its hard to believe that its been three years already already since the greatest entertainer to ever grace the stage passed away. I remember I was living in Melbourne at the time. As was my morning routine I had the TV turned to the Sunrise show as I was readying myself for another day on the grind. It was then that world stopped for a while. The news had slowly started to come through. Michael Jackson was dead. I was in shock. I didn’t want to believe it.

I remember on the tram to work I was practically a zombie. By the time I made it to my cubicle my eyes were blood-shot red. am sure I looked hung over. I was very much sober. On my way into work I hadn’t been able to hold back the tears – but it would turn out to be a long day of mourning before I would be all cried out. I remember one of my work mates asking me “Are you OK Taf? You look like a mess.” “Micheal is gone” I replied..I can still see the look on her face now, a picture of confusion and sympathy. ” Who is Micheal?” she probed. ” Micheal Jackson. The King is dead” I replied, holding back the tears.

‘I don’t recall doing much work the rest of that day. What I do remember is obsessively refreshing web pages on news websites for updates, all the while secretly hoping and praying that it was all some elaborate hoax.  As the hours ticked on and more sources confirmed the death it all started to sink in. It was real. In the words of of Kanye “Something wrong/I hold my head/ MJ gone, Our nigga dead” The Dictator of my musical childhood was gone. Too soon. Ever since that day one of my biggest regrets is that I never got to see the man perform live.

My father was a huge MJ fan. In our house growing up I was exposed to a lot of Micheal Jackson’s music. From the early Jackson 5 vinyl records to the Off The Wall and Thriller cassette tapes, played the soundtrack to my childhood. One of my earliest memories of MJ’s music is from a song of his album Off The Wall. My Dad used to play the cassette all the time  especially in his car.  I remember my Mum, as if on cue would go to repeat the story of how after Zimbabwe gained its independence in 1980 that was the music of the moment. She would tell me how people would replace some of the lyrics in  the song Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough to  ‘Mugabe is the Prime Minister’. Unknowingly MJ had provided the soundtrack to many a Zimbabwean at the time they were celebrating their Independence and were still filled with optimism about their new leader.

Such was Michael’s influence. On my part at the time I was too young to make sense of the lyrics. All I knew is that I felt the rhythm and it made me want to boogie all night long. Well at least until my parents sent me off to bed. Then there was that Thriller video. I don’t think I had ever seen anything like it. Ever. I was moved, frightened, mesmerised, excited, and confused all at same damn time.

With the exception of the music of Tracy Chapman and Oliver Mtukudzi, MJ’s music is the only other music that My Dad and I have both really love and to this day still enjoy and share together. If for just that alone, Micheal is the greatest musician I have ever listened to.

MJ was more than just a musician. He was a cultural icon. He was a humanitarian. MJ touched millions of fans like me and inspired and moved us all through his music and dance. His legacy will live on. Forever. If I should have a son I hope that I too will be able to share MJ’s music together with him, the same way I have done over the years with my own Dad. That is the best gift MJ gave me and I will always be grate

Happy birthday MJ. Your music lives on!

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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