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KNOWING vs. BELIEVING

A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Monday, 29 December 2014

THE POST-INDULGENCE DOWNWARD SPIRAL

The past week has been hard work.  Not being in full training for endless food, too much red wine and Christmas cake has left me feeling flat, fat and short on energy.

Today, being the Monday after the week of Christmas, seemed to be a good day to shift gear back into some semblance of balanced eating, exercise and non-indulgence.  The trouble, however, is with surplus kilograms and low energy levels to contend with, I don't feel much like pumping my bike tyres and hitting the road.  It just feels so much easier to tuck into another bar of Lindt and crack a bottle of Merlot.

This I suspect is the problem with most health and weight issues.  We start enjoying what we label "the good life" and then let our health slip.  We promise ourselves that we can start exercising again, run off the flab quite easily, but then discover that the more weight we've put on, the harder it is to get started on the health path again.  It's so much easier to keep going in the downhill direction that when we finally wake up to which is the way out, it's almost too late because it's too hard to find the way out.

It's a downward health spiral, but a spiral which applies as much to health as it does to the way we behave in our relationships, the way we are in the office, our attitude to money and most everything else.  

The more we let things slide, the harder it is to retrieve them.  Sure, have a glass of wine and a slice of cheesecake from time to time, but don't for a moment believe that you can keep on letting yourself go and then simply turn around and sort things out.  If there's something in your life you want to change, now would be a good time to start.  It may not be easy, but if you're resolved you'll get there.

For the meantime I reckon I'll get going again with my green juice each morning and take it from there.

Monday, 22 December 2014

'TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY, TRA-LA-LA-LA-LA

It's that time of year again when most people are especially nice to each other.  Everyone wishes each other happy Christmas, or theologically correct ones or those who aren't sure and don't want to offend Jews, Moslems and (heaven forbid) atheists and want to be politically correct wish everyone "happy holidays".

A couple of things here: am I wrong in thinking that people are nicer and more polite to each other in general at this time of year than at others?  If I'm right, how come?  Do they like each other less during the rest of the year, are they simply less authentic at this time of year or is there actually genuine goodwill somehow generated by the existence of Christianity's most holy day which spills over to the rest of the world?

I'm not sure of the answer - maybe it doesn't matter - but I do somehow wish that the goodwill which is shown at this time of year could be shared all year round.  How difficult would that be?

I would also love to see the end of "happy holidays".  No one says that at Rosh Hashanah or Ramadan, so why do we have to tiptoe around Christmas?  Just saying.

Moving on, yesterday Kazalette and I had the privilege of attending a Christmas Celebration Concert at the Playhouse Theatre in Durban. We were immersed in a variety show of extraordinary talent, none more so than the beautiful voices of Judith Sephuma and Bongani Tembe performing David Foster's "The Prayer" together.  It was one of those renditions where tears just rolled down my cheeks for no obvious reason. On reflection, it seemed to me to be an unconscious accessing of my gratitude: for the song and its lyrics, for these gifted artists giving their all and sharing their blessed voices with the rest of us.  And, having quietly wiped away a slightly runny nose, I was then simply enthralled and entranced by the massed Choirs of the Playhouse Chorale, Mthwalume Boys and Assemblies of God Church accompanied by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra performing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah. I was moved to my core and found myself again reaching for the now grubby tissue.

We have much to be grateful for, but somehow the sharing of each of our wonderful gifts and talents, whatever those may be, seems to be the thing that moves us most into that sacred place of gratitude.

A joyous and blessed Christmas to all of my readers who celebrate Christmas.  To those who don't, be joyous and blessed as well.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

"SHE COMPLETE'S ME" - REALLY??

Driving to work this morning I heard a love song playing, the lead lyrics of which included the words, over and over again, "She completes me".  One also hears variations on this theme in wedding speeches.  All very sweet and so on, but is that really so?

 I have to ask: What part of you was incomplete before you met her, and how were you coping?  Would I have noticed that you were incomplete if I had bumped into you on the street?  What would I have seen and did you actually know you were incomplete before you became complete?  If you didn't know, was it an unexpected bonus to discover that someone else could complete you when you met her?  How did she actually complete you?

Sorry to be a cynic, but each of us, standing on our own, is the complete package.  We don't need someone else to prop us up as a crutch, or fill a black hole that should be bubbling with joy at any given moment.  I don't personally want to take on an incomplete person so that I can complete her, so what's the benefit of being incomplete other than coming to leech energy and generosity from your partner?

Lets be complete in ourselves.  To be sure, joyfully share our completeness with our complete partners, but: "You complete me" sounds pretty sad to me.

Just saying.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

SEEKING THE JOY IN DIRTY DIAPERS

I was chatting to a client the other day about a new business venture which he is creating.  He was so excited about its possibilities and I found myself caught up in his enthusiasm for the project.  As we were working through a step-by-step process to move it forward, there was a small dip in his energy as he realised that, outside the creative framework was going to lie a certain amount of adminstrative work: banking, accounting and (with no disrespect intended) some of the other unsexy aspects of putting together and running a business.

"I really hate admin", he said.  And then he cheered up, got back on the wave and said: "But perhaps I should just love it instead".  Fuelled by his come-back, I was inspired to suggest that it was like bringing up a child:  One of the most creative and inspiring things we do in our lives, but the project also entails changing smelly nappies as part of the deal.


The dirty diaper seems to me to be a great allegory for the tasks we don't especially enjoy or want in our lives, but are nonetheless necessary for the good of the whole.  My now distant (but still clear) recollection of nappy time was a bad smell and a pile of nasty poop that had to be disposed of, followed by a process of cleaning, swabbing and resuscitation of both the active parts of the child  and myself. And yet, challenging and unappealing as the process was on occasion, as a working father who didn't get to spend a lot of time with my family, nappy time became an important part of bonding with my babies.  Each time, we got to look each other in the eye, chat (or gurgle, as the case may have been), laugh together and share an experience.

If I never change another nappy in my life, it won't be too soon, but paradoxically I treasure those times because I believe they were such an important part of creating the relationship between my children and me and, more importantly, helping mould Jeska and Stefan into the incredible young adults they have become.

We learn that creation is a mixture of inspiration and perspiration in different proportions.  Well the truth is that, however much fun the inspiration might be, it's the perspiration which gives life to a project.

Soiled diapers, distasteful as aspects of changing them may be, are a necessary part of our creations, so treasure them and see them as part of a joyous larger experience.