An UNATURAL disaster

I think I was in my early teens when I first heard of ‘el nino’. The concept briefly interested me, but the details eluded me. All I knew was that the icebergs were melting, and the world was getting hotter.

That’s it.

It shouldn’t surprise you that my interest in the subject never went further than those brief encounters with the topic in its vague form. A large part of why it never bothered me as much as it should have is because I lived (and still do) in South Africa. We have no icebergs, we have no polar bears and when it’s hot, it’s hot, just as when it’s cold, it’s cold.

For all I knew, not much changed over the years.

Except, a lot changed.

As it stands, we’re currently battling a drought. Sure we’re clawing our way out of the red, but we’re still in it. Communities go without running water for days, even weeks and months; it’s the norm for some of them.  To others it’s a crisis that’s threatening the lives of their loved ones and dragging down industries in the process.

I could go further into how devastating this drought has been for companies in the country, but that’s not why I’m writing this.

The recent slew of natural disasters that’s plagued the world this month alone should be enough to make people think.

These are no longer vague terms and concepts on a flimsy news segment you can ignore because they don’t concern or affect you in any way. These are very real, very dangerous and very devastating realities that are in our backyards and have levelled communities and taken lives.

Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Maria, the earthquake in central Mexico, the floods in India, the flood in China and many more around the world.

This isn’t about political propaganda by any one side trying to scare the living crap out of the other; this is about a very real change in a world we thought we knew.

This change, this multi-layered climate change is bigger than our egos or our greed or whatever it is that’s holding us back from admitting that things are going south. These changes are not only increasing in frequency (maybe it’s just that we hear about them more frequently because of the internet) but they’re also affecting more and more people around the world.

There are nations that will have to rebuild, parents that will have to bury children, children that no longer have a home or a family and there are lives that will be forever changed because of these disasters.

However you feel about climate change, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we stand with those in need.

No weapon formed will stand against a natural disaster, what will help is patience, understanding, education, compassion and uniting as a world to help preserve this beautiful planet for the generations to follow.

One thing we are, is resilient. We will be stronger, more United and so much more prepared for whatever comes next. 

Here are a few organisations that are dedicated to making a difference and providing relief and support to the victims of these natural disasters.

http://www.HANDINHAND2017.com (Hind in Hand hurricane relief)

http://www.icrc.org (Red Cross)

and many more in the pdf attached.

ngolist

Advertisements

Quick thought

I’m not the best writer. I’ve never been called prolific and nobody in my journey thus far has pegged me as the next great literary talent.

I’m black, young (by the greater standards of the old guard who I sometimes look at as the Gate Keepers of all things conventionally-success-like) and I’m from a part of the world that isn’t renowned in the literary sense.

Not for nothing, my country is filled with intelligent and incredible people who enjoy reading, but when 54% of the country is illiterate, it stands to reason that writing isn’t as high on the “hone-a-skill-and-be-great-in-life” list.

I know, I’m rambling, that’s probably because English is also my second language.

My point is, I’m not the best writer out here, nor do I have very many people visiting my corner of the interwebs, but I sure as hell enjoy doing it and I’m good enough to stand on my own two feet and take pride in the worlds I create, the people I develop and the stories I like to tell.

Could I be better, sure, when is anybody ever perfect in anything? That’s a rhetorical question because I firmly believe that Beyonce is perfect in all things, if you have any opposing views, though respected, I have to ask you to come fight me.

Someone recently told me that we live in a world and operate in societies that sometimes won’t tell you how inadequate you are, but will rather show you by the number of doors they refuse to open for you. I didn’t believe it at first; me and my optimistic, idealist self believed that if you really wanted to make something happen, you’ll find a way. However, upon reflection, truly objectively observing the kind of messiness that happens not only in my backyard, but across the ocean as well, I have to give credence to those observations.

There’s a systematic devaluing agenda already put in place in spaces people like me were never meant to inhabit. Sometimes it’s so ingratiated into the fabric of that world that its perpetrators have no idea they’re exacerbating the function and contributing to this big, “bad”, outdated machine until someone points it out.

I’m not here to talk about some grave injustice against me because of the colour of my skin or the fact that I live in a part of the world some might not want to invest in, or find favour in, but I am here to say that despite the challenges placed before me (of which I have very little to no control over), I still believe that I’m a worthy investment.

If I was to be discounted, I’d rather it be because I’m very emotional, I am not very nice when I’ve not had a meal in a minute, I have seven different types of laughs and all of them are ugly, I don’t get fidget spinners, and I’m a little bit elitist (but I’m currently being reformed).

Left behind

Growing, I dubbed myself “the late bloomer”
I was late to walking, talking, running, learning and growing.
I was late in my journey into and through puberty
And I was late in understanding both the importance and dangers of my skin and its hue.
The older I became, the clearer it was that I was also late in my understanding that I was never the late bloomer I thought I was.
It wasn’t that I was late for anything
It was that I was, for some divine reason, always left behind.
They all fell in love first; fell out of love first, had their hearts broken first
Grew into their skin first
Found themselves first, graduated first, embraced independence first
Created families first and succeeded first
While I remained.
Stuck.
Still blooming.
Left behind, not to suffer, as I’ve oft lamented
But to learn; to understand the depths of my strengths and abilities.
To prepare for the coming tides, because they will come
The love, the heartbreak, the family, the success, the fulfilment
It will come
And when it does
I will shed this moniker
And wear a new one
Because I will no longer be left behind.

Soweto rising: 1976 – youth day

Today, South Africa celebrates and recognises the power of a youth willing to stand for what’s right.

Today, my country mourns the lives lost in a struggle children as young as thirteen inherited, a struggle designed by a people, a government and legal system that placed premium and prejudice to the colour of one’s skin.

The message isn’t “by blood and fire, all wrongs can and will be made right”. It isn’t that a victory only exists when there has been a loss; the message is that a system designed to cripple a group of individuals will not survive. The message is that let us be equal in success and privilege as those children were in death, as man and child, mother and daughter were gunned down without pause.

Today, my country raises up the youth, now living or passed, of 1976. When the streets of Soweto were on fire, when classrooms, hallways and playgrounds were silent and an army stood tall and proud, armed with fists, voices and bodies, against a government armed with rifles, gas and the rule of law.

Today we remember their strength, and celebrate our own.

Project: get off your ass

The epiphanies stopped. The moments of clarity that bring with them a new found energy to take on the world, to conquer and thrive (and be awesome) stopped coming.

I’ve had a head filled with ideas and intentions and a heart bursting at the seams with hope, but I’ve been running on empty. It shouldn’t make sense, but unless you’ve been in my shoes, it won’t.

Something changed; somewhere along my journey, during my fall and my tenacious trek through the perilous wild that’s life, I dropped something of mine that was important. I lost a part of myself in the process of building myself up that I didn’t realise I’d stopped building and was simply fighting against the elements and patching up holes.

So I wandered. But I remained stuck. Again, this shouldn’t make sense, but it does because I lived it.

As with every odyssey, a turning point must be had; a moment where what was once lost, what was taken for granted and thought to have disappeared to never return again, must return to the aid of our hero. I’m the hero here, this is my odyssey, and today’s when the tide turns.

I want to document my progress, to use this space to not only share my journey, but to also keep me accountable. I really hope this isn’t yet another one of my “I promise, I’m really going to start working out and looking hot now, something has to change” phases, I’ve had many and none of them have lived past a week (and that’s being generous).

The goal is to be proactive. Sounds easy, I know, but the hard part will be working against a mindset I’ve created, nurtured and reinforced over the years. I have to fight my inner couch potato, rage against the voices that plead for mercy and I need to turn this into a lifestyle instead of a quick-fix.

I’m an insomniac, so this will be the first hurdle I need to overcome, the second is my health (however that’ll go), and the third is taking initiative mentally to be on point and ahead of the masses professionally. This will be no easy feat, but I don’t have much to do anyway so why not if the end result could change my life.

This means establishing a daily routine, having to stick to a timetable, eating right, being physically active (ouch), being mentally active (I mean, I’m almost always in my head so…), being spiritually stronger and most importantly, being fearless. I was once fearless, I went against the grain and did things that now make me envy the young man I once was, so I’m looking forward to seeing this through and having it become the new norm.

Here we go…

I dreamed a dream…

I’m not one to speak on my dreams, out loud for others to hear, to weigh in on and I guess shoot down. I have a very real fear of being laughed at for the things I want to accomplish, because I live in a world that doesn’t favour dreams.

I live in a world where dreams are currency; traded away for comfort and survival.

I live in a world where dreams don’t survive; they don’t see the light of day and are most likely to haunt you than inspire you.

So for the longest time, I remained silent.

I allowed my dreams to stew, bake and bubble and to some extent ferment.

I was afraid.

If nobody knew what I wanted, what I dreamed of, then nobody could recognise my failures. To speak it is to give it power; power to inspire you or power to break you, I wasn’t going to be broken. I’ve stood by and watched family members use dreams to crush someone’s spirit, and I was never going to become one of those people.

So I remained silent.

I allowed my secret dreams to be my own, I didn’t share them with a soul (maybe one or two), but I spoke very little of them.

I remained afraid.

But that’s not entirely true; I revealed them to hundreds, paraded them before gatekeepers and prayed they were enough, that I was enough.

Time and again I was proven right; my dreams were broken, battered, shot down, ignored and thrown aside, but I kept them. Sometimes I feel like they’re a delusion, an insistent poison that won’t stop until I’ve broken.

Sometimes I feel like there’s more to them. For them to have survived so long, to have grown and strengthened can only mean they’re worth something.

So I’ll keep them, I’ll commit them to flesh and have them dance in the light in the hope that someone will favour them and honour them.

I won’t be afraid anymore.

So it wasn’t a sex dungeon…

I can be naïve, the voices in my head would argue “insufferably so”, but I make no attempt at denying it. In my head, I have this idea that the world is a utopia where men respect women, children sing in the streets, sexy anaemic looking vampires will bite you to make you sexy too, and neighbours greet one another merrily without judgment or sass.

This I understand is a little too idealistic, but at the very least I expect to live in a world where a sweet smile isn’t such a tall ask or offer. But the world isn’t at all like that, and therein lies my dilemma and the reason behind my latest adventure.

I was duped into walking into a darkroom. Before imaginations run wild, yes I was aware that I was in a sex shop, no, I didn’t participate in anything sexual, and yes, had I known that the big yellow door led to a very seedy darkroom, I would have clicked my heels three times and made a run for it (there are things that should remain mysteries to me).

I feel like a disclaimer is in order: I’m a damn good friend, judge me not for the decisions I make, but for the fears I entertained. Beside my better judgement, I accompanied a seemingly nervous friend into a sex toy and video shop, because he was in desperate need of lube. He was planning on having a special night with his lady friend, I was there for moral support (great friend).

So we walk into the store and if you’ve ever been in one of those, you’ll understand when I say the penis to vagina ratio is way off. I will admit to being impressed by the variety and lifelike-ness of the toys, but wow, so many penises (and some were even moving on their own, what a trick). I was uncomfortable; I’m no prude, I’ve seen porn, but I don’t actively look for it (I have a very awkward relationship with sexy things, this will need to be unpacked at a later date).

So we walk in, he buys the lube and I’m basically caving in on myself because I’m terrified someone will recognise me or there are cameras somewhere capturing my foray into the dark side. He then turns to me (I should have known something was amiss, he had that look in his eyes) and suggested we look for the “industrial stuff”. I had no idea what on earth he meant (I’m no lube connoisseur), so I shrugged and followed him past the big yellow door.

 

What hit me first was the smell (it smelt like a teenage boy’s bedroom), made worse by the fact that I was basically blind (it was that dark). With my sight temporarily gone, my other senses overcompensated for the shortfall (I heard the lord’s name being called, and I don’t think many were praying…but they sure were on their knees). So I’m being led further into this labyrinth, in the dark, and all I can think of is ‘what kind of lube needs to be stored in the dark?’, like I said, naïve. He finally lets go and just stands there with this look and this grin like he’s just done something amazing and he can’t wait to share it with me.

My vision comes to and the world around us focuses into a sordid nightmare of flesh and black bricked walls. I will admit to panicking a little (I thought I was in a sex dungeon and a dominatrix was going to whip me into submission, I wasn’t mentally prepared for that). His only words were “I need you to loosen up, if that means throwing you in the deep end, then start swimming, buddy” and then he disappeared. He actually vanished, like Houdini (I’m being a little dramatic here, but can you blame me?).

I stood motionless for a few minutes, afraid that any sudden movements would give away my presence and draw out the things I was sure weren’t slow-dancing in the shadows. Minutes went by and I finally did what I always do when thrust into situations that could either make or break me; I put on my “teach me” hat (the one that turns new adventures into lessons into the lives of others) and I began rolling with the punches.

I don’t want to bore you with the sordid details (of which there are many), but I will tell you that I spoke to men and women who opened new avenues of understanding for me. There were widows and widowers who honestly just wanted to forget that outside these walls, they had nobody and there were men in there who sought comfort and connection behind these walls, away from the prying and judgemental eyes of a very crucifying society. We take for granted the power of human contact and touch. Our bodies do a great deal of communicating and the men in there were searching for a way to share their most honest selves with those who would listen.

This was a world below a world.

A space where a woman won’t be held captive by the suffocating ideals society’s placed over her life and body.

Was this my thing? No, not at all, but I understood its purpose. Every single one of those people in there was tired of living a lie. They needed a space for themselves where they didn’t have to pretend. I got it (it would have been great to have not been flashed with a few boobs, butts and penises in the process, but I got it).

After what must have been an hour, my friend returns (he was apparently waiting for me by the reception area and worried I might have been swallowed whole by the scene – there are countless jokes in there, my gift to you). I was mad, rightfully so; but my inner creative revelled in the new information, the opening up of my world and the stories I got to hear.

All in all, it wasn’t as bad as I may have originally led you to believe, but it was pretty wild.

Also, I still don’t know if industrial lube is a thing, but I would understand if it was (the things I saw, may never be unseen and kinda looked like torture a little, I don’t know; you guys do sex in a different way).