That’s where that thought went…

My granddaughter asked me to come and play; I replied that I was writing, to which she inquired: Why do you write?

To paint pictures with words … Really?

things to avoidNo, but I usually avoid the answer as I suspect it has something to do with a struggle to confront irrelevance or worse, insignificance.

I like the idea of creating something for others to see. Why does one seek recognition? Is it Pride:  a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements … consciousness of one’s own dignity …?

Wikipedia sets my anxious Catholic-bred mind at rest. Pride can be positive – a humble and content sense of attachment… a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging. Or it can be an irrationally corrupt sense of one’s personal value, status or accomplishments … synonymous with hubris.

Hubris is the terrible sin which saw Lucifer cast out of Heaven and transformed to become Satan. It is essentially placing one’s self above others, which as Satan experienced, attracts God’s great wrath.hubris

Strong individuals who drive themselves on to achieve their goals often start to overemphasize the worth of their own wisdom and fail to seek out or consider the counsel of others. Their thinking takes on a circular nature:

I have achieved because I am wise therefore I need only to follow my own advice…

This lack of regard for others inevitably leads to isolation, avoidance by others and great internal conflict which, when faced with failure  often manifests in uncontrolled outbursts and increased isolation.

The cure for hubris? A mirror could be used to provide perspective; or perhaps a challenge to seek ways to show gratitude frequently. A re-ordering of values and objectives would help – but who would be able to beard the lion in his den?

According to Greek legend and as Lucifer discovered, unchecked hubris leads to Nemesis.

 

I find that I am a great avoider, maybe we all are. Avoidance defers scrutiny and if neatly accomplished, may attract regard for the adroitness of the manoeuvre, distracting attention from the reason therefor.

sidestepOf course, in the strict light of day, there is no escape: avoidance is more likely a want of courage, which is unacceptable… (how does one avoid that?)

That’s what happens when one indulges in idle thinking!

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Sentiment and the distortion of memory lane

Before you read on let me give you due warning: it is soppy, sentimental, sappy stuff….!

I was idly wondering the other day about the influence that music had on my life and started recalling songs and how old I was when they impressed me.

For some unfathomable reason the first one that came to mind was:

Two little Boys  – I recalled it as the source of some sort of comradely

heroi2 little boysc ideal and thought that I must have been extremely young and immature to think so. Rolf Harris sang it in 1969 when I turned 18!

 

last farewellAnother in the same heroic genre that appealed to me was Roger Whittaker’s The Last Farewell  That came out in 1971 when I was already a quasi-hippy student! What was I doing listening to such establishment warrior class stuff?

Then I remembered a real tear jerker which used to reduce me to tears when I heard it. I thought it was lucky that in Founders House the hit parade was after lights-out so no-one could see me snivelling. When I checked, I found my memory had deceived me again. The song was: Honey  Number 2 on 23 June 1968 LM Hit Parade. I was 16 and playing First XV rugby! – What a toughie!

I began recalling my all time favourites and the number one was a sophisticated piece of music – it must have been in my student years in the 70’s … wronggg again : Procul Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale came out in 1967, when I was still a schoolboy.

 

francoise

I was pretty close with All over the world by Francoise Hardy which came out in 1966 and New York Mining Disaster 1941 by the BeeGees in1967.

Another of my ‘own’ choice of singers was Barry McGuire – I remember playing Eve of Destruction and Masters of War to my Mum – it made her weep and I had to stop. That was about 1969.

Of course, I have forgotten about the Simon and Garfunkel songs, which we used to sing in the school bus on long trips back from rugby games; like I am a rock and Sounds of Silence; my favourite was probably For Emily wherever I may find her

Heavens! I was such a sook!

I musn’t forget my pre-teen years and the influence of my older brother and sister and my parents. My Dad loved Gilbert and Sullivan so it was all The Mikado and HMS Pinafore operetta stuff with a bit of Bach, Mozart and Tschaikovsky thrown in: Jesu Joy, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Piano Concerto No 1 and Handel’s Messiah and Water Music.

Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Pat Boone, Elvis and Cliff also come to mind – so a fairly eclectic exposure, I suppose.

I am still a sook and weep every time I hear Danny Boy for goodness sake!

 

 

 

African Odyssey

 

We took off from Perth at 20 to midnight and landed in Joburg at 10 to five – but flew for 11 hours overnight, during which sleep was elusive.

Immigration was quick and impassive, baggage delivery slow but effective: all there and undamaged. Customs alert and easy going. Friends beaming at the gate – AT 5H30 ON SUNDAY MORNING!! Such love!

Car hire…eish! system is down… but sorted and 4 suitcases, 4 hand luggage squeezed in and away we go. At garage exit, we are stopped by a slovenly policeman. (Rat smell!) – kept cool and stared him down, he checked driver’s licence and let us go: Welcome to Africa!

Things have changed and we got lost in Boksburg North and stopped to listen to hadedas and then arrived at Bridie’s. Last home of Mum and Dad, with same furniture, curtains, vases. Watched the rugby test, specially recorded: boring draw! Grand breakfast.

Little snooze and in walk Jeff and Gail, besties from the ou dae! Beer and braai and a bietjie wyn! Heart full as I thought we might miss them.

Early bed – to awaken at 2am – ain’t jet lag grand!

Lingering, languid lunch with Jen and Rich – awake at 2 am again! Aaarghh!

 

It was about here that I realised this could turn into an epic requiring undue perseverance by my faithful few readers, so ……. I wrote a sort of travelogue poem, condensing our trip while trying to cover itinerary, cast list and feelings about what we saw and did.

Here is a link to the poem, which I called Second generation Souties

 

 

Once, twice, three times a lady!

My sister, who is a Sistah if you know what I mean, takes offence at the usage of the fwmale powerword lady, to wit: The common use of lady referring to woman is pretentious, bourgeoise, obsequious, euphemious, ignorant and incorrect.  

That statement of facts is a perception, not factual, and is contentious.

Dictionary.com states the origin of the word woman was Old English wīfman, equivalent to wīf female + man

language: a feminist guide states ‘lady’ was the female analogue of ‘lord’, and it can still be a title for the wife or daughter of an aristocrat. But it has undergone a process known as ‘semantic derogation’, where the female term in a male-female pair gets downgraded in status. ‘Lady’ was initially downgraded to apply to bourgeois women as well as aristocrats. Later, it became a polite way to refer to a woman of any social class.

Usage in society changed: formerly ‘woman’ was regarded as demeaning and ‘lady’ was the term of courtesy; now ‘woman’ is the designation preferred by some modern female adults. The word ‘lady has been perceived as a classist tool to divide society.

I remain divided. When I use the word ‘lady’, I do not intend it to convey disrespecwomen are already strongt for a female. However, I would not be respectful if I persisted in addressing my Sistah as a lady, so I will avoid doing so; but I reject her right to require me to do so generically to all women.

That is my choice.

Emily Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward wrote in 1873: Burn up the corsets! … No, nor do you save the whalebones, you will never need whalebones again. Make a bonfire of the cruel steels that have lorded it over your thorax and abdomens for so many years and heave a sigh of relief, for your emancipation I assure you, from this moment has begun.

downloadI can’t fault her viewpoint and admire her radical standpoint. Women are in no way inferior beings and I wholeheartedly support their rights to equal treatment and demands for the removal of impediments to so50 fiftycial, economic and political and any other type of equality they seek.

Womens’ struggle against centuries of cultural domination is justified.

Most men educated in the European norm agree, I am sure. Not sure about African, Arab or Asian men, though.

I did continue but in retrospect, discerned that what I wrote was not respectful, so I cut it out.

cartoon

 

Flit like a butterfly…

meer focus

You might wake up some mornin’
To the sound of something moving past your window in the wind
And if you’re quick enough to rise
You’ll catch a fleeting glimpse of someone’s fading shadow
Out on the new horizon
You may see the floating motion of a distant pair of wings
And if the sleep has left your ears
You might hear footsteps running through an open meadow

That was Bob Lind singing about the elusive butterfly of love.

The butterfly I am thinking of flits aimlessly, changing direction for no reason other than a splash of colour, is wafted up and sideways by the breeze….

That’s my mind, which generally has a struggle to focus and apply itself. Distraction is easy and frequent and false hares are irresistible once started, so I end up foxless.

Is that procrastination, a lack of discipline, poor focus, scant 1 thing at a timeconcern? Probably all; which is somewhat depressing. Tenacity and determination have always been my weak point: it took me 14 years to achieve my BA, for heaven’s sake!

 

in the momentPhew! This started out as flash realisation it was Friday and I had not written my weekly blog and a mild self castigation for following  bloody butterflies again!

 

I have been meaning to read up on meditation; maybe this is another message?

who cares

Enjoy your weekend, y’all!

Ash Wednesday

This day marks the beginning of Lent, the Christian tradition of fasting andustd renewed contemplation of spiritual life. It endures for 40 days in commemoration of the time Jesus spent fasting in the desert, during which he endured temptation by Satan. Adherents focus on prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial.

All very commendable and worthy practices.

I recall the tiny Catholic Church in Mbabane, overflowing with serious and devout Swazis lining up to be marked on the forehead with an ash cross. Incense and sweat and lovely singing. I couldn’t wait to get out and surreptitiously wipe my brow before any of our friends could see me – they were all Protestants.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” – a sobering thought.

Dad gave up his Gordons pink gin and water (ugh!) before lunch and his John Jameson’s whisky before supper. I think Mum gave up smoking? My brother alent-birthdaynd I had to forgo sweets, which was really heavy!

The fast was for 40 days but Sundays were excluded and so were birthdays in our house.

I have for some years maintained a fast by giving up beer, which is quite a sacrifice for me.

sacrificesHowever, this year I have decided to give up meat. I must confess that my motivation is not that pure: I have been working on reducing my girth by eating healthier and less food and I am conscious that like many colonials, I eat too much meat. So a wee bit of vanity sneaks in there, but discipline and self-improvement trump them.

Giving up meat is not as simple as just forgoing beer; it is a major disruption to household habits, which affect not only me, but also my wife.

She does not like most fish. She has always done the catering including evening meal preparation. You may discern the tension. So I must prepare my own evening meals.

My research into Lent indicates that some fasts only included animal meat, so fish and fowl are acceptable. So tonight it will be tuna fishcakes; tomorrow sardines on toast, Friday could be salt and pepper squid, Saturday maybe crumbed whiting and Sunday will be braaivleis!prawn-salad

Monday boiled eggs, Tuesday tuna salad, Wednesday spaghetti marinara … I am getting into the swing of this! Suggestions are welcome.

I also intend to read up on meditation and perhaps practice it and attempt to complete the book I am writing, which is a major challenge as I have reached a stale block.

Finding a poor person to provide a meal to is difficult in the relative prosperity of a social welfare state. Some local homeless people demand money instead as they get too many meals!! I shall seek an alternate charitable cause.

I suppose I am an agnostic, but I believe in some of the traditions and practices and need self-discipline and spiritual renewal.

Give it a go! It’s a far more achievable challenge than New Year resolutions!

A Moral Compass

 I often feel that we are morally adrift, that we do not have a clear sense of how to ground our identities and actions to ultimate values that transcend time and place. That is not to say that our society is largely immoral. Just amoral—lacking a clear compass or a foundational guide.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/gregg-henriques-phd

moral-compass

The image shows integrity as the core or hub of the moral compass: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles

synonyms: honesty, uprightness, probity, rectitude, honour, honourableness, upstandingness, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, nobility, high-mindedness, right-mindedness, noble-mindedness, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness

My preference was for the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance

Prudence anever-let-societynd justice are the virtues through which we decide what needs to be done; fortitude gives us the strength to do it and temperance tells us how to do it.

Virtue is not easy; it involves sacrifice and challenge of ormoral-compass-quote-roosevelt at least avoidance of peer pressures.

When I wrote about this about 12 years ago, someone commented that we should not require these values/virtues/principles to be taught in school but instead set the example ourselves. I agree that we should but know we frequently fall short…

So if integrity is the true North of the moral compass of life, how do we instil it in our own lives and those of the next generation?

Your ideas, experiences and thoughts would be appreciated. My spur of the moment suggestion and this is what I am doing, is to start a conversation, issue a challenge, ask for help. Would that be worth it or should we just leave it to osmosis and hope for the best?

small-step