Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Thought Picnic: A weighty bother

What great bother
As I close on half a century of life, I have begun to bother about things that did not concern me much until recently.
In general, I am not given to exertion if I can help it, I can tire easily, yet if I am engaged in some serious mental task, I can keep awake and alert for as long as it takes to satisfy myself that things are in hand.
The last time I sported a rectus abdominis muscle look, I was on chemotherapy having lost a quarter of my weight, that is what cancer and the treatment for cancer does to you.
The weight of gratitude
I have regained all that weight which if I was still seeing my consultant in the Netherlands would have made him happy and more, but it does not fill me with any comfort that I am close to the heaviest I have ever been.
On my consultant in the Netherlands, I was quite apprehensive after the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash because he could easily have been one of the experts to attend the International AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia.
I was glad to read that he was fine, yet saddened by the loss of one of his very close colleagues Joep Lange, whose expertise within the highly-skilled team and the body of knowledge that addressed my illness saved my life.
Between Jim and the gym
We have a matter to hand, it is concerns about my weight and obviously that relates directly and superficially to my body.
I would rather I was at least 10 kilograms lighter than I weigh now, and that is the difference between going to see Jim and going to the gym. I do wonder what motivation I need to regain control of my weight and to do that well before I begin to lose confidence in myself because of my looks.
This issue hits you daily, in advertisements that fill our television screens where just the blemish on the skin or the hair growing naturally, but in what we have been programmed to consider the wrong place becomes the whole difference between being ourselves or trying to be someone else.
It is a bother
Thankfully, I have not reached the point of wanting to be someone else, I just want to be a better version of me in thought, in outlook and hopefully, in looks too.
That an estate agent never expected me to be the age I am, but much younger, is a compliment, but compliments do not work off the flab, rather it serves to complement the comfort of doing nothing and thereby tipping the scales on the wrong side – usually, yours.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Thought Picnic: It's my turn

But now it's my turn,
If I don't have all the answers,
At least I know,
I'll take my share of chances,
Ain’t no use of holding on,
When nothing stays the same.
From It’s My Turn - written by Carole Bayer Sager (lyrics) and Michael Masser (music) for Diana Ross.
Stand bold
This part of that beautiful song simply exemplifies a view of life that I have, the fact that one should take control of one’s life for changes and chances that present themselves.
Speaking to a long term friend who intimated that he was putting his house in order for posterity, he left me with one of those pieces of advice that lasts a lifetime.
Some twenty years ago, he said to me, “Never be embarrassed to ask for what you as an adult should not be ashamed to demand.”
Stand sure
As I talked of uncertainties that moderate my adventurism, he said I had been through enough to know how to make wise choices and he believed I always made the right choices. However, he also said I needed to free myself from the encumbrances of societal mores that limits my expression, my expectations and my abilities.
Wiser as I have become and hopefully more wiser as I go, I constantly take my share of chances, learning better acceptance of myself getting to the point where the pursuit of happiness would care less for what anyone thinks about what one desires for love and for life.
As nothing stays the same, we must change, adapt, review, renew, relive and rejoice in the blessing of life we have, but this can only happen when we get to the point that we can boldly say, “It’s my turn”.
It’s my turn
I can't cover up my feelings
In the name of love
Or play it safe
For a while that was easy
And if living for myself
Is what I'm guilty of
Go on and sentence me
I'll still be free
It's my turn
To see what I can see
I hope you'll understand
This time's just for me
Because it's my turn
With no apologies
I've given up the truth
To those I've tried to please
But now it's my turn
If I don't have all the answers
At least I know
I'll take my share of chances
Ain't no use of holding on
When nothing stays the same
So I'll let it rain
'Cause the rain ain't gonna hurt me
And I'll let you go
'Though I know it won't be easy
It's my turn
With no more room for lies
For years I've seen my life
Through someone else's eyes
And now it's my turn
To try and find my way
And if I should get lost
At least I'll own today
It's my turn
Yes, it's my turn
And there ain't no use in holding on
When nothing stays the same
So I'll let it rain
'Cause the rain ain't gonna hurt me
And I'll let you go
'Though I know it won't be easy
It's my turn
To see what I can see
I hope you'll understand
This time's just for me
Because it's my turn
To turn and say goodbye
I sure would like to know
That you're still on my side
Because it's my turn
It's my turn
It's my turn
To start from number one
Trying to undo
Some damage that's been done
But now it's my turn
To reach and touch the sky
No one's gonna say
At least I didn't try
It's my turn
Yes, it's my turn
It's my turn
It's my turn
It's my turn

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Opinion: This is a time for outrage at the direct hits

A hypothetical
If the presumed BUK surface-to-air missile system shot from the territory of pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine had whizzed past Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, it might have been reported sighted and considered a near-miss with some expressing a bit of outrage at such a reckless activity.
Alas! It was a direct hit and with it 298 souls were lost, the consequence of which should have precipitated such outrage at the needless, careless and atrocious waste of human life wrought by bungling rebels with Russia's support.
Then again
Down in the Middle East, literally all the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, whilst terrifying and capable of causing carnage with the loss of life and damage to goods and property, they are in their thousands, near misses. We must for all intents and purposes express outrage at the crude militancy that is no match to Israel’s firepower and organisation.
Then, you watch the missiles fired from Israel into Gaza that has no defence weaponry, literally every missile has been a direct hit, whether intentional or not, people are losing their lives in the hundreds and this calls for widespread outrage, because of the carnage caused, that is presented as a defence.
Between terror and killings
Now, I can understand the terror of missiles coming into Israeli cities, terrifying all, young and old; the government needs to have some strategy and game plan to deal with this nuisance, though I have my doubt that even with the incursion into Gaza, the missiles can be stopped entirely, for there is a deep-seated issue of unrest that is not been addressed towards achieving peace for Israel and its neighbours.
Yet, the terrified can be becalmed, for near-misses belie a stark reality along with a sense of survival. Direct hits are a different story, the people are dead and that is the end of their story.
Blood for fear barbarity
The exchange system between Israel and Palestine of avenging fear within the borders of Israel with the blood of Palestinians in their cooped-up regions as they are ring-fenced from Israel with settlements, borders and walls cannot be the roadmap to peace for all concerned.
What has developed is escalating belligerence with no prospect of peace on the horizon. More pertinently, until we are ready to express unbiased outrage at the needless loss of life anywhere in the world and make perpetrators of the killings accountable for their actions, we acquiesce and grant immunity for more impunity to those have taken the level of their lawless activities to an unspeakable level of atrocious violence.
We must condemn the near-misses, but the direct hits must attract the sternest criticism from all fair-minded members of our humanity as well unmitigated outrage.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Opinion: Finding the right food for the conscience - truth

"We are lying and finding sexier ways to do it." Sarah Firth
Narratives are many
Many current events in the world has forced people to take sides, speak fully persuaded of the narrative that appeals to them and that has become their truth.
Whether there are facts or evidence to support the view they espouse is another thing.
However, there is a tendency to buy into a narrative, to be identified by a Shibboleth and that becomes a sworn mantra to be recited to any that might have ears.
Know who is at fault
From the fundamentals, one can examine the sometimes odiously accepted view that a lady's dress is ultimately responsible for her being raped and that the rapist is excused, exculpated and never needing to account for the crime, that is how the seed of impunity is sown through a contrived narrative that grants immunity.
Yet, all you have to hear in any statement is the qualification, "ultimately responsible" and with that the perpetrator walks, the victim twice victimised and bereft of justice.
How we champion impunity
For decades, we have excused Israeli belligerence against its cheek by jowl Palestinian neighbours and lands adjacent, impunity reigning with the narrative of security and defence without any accountability, except to a contrived sense existential threat.
We all know Israel is there to stay, it is not under threat of extermination, even if words have been spoken to that effect, but it is a political and propaganda tool deftly used by reprehensible politicians to distract us from a deeper truth of untrammelled aggression, unspeakable atrocities and bloody injustices that make the heart ache.
We must apportion blame where it is due, whoever dropped the bomb is responsible for the carnage just as the other side is responsible solely for their own acts.
How deny the truth
I return to the analogy that regardless of the manner of dress, whether provocative or not, the rapist is responsible for the rape and that is where the law stands and where justice is sought.
Likewise, the downing of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam was the sole criminal act of the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, no other contrived narrative is permissible and they should be brought to book.
Provocation is not responsibility
Provocation should never become responsibility, if the provoked should choose to retaliate, the provoked should be held responsible for the consequences of their actions without dissimulation.
Therein is the matter of conscience as expressed in Sarah Firth's quote. Would we accept the lie of a contrived narrative or the truth of clear responsibility for particular actions?
I have a conscience, it has a duty to stay true by supporting the truth. It has the task of expressing my humanity of empathy, feeling, understanding and appreciating the broad spectrum of what life is.
For to know pain, suffering, injustice, cruelty and hurt is to begin to see the truth of aspects of our human wretchedness.
Most importantly we must save our consciences from being seared with narratives untrue that serves to exacerbate unconscionable impunity.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Thought Picnic: We are story people

The fool I am
Life is an interesting journey of many experiences that are never fully told. I would be the first to acknowledge my frail humanity, my weaknesses, my stupidity and my foolishness.
Yet, where some might think I am being hard on myself, I realise that maybe I have not been hard on myself enough to make some changes necessary to change some of the situations I have been in.
Things procrastinated, things fancied, things desired, but they have been things, within grasp at times but left to be as if they did not matter, yet, they have mattered more than ever because they are not just the stuff of life, but what is necessary to make life better.
Celebrate blessings
It is part of that bigger deal of the pursuit of happiness that I have allowed to elude me not out of lack of speed or purpose but with a laid back presence of mind that sometimes one cannot be bothered.
Bother, one must, or bothered one would become, as these things become subjects of deep introspection and scolding lessons of life that one is almost ashamed to share because of one’s failings.
Then as if the end of life is close, one ruminates and reminisces, striving still to put regrets at bay and celebrate the blessings that have made this life wonderful. I find myself saying to myself quite regularly that despite some experiences I would never wish on anyone else, I really do love my life.
Story people, we are
Maybe some things can be better, maybe some things can be improved upon, maybe some changes can be implemented, maybe some new experiences can enrich my life more, I am open to all and more because that is the joy of living.
That is what make each and every one of us story people, let us write these stories and celebrate life, for in all the pain and suffering, there is wonder, beauty and fun to be had, the advice I would give to many regardless is, never lose your sense of fun.