Don’t be a martyr

We act out of duty rather than conviction when the guilty martyr in us triumphs over our courage to be true to ourselves, and just to our souls.

It is our focus on how we wish to be perceived, or how we need to meet expectations, that distracts us from our self-worth and conviction, and redirects us towards compliance aimed at earning inclusion.

The problem is, when inclusion is claimed at such a price, we inevitably exclude peace and fulfilment from that effort.

It is that exclusion of peace and fulfilment that leads us to believe that such sacrifices are noble in order to achieve salvation, or validation.

What we lose sight of is that our unique contribution…our unique beauty that we are able to share with the world is also sacrificed in the process, leaving the world lacking in the very essence of what drives us towards such distractions.

Choosing your own path does not mean exclusion. It means choosing your rules of engagement with the world around you.

If everyone conforms to their assumptions of what is expected of them, rather than contributing what they believe to be sincere and true value, who will be the beacons of inspiration for the generations to come when the purpose of such conformance is lost in the rituals that it spawned?

#selfworth #selfawareness #ownyourlife #selfmastery #mindfulness #personalpower #ownyourshit #mentalhealthrecovery #mentalhealth #lifecoach #conviction #purpose #ownyourlife #zaidismail

A Brain Dump

Mental clutter creeps in at times when I find myself focused on serving others but neglect my own nourishment in the process. My own nourishment, however, escapes me when I find myself lacking in my efforts to achieve the very ambitious goals that I set for myself. Incremental growth has rarely appealed to me. This has been at the core of my contention with the world.

But contemplating such contention is what leads to the mental clutter. My concern with how I am perceived or received by others too often feels like a necessary evil. This is especially true when I consider that this path that I have chosen in recent years has increased the need for collaboration and interaction with others rather than prompted me towards my ideal of living as a recluse.

Being reclusive is a luxury in a messed up world, albeit a luxury that offers peace. My convictions, however, will not allow me to indulge my needs while growing painfully aware of the slide of society towards the abyss due to the selfishness of those who are blessed with resources to change its course. Too many assume those resources to be wealth and influence, while the truth is that anyone that has value to offer must offer it if it is ever to amount to anything.

In that lies the rub of many of my contemplations. The easier path was always one of quiet living. Keeping to myself and minding my own business. Yet, each time I attempted such a lifestyle I found myself attracting those, even in that space, that needed to be freed from a burden that was wearing them down. But like I’ve said in past brain dumps, there are many who, after they have been uplifted, would prefer to avoid the source of that upliftment because it reminds them of their moments of weakness. Then there are others that would rather not scratch open the festering wound that is slowly poisoning their soul. Their wound grows to define their significance so deeply that any attempt to clean it and heal it is met with seething anger.

The human condition has always been a fascinating one. Especially my own. I flit between offloading my cluttered thoughts and lecturing the world. Between confusion and pompousness, or doubt and narcissism. It’s so easy to cross those lines, and so tragic to see how many assume themselves to be above such crossing.

A brain dump once offered much therapy for a mind as cluttered and crazy as my own. Therapy has morphed over the years. At one point it was a flirty glance, and a whispered nothing. Over the lifetimes that followed it changed to become a knowing smile, or a familiar embrace, both of which have been elusive. The brutal honesty with which I considered these changes has left and been replaced by a measured expression. The problem with being measured is that it never allows a release of the truth that holds us back, or keeps us distracted.

In the absence of such expression, clutter normalises and focus flees. Apparently using alliteration is discouraged for authors. I suspect that’s only for authors that lack the wit to appreciate it. Oh yes, the brain dump. I entertained, in recent months, the naive notion that those for whom I maintained a measured expression actually paid attention to my ramblings. The naivety of my being always provided a source of morbid entertainment for me, and this time was nothing less. However, age old jokes tend to lose their humour as we progress through the years that shape us…occasionally we try to shape them.

Listening to Milli Vanilli in the background, I’m reminded of the frailty of the human ego. I’m reminded of how many would sacrifice their own authenticity to find acceptance at almost any cost. Some, at any cost at all. It’s the sight of such sadness that always leaves me unsettled. Looking into the eyes of those that court acceptance and seeing the emptiness behind it. Seeing vulnerability in the eyes of another has always been a torturous taunt. Ah, that damned alliteration again.

Vulnerability is strength if expressed sincerely, but disheartening if exposed unwillingly. There is too much weakness in this world. Even the statements of rebellion that occupy my social media timeline are cries of pain disguised as an obstinate protest. Thankfully the playlist moved on to Tracy Chapman now. A story of self-doubt and raw beauty. She actually thought she would be mocked if anyone heard her sing. Thankfully someone convinced her otherwise. How many of us are waiting for someone to convince us that we have something of value to share with this heartless world before we dare to expose it to the light?

So much is lost in the doubts that drive a wedge between who we are and who we’re willing to allow the world to think we are. Genius, beauty, creativity, artistic expression, passionate protests and so much more are all hidden from the world because of the hideous consideration about what society would think. If only we recognised that we normalise the prejudices of society when we afford it merit or virtue. Many a great nation was destroyed because they grew to worship their traditions and taboos more than the principles that established the value that underpinned it. Tradition and taboo are two things I’ve rarely respected. It always seemed like an unaffordable indulgence in light of the suffering souls that succumbed to the expectations of the flag-bearers.

To be normal in a distorted world implies distortion of the self. Whether or not the world is distorted is all about perspective. But then, what isn’t about perspective? If I find the world to be distorted and another doesn’t does it make my perspective invalid, or does it call into question their misinformation…or perhaps mine? Defending the truth is a tricky endeavour when such truth is so open to being bent. The more aware we are of how it can be bent the greater that distortion.

We seem to have reached a stage in human history where our eloquence is so pervasive that the most uninformed opinion can find support and a seemingly valid defense. Life itself is a distortion of the reality of death. But alas, who wants to contemplate death, despite it being the only guarantee we have. Such morbidity is reserved for those that are foolish enough to believe that they can challenge the traditions and taboos to break the yoke that weighs us down.

A chuckling sigh is all I can muster at the thought of that last statement. A chuckling sigh indeed.

Mandela Day – A Day of Conviction

From the archives in my time in corporate. I had this quote from Madiba on my office wall as a reminder never to settle for less than what I am capable of achieving, or at least contributing in life.

“There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” (Nelson Mandela)

The biggest mistake we make is when we wait for others to validate the value that we see in something before we pursue it. When we do that, we forget that we’re in fact pursuing what they see as valuable more than what we see as valuable. That denies the world our unique contribution, and more importantly, it denies us the sense of purpose that makes life rewarding.

Conviction is found when we connect with the value of an outcome. If we insist on that value being judged by the opinions of others, the only conviction we’ll experience in life is the conviction of chasing acceptance in society, or validation from others. And that is not only a torturous way to live, it’s also a recipe for chronic illness and bitterness.

Own your life, and let the rest of the world own theirs. That’s the only way in which you’ll create opportunities to attract those that are as passionate as you are, about the causes that are close to your heart.

Serve a greater purpose

Life always has more purpose when you’re serving others.

We’re built to serve others. When we lose hope in being served by others, we withhold our service in protest until we convince ourselves that no one will take care of us so we must take care of ourselves. That’s when life becomes hollow because it pulls us away from our core need: To be of significance to others. If you find yourself in this space, consider changing who you surround yourself with, otherwise you feed the very cycle that robs you of peace.

Return to Me

I stumbled upon a collection of some of my writing from many years ago. I had so much more clarity back then. To reconnect with that will require stripping away a lot of the clutter accumulated from my encounters with troubled souls in recent years. At some point, I stopped thinking aloud and started speaking to an audience. I need to forget the audience and return to my state of introspection. In my efforts to be understood, I distorted who I am in favour of inviting others in. Even now, in my contemplation of what is needed, I am addressing this to other than me.

I need to return to me. My thoughts, my reflections, my promptings, all intended to reground my soul in my space, without any need to solicit the accepting glances, or the affirming smiles from those around me. I departed from the familiarity of who I am when I sacrificed my voice for a voice that was more palatable. Am I still within reach?

The cacophony of murmurs from abandoned souls drown out the clarity that once tugged at my collar to remind me that I am. Not wanting to be, but am. Not looking for familiarity or warmth, but knowing with certainty that both resided within me. Comfortably, and harmoniously. Every sacrifice of me has proven futile for garnering the elusive embrace. It was always only enough to invite them in, but once they arrived, their needs overpowered my own, and my own self was subdued for their release.

Release from the self is liberating only if redefining the self appears within reach. Too many shrug at the opportunity of reinvention, but torture their souls into a deafening silence as they find themselves caught between hating the present, lamenting the past, and pleading for the future, but refusing to give up an inch of familiarity because to be familiar even with demons is more comforting than being unfamiliar with strangers.

To be known, I must return to knowing me. I must rediscover the voice of my soul, and relinquish the voice of my beast. The vessel of expression must once again succumb to the seat of intelligence, or else intelligence will be lost, and the basest of desires will forever remain unfulfilled. The ramblings of this madman must be exhumed from the grave of compliance and conformity and set upon this world of mediocrity without expectation of ever being recognised, but knowing that the cesspit, if it remains unchanged, did not remain so for the lacking efforts of a whimpering spirit.

Success is yet to be defined, since all that had definition was defined from a need that abandoned the purpose that feeds the soul. Such definition distracts and destroys, but never prevails. Such definition is a contamination of the purity of purpose of the soul, and reflects nothing more than the needs of the broken. I am not done. Even if this world is done with me. There is still breath left in me, and it must be expended in nothing less than sincere contribution, or no contribution at all.

I must return to me…

It’s Been a Year

I almost forgot the anniversary of my protest. The day I chose me, my sanity, and my self-respect. It feels now like it was a sabbatical more than a new path. The enthusiasm with which I journeyed into my new reality hasn’t faded, but it has changed shapes and forms many times over the last year. Walking away from a well-paid job seemed foolhardy to almost everyone around me. Most considered it yet another impulsive decision, but almost no-one tried to understand it for what it was; the same way they chose to judge before understanding so many other decisions that I’ve taken over the years. I can’t hold it against them. Stepping into someone else’s reality is ever more daunting when our own reality already roots us to the spot with impossible-to-articulate fears.

I’ve learnt expensive lessons over the last year. Lessons that cost me financially, and reminded me of the nature of man. The world is so starved for hope that people quickly latch on to the promise of success without considering the commitment needed to see it through. Of these I have encountered many on my journey through life, but only fully experienced the desperation of such souls when faced up close and personal by their demons. Our demons subdue our conscience more often than the threat of poverty. Our demons threaten us with poverty to drive us towards despicable actions. I cannot count, and care not to count the number of people that drew strength from me in their darkness, but quickly disparaged me when they were reminded of their weakness after the sliver of light returned to their horizon.

The sad reality is that most of us settle for the dawn because we don’t believe we’re worthy of the sunrise. Feeling our way in the dark makes the reprieve of the early light appear as relief, or success. Fixated on the fear that the darkness may never recede, the first hints of light promise safety from that torturous space, so we bolt and brace ourselves to the miserable hope that it offers, hope that feels like sublime joy in the face of the darkness that we just experienced, too afraid to push on to the sunrise and the beginning of a new day. The new day remains a dream meant for greater spirits than ourselves, and the slivers of light arrest the fears of succumbing to the darkness again. Half a loaf of bread is not always better than none.

Wrenching myself away from people like that has been a difficult struggle and an unneeded distraction over the last year. Many sang my praises and celebrated me to the world in their moments of upliftment from the drudgery of their existence, but didn’t hesitate to shortchange me the moment the liberty returned to their tired souls. If trials prepare us for greatness, and the aid of the Almighty arrives when things seem most desperate, I have nothing to fear but settling for the dawn in the days ahead.

To settle for comfort and mediocrity when excellence appeared possible was never a choice I considered worthy of pursuit. I am reminded so often of the bitter expressions of darkened spirits that found my language to be flowery, and my ambition to be unrealistic. Recalling it now beckons the aftertaste of betrayal, but the overwhelming sense of sadness that I felt for them when I saw them lash out at the world because they allowed their social structures to define their worthlessness.

A year later, I still have a clear vision of what I wish to achieve, but I remain adrift in finding the correct course to take to achieve it. The pain and anguish of trying to reach beyond the confines of the environment that I am in makes the journey more onerous than it needs to be. Seeing what is wrong with your world and wanting to make it better only feels like a fulfilling endeavour when those who stand to benefit believe that there is something wrong as well. Complacency and fear combine to dull the vision of many. Sometimes it seems cruel to stir the sleeping dogs, yet at other times it feels obligatory if we hope to improve the state of this world before relinquishing our stake to the next generation.

Hope remains firmly footed, but enthusiasm is fading. Purpose continues to drive me to stretch myself beyond the confines of my current reality, but neither purpose nor vision pays the bills. Finding the balance is always a challenge, but not having the comfort of a predictable income makes it somewhat more distracting. Will I find the inspiration, the audience, and the sweet spot before my resources run out, or will I have to yield to the drudgery of capitalism and commoditise myself yet again to remain a functional member of a deranged society? If the last year was interesting, I doubt an adjective exists to fully describe what the year ahead holds for me.

That I have value to offer is not at all in question. I have tested this relentlessly over the years and confirmed it to be true. My challenge is to find a new audience, rather than the jaded ones that look for excellence as defined by the system of mediocrity that defines their lives. I am reminded of this quote:

I must learn to love the fool in me–the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of my human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my Fool.

Theodore Isaac Rubin

That I am a fool to believe in more than life has proven to be possible thus far is unquestionable. But, like village idiots, fools are needed to bring hope to those that have given up on hope itself. The struggle continues…