On The Art of Living

Rigozo

I’m very particular about living (well) and I have been aware of it for a very long time and would like to say a few things. There’s no denying that ‘life is wonderful’, I believe it is why most people at their last moments, would have given anything to keep their hearts beating. I think it ironic that we that are alive spend most of the time bemoaning our existence.

Granted life gives us doses of wins and losses, and there’s so much going on around the world that could test even the patience of a saint.

I like how Stephen King puts it matter of fact, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” Well, those are the options and that’s all there is to it.

Time is precious
No time like the present

We Are Alive

Everybody that is alive do five things in common; breathe, eat, sleep, piss, and sh*t. Even babies get with the program as soon as they arrive on the third planet from the sun (I don’t know anybody who doesn’t, and if you do, please feel free to mention the person). Many would argue that we are one and the same, while others will stand on our individuality and uniqueness; potato – potato.

Whatever the case may be, you inhabit this earth and there’s only one permanent way out (into the unknown). But while you are here, you play your part in the grand scheme of things (this here is shrouded in mystery) no matter how miserably or awesomely you are getting along.

When you are fed up of adulting.

How many times do we tell ourselves that we can handle this? It’s the way we deal with things that upset us. It’s the reason why whoever you are, wherever you find yourself or whatever you do; you spent your formative years immersed in learning the acceptable way to live. Moreover, you are besieged with family, friends, school, work, government and many more. You just have to learn to deal with it because as you grow older, it is expected of you to take the reins of your life and make decisions on how you want to live it .

Side Bar:

There’re all forms of pleasure available and only a few compete with the joy of eating good food. When cake melts in your mouth, you experience paradise and all lovers of plantain can testify that nothing can compare. Eat good food because your health is important, enjoy it because you have to be a sadist not to. That’s one way to liven up your living.

Living usually takes different turns at different stages of your life and you are confronted with fresh-faced issues. Mostly there are periods of triumph and periods that are tumultuous. And it continues in this manner until you breathe your last. No matter how much we try, there are days when we cannot deny that we are not okay. Good news is it’s normal.

To talk about how hard living can be. I'm not Okay.

Making The Most Of Living

Love yourself; You Matter: Put your hands up if you know that you’re a spec and need no validation from other people (both of my hands are in the air). I think it goes beyond knowing it, and it depends more on living your life and taking actions that shows how much you value yourself. I say this because when people say they are living their best life, I assume that there can be such a thing as living your worst life. So get into your Zen, be aware of who you are and cash out on appreciating yourself.

Stay Away From People

Build a strong barrier around yourself to keep the wrong people out. The reason why is so that you do not lose your sanity. Yes, stay away or your mental/physical/spiritual health can be threatened. If you realize that the wrong people still inhabit your space, it could be because your barrier is made from bubble wrap, and well you get the idea…you are like a kid’s favorite play toy. They’ll definitely chew you up and spit you out as a complete mess. Keep the right people around you…you’ve heard this before, maybe it’s time to find them and keep them. The wrong people who don’t do anything for you, send packing.

Use Available Resources

This is what I see a lot of us struggle with because human needs are insatiable and there’s always something more. It takes a lot of self discipline to work with available resources and to get things done. Khalil Gibran writes, “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” Reframing you’re mindset plays a huge part in fixing your life, or you’ll truly live in sobriety. Not everything is within your reach but take advantage of what is and that would be your stepping stone.

…when people say they are living their best life, I assume that there can be such a thing as living your worst life.

Stop Procrastinating

There are several times when I fail to get things done because I procrastinate. I got this drilled into my head. When I say “I’ll try to do this,” I get the response, “Don’t try, just do it.” Do it? A lot of times the only thing I want to do is nothing. In real life though, you can’t always wait for life to happen, it is advisable to go out and grab what you want by the balls. No offense meant. Charles Linbergh proposes that while living in dreams of yesterday, we find ourselves still dreaming of impossible future conquests. In other words, live your life now.

Just Do It!❤️

Just The Two of Us

Rigozo

I could guess from the way she walked that something was not right. Her gaze was unfocused and her shoulders slumped. She looked lost and made no move to hold on to her threadbare wrapper as it fluttered in the wind. I jumped down from my perch and ran to her as fast as I could pump my little legs.

“Mama, welcome!” I shouted.

My voice reached her before I did. In an instant those weary eyes lit up so bright, my little ignorant heart could only accept it as magic. She transformed before me, which was what I looked forward to every day.

It was as if seeing me had the power to push back the demons that occasionally looked out of her eyes. I’ve spied her to try extra hard to do so with others. With me, it was no struggle. She threw her bony arms around me and crushed me to her chest.

“My baby girl! My heart and my strength.” She murmured into my hair. I clung to her, anxious that something or someone would try to take her away from me.

“Mama, did something happen to you? Why do you look so sad?” I asked and searched her eyes for answers.

“Yes, my love! Of course, something happened. You happened. Why! See how big and pretty you’ve become.” She teased.

She complained every time that I was too old to be carried. But that day she picked me up and walked us back to the house. I wrapped my hands tightly around her neck, happy and contented.

******

My mother was unable to answer any questions. The doctors and nurses left her not too long ago to run tests after poking and prodding. Her brown skin was tough from working in harsh conditions, and I winced every single time they stuck a needle into it. Her face was lined with wrinkles. She was still beautiful, even now, hooked up to machines that whined and beeped.

She stirred and immediately I was by her side. Her eyes opened slowly, confused at first until they focused on me, and her face – I didn’t realize I was holding my breath – it transformed. The magic was still there. I kissed her hand fighting to hold back my tears. I didn’t want her to see how worried I was.

“Where are we?” She asked and gestured with her other hand at the room.

The people that brought her to the hospital said she fainted in a cab.

“It’s alright, you are fine.” I said as I stroked her fine grey hair.

“Tell me what happened. Why am we in the yhospital?”

“Well, because I happened.” I teased, unable to help myself.

“See how smart and beautiful your daughter is. Congratulations! You are a very lucky woman.”

She laughed softly and I felt very proud of myself for it at that moment.

My mother is the strongest woman I know. I have faith that she’ll beat the sickness with the same doggedness she put into making life better for us against all odds. Whatever the doctors say is the outcome of her test result, she’ll have me by her side.

It will be as always, just the two of us.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Me, My Friends and Haiku

Rigozo

For the past few weeks I moaned about haiku to any body who would listen. I’ve been particularly influenced by a fellow blogger, Ed’s Pages, and his haiku posts. He only recently concluded 100 haikus in 100 days. Well, I have been following him and I found them very lovely.

Haiku is a form of poem originally from Japan, and it has evolved over the years. Traditionally, it consists of seventeen syllables three lines, with the first and last lines having five syllables, and the middle line having seven. They are charming, provocative and have powerful imagery. I have found that a good haiku makes you pause and relieve the moment.

So, I asked a couple of friends to try it with me and they did. I’m glad because it was fun, even though it was the first time, and we were throwing words all over the place. Here’s what we did.

Haikus are easy
A good one uses few words
They were born in Japan.
-Uzi

A quiet sigh
A gentle smile
Less means more
-Rigozo

Head like Medusa
Legs like Pan, bum like Ares.
You are a Greek mess.
-Musti

Like Romeo and Juliet,
Perhaps Bonny and Clyde
Love will be the death of me
-Rigozo

Being a writer
An art so mystical
The pen is magic.
-Tiney

Time is precious
To waste
or not to waste
-Rigozo

Think too much
Maybe not nearly enough
Head hurts.
-Rigozo

Night has fallen
Stars peek curiously
Crickets come out to play.
-Rigozo

Piece me back
Back together like a jigsaw puzzle
Cause I’m broken
-Debbie Yanju

Walks with feline grace
Dress the color red
Blood of her victims?
-Rigozo

Few words or many
Neruda or Soyinka
Nail it every time.
-Musti

Let go of yesterday
Embrace today
Welcome tomorrow.
-Rigozo

Come, little haiku,
Come alone or together.
I am the apex.
-Musti

Feet sweep the floor
Hips sway in time
I drown in your eyes.
-Rigozo

Let me stop
The road is too long to go on
I give up.
-Debbie Yanju

Horns blare on all sides
Held hostage by traffic lights
Life in the city.
-Rigozo

Snow melts on my tongue
Feet in 9 inches – deep
Winter in a foreign land.
-Mage

Love was passing by
My house was pretty, cozy and warm
Love stayed the night, and forever.
-Rigozo

I am Sam-Urai
Come to take your fractured head
From the old cray-bin.
– Musti

Wind wails outside
A lovely book and tea
Here comes the rain.
-Rigozo

Three words I think of
Seven days I keep dreaming about
Till close I hold you.
-Shan

Pink clouds tumble
Orange light on the horizon
Twilight draws near.
-Rigozo

Grammar is tedious,
Simple sentences hard
Language is art.
-Rigozo

Warm breeze
Frigid air
Seasons change.
-Rigozo

Audience rise
Curtains fall
The End
-Rigozo

Thank you to everyone that contributed, and to Ed for the inspiration. Daily haiku will certainly feature in my journal. The previous day I attended a wedding and at the end I was able to come up with this.

Lovers embrace
Everybody wears a smile
A beautiful union
-Rigozo

Until next time…keep writing

Photo Credit: Pexels

Continue reading “Me, My Friends and Haiku”

Ramblings By The Window

Rigozo

I started the morning intending to write a story before the end of the day. Sometimes it is a good thing, sometimes not so good. All I know is that words need to be spilled and spilled they shall be. Today is no exception, plus I have a deadline to meet. My editor will have my head if I do otherwise.

I’m sitting by the window perched on the stack of crates I use for a chair. The red cushion that cradles my bum is worn from years of abuse. My writing desk is a DIY table with hairpin legs – I found them in the dump and setting it up was no joke – I am quite the creative genius (if I say so myself) my house is full of some questionable pieces. I let out a sigh, feeling utterly dejected. I really can’t think of what to write and my head can’t take anymore of my not so gentle knocks. If you see me with my hair in a messy bun (several pencils are in it giving the impression of a porcupine), my T-shirt with holes and reedy legs sticking out from my strawberry patterned shorts – you’d be hard-pressed not to remark on my general state of dishevelment. Not to worry, it’s a sign that I want to be left alone to work.

Sighing, I peel off the sticky note stuck to my chin (no idea how it got there). I had scribbled, ‘Talk to Angela’ on it. Yes! I forgot, ergo sticky note. I was going on about intentions and this one is rather important. Days back, Shay – my neighbor’s daughter – told me she wished she had the money to get the new purse that was a rave among the girls in her school. I also want her to have the money, heck; I would buy it for her if only Angela, her mother will let me. Now Shay is the sweetest thing and Angela does what she can raising her alone with her wages as a clerk down at the realtor’s place. I am sure the purse would put a dent in Angela’s budget and that is why she refused to get it for her, but Shay is tenacious, like most children her age and I worry about the outcome. I’ll see to it as soon as possible.

My desk holds my laptop, my journals, and a cup with more pen and pencils than I can ever need and another cup that contains the dredges of my tea and a pack of chocolate cookies. Everything is covered in sticky notes. My eye catches the ticket sticking out of the book I was currently reading, The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler. The ticket was for a concert last Monday night. James had passed it along saying it was our first official date. It can’t be me groaning like my period just kicked in. I put my head in my hands and groan louder. I’ve known James for two years now. We met at the gym and have become good friends. He has been anything but subtle about his intentions and has grown bolder since the jerk that was my ex- fiancé, Fred, left me for some bimbo from work. Dear heavens! I’m in a mess now. To hear him say it, was bad, and my brain remembers it word for word, which is worse – “I love you Alicia, I really do. But I love her more. I hope you understand.” Snap! The pencil I was holding is now in two pieces, which is good. I’ll poke his eyes out with them. Actually, the concert was fun. James was wonderful and attentive. Truly I have no reason to complain because I had a nice time. But I feel apprehensive about being with James.

I toss the broken pencil on the table and pick up The Art of Happiness, the ticket serves as a book marker for where I stopped the previous day. The book presents the Dalai Lama’s view on leading a happier life, augmented by Cutler’s observation as a Western psychiatrist. I stare intently at the phrase highlighted in green – The purpose of our existence is to seek happiness. I trace my fingers over the words, not sure if I expect it to jump out of the page. When it was first mentioned by the Dalia Lama, Cutler raised objections (as did I). If I can’t write I might as well read.
‘Are you happy?’ Cutler asked Dalai Lama in the book,  and he had answered, ‘Yes. Yes…definitely.’ I can’t help but think that when I was with Fred I thought we were sort of happy. We had to be because we were in love, understood each other well, and made plans for our wedding (even though we hadn’t picked a date). Apparently it was not enough. I have never been under the delusion that life is easy, I mean happiness is overrated, right? All a person can hope for is a measure of satisfaction with their lot. I have my family (lately I have included Shay and Angela), friends, my work and colleagues. I’ve had moments in my life when I was struck with profound joy, no doubt that it was happiness. Still, to pursue happiness solely seems like an effort in futility.

Dalai Lama explains that through the discipline of the mind – in this sense he uses the Tibetan word Sem which has a broader meaning closer to “psyche” and “spirit”; it includes intellect and feeling, heart and mind – happiness can be attained. ‘By bringing about a certain inner discipline, we can undergo a transformation of our attitude, our entire outlook and approach to life…When we speak of this inner discipline, it can of course involve many things, many methods. But generally speaking, one begins by identifying those factors which lead to happiness and those factors which lead to suffering. Having done this, one then sets about gradually eliminating those factors which lead to suffering and cultivating those which lead to happiness. That is the way.’

As I read I ask myself questions and my answers leave me restless. Am I happy? My honest answer is no…definitely no. At least not in the last couple of months. Not withstanding I have made great strides. I do not feel like a piece of wood adrift in the ocean or see gray clouds on the horizon. I’m on the mend. I cannot fault myself for my emotional dependence on the people I love and care about, but sometimes I wish it was not entirely so. It’s why I feel uneasy with James. I know I’m using him to buffet against the hurt and betrayal that still lingers. I have not brought under control my heart and mind, that one is true. It is wrong and he doesn’t deserve it. I will have to tell him the next time we meet that I can’t be with him. Not the way I currently am.

Catching my mind drifting, I place the ticket once more to mark the page I stopped and drop the book back on the table. I hear Shay calling for her mum and in a few minutes she runs out of the house. I give her a small wave when I catch her eyes and she waves back, hands high above her head, then she turns around and off like a rabbit she goes. Someone needs to bottle up that child’s energy and commercialize it. I pick up a pen and write on a fresh note ‘The purpose of our existence is to seek happiness,’ On another one, ‘Your state of mind is key’ and, ‘Cultivate inner discipline. I place them in my journal, and hope my resolve is strong enough. Instead of writing like I hoped for, I’ve spent the morning ruminating. Since Angela is around, I best talk to her now before I forget, again. The rest of the cookies I’ll give to Shay when she returns. I’ll continue writing when the fog in my head lifts, hopefully before the deadline.





"We begin, then, with the basic premise that the purpose of our life is to seek happiness. It is a vision of happiness as a real objective, one that we can take positive steps toward achieving. And as we begin to identify the factors that lead to happier life, we will learn how the search for happiness offers benefits not only for the individual but for the individual's family and for society at large as well."

The Art Of Happiness
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