Tuesday, November 5, 2013

London Grammar

This British indie pop trio is my newest musical discovery and I am absolutely loving their haunting sounds and beautiful metaphors. Their début album If You Wait has been playing on a loop on all my devices and the track Strong is the official soundtrack to my current state of melancholy. It's one of the most perfect songs I've ever heard.

Wasting My Young Years is an articulation of disillusionment encountered by young people who did everything they were supposed to be at the promise of a certain future but now find themselves living a reality in which that future has been snatched from under their feet because of the reckless and negligent actions of those who came before them. Now they cannot enjoy their youth as they struggle to survive and to make it worse they are regretful of having wasted their early youth on a formula that has proven to be flawed. I dedicate this one to the president of my country. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

If indeed you are "difficult" to love...

Warsan Shire is a quietly insightful and honest poet whose poem below resonates profoundly and almost uncomfortably with me. This goes straight into my "big green forever book."

for women who are ‘difficult’ to love

you are a horse running alone 
and he tries to tame you
compares you to an impossible highway
to a burning house
says you are blinding him
that he could never leave you
forget you
want anything but you
you dizzy him, 
you are unbearable
every woman before or after you
is doused in your name
you fill his mouth
his teeth ache with memory of taste
his body just a long shadow seeking yours
but you are always too intense
frightening in the way you want him
unashamed and sacrificial
he tells you that no man can live up to the one who lives in your head
and you tried to change didn’t you?
closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
less volatile
less awake
but even when sleeping 
you could feel him traveling away from you in his dreams
so what did you want to do love
split his head open?
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange 
and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love

- Warsan Shire

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Minds of Men

"Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed."
- Preamble to the UNESCO Constitution

The work is back-breakingly arduous
the finish line is an ever shifting target 
the vision 
the mandate
they are worthy of my blood, sweat and tears. 

I am proud to say I am in the business of changing and possibly even saving lives. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Some days... (like Mondays)

"You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and God damn it, you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about the business of living. That’s how I’ve done it. There’s no other way." – Elizabeth Taylor

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Messiah's Handbook

I've been leafing through Reminders for the Advanced Soul by Richard Bach. Reminders because you already know. Advanced because it's a certain kind of soul who is asking the kind of questions to which this book offers answers. It's a soul that's been bruised and stripped bare, brought down to its knees pummelled by blow after blow. It's a soul that's done playing hide and seek, that's drawn a line in the sand and is poised to step over it and never look back. The advanced soul says "I'm ready." The reminders are for those who are ready to remember and live anchored in and liberated by these simple yet complex truths.

You don't have to fight 
to live as you wish.
Live as you wish 
and pay whatever price is required.

"Your depth of intimacy with another is inversely proportional to the number of others in your life."

"You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self. Don't turn away from possible futures before you're certain you don't have anything to learn from them.You're always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past."

"Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers and teachers."

Is this my highest sense of right?
Is this the direction I want most to go?
Is this the way in which I can give my greatest gift?

Reality has nothing to do with appearances,
with your narrow way of seeing.
Reality is love expressed, 
pure perfect love,
unbrushed by space and time.

To love someone unconditionally
is not to care who they are or what they do.
Unconditional love, on the surface,
looks the same as indifference.

The only thing that shatters dreams is compromise.

You wait a lifetime to meet Someone
who understands you, accepts you as you are.
At the end, you find that Someone, all along,
has been you.

How do you want 
to come out of this experience - 
how do you want to be changed because of it?

The individual is always the exception.

"Everybody can't..."
anybody can.

Before you'll change,
something important must be at risk.

Even when you're brought together by miraculous magnetizing,
you still have to work out problems.

The creative, loving-something life
is also the healthy one.
There is healing and protection
in doing what makes you happy.

No heavens,
no hells,
just these endless worlds
you create
till you think you've got it right.

Richard Bach is the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions, both of which rank among the top 100 books I wish to be buried with.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Brain Food

I gave up television in December last year in the hopes that it would increase my reading capacity. Allow me to apologise in advance for not giving detailed reviews but in the interests of time suffice it to say I highly recommend the following books with which I've provided myself brain fodder over the last few months. 
The titles here have made me laugh, think, seethe with rage, cry and wonder and it would be unfair of me to withhold them from you just because I haven't the time to write brief blurbs on them as I normally like to do. So, know that these come highly recommended and trust me they're worth turning your back on the TV.
In no order of preference my reading list from Dec 2012 to June 2013 is as follows:

The Fault In Our Stars - John Green
Sigh. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I was left heaving great sobs of grief and joy. 

Brainwashed- Tom Burrell
You should read this if you are black. You should read this if you are not black. Made me think...

The Social Animal - David Brooks
Unputdownable! I gobbled it up in one weekend. This interesting read is yet another thread in the tapestry of ideas about what it is and what it means to be human.

The Timekeeper - Mitch Albom
A satisfying and heartwarming work of fiction. It's good to have one's heart warmed every once in a while and this book gave me a good dose of the warm and fuzzy feelings I needed to stock up on to regain my faith in and love for humanity.

Illusions - Richard Bach
Exactly how it's described on the cover is exactly how it is. I wish I had it as an audio book then I would play it all day so my head would always be in the right space.

Kill the Messenger
- Maria Armoudian
Please read this. I beg you. Read this book.

How to be Black - Baratunde Thurston

Quiet - Susan Cain

Rumi's Little Book of Life - translated by Maryam Mafi and Arina Melith Kolin

Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Katherine Boo

The God Argument - AC Grayling

Interventions - Kofi Annan

Watch - Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya

The Queen of Katwe- Tim Crothers

The Blue Sweater - Jacqueline Novogratz

Hallucinations - Oliver Sacks

Bad Pharma - Ben Goldacre

China's Silent Army - Uan Pablo Cardenal & Herbeto Araiyo

Stuffed and Starved - Raj Patel

Development and Freedom - Amartya Sen

Archetypes - Caroline Myss

Ghana Must Go - Taiye Selasi

The Story of a Nobody - Anton Chekov

A Good African Story - Andrew Rugasira
Haiku for Lovers - Manu Bazzano

GOD - Deepak Chopra

Open City - Teju Cole

The Universe vs Alex Woods - Gavin Extence

Life of Pi - Yann Martel

Rumi: A Photographic Gallery of Inspirational Quotes - Faroosh Brock

The Strenuous Life,  Essays and Addresses - Theodore Roosevelt

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick

The Zahir - Paulo Coehlo

Tribes - Seth Godin

Bossy Pants - Tina Fey

Messiah's Handbook -Richard Bach

The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell

I will do brief write ups about some of these as they are definitely worth a second mention and have had far-reaching impacts on my life. In the meantime though, what are you waiting for?  Get reading!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Meet Teju Cole

If I could be a writer, I would want to be a writer like Teju Cole. His story telling ability reminds me of my old HTC phone: "Quietly Brilliant." Below are samples of his (stellar) literary outputs, from creatively thought-provoking commentary on Twitter to a debut novel that gave me the feeling I feel whenever I watch a silent movie. His writing silences the noise outside and puts me back into the quiet sanctuary of my head, which is my favorite place to hang out. I really hate to say this, because I don't like to gush but suffice it to say I am a strong admirer of this man's work.

He tweeted "seven thoughts on the banality of sentimentality" which is a sharp and unapologetic critique of the western inclination to intervene in the problems of the Third World in a manner which is in fact egocentric. Here's one tweet:
 “From Sachs to Kristof to Invisible Children to TED, the fastest growth industry in the US is the White Savior Industrial Complex,”
and here is my favourite in the series:
“The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.” 
 In seven short stories about drones he brings the horror from hard to imagine foothills of Afghanistan or Iraq to our own doorsteps.
"Mother died today. The program saves American lives."
Cole makes an interesting link between drones, the IMF and Downton Abbey, which could be construed as a little reaching but I think it's very smart reasoning.
  1. 1. Each age has its presiding metaphor. Ours is aerial bombing.
  2. 2. Drone warfare and the IMF are variations on a theme: decisions taken from a great height, with disregard for consequences on the ground.
  3. 3. Downton Abbey’s popularity is about a nostalgia for class superiority, and the desire to watch those who act from a great height.
 I read his debut novel, Open City and I knew immediately that my mind had connected with a mind of great intellectual capacity and authenticity. It is a reflective and unhurried novel that is not for those among us who seek instant gratification in our literature. The book demands that you forsake all other activities and commit yourself to a journey that will not reward you with a profound epiphany or a sharp emotional response but rather it will reaffirm what you already knew in the quiet recesses of your consciousness but had perhaps forgotten in all the clamorous demands of modern day living.
Still, the way my thoughts returned to the fact that it was the middle of November and I hadn't yet had occasion to wear my coat made me wonder if, already, I was one of those people, the overinterpreters. This was part of my suspicion that there was a mood in the society that pushed people more toward snap judgments and unexamined opinions, an unscientific mood; to the old problem of mass inumeracy, it seemed to me was being added a more general inability to assess evidence. This made brisk business for those whose specialty was in the promising of immediate solutions: politicians, or priests of the various religions. It worked particularly well for those who wished to rally people around a cause. The cause itself, whatever it was, hardly mattered. Partisanship was all.
          - Teju Cole, Open City 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

That I would be timeless

My obsession with the firmament continues unabated. I could stare at the sky for hours, and often do. Then I remember that I am small. I am so very small and yet all of the universe is in me. In the face of billions of years behind me and the billions that will come long after I am dead, nothing really matters. Yet I also know that because of this, everything matters. Absolutely everything. And when I am lucky enough to see a perfect sunrise I am urged to seek significance. On nights so clear I could reach up and touch the stars I am compelled to do something beautiful for the world in return: something that will outlive me so that my story is longer than the duration of my time on earth. I find myself humbled by my insignificance and challenged by my potential. I am made from the stuff that was there at the very beginning of the universe. How very validating and empowering!

The pictures below were taken in Tofo, Mozambique.

"Sunrise offered a very beautiful spectacle; the water was quite unruffled, but the motion communicated by the tides was so great that, although there was not a breath of air stirring, the sea heaved slowly with a grand and majestic motion." - George Grey

"Three things cannot long be hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth." - Prince Gautama Siddharta, founder of Buddhism.

Friday, April 26, 2013

In Conversation

In Conversation

I said, “You are the beautiful, distress of mathematics.”
I said, “For you, I would peel open the clouds like new fruit.”
And give you lightning and thunder as dowry
I would make the sky shed all of its stars like rain
And I would clasp the constellations across your waist
And I would make the heavens your cape
And they would be pleased to cover you
They would be pleased to cover you
May I please cover you, please.

 - Yasiin Bey (In Love Rain with Jill Scott)

I said, "I did not ask for heavens, though."
I said, "With you I'd watch a thousand sunsets die
And never shed a tear."
He holds a storm in the palm of his hand
And bids me calm the riotous winds.
Super novae dance around my waist
And steady, I walk through blinding heat.
A fine dowry, yes.
For what is beauty if not torment?
My equation will not balance.
You are the missing Constant.
Will you please claim your place?
Already you complete me.
You have covered me already.
- Aimée de Beauvoir (In reply)