2013-04-22 13:30

I spent the better part of last week out of office attending a workshop in Johannesburg. In my previous opinion piece I was attacked for having written the following “I certainly have not the talent which some people posses, that of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. This is probably because I cannot catch their tone of conversation or appear interested in their concerns. I do not see anything wrong with this at all, if you happen to find it otherwise; tough luck”.

A friend of mine says to me for some who do not know me they will find the latter arrogant, but for obvious reasons I disagree. Truth is you unnecessarily blew this out of proportion. However in some of your attacks there was a little bit of truth and I made it my assignment to find it easy speaking to those I have never seen before, and this workshop was actually a target.

Ironically enough, I was having a chat with a colleague of mine as we were breaking for tea and an old man who was also an attendee joined our conversation. We spoke about the challenges our government is facing and all other current events we witness every day in the media. But a very emotional issue was when we started talking about the “nyaope drug” that our unemployed young stars in townships seem to have found solace in.

He tells a story of how he lost a kid because of the nyaope drug. He tells how he got a call as he was attending a meeting informing him his son has hanged himself. I asked him how he felt as a parent knowing that he had a son who was into drugs and how he handled the call informing him of the suicide.

He explained as if this was not his own son he was talking about. However, when he explains the sleepless nights, frustrations and the torture he and his family had to go through, it is not surprising that the news of his son’s suicide did not come as a shock. It did not come as a shock because he saw it coming and prepared himself for it, he says.

It however he says came as a disappointment because he had hoped his son would one day change. “Life is about choices, but the choice you make must be an informed one. It is therefore important that you listen to your parents at all times because they have been there before. I can never tell my children how to live, but can offer advice, but if they choose otherwise I can only pray that when they realise it was a mistake, they learn from it.

"I became interested in your topic as I was listening to you and I thought I should introduce myself and share my experiences”. He said as we were all leaving for the second round of the business of the day. Making a conversation with other people should not be a mammoth task from now on.

Importantly though, this conversation reminded me of an incident where a friend of mine came to me uncontrollably sobbing late last year. I did not know what to do exactly, but could only think of one thing any normal person could have under the circumstance, which was to give my support. I had actually written about this before, but did not have the platform really to share the message.

I later regrettably realized how difficult this friend of mine found life to be. Without any support structure from both home and her place of work this friend of mine felt that almost all she thought were best friends of hers, never really cared about her. She felt they instead used her and looked down on her because compared to them she had only achieved little in life. She viewed herself and everything about her a failure.

The conversation obviously stretched more than shared here, but in short she felt her social standing was shattered and felt spiritually destroyed. She had lost her self-esteem and she was giving up on life.

I don’t see myself a good motivator, but then I realized I had to say something not just for the sake of it, but had to make sure it was something she wanted to hear at that moment. What made this even easier was the fact that I knew exactly what and how she was feeling.

I found her condition so reminiscent of my tertiary days - something I believe many will relate to. Fact is as human beings we always strive to show a bold face, no-matter how hard we find life to be. We want and strive to portray at all times a bold look in order to fit in. Perception is however so full of inaccuracies. We fail to see people for who or what they really are.

One unachievable idea so fallacious is that of us striving to be perfect. Forget it, none of us is.

To calm this friend of mine I applied exactly the same words I was told every time I would find myself tested, “No one is immune to pain or insulated from suffering, and no one gets to skate through life problem free”.

The above words stuck with me ever since and it is through them that I have learned to accept that life happens. It is through these words that I have learned that life is and will always be a series of challenges and every time you solve one, another is waiting to strike. I do not mean life to be some kind of a vicious cycle.

It is normal to start questioning when you realise things are not going well in your life, but I always relay to my friends one piece of advice ever given to me was not to ask why me when things went wrong, but rather what do I need to learn out of the challenges I am currently facing.

I stand firm in saying that every challenge or problem is a character building opportunity and the more difficult it is the greater the potential for building spiritual muscle and moral fiber.

The challenges I went through both in the past and present encourage me not to give into short-term thinking, but to stay focused on the end-results.

The most truthful cliché is that your circumstances are temporary, but your character will last forever.

This I shared with this friend of mine and I am passing it on to you believing it will communicate and impact the same way it did with her.

All we need is to be true to ourselves and know exactly what we want out of life, and in that way we have won the race before we can even start with it.


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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