Bidding ‘Adieu’ to the departed

People we love and care about one day die and pass away

We must grieve, we cry if we must, we re-live their memories in our minds

Then we bury them in some corner of our hearts

And hope that when the sun rises in the morning

In this age or another, some of the gloom will fade away

Sometimes it does, at other times, the dark clouds linger for a while

But they eventually go away and all that is left (from our side) 

Are the memories and monuments within our hearts that we built for them

So make sure to build those monuments while they are still alive

One act of genuineness, of kindness and of graciousness at a time

Before it becomes too late and all you have left to build with are tears and sorrow

 

And God Spoke …Self Mastery Test #X

self master classroom

Bivouac camp in Sahara desert / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“So my son ..you want to learn self mastery?

I see how much you’ve been writing about it and trying

Ok, I’ll give you a helping hand

I’ll get you into a classroom

I’ll take you on a 20 hour flight from a city with sub-zero temperatures

Then land you in a city with an average temperature of 40 degrees centigrade in the evening

I’ll put you in a hotel with standards beneath other hotels you usually complain about

Oh and since you are always complaining about bad food,

I’ll make sure your choices in food for once justify your whining

Class duration is nine days, and you can’t get out of class

And did I mention that you can’t count on the Internet or phones

Let’s see ….

If you can still maintain your calm in that heat

If you can bring mindfulness to help you deal with a room in which the window faces an drab high wall

If under these circumstances, you can still be courteous to people you think you don’t need anything from

If you can still find something to be grateful for in each one of these days

If you can do these, then you will have learnt something about self mastery!

So, do you still want to continue on this path?”

Day 1: I screamed, kicked and was foul all day – I reaped lost of misery. I called someone special, spoke for a while and returned to my self pity.

Day 2: I kicked, screamed and made an emotional cocktail of anger and resentment, all brewed in blazing hot desert sun.

And so it went, anger, sorrow, disappointment, anguish and then when I had experienced all that was negative, on Day 6 I felt calm (I’d just taught a class of 40+ network engineers in a steaming hot room and their eagerness to learn was so great I forgot about the inconveniences). I became self aware and then the magic started and continued till Day 9

People went out of their way to make me happy. They did not have the traditional goodies to give but what they gave, they gave with all of their hearts, they gave me with love and I felt it. I connected and felt really good insides (God must have smiled … ‘you are not so thick-headed after all’. The best part was left for last … I beheld a sight I had thought I needed to travel to the United States and some big museum to see –  a full skeleton of two kinds of dinosaur!! (yes I am a geek …that stuff amazes me). Imagine a crocodile whose skeleton is taller than a truck and that is more as long as a tanker!

Dinosaur skeletons in Niamey - Niger

Final lesson? – once you put your ego in its place (take attention away from yourself) and be in the moment, the world usually presents you a amazing bouquet of breath-taking gifts … of beauty, of simplicity, of elegance.

Today, It’s YOUR TURN to Keep the Wheel Spinning

Rudder by Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One day (perhaps even today), a situation will present itself to you for which you can do something to help but which you might consider insignificant. But most importantly, there will be logical reasons not to. Am going to ask you today … forget about the reasons, logic and just do it.

When I left my small village in Cameroon almost 20 years ago to pursue post-primary education, I was exposed to a world that had hitherto been non-existent to me – I saw a beggar for the first time – someone who would come up to you and beg for money (usually). My worldview was rudely shattered! Until the age of about 17 or 16, I had never seen someone who begged (for money, for food) and I just didn’t know how to relate to it. This rude shock only increased in intensity the further I travelled from home. In the day, I usually ignored any able bodied beggar with the logic ‘they are just lazy’ or trying to take advantage. Now that am older, have seen a lot and now wiser, I know it’s not always that simple.

Fast forward to 2011 in Paris-France and for the first time in my life, I saw a grown able-bodied man sleeping on the streets in near-zero temperatures. Not 30 minutes later, I met what looked like an entire family in the same situation, and begging. As this has happened more to me in different countries and cities, I have tried to ignore the pleas for help or alms with thoughts like …”this is unsustainable, how can my little alm help this person? Even if I could give them a €100, it wont be enough to get them on off the streets and keep them fed”. I am and always have been a believer in sustainable solutions and in Systems Thinking and I know full well how aid, even personal aid can be a bad i.e. have unintended and negative contrary consequences. But I am also be very empathic and can imagine myself in other people’s shoes, so those two tendencies are always conflicting.

About the middle of this year in the hot golden sunlight of the Arabian desert, I had some clarity about this – all the reasons (yes they are shallow and egocentric) we give for not helping now, for ignoring usually serve only to assuage our guilt, because deep down our spirits, speaking through our consciences long to reach out to another human being in need at that moment. Persisting in such a mentality only makes us meaner women and men, it kills the bonds that exist between us and that apparently unfortunate person, it kills that part of our spirit that we all share as human beings. And should we let that thinking persist all of the time, we’ll miss an opportunity to SERVE something greater than our own needs at that moment and thus remain at lower levels of self actualization.

Here’s a different way to look at the situation.

  1. Despite what our ego might want us to believe, that person’s existence does not depend upon us. In the grand scheme of things, they were alive before we came around and they will be alive long after we have gone. There are rare exceptions when our interventions are matters of life and death. In those situations, our responses or actions are quite clear (I think, having never been in such a position myself).
  2. In that moment, fate is handing us a responsibility – just keep the wheel turning. Don’t worry who will turn it tomorrow (if we have the heart of a saint, we will find a way to help not just today but tomorrow too). Just recognize that the wheel is still turning today because someone turned it yesterday. So the only question is: “Will we make sure the wheel is still turning tomorrow?”
  3. This is also an opportunity, to rise above the petty needs of our egos. For those of us who are men/women of faith, this is our chance to be of service to the glory of God.

So unless we can outright sense that someone wants to take advantage, if we can, we must GIVE. Give, with gratitude in our heart and with a smile on our face. And as we give, we must be sure to look them in the eye, for that is the message that speaks far more than anything else we are doing, and says “Inspite of your circumstances, I respect you as another human being”. If we pull this off well even once in a while, we at that moment are being “Instruments of Peace” and the full power of God and all the saints stands behind us.

Living … in a Nutshell

Stephanie ...don't doubt it.

LIVE, for without life, nothing matters. That’s why you take good care of your health.

LEARN, for that’s how you gain the knowledge and skills that enable you to exercise the divine within you by creating things. That’s why you feed and take care of your mind.

LOVE, for nothing created without love can be truly divine and life isn’t worth living without love and the divine. That’s why  you remain steadfast through pain and darkness in building relationships and exercising your heart.

DIE, for a sad as it is, it is what makes life precious (it will come, don’t rush for it)

Leave a LEGACY, for that’s the only way to conquer death, and that’s why you listen to your conscience and reach out to the world with LOVE

And DEATH may well be a break between one life well lived (loving, learning and leaving a legacy) and another life of PEACE and GLORY. Even if death is the end, a life of loving, learning and living a legacy is ENOUGH!

Walking the Valley of the Shadow of Death

You do so, not with joy in your heart, sometimes not even with courage in your own abilities.

You do it with FAITH in your heart, fueled by what you BELIEVE in, by those you LOVE and by a CONVICTION in your heart for WHAT YOU STAND FOR.

Oh, and that valley is not always dark, the thorns in you way are not always visible and the sun might well be shining bright on that path.

Watch your step, for your sight in this valley depends not on the eyeballs but on your faith and powers of perception.

Watch your thoughts, open your heart for your strength comes not from your flesh, but from somewhere deep in your spirit …in that place that is the temple of God within you

Human Quantum Entanglement

Recently at a shopping mall in Madrid, I took the lift to get to an upper floor, and there was this elegant old lady in already in the lift. I bowed slightly (yeah, my  mum did do her job well) and she greeted me with a smile that just raised the energy of the lift like the golden rays of the morning sun lighting up the underbrush of a forest, and she did that while saying “hola!!!” as if I we had known each other a long time. I responded with a ‘hola’ and another bow and smiled back.

Just then, another woman (about late 30s) comes in with her daughter (three or four). The little girl had those large pretty eyes that are filled with curiosity in the way only a pure and innocent spirit is capable of. The kind of curiosity that is undefiled by the drudgeries of adult worldly cares. In the short time it took for the lift to get to the upper floor, I witnessed a moment so intense it felt like forever.

The little girl looked up at the old lady and with those seeking, trusting and lovely eyes which said “right now, you are the most important thing in the world to me”. And the old lady’s response was a smile even brighter and warmer that the one she gave me. Her smile was so brilliant it would put a thousand suns to shame. As her smile radiated from her mouth, throughout her face, you could feel the entire lift electrified by the strands of a wave of pure, holy connection between those amazing women. One at the dawn of her life, the other at the dusk of hers. Amidst the magic , I could sense a bond link these two and within that bond, I felt elegance, innocence, admiration, hope, faith and lots of other good things of which the human tongue couldn’t bear witness. They must have had a conversation, but they did not use words and I and the little girl’s mother must have ceased to exist. We looked at each other, across the lovefield infront of us and instinctively, we knew that this was a magical moment and we were blessed to be caught in its energy.

After what seemed like 30 minutes (but was really like 30 seconds) the lift doors opened and I held it for the ladies to get out. I got into the lift a guy with ‘stuff’ (gadgets, clothes, books) on his mind and got out of the lift a being touched by the divine within humans and the desire to get other stuff I might not need was totally gone. Those two women gave me renewed faith in this life. Yes it is hard, it is unfair, it sometimes seems futile and even cruel but it is also filled with beauty and magic and when we permit ourselves to rise above the petty demands and wants of our egos and lower selves, we can experience those magical moments. If this is the sign of things to come in the Liberated Life (Heaven, Englightenement etc) then the path that leads there is one worth dying on.

To see an elderly lady look back on youth without regret, with a gleam in her eye was a sign for me to also have hope in a better world. I don’t imagine life had never dealt this lady a bad hand, but she had taken it all in stride and from across the ages, she was holding out a hand to the younger woman: “Come on my dear …it is a beautiful life and you will enjoy it!”. I challenge you today, inspite of your circumstances, find something beautiful and let yourself be consumed by it and the moment. I am sure your own magical moment is waiting at the corner. Please share it with us.

Thread Softly …for You Might be Threading on Someone’s Dreams

I was going to say I don’t know what to call these experiences I get sometimes when it downed on me that is was a moment of Shibumi — a moment of profound insight, truth and an ideal coming to life in a poignant way.

I was listening to a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson …and of course his usual wit and humour was great, but at the end, he quoted the poet Yates and my heart almost stopped beating, and for a moment, Yates, Ken and I were linked in the deep beauty of words so profound they are timeless, so true they don’t need to be explained or defended and so beautiful they almost made a cold geek like me cry (sob sob). The words were these:

“Had I the heavens embroidered cloth

En-robbed with gold and silver light of blue

And the dim and the dark clothes of night and light and half-light

I would spread the cloths under your feet

But I being poor have only my dreams

I have spread my dreams under your feet

Thread softly, for your thread on my dreams“

The magic lines for me are the last two lines. The magical thing about profound words like these is their ability to thread various moments of space and time into a string of utter and breathless amazement. Just as I wrote this, I recall that in one of my favourite movies “Equilibrium” this same quote is used by a character, a quote which when he read, made him question his life and job and made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sir Ken Robinson used those words to caution us that children all over the world spread their dreams under the feet of an educational system and that we (as part of that system) should thread softly.

Simultaneously, I made the link to what happens in countless organisations all over the world, excited employees walk into a job and spread their dreams under the feet of managers and I say to managers every where … thread softly, for you thread on their dreams.

Every day, other people put their hopes, their faith, their trust, expose their egos/fears/dreams and all sorts of priceless things under our feet and so we must be careful how we proceed for all our actions bear consequences.

While I don’t think that people on the path of light should let their dreams be trampled upon, I also realise that for the majority of us, there are those moments of vulnerability – at work, in love, at play in which for whatever reason, we spread our dreams under someone’s feet and how they thread has the potential to scar us forever or elevate our dreams to a reality so beautiful it seems like fantasy and lasts an eternity in a moment.

Every day in your life, you too could be threading on someone’s dreams, what will you be? the one who shatters the dream to feed your own ego? -aka an Agent of Dispair or that one who nurtures the the dream to life and in so doing creates another nurturer?

Thanks to the following who have thread carefully on my dreams: Mum, Nubed Isaac, Nji George, Fortung Amos, Acha Nicholas, Augusta Bah Fon (RIP), Rose Adejoh, Susan Okpapi, Omotola Anna Ogunsote, Iliya Yusuf Joshua, Danjuma Dajab, Boyi Jimoh, Makut Fuki, Dahiru Sani, Tanyi Henry, Tanjong Helen, Amina Ogrima, Bukky Babalola, Wale Adedokun, Mosi Mosugu, Nurudeen Ibrahim Suleiman, Kabiru Chafe,