Monthly Archives: January 2008

Ps

Just found out, I’m getting paid for my article!

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I got published!

I got my first article published… in a national paper!

 

It’s such a weird feeling! On the hand, I was so excited last night, I couldn’t wait to get up and buy the paper. When I opened it up and saw my name there, in bold no less, I was deflated! Even now, I feel lethargic. I feel exposed, naked and I can’t take the piece back. I feel committed, like my fate is out of my hands. What if some psychopath takes offense at what I wrote and hunts me down?

 

The last time I felt like this was after I proposed to my then girlfriend (now wife) and she said yes! She was so excited and the happier she got, the darker the cloud over me grew. It was one of the worst days of my life. Again, I felt trapped and as though I was no longer in control of my destiny. And it’s not as though I didn’t want to marry her. I knew she was the one, I knew I wanted to marry her, and I hadn’t been under any pressure to propose. All the same, the fear! Fortunately, I felt great at our wedding!

 

But back to this issue, I got what I wanted and had something I wrote printed in a newspaper. I don’t know if the article is any good. I know I liked it a lot more before it was published. I wonder if it’s always going to be like this.

 

Who knows, next time I might even get paid. When that happens, I’ll start calling myself freelance/independent writer/journalist. Or maybe I’ll just stick to Tsuro.

Bob Marley (1945 – 1981)

My favourite song when I was young was Bob Marley’s Buffalo Soldier. I didn’t understand its political significance. It was just a cool song with an interesting video that was sung by a guy with a really cool, very unusual hair do. But man, I loved that song. I think it was then too that I fell in love with the commercial image if Jamaica.

 

As I’ve grown older, my respect for Robert Nesta Marley has increased. So much so, there are few people I hold in the same regard. It’s been said, “Greater love has no man than this; that he should give up his life for his brother.” Bob Marley spent much of his life being a voice for the voiceless. Yes, he made a decent living in the process, and fair play to him, but that’s not all he was about. Looking around at today’s artists, there are few that come close to people like Marley. Today’s pop culture doesn’t stand for or point towards anything other than money and that’s such a shame.

 

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things about the man I disagree with. I find some of his lifestyle choices distasteful to say the least. But what you cannot argue with is his heart. He was clearly committed to the betterment of his people. He clearly wanted to see a little more harmony in the world. And he was obviously passionate about fighting injustice. To a large extent, he led, or at the very least added fuel to a social revolution. His life as a result had, and still to this day continues to have, tremendous significance. I can’t say the same for many of today’s ‘stars’. I guess ideals don’t pay the bills too well.

 

I would like to dedicate this space to the memory of Bob Marley, and all other artists, dead and live, like him. To all who have given of themselves to the betterment of humanity,” Respect man!”

Monday Blues

Today was a tough day for me. Can you really call them the ‘Monday Blues’ though when you’re unemployed? It’s not like I had to deal with a stack of work at the office after a nice weekend. I mentioned that I was tired to one of my housemates and she responded with a puzzled, “Oh?” I interpreted that as, “Dude, tired? You need to get a job before you can say stuff like that!”

 

Why am I down? Because I don’t have any work stress. I’m not used to having so little structure. I don’t know how to rate my day. I don’t know whether I’m making sufficient progress in my quest to get my business of the ground. I’m low because I couldn’t write anything today. I want to call it writers block but since I haven’t been published yet, am I a writer? I want to send a few articles to some local newspaper editors to see if they’d be willing to commission me to do some work for them, but I can’t seem to get going.

 

So Monday the 28th of January won’t go down as the best day I had in 2008, but I’ve gotten through it and tomorrow is another day. Thank God for tomorrows and clean slates! Soon enough the memory of this particular Monday will fade and will be hopefully replaced by something better.

The Graveyard of Ambition

The Graveyard of Ambition. What a poetic name! I’m not surprised though, everything about Galway, my new home, is poetic. I could try and explain why it’s such an apt name, but Will Sullivan did a much better job than I could (click on link to read his article).

I can’t afford to have this place be any sort of graveyard as far as I’m concerned. I cannot have my dreams fizzle and be replaced with by some sad state of acceptance. I just can’t have all the sacrifices I’ve made come to nothing.

No, Galway is going to be the place of my rebirth. One day I’ll tell people that it was in this so called graveyard that my dreams came to life. In Galway I’m going to write the first of my articles that gets published by a newspaper – and it will be followed by many more. I’m going to develop my writing here. I’m going to learn how to build clean, sharp, professional web sites. I’m going to conquer my fear of ridicule and my addiction to approval. I’m going to start up my web business and do great things. And I’ve already begun!

It has been about 2 weeks since I started this blog, and although it isn’t the busiest place on the web, I’m grateful to those few people who have begun to drop in regularly. Although it’s still difficult to say exactly what type of blog this is, I know it will take shape and a community will grow around it. And although I’m doing better here than I am on my other fronts, I’m not discouraged. Actually, even if my success on this blog is modest, it motivates me to keep at it on all my other fronts (freelancing, learning web design, photography and ecommerce).  

Galway was also at one stage Europe’s fastest growing city. Hopefully, a little of that will flow my way.

Community

I hated family gatherings when I was young! It was always the same story. Three or so people would come up to me at different times during the event and ask if I still remembered them. They’d ask, ‘Tsuro, do you still remember me? What’s my name?’ I’d then mumble something incoherent before asking, ‘When did I last see you?’ The answer without fail would be something crazy like, ‘Oh, you must have been 6months old.’ Or, ‘Just after you started crawling’ or some other ridiculous answer. And although I wanted to say, ‘Lady, are you crazy? I was 6 months old!’ I usually just settled for a polite, ‘I’m so sorry, it’s been a while.’  

In retrospect, that was a small price to pay for the sense of community and belonging I had then. I am amazed by how lonely and fragmented European society seems to me. Yes people go on dates or go out to the pub for a drink, but everyone’s life here is their own. It seems to me that politeness and respect of other people’s space has created invisible walls and has isolated people. And although I love Steve Jobs, iPods have only made things worse. Now, people can be little, mobile, self-contained, sound proofed units!

I know some will think I’m exaggerating, but am I? If you live in Europe, have you tried to help someone lately? If you succeeded, I bet they paid you back in a flash! We had friends visit the other day. Their daughter, an asthmatic, was a little wheezy and my wife, who’s a doctor, offered to listen to her chest. After our friends had left, we discovered they’d left some money on a table! And if you think that’s a little extreme, when was the last time you let someone do you a favour without feeling you needed to get them something in return? Or, when was the last time you admitted you needed help to a friend or neighbour?

That’s what I miss most about Zimbabwe. Because things are so difficult, self sufficiency isn’t possible. It’s common to have to ask your neighbours for a little money to tide you over to the end of the month. A frequent reason for visiting is to borrow a little sugar or salt or a lot of both! And although we call it borrowing, both parties know that these things will never be replaced. It’s not because of any sort of dishonesty, but the understanding that tomorrow the tables could very easily be turned. And because you know that you’re going to need the people around you, a lot of effort goes into maintaining good, genuine relationships with them.

I’m not claiming that Zimbabwe is a utopia or anything like that. You only have to read the odd newspaper to know that things there aren’t great right now. That said, people there know they need each other. The funny thing is that although people here are rich in so many ways, there is such a poverty of genuine loving relationships outside the home. There isn’t the same sense of community.

The Race

Why is it that we seem to have a need to compare ourselves with other people? Isn’t it odd that we generally decide how we’re doing based on where others are at?

I’ve decided to get off my career path and start again on another one. The trouble is, every now and again I speak to a friend from high school or someone I went to college with and I panic. The worst is going onto facebook! I’m often left feeling like there’s a race on and I’m coming last.

I’m not sure where this desire to keep up with the Jones’ starts. Does it come from watching our parents and mimicking their behaviour, or is it instinctive? All I know is that from an early age, I decided I was a fast runner based on the number of people I beat in a race. And that in itself may not be a bad thing. What’s worrying though is that again at an early age, I started letting the herd decide which attributes were important. So in high school the fact that I was gifted academically didn’t matter because I was terrible at most sports and sports were what mattered. At university it was popularity and again, my kung fu was weak! Now, as an adult in his late twenties, the social currency of choice is career and money.

But hang on. Why do I care? Why do I feel pressured to conform to society’s standards? Am I just a weak willed person or is it the same for everyone else? What is success? Living up to my peers’ expectations, or having the courage to pursue my own dreams, regardless of the social consequences? It sounds so obvious but when it comes down to it, how many of us have the courage to be different and to stand out? Who among us doesn’t want the admiration of their friends and family?

At the end of the day it all comes down to courage. Courage to leave the safe, secure rut you are in and try something different. Courage to risk failure. And the biggest one for me is the need for the courage to step out from under the umbrella of my loved ones’ approval.