From Me to You

The growth of a child is measured in milestones. One moment the most she can do is use her sense of smell to sniff out where the titties are; the next she is able to see the outline of her mother’s face and ultimately, she is running all over the place.

March is a significant month for me as it marks two years since I entered the blog-o-sphere. It’s been an unparalleled joyride!

Like any two year-old, it’s work-in-progress with learning curves along the way.Sometimes, one is presented with those annoying and embarrassing behind the scenes glitches (like those ASCII codes and computer jargon) that ultimately pop up in all the wrong places.

That can be as embarrassing as realizing you have toilet paper sticking out of your undies and nobody told you!

Sometimes it can be the incessant case of the dreaded writer’s block, which I experienced in the latter part of 2013. I came short of pulling out my hair, drinking “return lost brain” muthi and pulling the zap sign before realizing that…it happens! Still, one has to keep rolling with the punches.

To date, one of my top posts remains Ke Motswana, Wena? And I’m starting to think the universe is hinting that I explore writing further in my mother tongue. I’ll think about it!

CallmeGomo’s milestones are not measured by the amount of traffic to the site but by individuals who take time to write in and tell me how some of the posts have changed their outlook on life. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to switch on people’s mental light bulbs.

The bulk of work still remains within each one of us to be the change that we want to see in the world.

How can I put into words how eternally grateful I am for ya’ll coming on this journey with me?? You make this truly worthwhile and keep me wanting to up my game.

Here’s to many more years of life, passion & happiness!

Love,

2
Gomo’

Advertisements

Conversations about Blood and Water…

Nelson-Mandela-41

The late Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”. The world watched with a mixture of shock and intrigue as the Mandela clan played out their squabbles in public months before his death. We were at a loss when the nonagenarian passed on; and witnessed through the media as the drama and tense relations between family members persisted.

Our fixation with that family grew increasingly as Tata’s last will and testament was publicly read, opening it up to scrutiny; the discourse naturally spilling into the social media sphere.

Drafting one’s last will and testament is probably the most sensible exercise any of us can undertake in our lifetime. But it remains one of those things that people neglect. It really is funny how a piece of legal documentation can be interpreted as a measure of how the deceased loved each one of those left behind as opposed to one that could be instrumental in averting possible conflict over assets.

That, of course, is an ideal situation. In reality, wills can be manipulated and contested by those with vested interest in the deceased’s estate, which can result in long drawn out legal battles. The contents may also be changed by the testator to reflect their emotional state in terms of their relationship with any of the beneficiaries. Who can forget the infamous family dispute over oil magnate J. Howard Marshall II’s $ 1.6 billion estate by his wife Anna Nicole Smith and son, E. Pierce Marshall?

Judging by the responses on social networks on half of Mandela’s estate being left to his surviving partner, his wife Graça Machel and sensationalist reporting on Winnie “getting nothing”– many weren’t happy. To exacerbate the situation, Machel’s children (and step-children) benefitted from Tata’s estate. One has to ask; what is wrong with that? Surely when they say sa gago ke sa me- Sa me  ke sa gago (What’s mine is yours) in reference to the institution of marriage, then it couldn’t have been done more pragmatically?

Writing on the Challenges of Step-families, Linda Schaefer states that, “the problems of a second [or third] marriage are more complicated, since more people, relationships, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs are involved.”

Look, let’s not sugar-coat anything- raising step-children is tricky. I recall a conversation with a good friend of mine who was raised by a single mother. He grew up having men who weren’t his father around him. One, in particular wanted to be “the man of the house” and what resulted was a tug-of-war in the home; an experience that has negatively affected how my friend relates to relationships and the prospects of raising someone else’s child.

For those presented with step-parenting, it can mean either having their attempts at affection thrown back in their faces or having to face entrenched expectations that the child will be mistreated anyway because of the absence of a biological bond. I find it rather peculiar that the same society that can decry constant threats to children’s livelihoods, including abuse of all kinds, is one that deems it okay –without reservation-for someone to exclude his spouse’s children (by default, his children) from his estate.

What does this reveal about the “soul” of our society? Sometimes, it seems we merely take three steps forward and five steps backwards. We decry all these injustices and far-reaching consequences of children not being brought up in a loving and sheltered environment. Yet it is clear that we are the very monster we detest; we are comfortable with that.

The perpetuation of the unspoken perception that step- or adopted children are second-class individuals who should be grateful that they even get an ounce of affection at all is tragic. “There are men [and women] making a valuable contribution to the lives of children in South Africa, even when they are not their biological children”, writes Izzy Rawlins.

As in his living years, one continues to draw lessons from Tata, even in mortality. Doing the juggling act of re-asserting one’s love for his biological children against assuring step-children of their place in the family can’t be an easy feat- for anyone. I reckon that a lot of us missed the lesson there-which is more of a question than a set of ready-made answers: How much of yourself are you willing to give to others without expecting anything in return?

Pieces of Loyalty

It is nearly impossible lately to walk into a store and not get harassed to get a loyalty card. Before you can blink, the store assistant has asked if you have a “cash-card”; shoved one in your hand (plus application form) and loaded your purchase points faster than you can say “ambush”.

Hey, no worries, you’ll be able to redeem ten per cent of your money once you’ve popped in ever so frequently, hey? Of course none other than my purse can tell this ridiculous tale of having to carry more plastic than cash; I’ve just about run out of space to keep the darn things!

That is, largely, how the universe functions. It returns to you what you give out. It’s a place where loyalty (misplaced or otherwise) is intricately linked to trust and is continuously rewarded. After knocking off from work one late Friday afternoon, I got off the first of two taxis I had to catch to get home -around half-past five. I instinctively panicked at first glance of the unusually long, snaking queue right along my boarding spot- with only one taxi parked there. Oh God, no! I thought. As it would occur the queue comprised of “month-enders”, people who only embark on these trips at the end of the month because they got paid. loyalty pic Without much choice, I willed myself to join the queue right at the back and wait my turn. Within a few minutes, the queue marshal –a man I normally greeted and briefly chatted with daily- brazenlymade a beeline straight in my direction and pulled me out of the queue. I now stood right at the front, anxiously aware of the jeers and disapproval that might follow.

I had my regular status on the taxi to thank for that. With hindsight, I realise my resistance was much too naïve: Come to think of it, don’t we all want (and expect) our loyalty to ‘pay off’ somehow?Hell yeah! Employees want salary increments for their hard work and perceived loyalty to employers. The latter, on the other hand ensure that their companies and interests are protected through recruiting and retaining loyal staff who share a common goal.

We want (and keep) individuals who exhibit loyalty as friends, partners and spouses. One can say, therefore, that the currency of trust is loyalty. The principle of reciprocity modelled by retailers and brands is the same one that exists in personal relationships. Yet this is probably a simplistic and no-fuss level of loyalty because at no point will one find themselves in a conflict of interest situation.

This means that an individual can simply choose not to spend their money where loyalty rewards are offered (however attractive they may be) and go elsewhere. It doesn’t mean they can’t return to the former if they wish to. It isn’t that simple in personal relationships: Try cheating on your partner and see where you’ll land up! Writing on the Personal Strength of Loyalty, Dennis E. Coates Ph.D. says that, “Loyalty decisions are hard to make [because] “the problem is, most people have many loyalties, including loyalty to oneself. And loyalties can sometimes conflict with each other”.

Indeed, finding middle ground in personal relationships can be challenging. In order for some people to be in sync it usually takes some compromise on one or both parties. Loyalty is essential for building and sustaining relations, hence its absence can have dire consequences. I believe that loyalty to certain things is sometimes an involuntary process; something that is inevitably established through familiarity.

Loyalty to others can emanate from a genuine sense of commonality or it can simply be driven by people knowing very well what it is that they stand to benefit; purely selfish. Some measure loyalty according to how many “yes” men they have surrounded themselves with. Others simply value people who challenge them as much as they remain loyal. The relationship with the self –and therefore loyalty to oneself is said to be “the most profound […] we will ever have” by Shirley MacLaine. In the end, the level of loyalty that a person exhibits to others is determined by- and starts with his own set of values and beliefs.

Between Cerebos & Celibacy

A recent conversation with a girlfriend of mine left me feeling like a deer caught in the headlights, as they say. Naturally, conversations around sex and sexuality aren’t very comfortable if one is venturing into unfamiliar territory. These only have a tendency of coming out if one is sufficiently inebriated or in the company of people they know well, and decorum established around this subject.

Anyway, my friend made a disclosure that left me with more questions than answers. I still don’t know what’s worse; revealing that one has been celibate for a couple o’ years and risking those awkward “what’s wrong with you?” moments or that you want some (like yesterday)and getting an equal reaction? She bemoaned being judged by people and, as per her observation, that even the slightest mood swing on a girl is blamed on her “dry” season. However, she reckons she can go past the ten year mark and I say, “Give that girl a Bell’s!”

Well, I certainly can’t say the same about yours truly…I need Jesus!

Sexual frustration is defined as, “the frustration caused by a discrepancy between one’s desired and achieved levels of sexual activity or what is referred to as involuntary celibacy”. In this corner of the earth it is affectionately code named letswai/cerebos, that is, salt. What we know is that, like anything linked to the thought process, sexual frustration is the manifestation of that- acknowledging it only serves as validation in the physical.

In his book “Woman Thou Art Loosed”, Pastor TD Jakes writes,  “It is sad to realise our society has become so promiscuous that many have mistaken the thrill of a weekend fling for a knitting together of two thirsty hearts at the oasis of a loving commitment”. Indeed we have become so hyper-sexualized and sex so easily accessible that the lines are increasingly becoming blurred. The mere thought of being a ‘victim’ of a tap-that-a$$-and-run situation and rampant sexual innuendos in many an inbox are enough to just make one close shop…err, I DID mention this would be a bit tricky, neh? Therefore, abstinence is arguably the best option under the circumstances.

But (and that’s a big BUT) abstinence does not mean that one is immune to getting “giddy” now and then. My friend admits that she’s had to keep herself heavily occupied with other things to avoid her thoughts drifting towards that direction. And it can become an enormous monkey on one’s back if permitted, can’t it? So, judging from the conversation I’d say she has effectively avoided experiencing sexual frustration. I haven’t… gulp!

It is fairly easy these days for singletons to hook up on a Friends-With-Benefits (FWB) basis to ward off otherwise lonely, cold nights.That is the rationale. Sometimes the rabbit does the job. Sometimes none of these works; not when what you’re looking for is more than a physical experience.I reckon that it’s easier to deal with sexual frustration when you’re not in a commitment because there aren’t inherent expectations.

According to Dr Karen Ruskin, “longing for sexual intimacy left unfulfilled in quantity and quality is a challenge and a taboo topic for many”. Oddly enough we still live in a world where the man is perceived as the one who always wants it and the woman (with disinterest) always ready to pop out a stack of headache pills from the bedside table. It is such a dangerous presumption that many men have their bubbles burst when they actually realise they’ve been cheated on. Le  rona rea e batla, hawu!

I truly envy my friend. With all the pressures of this world, it takes considerable will-power, conviction and strength of character to be abstinent. As I navigate the salty path of involuntary celibacy kicking and screaming and hollering I seek comfort in Bai Ling’s words: “Sex is like a bridge; if you don’t have a good partner, you better have a good hand”.

‘Couldn’t have said it better if I tried! 😉