The hardest part of pain is watching it hurt someone you love. The idea that one can endure more, strive harder, persist much longer, is more appealing that watching from the sidelines. No wonder some of the most atrocious forms of torture is to hurt someone close to the intended target.

Samuel L. Jackson in the movie, Unthinkable, was the epitome of this. He baited his victim with the basic approach to torture, and then finally switched to this psychological form torture.

Two ways this form of pain occurs in life is firstly in mental challenges, and then pain inflicted on loved ones. Mental challenges are particularly strenuous as they exert stress, not on one’s physical muscles which can be flexed and pushed to extreme limits, but on the mind. There are times during exams where one wishes it was a race or sporting activity instead. Because in such a situation, a person can run harder, grunt louder, stretch a little further, or endure some more. But in mental exercises, there is no physical exertion of strength, neither can the stress be quantified.

The pain of someone hurting is very similar to the mental exercise as it again, exists outside the domain of one’s body. Watching someone else have to endure pain that you cannot help carry, is a high form of torture. Especially someone close to one’s heart.

In all this, we must seek solace. A clear head and straight mind. This is one way to get through mental stress. And when the pain we dread, is found in someone we care about, we must love them hard. That though we can not relieve them of the hurt they feel, we would be there to make every other thing perfect. We would be there to soothe their hurt with love.



We shared our stories

We spoke for a while
Our words painted beautiful picture
Of times we had lived
Of lives we had encountered
The beauties we had seen
And the ugliness that surrounded them

We shared our stories
And the lines our lives have drawn
That from the different roads we have walked
We would see the similar paths we have taken
Paths that have led us till now
To this stories we share

We shared our tales
Painting the pictures of time spent
Time spent in worlds apart
Where we sought for beauties we dreamt of
And of laughs we desired
From other paths we had crossed

The memories we shared
Spun together by the likeness of steps
Only made us see the world in a light
Where we were never alone
For as our hearts hurt
The company of hope, bore our pain

And our tales came to a close
For in one day, each knew more of the other
Who has dreams of smiling
Of dancing, laughing and loving
We knew that of these dreams
We must hope and see them through


The linchpin moment

A linchpin (sometimes spelled as lynchpin) is a part of a system, (social, human, or mechanical) that holds together the system. It is extremely vital in not only the smooth operation of the system, but the continued function of the system. The linchpin is usually very small or insignificant and can in many ways, be overlooked in its importance. Contrary to basic reasoning, the head of a system is rarely the linchpin of the system. The linchpin rarely falls in the leadership of the system.

In an organisation, the linchpin usually is a person whose focus and dedication to his duties, keep its operation going well. Their sphere of influence in the organisation helps also. Their attitude is influential, their opinions are vital, their perseverance is admonished and their determination is unwavering. How central they are to the organisation, cannot be over emphasised.

This concept of a linchpin applies not just to organisations but also time. In the case of time, it is hard and almost impossible to know the linchpin moment in one’s life, till the moment is far gone. This moment can be traced back to a brief moment, where a series of events and corresponding decisions create a chain of events that considerably altered the course of one’s life. Some people are capable of tracing their linchpin moments to particular encounters while some others, to weeks. The linchpin moment is that moment where in hindsight, one sees the most significant change in one’s life course.

Understanding the linchpin moment affords a person the opportunity of gratitude, to people who unconsciously were instrumental to them. Secondly, knowledge of the linchpin moment is instrumental in personal reflection. Knowledge of the particular trajectory one’s life has followed, grants a deeper appreciation for history, and also serves as a source of advice for others.

Above all, the linchpin moment is instrumental in guiding our current decisions. Not in the similarities of the events but in creating the apt attention to the significance of every moment.


The random Steve.

The casual nod of recognition of was all we shared today, yesterday and the day before.

His name is Steve. Well that is what I named him. He looks like a Steve. There is a certain “stevieness” about his demeanour.

Living in this city for the past eight years has had its moments. I though, cannot point out the moment where we first acknowledged each other’s presence. It could be in the last three years or four. A casual sighting at the bus stop and another familiar face in the pub. The moment where the recognition becomes striking is where I thought I knew him. I could neither put a name to the face or a moment of encounter. I tried to think of mutual friends we had and could not remember any. It was not until some days later that seeing Steve on the bus clarified how I knew him. He was just another random person in this city, that I had involuntarily taken note of.

The mutual nods of recognition began about a year ago and it has remained so ever since. No hellos or handshake. Just the nod. Recognising that I know he exists and he, I. The simple curtesy from one person to the other. Steve my fellow human.

The idea that Steve lives in this city, has his very different circle of friends, hobbies, family, and activities which in no way is seemingly related to my circle of influence point to the diversity in humans, and the complexity of society. A society where two random humans exist in a system of shared infrastructure but still have little interaction. Weirdly enough, if a proper pattern of influence is drawn for both Steve and I, I may know Steve. If any factor was different, he may be my best bud. But nope. Not in this life. For now, he is just Steve. The random guy that acknowledges that I exist, and I, him.

My guide

And it holds steady
Directing me with gentle nudges.
It guides me in everything and through everything
Its movement determine mine
Its perfection is mine
It lays casually behind me;
Innocent, Simple, Unapologetic, Negligible
It just shifts and turns
Even when the storm rages
Even in the scariest of waves
Its calm movement still directs me
Even when the high winds race by on a bright day
When the sails are high and stretched
It calmly turns me around
It provides no force, no push, no nudge. Just direction

Some call it Fear, others Faith, and others Love

In my worst or best of days it guides me
Directs my decisions more than logic
It is the core of my actions
It provides no force
Neither does it propel me
It is never seen and can rarely be explained
It is innocent in and of its own
It is simple
It is unapologetic in it direction
It is disguised as negligible.
But when love comes flooding in, it changes the course of a life
When fear grips the heart, it directs the life
When faith rises, the world around reverberates
Wherever it goes, determines where I go
Its perfection is mine



An argument about a debate

There must be a chance that you are wrong. There must certainly be that possibility. It must be entertained in your thinking, even as a small thought. This key perspective, is the difference between argument and a debate.

An argument usually is a heated discussion of opposing views which rarely involves any real exchange of knowledge, but rather is a downward spiral, starting from a conversation, to an exchange of sometimes offensive words. The fundamental issue that causes this is the lack of understanding of the possibility that even if one is sure, there is still a chance of an error in one’s perspective. When this fact is taken into consideration, one tends to listen to the opposing view with a little more patience. This allows for the comprehension and analysing of the opposing view, and then the delivery of a well thought-out response.

A debate on the other hand, is an argument that is a lot more formal, with both parties offering well articulated points. Debates are usually in formal public meeting settings. This approach to discussion allows both the debaters and those viewing, to properly analyse the points raised. It allows them arrive at logical conclusions or responses. Only in this way is any truth achieved. The term debate can also be used to refer to discussions that allows the amicable exchange of opinions, with the purpose of convincing a person, of opposing view, to one’s perspective.

The conundrum that a healthy approach to arguments causes is this. For one to argue, it is assumed that one has to reach a strong sense of conviction about a point. A conviction so strong that one feels willing and capable of convincing another of his point of view. If then this assurance exists in one, then the room for a sense of possible incorrectness will virtually not exist. Such doubt will not have allowed the initial action of debating (or arguing). In other words, if I am sure of what I am telling you, without a doubt, then I cannot entertain the thought of being wrong. If I have that thought, then I will not be pressing my point. This makes debating almost an ouroboros situation. One where for A to occur, B has to exist. But if B exist then A will most-likely not truly occur.

To walk this thin line without slipping into the field of either a total and unwavering confidence, or a pool of doubt, is a task ascribed to the most ideal of minds. But of that, we are far off. Therefore, in our ever discussion, debate and conversation, we should thoroughly in it, check for every incline, that will withhold from us, the gift of learning we were wrong. It is a duty we all owe to the pool of Knowledge the human race holds.



The defining moment

My pulse was deafening. The thumping of my heart in my chest was audible enough to douse out the noise from outside. But between each beat, trickled in the shouts from around. The deafening heartbeat got no better as I struggled unsuccessfully to quiet it down. I blinked hard, swallowed some spit, wiggled my arms, and spun my head around as I tried to stretch my legs some more. It did not help.

My vision fluctuated from clarity to blurriness. The path seemed clear temporarily, until my vision diminished again. My heart rate was not helping. The dryness returned to my mouth and I gasped for breath a little. My situation worsened. The dread crawled up and down my spine but I was to hot too shiver.

Walking forward felt awkward as every step seems to vibrated in response to the loud pounding heart. The shudder it sent through me would soon knock me off my balance. With nothing to support me as I walked, I foresaw a dismal performance today.

Gently I placed my finger tips together gently and took in deep breaths. Inhale; One, two, three, four. Exhale; One, two, three. Remembering my bunk mate from secondary school and his advice on how to gain composure when the turmoil within grew too loud. It didn’t seem to be working today. The panic is winning.

Inhale; One, two, three, four. Exhale; One, two, three.

The sound of the cheers came crashing in like the doors of an air tight room had been opened to a stadium. A stadium it was. As I looked up, the track before me stretched on, fading into the sea of people. They all cheered. I panicked some more. It was only 200 meters we were expected to run. Almost a Million viewers for every meter. I panicked some more. The worth of the training and preparation will be determined in less than thirty seconds. They signalled us to the blocks.

Inhale; One, two, three, four. Exhale; One, two, three. Then in a moment the silence engulfed me.

Inhale; One, two, three, four.


That I smile . . .

That I smile
is not to say the world is shiny
Neither is this smile from the sweet smell of flowers
It is not my heart leaping for joy
neither is it exuberance in me born of the vitality of life

That I smile
Does not show my approval of your words
Or a corroboration of your actions
It is not a condemnation or compliance
Neither is it the go ahead you so desire

That I smile
Does not mean the world in beautiful is my eyes
It does not mean the rains have left me alone
It neither signifies the warmth in one’s heart
Nor the excitement you presume

No my dear
That I smile should not give room for assumptions
Neither should it allow one to be judged unfairly
It should not be taken out of context
and appropriated a meaning you so desire

That I smile is of my own volition
Given the meaning my heart wishes
Given the life My soul emanates
Given the story that my existence creates
And given the intricacies of a life in context

I smile on a rainy day because the sun is away
I smile at the off joke because the comic needs the relief
I smile at your actions for I understand your misguidance
I smile even in pain because I like the irony of it
I smile out of the darkness for I hope for the light
And if the light refuses to come,
I smile in defiance of its victory

You see, I smile not as a randomly occurring facial expression
But as the product of a life lived.

Fear and Anxiety

And it returned
With ferocity
Gripping the veins and arteries
Choking my heart and holding it hostage
Letting nothing in and nothing out
It returned and was lord over my soul

It returned with as much disarray as it left
Turning everything on its head
It gripped my nerves and rattled them
My composure, trapped in its dungeon and my peace, its slave
My life spun in its control and my day meaningless
It returned for my life and steadily gained ground

They returned for my life and soul
A duo of destruction and domination
For by fear, my smile shattered
And by anxiety, my steps quaked
By fear my heart knew no rest
And by anxiety, my world seemed to crash

They are here for me
The have my life, they have my soul
I fear to cry for help, and the anxiety has taken away my fight
The terror runs free and this disquiet is deafening
The misery they embody, is at home in me
The wretch they personify, has become me

I once dreamt of steady hands
Where I walk with courage in nights and on cliffs
I once dreamed of certainty in thought
Where my solace was my bliss and not dread
Now you have taken that from me
Now you have robbed me of this

What misery you have wrought on me.



The plurality of meaning

This refers to the multiple meanings on object can have. The concept of plurality in no way betrays the concrete specificity of an object. Ricoeur argues that the plurality, rather eloquently testifies to its inexhaustible richness and suggestiveness.

The concept of plurality compels the speaker (or writer), to sympathise with the listener (or reader) in that their understanding of the discussed object is filtered through their understanding of Language, and also the translation from language to thought. This perspective held by the other brings, not a distortion of the object, but rather an appreciation for the other meanings the said object holds.

The application of the plurality of meaning, implores one to consider the possibility of an alternate view of every writing, song, statement, and/or image. It can serve as a guide in predicting the multiple perspectives held by others, of the object in view. This plurality of meaning visually can be explained in terms of optical illusions where different subjects view one image, but derive varying meanings. Like in the case of multiple subjects viewing cloud shapes and seeing very different objects. The appreciation of the multiple perspectives gives a rather bountiful richness to the dexterity of the object.

The acceptance of the plurality of meaning therefore allows an object to rediscover itself in another object. That we are capable of seeing anew, the old object in the understanding of another, gives a new perspective to the object. Ricoeur therefore urges that we let go of our claim to understanding, and allow oneself to fall freely into the understanding held by others. That only in this way, can translation and the meaning in its plurality be most effective and appreciated.

Let us therefore release the restraint and idea that one’s language holds the key to meaning while we play host to the “foreign language” by embracing its perspectives of meaning.

The beauty in the plurality of meaning only comes after the liberation of every chauvinistic view of one’s language.


Read the preceding piece here