The Work/Life Balance is a False Dichotomy

Work-Life Balance
If you’re working in misery with your eye constantly on the clock and the weekend, you need to re-assess your priorities in life.

 

Work and Life are not meant to be separate. They are linked.

 

If you set work and life against each other as a never-ending battle as your life goes on, you end up with the thought that you’re either working too much and living too little or the other way round.  The term “work-life balance” itself diminishes our ability to see that work can be a very rewarding part of a person’s life and is by its nature incredibly personal.

 

Separating these two aspects of your life is impossible and as soon as you see that, you’ll be able to balance the two a little better.

 

Aim to do work you value and you love and enjoy instead of constantly trying to escape.  Find things to run toward.

Work is Life

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How To “Let Go.”

Let go

There’s only one thing people that need to let go hate to hear – “Just let it go.” As if its so freakin’ easy.  Everybody spouts these words, but nobody explains how and nobody can give you a practical answer as to “How the hell do I do that, exactly?”

“Let Go? What the Hell do you even mean?”

So I’m going to take a stab at giving you practical advice at getting this done. Well, I’ll attempt it and I would appreciate feedback if it makes sense or resonates with you.

First, let’s understand what exactly is happening.  This is a battle happening in your head. It’s not an active, physical thing where you are literally holding on to something and can easily do something like, let go.

It’s a matter of FOCUS.

When we talk about holding on to something, we mean that we are either focusing on a past event, like an argument or fight we had with someone, some traumatic event we’ve lived through or whatever.  On the other hand, we could also be holding onto the future by having some set of expectations that we want to happen before we can move on with our lives i.e. “If only I had this amount of money, this job, whatever… things would be okay and I’ll be happy.”  or it could be a worry of some event about to take place.


Note, in both of these instances you’re focusing either on the past or the future.

So, a practical step you can take is to be present and focus on the here and now. Use meditation, be mindful of your surroundings, of yourself, your current situation.  Focus on what you can do at this exact moment.  By switching your focus away from the trauma of the past or the worries of the future you will automatically let go, because right here and now there is nothing to hold on to. You are in control.

I really hope that helped 🙂

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TV Series: A Meditation on its Purpose and Yours

TV Series… man. Customised Hype. Tailored Distractions.

After spending so much time, even now, watching, watching and looking forward to the next episode of whatever. I’ve been forced to face the ever higher mountain of things I should be doing. Stories are great, but I think they should be uplifting you in some way because of the high cost of the investment, your time.  You should be learning something new, it should be inspiring you to change some behaviour which does not serve you.  It should definitely go beyond entertainment.

But, maybe that is all it is and what it is meant to be and will always be.  Distraction.  We’ve always sought out distraction because, I don’t know, life is hard and we’d rather not face it.  Other have also exploited this to their benefit.  They’ve delivered this bread and circus tailored to keep us hooked and coming back for more so that we have far less time to ponder, to reflect our own existence, to reflect our place in society, in the world… and far less time to do anything about the growing discontent as those who hoard wealth, hoard more wealth, consolidate more power and leave us to pick up scraps when we finally turn our eyes away from the TV, phone, computer we’re stuck to.

This tailored content, wrapped in the ideology of its creators and lobbyists, warps your perspective as well.  Little by little, subconsciously, making you see the world as they want you to. Adopt the perspectives and opinions of the many protagonists they parade in front of you, that you identify with.  When you finally face the world, you end up not seeing the world as it is, but as they want you to see it.

So, which TV series defines you as a person?  How much sex, violence, comedy and drama is it going to take to fill that void inside you?

More importantly, what will it take for you to finally get off your ass and make your life better?  Because make no mistake, at best… you’re stagnating unless you get your ass up and away from whatever series you’re watching.

At least take time to reflect that what I’ve written above, is it true or bullshit for you in particular?  What could you be doing? At least write it down.  Be aware, you’re either fulfilling the purpose of the creators of the show, or yours… depending on how much time you spend with it.

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Why I Love Big Cities

Maybe it’s because growing up in Johannesburg has cemented the mix of danger, concrete and… I don’t know what to call it… flow? maybe. That’s always had me mesmerised by cities. It’s that constant movement, people moving through it like blood along arteries. It’s a macrocosm of life. Like blood flows through the body delivering nourishment and oxygen to organs, people do that to a city… from one place to another, keeping it alive.

It’s like the city is a living organism on its own being nourished by ideas, labour and the flow of money. I love how, generally, in a city big and diverse enough, you can always find people or a place that caters exactly to your particular curiosities. Hip Hop, Islam, Knitting, Cats, Book Clubs, etc. etc. You’ll find something that brings people together in a city. It’s so easy for ideas to mesh together… for similar curiosities to group together.

I always have the animated image in my head about the public transport system and how if you track them all in the system in a time-lapse it would look exactly like blood flows through arteries. When you think about it like that, it’s kind of weird when you jump on a bus or take a walk through the city. You kind of are the lifeblood of a city… you and millions of others.

What I don’t like is that, as a habit, you end up eventually spending a bit too much time away from it. Not really taking advantage of a city. Then again, a city is built on concepts like capitalism, which sustain it and make it grow… to a fault. Eventually seeing something like that, growth for growth’s sake… it does kind of grind against you and makes you subconsciously shy away from it… or it becomes you.

Like most things… it gets complex the more you think of it. So, in the end, you kind of end up loving and loathing it. But you can never get away from it.

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If I Had To Do It All Again…

I’ve been in countless situations like it, especially in a work context. The condescending tone, remark, jibe at me communicating their superiority with a little dig at my work or clothes or music choices (yeah, even that). It was hard at first, but I think I got used to it. I had come to the realisation like so many other people of colour that we have to work twice as hard to get half as far because this is “their” world. It’s stifling and disheartening, your ideas are overlooked or repeated by someone with a lighter skin tone before they’re taken onboard. It’s all these little things that irritate, and after a long enough time it leaves its mark, psychologically.

It takes a while to break out of it. You have to sit with yourself and just shovel through all these feelings and thoughts and beliefs and values to just remember, at a basic level, who you are and what you stand for and why the things they’ve said or done to you are bullshit. You have to figure out what to do next, because you can’t carry on like that… who in their right mind would choose to carry on in that context? After that it just becomes clear what you need to do, what you need to change.

You see, it isn’t hard to do the right thing, it’s hard knowing what the right thing is. But, once you know what the right thing to do is… it’s hard not to do it. It will burrow a hole in your mind, day by day, until you do something about it.

I am thankful I am where I am now. With the clarity I have, the place I’m at, the work I’m doing, the people who are around me. But it took a hard journey to get here. But nothing worth having ever comes easy and even though it was so hard, I’d do it again. I treasure the journey as much as the destination. I wouldn’t be who I am without it. I’d be less… me.

And, because life is what it is, it’s probably not the end. Good and Bad come in waves. There’s always tests which make you pit your values and grit against the world. They’re there to see how you react, respond… What do you do? What do you give up? What do you protect?

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EVERYBODY Needs Counselling

I think we all fall victim to the type of thinking that we’re invincible. That whatever happens, we can always handle whatever needs to be done by ourselves and make our own very insightful and wise decisions on what’s happening and what to do next.

But we can’t. Not a single one of us can do it without help in some form. Friends, family, even acquaintances… we need someone to have our back, someone we can verbalise our thoughts and feelings to, to get them either validated or to just check that we’re not fucking crazy.

The point is that we have blind spots, everybody has blind spots, especially when it comes to themselves. We either think too much, too well, or too ill of ourselves. The only way to see ourselves for what we are is to first be open that we don’t actually know everything about ourselves and then talk it through with some one you trust. If that other person doesn’t exist or you’re just not comfortable talking about it with anyone you know… GET OUTSIDE HELP.

If it’s professional, get a coach. Emotional, see a psychologist. Having marital problems, get marriage counseling. No, it’s not a deep personal fault that you’re going to see someone for help and there is nothing particularly wrong with you. You’re human. And, by doing this, you’ll already be miles ahead everyone else who’ll might judge you while trying to deal with their own immense load of baggage, by themselves. Anyway, it’s not about them.

Everybody is fighting a battle of some sort. Struggling with something at any given point in their lives. Nothing good lasts for ever and nothing bad either. Focus on what you need right now and go get it.

Subsequently, looking at this from the other side… never fail to ask someone close to you, sincerely, “How are you, really?”, offer whatever help you can, and if there’s something you can do that’s obvious and would help, do it without asking them. Everybody needs help.

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Darkness Has No Identity

So, I was going through my daily podcast listening routine and one in particular had a fantastic thought to begin with…

“Darkness has no identity of its own, all it is… is a name we give to the absence of light.”

Thinking about it… you can create light, through lighting a match, flipping a switch, whatever. But, you can’t create darkness, if you want that you need to extinguish light. Where there’s light there can be no darkness.

The metaphors around this are amazing too. Truth is often associated with the light, Falsehood with darkness. In Islam, one of the Quranic injunctions is that Falsehood, inevitably, will perish. Lies can not last because the Truth inevitably comes out and will come out.

When we think about light and dark in terms of truth and falsehood, they seem like very abstract concepts but make it more personal. What falsehoods do we tell ourselves in order to sleep better at night or to just deny the “truth” about ourselves becasue it’s a bit too difficult to face? One of my greatest learning moments was finally seeing things for what they are instead of what I wanted them to be. This was doubly hard because it happened in front of others, people I had to convince of an argument but the case I made didn’t match the conclusion I ended up with. Come to think of it, that particular learning moment had the Truth hit me straight in the face. A major moment of clarity.

This little line from a podcast made me contemplate how important knowledge of self is, as well as getting to the point of seeing things as they are, and accepting them for what they are. We need to constantly shine a light inside of ourselves to find the Truth and accept ourselves for what we are, warts and all, before we can begin to look outward and see the world for what it is.

Looking at the world today, man… Darkness everywhere. I want to do my bit by spreading a little bit of light, some truth, into that void. And, I believe, it has to begin with me, with us, understanding ourselves better and constantly striving to make ourselves better than we are in whatever little ways we can, day by day. But, we won’t be able to do that if we’re not seeing ourselves clearly, if we haven’t shone that light inside and accepted ourselves for who we are.

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

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Why Am I Here? Why Am I Me?

It’s 3am and I’m alone. Billions of stars in the sky, blank desert horizon in every direction. It’s cold, really cold.  Starting the fire takes me a half hour and the effort barely sustains me with enough heat before the fire starts.

After sitting for an hour with random thoughts, my mind starts to settle.  I was here to find answers and so I might as well start with the obvious.  Why am I here?  I mean, how can you expect yourself to get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going, right? or at least figure out why you’re even on the road.

How do you get to answers, though? are they in books? are they in you? I’d imagine both – knowing what’s outside and what’s inside. Knowledge of the world and knowledge of self.

The desert has a way of blocking out everything except you.

And then, a new thought occurs to me… Why am I, me? Me in particular. Sitting in this spot, thinking this exact thought.  I don’t have anyone else’s experience but my own. This self-reflection has me stuck right here in the present, exercising my will to move , to act, to do anything I want.  But what is that exactly? What do I want to do? What should I do?

I’ll be grappling with this for a lifetime, but for now, let’s at least answer it generically. You’re here for a reason, and you’re you for a reason. Only you can be you and, well, you’re already here, so you may as well keep asking the question why until the answer comes to you or is answered for you personally.  After all, you are going to have to live with the answer.

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The Things I Hate and Love About Dubai

The gap in my blog posts recently was due to a trip to Dubai for my cousin’s wedding.  It was a very enlightening trip simply because, before, my perspective of Dubai was mired only in its total absorption in extravagance and overt luxury.  I couldn’t see anything else. Every trip there, work or otherwise had me rolling my eyes over eating food and shopping. There’s only so much you can do… and the heat kind of limits doing anything outside.

So anyway, let’s get to the list…

Hates

  1. Capitalism on Steroids – Everywhere… Luxury, Opulence and extravagance from the $30m licence plates to the upturned noses.   You cannot avoid the show of wealth and while it’s cool to gawk at the Lamborghini’s, Bentley’s, Rolls Royce’s, Muscle Cars, etc. After a while it infects you.  It’s a place for the insanely wealthy who want to show it and the those who aren’t insanely wealthy but aspire to be… or at least in its presence.  Maybe it would rub off on them like cheap perfume.
  2. No Soul – You feel the fake.  The country did come up from nowhere, with nothing nad now hitting records for what? Biggest building, biggest light show on the biggest building, etc. etc. They’re trying too hard man and as with all shows of wealth you can sense that something fundamental is missing.  You see it in the people too ,especially the expensive places… the disdain for everyone else, how they treat anyone who doesn’t live on their level.
  3. Growth for the Sake of Growth – The place is HUGE. It reminds me of Joburg it’s so big. Like it takes you at least a half hour from place to place and you’re generally surrounded by skyscrapers.  On this last trip, I’ve heard it seems the same problem like back in 2008, where contractors up and disappeared might be happening again. There is one hell of a lot of property in Dubai and I’m not sure there are enough people or businesses to fill up that space.  All of this growth also means it’s being built on cheap labour with dodgy labour practices.  It’s a shit show all the way through.

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell.” – Edward Abbey

Loves

  1. The Desert – My cousin took me to the desert with a couple of friends, a place called “Maliha”. We stayed up till like 3.30am with a camp fire, talking and listening to music and drinking chai.  It was amazing.  The vastness of the desert and the stars makes it so much easier to take breath and introspect.  Think about Life and your place in it.  Answer all the big questions for yourself.  Making new friends in such an isolated place is also very easy.
  2. The Normal People – Away from the cars driving past willing you to look at them with your mouth open. There are normal, everyday people in Dubai just trying to live their lives and get by. But when you’re going there on holiday you don’t get to see it. It’s the guys who make karak chai on the corner, the local cafeteria’s making shawarma, the others getting by day to day in corporate jobs sending money back to families in other countries.  I was looking for a soul to Dubai, these people are it. They make Dubai what it is, both the extravagant and the quotidian.
  3. Family – This is specific to my time their recently where I got to spend time with my cousins who I’ve only seen off and on for short periods and over decades.  I’m also like 10 years older than all of them, so I got to really bond with them at an age where we’re more or less on the same level.  That and spending time with my aunt and getting involved with helping set up all the wedding bits ( as family does) was a really awesome experience.

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