Struggle?

Struggle.

What is struggle?

It’s a strange one, when you really try to break it down and describe it. We hear this world dropped so casually in conversation, struggle, as if it is like an obstacle course that needs to be completed, or a challenge that needs to be accepted.

But struggle is so far from that. Struggle isn’t boot camp — it isn’t a place where someone blows a whistle and you do as you’re told lest you be punished. Struggle isn’t school — it isn’t a place where thoughts and ideas are handed to you on paper and you memorise the way others think. Struggle isn’t a workout — it isn’t an action where you come out feeling exhausted in all the right ways.

Struggle, is that part of life that is so common around us that we don’t even know what it looks like.

We only know what it doesn’t…

What does it look like?

It’s when the kid across the road is carrying far so many bags that probably outweigh his little body, and he’s trying to drag all of it to the bus stop.

It’s when your friend stutters in every conversation because he’s nervous about what he’s trying to say, formulating the words so as not to offend because deep down he actually cares about you.

It’s when a single mother is trying to care for two crying babies whilst dealing with a screaming child all at the same time; that frustration in her eyes simply because she is tired and fed up, helpless and unsure of what the “right thing to do” is.

It’s when an old man with a broken leg is hobbling on his cane through a crowd of apathetic pedestrians, or curious onlookers…

It’s when a young teen who had a whole life ahead has to deal with the repercussions of the entire world finding out that daddy was a pedophile.

It’s when a fresh graduate who spent four years working through college can’t find a job even after a year of being out of a world-rewound university.

It’s when someone knows their time on earth is limited, and wants to do as much as possible before the body eats itself.

It’s when someone spends twenty years committed to a company only to be made redundant by a machine.

It’s when a family with good parents, good values, and good morals who do their best to raise decent children still can’t afford Christmas presents.

It’s when every ounce of effort exerted to the point of near-self-destruction still barely makes the cut, despite making every right move.

It’s when you’re tired of being tired…of being……tired………

Struggle, is real. Struggle, is all around…Even though struggle is not always a choice, perspective, however, is.

Meaning is in the eye of the conveyor

Peace!

Mikavelli

Simply Relatable, or Simple Relationships?

In your search for the relatable, do not forget to build relationships.

(This one was inspired by a reflective conversation with my father in the last month.)

An issue has been spanning across the nations, across the generations.

What is this “issue”?

It is that people have become more invested in finding “relatables” rather than building relationships. So much effort is spent in search of those with commonalities: common interests, common ground, common backgrounds, common ambitions and so forth. It would seem that instead of embracing those with differences, with less commonality, we run in search of mirrors of our “selves”.

Rather than building or maintaining connectivity, people are more interested in searching for connections. Rather than learning a new language or traveling to a new country, we enforce our language on newcomers instead. Rather than taking an interest in someone and developing new hobbies, we run in search of those who “match” our existing ones.

It is interesting to think that in the world of physics, connections are formed when two or more objects are somehow joined, either through electricity, strings, waves and so forth. Yet, in the physical world of humans, the connection is expected to be “instant”, as if to say that anything less than “instant” is simply…too much hassle.

Perhaps this is owed partially to social media. From what I hear, “Tinder” allows people to swipe left and right as they select their date on a silver screen. Instagram allows users to scroll through images of what the “ideal life” would seem like. Facebook allows us to scroll through and troll through pages of political and sociological upheaval.

Social media in general has perpetuated a delusion that allows users to feel like life is “perfect”, and that in the cyber-world one can live their version of a modernized Sim City based on sharing snippets of real life.

In today’s fast-moving world, the connection is formed but rarely maintained the same way. Or…is it?

I suppose one could argue that “patience”, to our generation, has become barely more than an ethical ideal. It takes time, compromise, and energy to maintain any form of relationship; be it friendship, family, romance, or workplace dynamics. Not all parties can compromise, not all parties have the time it may require, not all parties may have the energy or even desire to build a relationship.

I read somewhere that a relationship takes two to tango, and “not one chasing after the other”. This is indeed true, although something I’ve observed to be more common in romances and families than in friendships or workplaces.

So my friends, I ask you from the heart, why aren’t you building relationships with good people? And if your answer is simply “I’m too tired…” then my friend, you may want to have a good look at your priorities. If, however, you are happy with those who are currently in your life, then I, too, am happy for you, and sincerely wish you the best as you continue to grow in whichever community to which you adhere.

I do understand that relationship building doesn’t come naturally to everyone (believe me, I know this first hand), but see it as a skill. An interpersonal one rather than a social one — more on that later.

Peace!

Mikavelli

In your search for “the relatable”, do not forget to build relationships.

Embrace The Storm

A seventeen year old once asked me if all problems in life spring from laziness. It took me a moment before responding, “yes, and no.”

That thought, however, did get me thinking. Firstly, different cultures breed different definitions of “hard work”. Some see working hard as a career, a financial ladder to climb. Others see it as overcoming struggles of one’s youth. Some see it as maintaining a healthy and happy home, others see it as maintaining a healthy and happy mind. Secondly, different people have varied perceptions of hard-work. To some, it’s what we put out into the world, and to others, it’s what we give to ourselves.

So is it truly laziness that springs all problems? Yes, and no.

Yes, in the sense that whatever we become negligent in, we will lose balance. Now this is not to say that we must do all things on our own — in today’s fast-paced era with rapid advances and reactions over responses, it is very draining to do all things alone. This type of “aloneness” can also lead to levels of arrogance, as evidenced by the growing narcissism within the millennial generation; not necessarily the grandiose sense of it, but the covert sense, where people don’t make an effort to relate to others yet expect others to cater to their needs.

This, my friends, is arrogance, the type that is sprung from laziness and negligence. It is an insecure arrogance, not a humble pride.

It is for this reason that we have people in our lives: to humble us. Some maintain our emotional health, some boost our physical selves, others cause us to reflect on our inner workings, and then there are those who motivate us to put it into action.

Of course, we could do all of it alone if we really put our minds to it, but it can also be a long, tedious, and extremely lonely journey. This type of “loneliness” leads to complacency. People get tired, and then take a rest. They get comfortable resting for so long and forget what motivation feels like. Climatologists would look at this “low pressure zone” and call it a “tropical depression”. Psychologists would look at it and call it a “clinical depression”.

Here’s the good news: we’re all human, we have life. I look at nature — flowers, trees, grass, oceans, skies — all life has seasons and changes. We’ve accepted that flowers bloom in spring and leaves fall in autumn, then it is pure logic that humans, too, have seasons. All life changes with nature, we are humans, we have life, we have human nature.

How does a depression blow over? Embrace the storm. Let the cyclones and typhoons blow away the pollution so that you have clear skies (clarity) and sunshine (smiles). The rain (tears) wash away the pollution (toxins) and

voila, the solution presents itself.

But you must first embrace the storm.

(Hint: the sky isn’t always up…it’s right in front of you… the globe is round… just saying…)

Mikavelli

Embracestorm

Mind Over Matter is Truly the New Matter

(*Disclaimer: This one is a bit paradoxical, on the theme of “Crossroads”)

We live in a world of information, competition, and perceived freedom.

It is true that since the perpetuation and expansion of what one generation calls the Internet, and the rising generation calls “Social Media”, information has been at our fingertips by choice.

The Internet has provided us with a platform of access to our minds. A smartphone, a laptop, a piece of almost “mundane technology,” once one of the greatest inventions of our species, now a simple representation of our minds manifested in a physical realm. The Internet is an invention, probably the only revolutionary invention (not upgrade) of the modern generations. It is also one of the first real tools that has no physical entity except for how it is expressed. The Internet, cyberspace, social media…they are intangible creations that transcribe our minds to the eyes of other readers by leaching onto physical entities such as gadgets.

The mind (Internet) over matter (devices) is the new matter: all that appears to matter is what happens in the mind

This information gives us “choices”, guidelines and “standards” of “civility”. In the last two decades, we have seen this level of “information boom” shock the planet into civilization. All that was known to us suddenly sent the world into an unspoken fear of the “perceived known”. That shock woke the world into realizing how much there is we don’t actually know. How chaotic everything can be, and also how fear drove one spectrum into civility and another into barbarianism.

Is it really a choice, though? We believe that we have the freedom to indulge such information, such knowledge, such “updates” and so forth. But how often have you clicked on a link, a post, a picture, simply because you “couldn’t resist the urge” to do so? Does this not stand to reason that your freedom has thus been overridden by the constraints of habit?

The Internet, or social media, has allowed us to develop new languages and modes of communication where we feel like “mind over matter” is truly the new matter. Being drawn into political debates about countries that have no physical bearing on oneself, empathizing with the idea of philanthropy (social justice) around the world, taking it upon one’s egotistic shoulders to “change the world”, adopting new labels and definitions simply because this “sounds a bit like what I am”.

What if…none of that matters, and all if it minds?

None of those “matters” are physical, all those thoughts are intangible. Therefore…none of it…”matterializes.

Your physical self (the matter) and your emotional+psychological+spiritual self (the mind) are merely reflections of each other. What you write online reflects what goes on in the mind, and what you put into your head, you could condition yourself to become.

So now, in 2017, it is no longer the debate about mind over matter vs matter over mind. The mind, and the matter, have now combined.

Have fun with that!

Peace and blessings,
Mikavelli

The Women in My Life

(True story, biographical.)

“How do you know you’re at peace?” I asked my mother once, in my teens. She told me “when your masculine and feminine stop fighting each other, when you stop fighting yourself, that’s when you’ll find peace.” So I asked, “which side should I be then? Which one wins?” My mother smiled and said “figure it out.”

I watched, trying ever so hard to understand how my mother could be so at peace despite everything she had been through as a mother. Then I looked at both her sisters, and realised they’re made of that same metal that makes my mother who she is. Naturally, it made sense to get to know my parents’ siblings better so that I could better understand them…

In the last two years, I’ve learned that mother’s younger sister has been doing remote work from home for almost as long as I’ve been alive! What my generation aspires to do, she’s already an expert. Last month, I discovered that mother’s older sister is one of the first women who ever wore trousers as work attire in corporate London, back in the early 80’s. When she told me this, it hadn’t even occurred to me that there was a specific “skirt / dress only” dress code.

“We were supposed to only wear skirts to work,” my aunt told me, “but skirts can get very uncomfortable, you know. So one day I put on a pair of trousers because it was more comfortable. Next thing you know, other women start doing it too. Eventually, it just became accepted in our company (Ernst and Young).”

I reflected, and pondered: it stood to reason that the strength came from my grandma. With R20 (USD 1.50) in her pocket, my grandma moved the family of ten (five went ahead, I was told, the other five came later) to the city in the 1960s during the apartheid in South Africa. As a family, they never let the Apartheid become a factor hindering them from just living their lives. When survival is your main focus, and it slowly seeps into the “norm”, you learn to embrace the better parts of life.

My grandparents always opened their homes, always welcomed those in need. Though they didn’t have much, they gave what they could: love, shelter, and a hot cup of tea. They didn’t discriminate who came through the doors. They were loving, but they were tough.

To the kids, they were very disciplined, from what I was told. Swearing warranted washing your mouths out with soap, dishes had to be cleaned immediately after dinner. Beds had to be made and tucked in completely, without an angle sticking out anywhere (although, I was recently informed that bed-making was my great grandmother’s rule). Disciplined, but always out of love. They knew that as long as the kids were disciplined enough to later be self-disciplined, then they would be able to take care of themselves.

They were right. And so it continued in the family line. I see it in my mother, I see it in how she is with our family. I know it comes from her family, that strength, that unity, that togetherness. The way she always did her best to stay strong for all of us when we were all falling apart; when we’re at our worst, she’s always the one motivating us, holding us up, comforting us and letting us know that “it’s okay not to be okay, as long as you get up again when you’re ready.”

My mother is the strongest woman I have experienced. She taught me everything I know and more, at least by providing the platforms where I, too, could become self-disciplined and self-motivated. I am where I am (literally) because yes, she birthed me, but also because she is the one woman who has always, always been there for me, through thick and thin. The one who has lifted me when I was down, but humbled me when I was arrogant. The one who can fight me when I need it, and calm me down when I diverge.

I am strong because my mother is strong. She is strong because the women in her life are strong.

So how do I know that I am at peace?

Because my masculine energy and my feminine energy are no longer at war.

I am a person, a human. A human with strength, both inner and outer; a person with emotions, both aggressive and passive. A human with weaknesses, both external and internal; a person with flaws, both on the outside and on the inside. A human with motivation, both physical and emotional; a person with compassion, both expressed and empathised. I am not perfect, but I am balanced, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be.

Balanced, and equal.

Within myself.

Peace
Mikavelli

My Story: On Love and Fear

Only LOVE can overcome FEAR.
~Mikavelli~

Personal story:

As a child, I saw how fearful my peers were of studying; they preferred electronics and video games. I didn’t. I was drawn to the smell of fresh books and the unmarked innocence of new notepads. I fell in love with reading and writing, two parts of me that incidentally not many around me appreciated, nor had the patience to enjoy.

But I fell in love nonetheless, with characters, with planets, with words, with knowledge…I fell in love with the unencumbered infinity of time, space, experience. A place where there were no boundaries…

Life progressed, and innocence became a thing of the past as I slowly learned of the atrocities of which humans were capable; humans, this species I was indoctrinated to treat with respect. It was a respect I’d felt “they” hadn’t earned. Humans, the self-destructive, entitled, greedy evils destroying what was once beautiful: the planet, the lands, the seas, the people of the world…

Love had been overridden by competition, by aggression, by the anarchy that losing one’s innocence had allowed.

I learned, instead, to fight: to fight for what is right, what is true. To fight for justice. I fought for those who fought for me, and against those who detested me. I fought, until I realized that I had become exactly what I had been fighting against: FEAR. I had become… fear.

In fighting the fear, I realized that I was only fighting myself. And that the only victory was LOVE. I had to love myself. I had to overcome fear with so much love that I feared how much I could love — myself as well as others. I surrendered to my “self”, to the love that overcame fear.

The love of “self” does not mean to be in love with yourself.
It is in the wording: the love…of self…
self’s love, not self love.

So what if…just what if…we allowed someone to love us that exact same way…?

Love yourself, but let yourself be loved too.

Peace,

Mik

Life is Like A Stream

Growing up, my mother always taught me that our “life path” is like a stream, ever flowing, moving forward. We are to follow the path wherever it leads, even if it means warding off spiders, swinging through branches, climbing over rocks, and swimming through rapids. As we grow, we gather knowledge, experience, friends, lovers, challenges, hardships and what not.

Who and what we gather are like pebbles and rocks: some have rare jewels in them, others have unique minerals. If we carry every rock with us, we will become burdened. Over time, however, I’ve learned never to disregard or throw aside the pebbles, instead, place them gently in the stream and along the path so that you may come back when the time is ready. These pebbles can filter the stream and offer clarity of thought, they can be molded into gems later on in time. But always know where your treasure lie, and follow the path. If we stay on the path, we will never lose ourselves.

If we do stray from the path, we must always know how to find our ways back. Leaving clues and signs for ourselves to explore the great wide world, still knowing how to return to the path that leads us to where we need to be. To what our brains, our minds, our bodies, and our souls fundamentally desire.

Following your “life path” means going with what you know, deep down inside you, to be true to yourself. If you feel compelled to be explore and experiment, do what will get you there. If you were meant to create and construct, build as much foundation as possible. If you were born to reflect and express, learn as much as possible, meet as many as possible.

So often we find ourselves to be

Searching for what we already have
Pretending to be who we already are
Trying to undo what’s already been done
Unbecoming whatever it was we became

What what if, just what if, we’d chosen not to change. Instead of forcing growth we could just stay the same. So much of life is letting things fall into place. What if I told you, life is not a game?

Journey on and be free, know where your roots are, know how to find your stream, know where your buried treasures lay. And do what needs to be done at whatever cost (within reason), because always, always, you can come back.

Let us be each others’ boulders, the rocks we lay by the stream.

Love and peace,

Mikavelli