Circumstance

You are defined by your actions, not by your circumstance.

Nothing is new, I couldn’t sleep. So, from my bed, at 3 in the morning I decided to look outside my window. Compared to the hustle and bustle of the week, it was peaceful and quiet. The office building opposite lit up the street but not one car makes its way down the road. I liked the tranquility. I realize, as my day has yet to come to an end, to someone else, less than an hour away their day would begin. Is it fair?

Every day the sun gracefully rises and sets to the west and every day carries different meaning, struggles and happiness. As I stare out my window, wide awake, I ponder upon the complex network of multi-cultured people that dwell on this planet, each one going about their everyday life. Again I ask, is it fair?

Just yesterday I read a quote by John Clarke – which also prompted my need to write this article – it stated “how can a slave and master both worship the same God, when both of them expect their prayers to be answered by this very same God?” I don’t know about you but Clarke definitely got me thinking. Atheist aside, we all believe in God (despite the various denominations). Belief is supposed to raise hope and give purpose to life. The fact is, all human beings have free will. It’s the ability to decide what we believe is best under our circumstances.

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Religiously, on the basis on free will and circumstance, how is it then that some are condemned for the choices they make? Who determines the right from wrong? As an atheist, over the years its been scientifically understood that humanity’s primary objective is to survive.  Only the fittest among us shall survive hence procreate over generations, which is through adaptation. Then again, in the endeavor to survive, why are others judged for their choices? It’s a perplexing concept.

As a Christian, my belief has always been that God gave us free will but we become responsible for our actions. Socialization instills in us the nature of morality, the right and wrong, the good and bad. Therefore, the decision we make have a personal reflection on oneself. Upon meeting a liberal English pastor, I began reflecting on my belief. According to him, I have a privileged outlook of life. Same goes to the many educated individuals in the world who don’t suffer in poverty. My socialization and status quo are privileged thus should not be taken for granted. He further explains, a child who is born and raised under poverty for instance, whose parents like all, only want the best for their child however incapable turns towards prostitution as a girl or dealing drugs as a boy, are they to blame for the choices they made under their circumstance? Since humanity is all about survival, then this child, with little to nothing, is s/he to blame for the poor choices? As to them, as a matter of life and death, they choose to live inadequately rather than the alternative. A common phrase ‘it’s better to do something than nothing at all.’ To be clear, I am not justifying any actions on the basis of poor circumstances. Rather, I want to understand the choices and behaviors that are influence by circumstance.

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Alternatively let us consider the other coin, the world of the elite. It is not uncommon to use marriage as an instrument of securing wealth and social status. There consists of arranged marriages, marriages of convenience as well as marriages of transaction. Hereby, both parties mutually benefit economically as well as socially. According to the elite however, such behavior is considered acceptable. They have to consider the survival of generations. Nevertheless, when the same principle is applied between a member of the elite and a partner of a lesser cohort, society constructs such behavior as social climbing. The connotation of which is negative.  Shouldn’t those who are privileged be role models at promoting positive free will and not the vice versa?

The world is a complex food chain and human behavior makes it all the more difficult to decipher. It’s taken years for sociologist to understand patterns of human behavior, and there’s more in the horizon. Circumstance acts as the significant determining factor of human outcome but is not the sole factor for our actions. We as humans are responsible for our free will. Therefore acting on our instinct to survive we must use the cards dealt to create a fruitful outcome.

A Romance for the Decades

It’s a Cinderella story. Not the part where the clock strikes midnight but the part where the prince is determined to find the rightful owner of the shoe…

Isn’t it a cliché? Talks of true love, the one or happily ever after? Yes, life is not a fairy tale. But I have witnessed true love in my life; hence there’s no way I can believe otherwise. This couple’s love story is ordinary, at the same time, mind-boggling. The two strangers met at university, and that was the beginning. Eventually they got married and started a family of their own. Like I said, this isn’t a fairy tale, this couple has been through their fair share of struggles, through it all they have endured and prospered. This is my definition of a romance for the decades.

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It is unfortunate to say, but I have never been in love. “A heart break is worse than breaking a bone” says my friend. Why? Her justification is simple. With a broken bone there is medication to numb the pain whilst there is no such medication for a broken heart. One simply has to endure every painful moment before they recuperate. Yet even with this in mind, I am determined to find true love.

The truth is I am at that phase in life where half of my friends are contemplating where the best rave for the weekend is where as the other half are happily engaged or pregnant. I am at a crossroad but, I envy the latter. To some, I openly indulge in their bubbles while others, well, actions speak louder than words (ahem, I worry for their egos). But I love them all the same.

Who are they? Who, despite the drawbacks of dating, have me willing to risk my heart for a taste of their happiness? They mean the world to me. They are conventional African man and woman. They wholeheartedly fulfill their conjugal roles, with the man and the breadwinner and the woman providing emotional support. But then, what makes them special? It’s a Cinderella story. Not the part where the clock strikes midnight but the part where the prince is determined to find the rightful owner of the shoe.

Being traditionally African, I have not heard much of their story, in fact, only the basics. Nonetheless, I saw a sane man go crazy; his actions were enough to make me a believer. The husband was willing to search all stores in the city to find the one specific shoe for his wife and would not settle for anything less. Although his efforts were fruitless, his actions go beyond commending.

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Sometimes in love, it’s the actions of each partner that are endearing rather than their verbal communication. This couple has celebrated 35 years together and the shared communion is still present today as it was when they first met. Many will share in the joy of this story. However, with modern times, the sacred institution of marriage has lost its significance. Couples tie the knot for various reasons but love doesn’t make it upon the top 3. The union of matrimony is a promise between two people, that should never be broken. But statistically, the divorce rate tends to be generally higher that those who rate of those who wed. What has society come to?

Therefore I shall admit, I want to find my prince. The one I will share my life with until death does as part. I want to imitate this couple, whose love will last for years, who additionally also happen to be… my parents.

The FOMO Epidemic

Fear of Missing Out? Sometime we just need to slow down to truly see the things that matter most.

I have had the privilege of meeting diversely culturedfb people over the years. Therefore, it’s only natural that my Facebook account would have diverse stories from all over the world.  The same applies to my other social media platforms like Instagram where is see pictures of friends on vacations in exotic locations like Argentina whilst my Snappers send greetings from their corners of the world like Japan.  Although the intentions of such media platforms are in good faith, they also happen to be the source of the ongoing FOMO epidemic. Of which I am a victim.

The FOMO syndrome – for those not aware, the simple acronym spells out ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ aka FOMO as understood by the urban dictionary – is a psychological anxiety that if you miss a party or an event you will miss out on something great hence you try keeping up with the times (oops, not the Kardashians). In the end, this is harmful.

fomo friendsThere is nothing detrimental about having an eventful social life hopping from one party to another especially in our youth (it is the time). However, it becomes dangerous when you’re always up late, always intoxicated, but especially for those who can’t afford such a lifestyle. The unfortunate truth is that in this world some are privileged without compare while others are simply not. Yet again, there’s nothing that haunts you more like the thing you didn’t buy, a person you didn’t see, or a trip with friends that you did not partake. Can you relate?

At a tender age, my grandmother (from whom I take my name) was hospitalized. Upon my visit, it was dreadful to see her in such dire condition. I promised to visit her again as soon as possible. A few days later she passed on. I never got to fulfill my promise and I missed out on the last moments with a person who loved me unconditionally. The regret and guilt ate me up. Regrets can lead to depression but acting on fear never leads to happiness. Then why constrain and chain yourself to such a social construction? Why not be the opposite? Why not cultivate an attitude of self-reliance without feeling lonely?

Friends having a BBQ with drinks.If you ask a dear friend of mine to describe herself, she believes she has a calm personality. Nonetheless, everyone around her is prone to say that she has a vibrant nature. Now here is a girl with a refreshing social life, nothing is ever tedious. After a week on long nights and short naps, my advice was to take it easy. Unhesitant she agreed to a weekend of binge watching and movie marathons. Saturday morning began with a hoot. Let it be noted though, that all this time her hands were not far from her constantly  vibrating phone. Before noon struck, she stood up and started getting dressed. Did I miss something?

I’m aware my perplexed expression needed not any explanation. She simple began “there’s a barbecue over X’s place. So get up, get dressed cause we can’t miss out.” At that moment I made nothing of it. But there are simply some individuals that are incapable of staying indoors especially when the weekend begins on a Thursday. That’s all well and good, but is it all worth it when you constantly have to worry about fueling your car, don’t forget the social expenditure and the research paper that is due beginning of the week. From experience, the FOMO syndrome is statsdefinitely not good for the pockets.

The experiences and memories gained from such social interactions are cherished, there’s no disagreement. Sometimes though, you have just got to slow down and see the things that matter most. My personal guilty pleasure is star-gazing. I enjoy the climb up to the roof at home, laying down a blanket with my iPod and just staring at the stars while my mind wanders aimlessly. I take pleasure in the serenity that nature offers. Social media may have encouraged this FOMO epidemic. But fear not, take this as an opportunity to experience, make mistakes and learn. After all it’s a rite of passage to adulthood (as puberty is the rite of passage to maturity).

A Fateful Encounter

What is the purpose of fate if we shape our own destiny?

This is not a ‘happy-ending’ kind of story. Neither is it, a sad one. It’s about the cycle of life. Flaws are part and parcel of human nature. The beauty is in accepting the good and bad in order to survive. I want to understand the purpose of life; the reason behind our existence and the answer to why some events take place in our lives.

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I’ve recently come to a point where I’ve started to question my path in life. Where am I headed? Why did this happen to me? How come I feel like am floating? To those in their thirties it’s acknowledged as a mid-life crisis. Then for us in our twenties, should I consider it a process of self discovery? Nonetheless, in today’s fast track world, I am faced with the fear of missing out.

In passing conversation you overhear that, ‘fate gets its own way while destiny is up to you.’ It indulged my curiosity. The terms fate and destiny are used so lightly everyday and never given a second thought. By definition, fate is ‘the preordained course of one’s life that will occur because of or in spite one’s actions’; whereas destiny refers to ‘a set of predetermined events within one’s life that one takes an active course in shaping.’ On the contrary, fate generally carries a pessimistic connotation as compared to its optimistic counterpart destiny. I struggle to fathom why such is so. Therefore, I share my story to the world and let them be the supreme judges.

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Second Year of University I found myself attracted to a guy. It was not a crush since it was the first time to lay eyes on him. Yet I was intrigued. In a crowd with friends, they laughed honestly. His aura was inviting and in passing our eyes met for a mere second. As he disappeared, so did my temporary spell. Shaking it off, I went on my merry own way. A year later, making my way to the gym, a shoulder tap draws me to a halt. As I turned around, it was fateful. Mesmerized, it was then the second time to lay eyes on him. Pleasant as the moment was, he was flabbergasted. A split second later he apologized and explained that he mistook me for a friend and that the resemblance was uncanny. Confidently he moves forward to introduce himself. It was the beginning of a good friendship which grew deeper into a relationship. Unfortunately, one that ended before it began. Once again, we were strangers with a shared memory.

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Opposites do attract. As I am a vivacious extrovert, he was a reticent introvert. Yet I was always in awe of him from the first day. So despite my actions to ignore a momentary spell-bound attraction to a stranger, fate had other plans which led to our eventual demise. Fate has a purpose. Its mission is to educate. Through fateful encounters with life – both positive and negative – a life lesson can be depicted. These lessons are the fundamental steps that lead us to pave our own destiny. Destiny is the result of predetermined events in our lives where such events act as moral compass that we use to guide and shape our futures.