Ayshah | Victoria

Living my Passion | Living with Purpose | Living in Peace


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Pretentious Crappuccino

PRETENTIOUS CRAP irritates me no end! Maybe it’s because it requires so much effort for me to pretend or feign affection and/or intent. I didn’t grow up in a culture where people said one thing and believed (or meant) something else.

Lessons In Unnatural Behavior
I first learned how to “do” a fake smile (that is – smiling when you do not want to do so naturally) when I worked part-time at a restaurant during my college days in Lomdon. A valuable lesson for me.  The culture in the UK did not embody pretentious  behavior so you found that people showed their genuine feelings (good or bad) and there was rarely a need to decipher what was real from what wasn’t.

When I first came to the US, I found it very difficult comprehending the notion that “hey, how are you doing?” did not mean “hey, how are you doing?” – but actually just meant “hello”. So when friends and family came to visit, I had to let them know this so that they didn’t think interest was being expressed in their well-being. Seriously! I have had to interrupt an unknowing visitor (or two) from giving a detailed answer about how they actually felt! 😉

Of course I have been in the US long enough now to have assimilated my ways and I find there is much to be said for being able to smile on cue or ask how people are (however – I ALWAYS actually mean it). It makes the other person feel better (even cared for) and for no other reason, I love that. Today, I smile without thinking (which is a GOOD thing) and as far as I am concerned, smiling – or such aimless pleasantries that make other people feel good, are valuable in the overall well-being of our society. Our very humanity.

Political Correctness
I believe that political correctness has its place – in POLITICS! Of course there are a number of things to be said for and against political correctness – but I am not necessarily writing about political correctness here. I am speaking here of Pretentious Crap!

Pretentious Crap – Defined
I am talking about pretentiousness and the one-dimensional relationships built on them. I abhor the JANUS-like behavior that has become prevalent is society and the norm in certain industries and groups. However, this must not be confused with politeness, courtesy and warmth. You see, I believe that any synthetic, surface-only behavior is a cold misrepresentation of what we truly are as human beings.
We are living in the era of the two-faced monster

Relationships need not be pretentious for them to be successful, nor does one need to conform to other people’s preferences when they do not match one’s own. It is okay to be true to oneself because at the end of the day, when there is no one around but yourself, you will be at peace with who you are, knowing that you do not have to wake up another day and walk around with a mask on or pretend to have feelings, values and beliefs that you don’t.

Authenticity
There is peace in being comfortable within oneself when one does not have to pretend to be someone one isn’t – or indeed pretend to like a group/genre/class of people when in reality you’d be very far away from such people PERMANENTLY if you could get away with it!

We walk around judging others based on a pre-conceived understanding of what we THINK they are about and lace that judgement with our own insecurities and sense of self-importance. And all for what?

You will be surprised how much more enjoyable interpersonal dealings (at work or at play) will become when one is able to free oneself from the baggage of “performing” one’s persona.

Don’t be afraid to be authentic

So again, though I am thankful for learning how to smile on cue from my American family, I am grateful to my African, European and Middle-Eastern background for being able to be comfortable enough to BE myself at all times and SHARE my true self in as positive a way as possible in order to MAKE OTHER PEOPLE FEEL GOOD about themselves – because, all the polished smiles and empty sentiments in the world will do nothing when the person on the receiving end realizes that it was never real.

P.S. I actually love coffee. 🙂

Originally written: 3/31/10 All Rights Reserved © A.V.Powers

Follow me on twitter: @StrategicPowers


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Bloody Pavement

Know any cantankerous, bad-tempered, difficult, bitter people? Met anyone you may term a grouch, sour-puss or cross-patch who is not happy unless there is something to complain miserably about? Look at anyone who has lived past the age of sixty and you will find that their outlook on life is clearly marked on their face. Is their face set in a permanent scowl or do their eyes dance with light?

Now, I am sure that no one goes through life planning to end up an old curmudgeon,but rather, may become so due to choices made during their lifetime. I know there are those that sincerely believe that you have no choices in how your life turns out at the end; that if your life was meant to take on a stream of unfortunate occurrences then there is little you can do to change the forgone conclusion

miserable people

My point here is that despite how each and every one of us came into the world – completely innocent and pure, we were meant to exist for the purposes that we were created. We don’t have to know what those purposes are because not all of them will be revealed to us.

The conclusion then would be to make the right choice from the information that is available in the environment we grow in and with the people we associate with. Two infants presented with the same amount of clay with which to create anything they please will unlikely create the same thing and the same goes for two identically trained architects when building their own personal abodes.

 I am not speaking here of the whole “nature vs. nurture” argument which has been hacked to death over the decades. I am simply speaking of the uniqueness and significance of every single person alive. Unique because each person is an original and has a choice in everything they do and therefore solely responsible for the results of their own actions. Significant because even when a tragedy occurs in a person’s life that makes no sense as far as one is able to reason with the limitations of our human thinking, the tragic event itself had a purpose. This purpose may never be known for a decade or a century, but could just as easily be revealed in the next 5 minutes.

CONSIDER THIS…

One winter evening on a busy street in Manhattan, Helena James fell from her tenth floor balcony, landing on the concrete pavement below. She dislocated her jawbone, damaged her spine and broke her legs in twelve places upon impact. She was rushed to the nearby hospital and had to have half of her left leg, just below the knee, amputated. The balcony was found to be faulty in its construction and the property builder had to face some harsh questions.

So who is Helena? Did she deserve this? Some may thing that it would depend on who she was and what type life she lived. If she was a pregnant nurse with three young boys to raise and a husband away in the military, some may feel that such a thing happening to her was unjust and cruel and made no sense. However, if Helena turned out to be a diseased prostitute or a drunken child molester, some may feel she deserved her fall. Why do we judge? Perhaps we do so instinctively..…but that is a topic for a separate discussion.

Going forward, Helena is confined to a wheelchair. Let’s say she is the Helena that is described first who now has to find a way to care for her family while her husband is away fighting a long drawn-out war. She lost her baby and is told she cannot conceive any more. There goes her hope of having a little girl. A month after the accident she is told that her husband had been killed in the line of duty. He was a hero. She hadn’t even seen him since the accident and her sons are too young to comprehend the concept of never seeing their father again.

Consider that across from the condominium building where Helena took her fall was a small unobtrusive bar inside which a young girl of about twenty-two sat hunched over her third vodka. Val watched Helena fall and thought she had imagined the whole thing until the noisy ambulance appeared. She  also saw the pain in Helena’s eyes before Helena passed out. Val watched the 3 little boys screaming as their mother was taken away, yet she was too numb to register any emotion at that time. Her vodka was the anesthetic.

While staggering home with her mind on the plan she had conceived over the past few days, she kept seeing Helena’s face swimming before her. Back at her dishevelled apartment, even when she pulled out the gun from the back of the closet, she saw Helena’s face. Val had decided to splatter her blood over the bedroom wall, with the express hope that her stepfather would be the first to find her.

Now instead, Val dropped the gun and fell asleep with Helena’s face spinning in her head. Later that night, she awoke to the sound of the phone ringing. It was her bible-quoting friend Melanie, who kept bugging her about coming to hang out with her. Melanie revealed that ” something told her to just keep on ringing until the phone was answered….” They talked for a long while.

 
Fast-forward a few years an we find that Val founded a center for abused children with a special focus on the effects of incest. She has single-handedly saved countless children from living in fear, self-hatred and hopelessness. She never met Helena, but also never forgot her face. What happened to Helena? Well, Helena learned to walk with a prosthetic addition below her knee and cannot remember not having it. Her experience developed strength in her she never had before which earned her the courage to create a non-profit nursing home for disabled women. 

The complexities of life and the very frailty of our humanity  can create confusion regarding choices. However, making those basic choices in life are simple. Having the right foundation enables us to move through our time on earth with the peace in knowing that being happy is a choice.

Therefore, one can instead end up a perpetually joyful octogenarian without so much as a backward glance in regret. No one on earth knows what it is like to be anyone else other than who they are. It is a choice. It’s that simple.

front row

Originally written: 2006 |  All Rights Reserved © A.V.Powers

Follow me on twitter: @StrategicPowers