Month: November 2013

Take a Break from Looking at the Forest

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Let’s say you took the first step to actually realizing your dream. You quit your job to become an entrepreneur, but it’s not going well, financially. The most common advice you would get is, “Be patient. It will work out.” And then this dream you’re trying to achieve actually metamorphosizes into a nightmare. Too much stress. Things are not working out. Nobody is buying what you’re selling. All you want to scream, “Help!”

But nobody hears you.

The thing is, maybe you need to take a step back to reframe the whole situation. Maybe you’re currently looking at this idea as the million-dollar-idea that’s supposed to make you rich superquickly. What if you redefined it though? Called it “My First Failure”? Or maybe title it “At least I tried”.

When children take their first step, their parents do not expect them to run. They will fall. Yet a photograph or video usually commemorates the event. I remember a time when I was really frustrated about something. It took me a while to realize the source of my frustration;  my focus was all wrong. I was focused on results. I wanted results and I wanted them fast. The moment, I stopped focusing on the results (i.e. stopped looking at the forest), I was able to enjoy the individual trees for what they are and what they provided.

And maybe that’s the way you need to look at it occasionally. Of course, the big picture is important. If a project keeps on draining you towards bankruptcy, you would need to ‘look at the big picture’ and re-strategize or close it down and start something else. But when you’re done looking at the big picture, appreciate the individual trees. Learn from every interaction you have with the customer, or with the supplier. When it comes to business and entrepreneurship, I’ve learned it isn’t really about the products and the services one is selling as much as it is about the relationships one makes with their suppliers and customers (and maybe even competitors). So as long as you’re building on the relationships side, businesses that are financially struggling are not entirely a loss.

Though sometimes they are.

That’s it for today.


On Stereotyping

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So today there was yet another social event. It’s an outdoor event being held in the 7osh (or courtyard) of one of my mom’s friends. The good news here is the person organizing it knows me too well. She used to be one of those people who would babysit me when my mom wanted to go somewhere all those years ago. She told my mom, “Tell her to come. And if she can’t handle it, the house is hers, she can go inside and sit on the Internet.”
Thank you!
Now this is the sort of people I love; they understand. So, yes I’m inside now, and it’s blogging time.

Today I find myself thinking of how people are more alike than different and yet they let their differences separate them.
How many times do you look at a person and think they’re more like me than what meets the eye? A lot of times we let our prejudices form our opinions of people. We make judgments based on preconceived notions and other people’s opinions when we should really give them a chance.
Stereotyping is our brain’s way of simplifying matters. You might not think there’s a connection between stereotyping and door handles. But think about this, the first time you learned how to use a door handle to open the door, your brain registered it so now you can figure out how to use different types of door handles without experiencing them individually. The brain process is similar to that used in stereotyping. You meet someone from one nationality and form an opinion that everybody from that country is the same. Which is quite dangerous if you ask me.
It’s better to take people on a case-by-case basis yet that’s quite difficult and that’s why we refrain from doing it. I have to admit that I tend to prejudge a lot. Yet some of my closest friends were people I misjudged at first and upon them I realized we were more alike than different.

When it’s hard to smile and harder to cry

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So my fellow blogger at Castle of Words articulated a notion I’ve been thinking about lately. The relevant quote I wrote up was “The thing about growing older is that it’s hard to smile and even harder to cry. -AH”, to which a tweep responded with the question if it is possible to slow down the aging process by staying young at heart. But can we? Really?
Every single day adds something new to our lives; whether it is in the form of experiences, people, stories. The cumulative effect of all these sights and sounds may not be able to be measured accurately unless you have access to an fMRI, but it doesn’t take a neuroscientist to figure out our brains get affected by what we encounter every day. Our brains get rewired, our neurons fire away differently, the landscape of our emotional capacity changes as our threshold for feelings such as love, awe, pain, shame shifts.
Sometimes experiences harden us. At other times they soften us and make us more compassionate. The one thing they don’t do is keep us the same. And maybe that’s what they’re supposed to do. Because the 12 year old you wouldn’t have been able to handle the stress the 20 year old you could as a result of all those changes.
Though sometimes I have to admit, it might be worrying that we can’t feel much about an incident. Maybe we’ve learned to rise about the pettiness of things, and not sweat the small stuff. Maybe it’s just our coping mechanism getting an upgrade so when it finally gives an alarm then we know it’s something serious.
I am not sure how much sense this post made. The noise around me is too loud I can barely hear myself think. And to those who wonder how I find time to write; I try to make use of time that would otherwise be wasted. Yes, you guessed it right, I’m stuck in yet another wedding. The samosas just came, let me log off.

A Couple of Words about Writing

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So the other day I spent close to four hours on a story. I only stopped to move to another place with better lighting. And to order food, which I ravenously wolfed down with one hand while the other was on the keyboard. It’s a story I’ve been working on for ages (the first draft was written back in 2006), and the more words I add to it the more I realize I wouldn’t want it published. Unless I want to be sued by the real people who inspired it. It’s supposed to be ‘fiction’ with enough details close to life to make people point fingers and speculate. And in a small town like Mombasa, you seriously don’t want to set the ball of speculation rolling. Trust me.

Writing can be an emotionally draining experience. That’s the main reason why I tend to write in ‘spikes’ and things like nanowrimo never work for me. I might stay away from a work-in-progress for a long time and then spend four hours in a single day writing. Not only can writing be time-consuming, it can also be unsettling. It’s how Natalie Goldberg once said, “Writers end up writing about their obsessions. Things that haunt them; things they can’t forget; stories they carry in their bodies waiting to be released.”

And sometimes writing may result in insomnia. We cannot sleep until we’ve put those those words on paper (or an iphone note). I actually kept an insomnia notebook one summer. Before smartphones came along.

And you know the worse part about writing stories?

It’s when you actually go to sleep and end up dreaming an upsetting scene. It happened to me once, but I still haven’t had the emotional capacity to write down the story around that one scene because it was too sad, thinking about it makes me tear up occasionally, I just imagine the disastrous effect  writing about it would have. 

But you know despite all its downfalls, writing helps us understand people, understand ourselves. It helps us figure things out things about life in general. In one of the scenes I wrote yesterday, my protagonist’s friend tells her, “Sometimes our secrets define us. No matter how much time we spend together you can never really know the true me because the things I choose to hide are as much a part of me as the things I choose to tell. Does that even make sense?” 

Last but not least, it can  be therapeutic.

Explains why I’m here. Good night.