Monday, October 25, 2010

Options

The options we have in life can be likened to a dinnertable buffet.

We all arrive with an empty plate.
We curiously proceed to fill our plates with this and that.

The Regulars are satisfied and pleasantly surprised with what they have chosen; occasionally they take more than they can eat ( sight and aroma can be deceptive: We choose that scrumptious-looking concoction that ends up tasting like rubber. Uuggghh!) and end up with leftovers and a slightly guilty feeling.

The Freebies a.k.a Feeding The Hungry Heart group pile their plates high,with more than they can swallow, force feed themselves anyway, ending up with heartburn, indigestion and obesity simply because they have a hunger food will not satisfy.

There is also an upgrade on this group:The Prof-Freebies a.k.a the Sharks.

For this group it is a question of the plate:
They didn't overfill their plate; the plates just happened to be too small. Their motto: If it's available, take it all.

The Save-it-for-a-rainyday group does the round with 2 plates simultaenously because for them a second round might be too late: they want to take some home for later. So they take a double portion in advance, secretly wrap it up in tissue where forgotten, it will fester and rot and end up thrown away in the trash.

For The Choosers it is more about choosing than eating. They try a little of everything and end up eating nothing.

The Fear-of-life group blanches at the sight of so many options and instantly loses appetite. These ones end up with a tiny side plate so that automatically their choices, if they make any, will be limited to fit the size of their plate.

The Old Faithfuls automatically choose the one thing they also eat everyday at home because this is all they know. Anything new is a potential danger.

The Snipers already know in advance what the best dish of the day is. They go for a calculated kill and clear it out instantly.

So what does this all say about the choices we make in life?
What does this say about our ability to make choices?
When do choices go from nutrition to indigestion?

When is enough, enough?

Friday, October 1, 2010

I am because we are. - The importance of sharing in community building.

Suppertime in any given West African village.
Dusk is heralded by the chirping of crickets and the lighting of kerosene lanterns. After a day of blissful cavorting in the dust and bushes, the children are finally homeward-bound, their round empty bellies lured by the smells of the humble meal awaiting.

Of all my memories of my african childhood, this little example on the meaning of togetherness and continuity of clan-spirit; is one of my most carefully preserved memories. It is tightly and lovingly interwoven as a guiding principle in the tapestry of the woman I have become today.

Meals and mealtimes have always played a special role in community(building). A meal in Africa is never eaten alone. Often food is not plentiful, a piece of meat, a rare luxury. The family dinner is eaten collectively from one bowl. Every member of the extended family, from elder to toddler, feeds from this one source.

Sharing meals is like a social thermometer, a traditional way of coming together and catching up on the day, of showing your strenght in the face of anothers' vulnerability. A way for kids to adopt various social skills like taking others into consideration.

During these meals, friendships and alliances are reinforced, dissonances are laid to rest, strangers are shown courtesy and accorded a warm welcome; winning through sharing becomes apparent when everyone realises that by just eating enough and not more, all bellies will get filled.

The adults tactfully refrain after awhile so that the little ones who need the nutrients the most, can lick out the bowl and enjoy the last tidbits.

Going back in time to the child I was, sitting on the packed earth of my grandmother's kitchen hearth, what touches me the most is not the ubiquitious malaria mosquitoes that relentlessly peppered my bare limbs or the simplicity of plain boiled yams dipped only in palm oil.

My moments of complete happiness came from watching grandmother's ancient weathered face in the firelight, softened and relaxed as she told her countless stories.

What did it matter that there was no electricity or television?
What did it matter that we ate with our hands instead of cutlery?

Her stories fed my deepest hunger and the smoky warmth from all the bodies gave off an unparalleled sense of belonging.

This concept of I am because we are can be transferred to any cosmopolitan network or community: Welcome the stranger, share what you have and give the Up-and-Coming a chance to grow.

This, for me is the true meaning of connection. This is what a real network is all about: A tapestry of individuals united in diversity yet lovingly committed to carrying each other.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Snake and Duck

I wrote this blog a few months ago but somehow never published it here until a chance conversation today helped me recall this gem of a story.
This is how it goes:


There are many variations of this ancient parable. The moral of the story though, always stays the same. Come closer, make yourselves comfortable and take a seat; I would like to share this story with you.
Once upon a time Snake wanted to travel to the opposite side of a great river. He was however unable to swim so he asked Duck to carry him on his back across the river.

Oh no, said Duck. Bad idea. You are a snake and you bite and kill your prey. If I carry you on my back I will be killed.

Oh No! Said Snake in return. Yes it is true, I am a venomous snake but what would I achieve by biting you? If I bite you, none of us will get to the other side of the river. Indeed biting you would be a foolish thing to do; besides you would be doing me a great favor and for that I would be most grateful. I give you my word, I shall not bite.

Duck considered the wisdom of Snake's words and agreed that even a venomous snake would not profit from killing his very own vehicle across the river and thereby threaten his own survival. Finally, because Snake gave his word, duck put her instincts aside and consented.

Halfway across the river, while navigating the treacherous rapids, Duck felt an incredibly painful sting and realized that she had been bitten. Oh Snake! she called out sadly and weakly, for she was dying. Why have you done this dreadful thing? You gave your word and I kept my part of the bargain. Now your life and mine will be forfeit because of you!
Snake replied sadly, Yes I know. And I am sorry; But you see,


I am a snake.


It is in my nature as a snake to bite everything; even the very hands outstretched in brotherhood to help me.

So what is the moral of this story? What would you have done?

Was Duck a fool? Was Snake at fault?

You tell me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Wish....

At five or six years old, our Wish lists are anxiously long, fervently passionate and deliciously uncomplicated. Its no secret: We know exactly what we want; we have dreamt it a million times have tasted it's sweet taste on our tongues and have just almost touched it in everything we do.

At five or six we make sure the whole world is aware and well-informed of our wishes.
We have absolutely no qualms about setting up a campaign in order to get what we want. No mountains too high or rivers too deep. We will shamelessly throw that tantrum, innocently offer that bribe, make public manifestations, outright demands, steep bargains and endless chantings even suffer the occasional spanking to achieve the contents of our Wish list.

Somewhere along the way though, something changes. We learn that wishes should be only made at special occasions, at birthdays and christmas and especially after performing some heroic grown-up act of stoicism.

We learn that we have to deserve what we wish for; be silent about it, hide it, submerge it, deny it, shut up about it, don't be a pain about it, question it, see it for the selfishness it really is, be ashamed of it, ridicule it, castigate it, (strangle the damn thing!) and finally forget about it.
Just blow out your candles and make a wish. Watch a falling star and make a wish. But DON'T!-

Don't breathe a word of it to another living soul. Telling it ensures it will never come to pass.

And thus we learn and grow and even teach....

We learn to swallow our wishes. We learn to hide them from everyone; especially from ourselves. We learn to suppress and be coy and quasi enlightened: Only needy, lowly, pathetic beings have wishes. Everything I need I already have. A true enlightened soul is devoid of all earthly desires..... Plus more of where all that came from.
Needing an escape vent for all this unnatural suppression, we learn instead to heap attention on what we don't want:

I don't want a nagging wife, a lazy husband, a boring job, a nosy neighbour, a cheap wristwatch, a fat butt, an ordinary kid, flappy ears, an overbearing boss, a demanding friendship, high bills, responsibility, nightmare in-laws, the neighbour's cat pooing in my garden, people looking at me too closely, commitment, questions that hit home in senstive areas that i prefer to ignore, being reminded that I'm lost, acknowledging that something sad happened to my magical child.

That my Wish list is lost or has somehow ended up in the shredder.

So today I started a Wish list and discovered that it was infinitely easier at six to make one than at thirtyfour. I discovered too that the fact that my birthday is in two weeks momentarily flashed a greenlight in my mind; a justified permission to pick up the pen. Bah!

Here's my number one wish:
I wish to learn how to make seriously magnificent, shamelessly public and utterly selfish Wish lists again.


Now how is that for a start?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sometimes down the Rabbit hole is the safest place to be.

At first you fight descent.
Admitting to ones' self that one is involuntarily obeying the laws of gravity can be tough.
With disbelief comes resistance and an embarassing display of grasping at final straws.
At this point anything and everything will be done to gain foothold in the known but fast-dissapearing world. The unknown is still the enemy.

It is merely a question of time; before peaceful exhaustion arrives on ones' doorstep.
"Hi". He says. "I've come to stay with you awhile. Let's get aquainted".
Fighting this guy is not an option: Chances are, he's apt to stay shorter when he recieves royal treatment.

He reckons gently with me: If falling is inevitable, why not make it a free fall? Relax those muscles, loosen your limbs. Unclench those fists. Those eyes bulging in panic can be closed now in the freedom of submission.

From this detached plane I can finally look back on what I left behind: A mayhem of rules and prestige, of achievements and public opinion, of commitments and law & order, of ruthless ambition.
Of schedules, appointments, deadlines and projects. Of payments and fees. Outsmarting the foxes, outrunning the hares. Of two eyes in front and four eyes behind. Of contracts and big deals, meetings and connections. Late nights, faster life, multitasking and overachievement.
Of stepford wives,and fallen husbands, competition, broadcasting, bullshit and noisemaking.

Guess what?

Life in transition is at it's most exciting. Having no tomorrow or yesterday, the intensity of today burns supernova.
Detachment is another word for buoyant.

The biggest secret?

The rabbit hole is really Willy Wonka's elevator! Taking you any which way you want to go.

Down here, things are simple stupid. The warm darkness has an unmatched effervescence of it's own.
How heady-sweet the naked taste of this darkness when dangers and selfmade prisons have been left behind above.

Sometimes down the Rabbit hole is the safest place to be.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

An enduring lifelong passionate love affair?

An enduring lifetime passionate love affair?

If you want your customers to stay with you for a life time, they have to fall passionately, head-over-heels, hook, line and sinker in love with you.

The only way this will happen is if you exceed their expections in terms of service, right from day one.
Does this idea make you cringe thinking "This is gonna cost me" or are you already doing this effortlessly everyday?

I'd love to discuss your views on "How can I become a magnet and experience an enduring love affair with my customers" and more,this month at the Open Business Salon on friday the 9th or the 23rd of April.
Please come and share your views and business challenges with others in a friendly roundtable session every first and last friday of the month.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Do You Know?

The simplest questions are the most profound.

Where were you born?
Where is your home?
Where are you going?
What are you doing?

Think about these once in awhile, and watch your answers change.

- Messiah's Handboek: Reminders for the Advanced Soul

Friday, February 12, 2010

Time to say goodbye

As a child, my older sister and I were constantly tearing each other apart. After the umpteenth fight my grandmother who usually intervened changed tactics this time.
She commanded us to fight till we drop.

Now imagine at 7 years old a thoroughbred tomboy, getting the green light to fight!!! My first thought was: Yippie!!!!!

Permission granted seemed cool at first but quickly wore off and within minutes we stood exhausted, heaving and panting, facing one another and waiting for the other to make the next move.
My grandmother then came with a collection of sticks and gave each of us a piece.
She asked us to break them, which we effortlessly did. Now she handed each of us the whole bundle and asked us to break it. Ofcourse, as much as we tried, we could not break the bundle of sticks.
Then she said: These sticks are you guys... United you can conquer life's challenges, but divided you don't stand a chance.

We never ever fought again after that day.

My grandmother was a very unusual and in someways utterly terrifying living legend who died a few hours ago at the ripe old age of 103.
She was not your typical fat soft huggy granny who pampered and protected. She was a strong, tall, fierce, blue-black amazon of a woman. A terrifying character with the power to freeze anyone young or old in their tracks with one look.
As a child, I was completely petrified of her and could never escape the wrath of her tongue or the extra pair of eyes located at the back of her head.
From my childhood perspective, she always seemed to be punishing me for being a weakling even though I did my best to toughen up and survive in her world.

For school holidays we kids got dumped for weeks with her in the "bush". It was a life of survival as she lived in a hut had no electricity, running water or any single form of modern comforts at all. There, as a regular Mowgli, I learned to live the traditional life of actually hunting your supper and catching it alive together with other naked bush kids and learning what plants, animals and places in the wilds to avoid.
Her only visible form of affection was in the endless stories she told. A walking, breathing reservoir of ancient wisdom she was. Truly the last of her kind.

Later, as I grew older and life's challenges came pouring in, Grandma's words and her lessons on indestructability were the strenght and stability I could find when all else seemed to fail.

Now, finally the time has come for me to let her go and say thank you, great one and good bye, because:

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.( Messiah's Handbook)

Chinello Ifebigh
"If we build it, they will come".

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Would you do it?

If God/ The great It/The Force (whatever we choose to call it)
Looked directly into your eyes and said

"I command that you be happy in the world as long as you live".

Would you do it?


Chinello Ifebigh
"If we build it, they will come".

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Water Babies: A theory of Evolution

One of the first books I ever read in my life was a very simplifed version of Charles Kingsley's old classic: The Water Babies. At 6 years of age, I was completely blown away by the ethereal magic, beauty and intrinsic wisdom of this book.
Since then, I have haboured a vague longing/ache for that perfect, deeply connected world beneath this one.(This feeling was recently resurrected after watching the movie Avatar. It doesn't get milder with the years and I've got it bad this time.)

What struck me was this excerpt from the backcover:

Charles Kingsley published The Water Babies in 1863, only a few years after Darwin's controversial The Origin of Species. Kingsley brilliantly adapted Darwin's theory of evolution for children, arguing that the survival of the species depends not on the condition of the body, but on the condition of the soul......

Imagine that even then, just after the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, that these deliberations were also entertained by individuals who believed that there was more to the survival of humanity than animal husbandry and the pedigree of one's bones and gristle.

Are there any of you out there who understand and share this ache of which I speak? Please share your views on this and let me know how you deal with being in this world but not of it.

Chinello Ifebigh
"If we build it, they will come".

Monday, January 4, 2010

Scratch the surface

It is amazing all that you can find when you take time now and then to scratch the surface.

When you scratch the surface you discover
that things are not as bad as they seem.
that a lot of emotion can hide behind a small action.
that there are more similarities than differences.
that the greatest beauty is often not seen at first glance.
that empty vessels make the most noise.
that fear comes in many disguises.
that salvation is found in the most unlikely places.
that the biggest limitations are self-imposed.
that the fear of success is sometimes greater than that of failure.
that I and the observer are one.
that letting go is also a way of holding on.
that you is just another word for me.
that control is an illusion.
that ego stands in the way of growth.
that love can expand beyond imagination.
that life never runs out of suprises.
that we take so much for granted.
that just when you think you've "got" it, you meet someone who shows you again how far you still have to go.
that the best is yet to come.

Just me here, scratching the surface.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Is Monogamy = Monotony?

Seeing the ruckus and sensation this blog has caused and is still causing on ecademy, I have decided to post to here as well and see what happens:

With the complete awareness that what I am about to say now could be regarded as heresy and invoke the wrath of many; especially because it is coming from the lips of a woman,
I hereby proceed anyway to take the plunge:

I love walnut icecream. It is my absolute number one topper. You can wake me up in the middle of the night for this. Yet I also love trying out strawberry and lemon and vanilla and chocolate and basically any new flavour of ice cream that seems delicious to me. Does that make me love walnut less? No not at all! If anything, it makes me appreciate the very taste of walnut again when I eat it.

If I were to eat only walnut all the time would my love for it stay the same?
I think not. I would become bored with it because I know it through and through.
Very often we need the difference/contrast to recognize and keep seeing the beauty of number one.

Are you getting my drift?

Personally I think that we humans are not monogamous by nature and that this is okay. (I am not talking here about love, but sex.) I think that monogamy has a lot of advantages and makes things easy and clearer to some degree. Still I believe that it is more a social and cultural norm than a biological law.

I think that all too often relationships are made and broken by (lack of) monogamy. It makes me wonder:

Why do we make vows about things we can't keep?
Why do we break up when one party has sex outside of the relationship?
Since people do break up for these reasons, does that mean that a whole loving relationship has it's foundations on monogamy as the only condition?
Isn't there anything else besides sexual monogamy, that makes your relationship unique?
Why do we humanbeings need to possess and to overpossess everything: money, land, security,the other person (MY wife, MY Husband, MY Car..... ) all the time?
Why do we have all these rules based on fear?
Fear of not being special or number one or important ALL the time to someone else.

I see love as this wondrously huge power, something that stands distinctively aside from sex.
I see sex as a small part of love and as a biological necessity, like eating and sleeping and all that, in a healthy way.
I see promiscuity as a whole different thing all together. Promiscuity is when a healthy thing goes over the balance and becomes harmful to oneself. Like an eating disorder.

For me obviously sexual monogamy is not the most important aspect of a relationship. Faithfulness for me means having respect for me as a person, standing by me a person.
There is nothing sexual about these things.

If faithful is about sex then it's all a farce isn't it, when people have sex with others everyday in their minds.

I am curious about your opinions on this.