Friday Reflections: In Sickness And In Health

1.) I like how misleading this title is. You're going to think this post is about marriage, lol or wedding or at least relationship. Sorry to disappoint you. I needed a theme for my Friday Reflections because I planned on not writing just one liners this time around.

2.) When I come to the realization, once in a very blue moon that I'm actually quite privileged compared to millions of other people my age; I'm like crap, I should be more grateful.

3.) I fell really ill earlier this week and I had exams also. It had been so long I fell ill, I didn't know what it felt like anymore. Let me just say, thank Jesus for a perfect health. I remember feeling so weak on Monday, I thought about putting my health insurance card and my parents' contact in a more obvious part of my wallet. I was sure I was going to drop on the floor and lose consciousness or something. I was WEAK. Thank God I didn't though. This is such a terrible time to be sick, everyone is so scared of Ebola right now. Lol. If you can't already tell, this is where the title of the post generated from. I have been in sickness and also in good health, this week alone. LOL, I can be silly sometimes!
                                                  As seen on the metro...for the fear of Ebola. :-(

4.) It's my friend, M's birthday today.

5.) Remy Ma. I heard that name for the first time, earlier this week. She is supposedly a rap star and was interviewed on Wendy's show. She just got out of prison recently. She seemed really calm and collected, so when I heard what got her to prison, you know I'd to Google  her. Anyway long and short of the story, she was outside a club in Manhattan, and a friend stole three thousand dollars from her. One thing led to another while they were arguing, a gun went off and it hit the friend in the stomach. (Wendy's version). Wikipedia's version said while she was arguing with her friend about the money, she shot her friend and left that one bleeding profusely while she went through her purse and did NOT find the money. She hopped on another car and left. She was sentenced to eight years in prison and got out after six. Why this long story of mine? Remy was initially from a terrible neighborhood in Bronx with a family of drug abuse. She took comfort in writing poems and street rapping and was later discovered by a pop start. She was probably one of the best female rapper at the time and went to jail at a time when hip hop was everything and more. She might come up again but she already LOST those six years. You can take a child from the hood, but I doubt you'll ever take the hood from the child. Best of luck to her. You can watch her interview on Wendy here.

6.) Much ado about the internet. I jumped on a bandwagon of internet/cyber cleanse. Let's just say mine was a social media cleanse as I needed internet to study for the above exams. So I stayed off Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (those are the only social media I use). Facebook kept sending me emails though that I was missing a lot that was happening on FB. Lol. I initially started to stay off just Instagram because boy, was that stuff a distraction or nah? I have a bad habit of being interested in random people. Instagram feeds that habit. Anyway, so I started by staying off IG because I wanted to concentrate and then I stumbled on a post by a someone I really respect. She was doing an email cleanse and I decided to copy o. I didn't stay off e-mails though, I couldn't afford the luxury. I stayed off the rest and let me just say it doesn't make much sense. I'll explain.

First of all, I agree that you should not spend the bulk of your time faffing around on the internet; spend your time doing constructive things. But since, that wasn't my case I don't think the cleanse made sense. The main argument was that too much social media is terrible for introverts like me. Instead of going out to socialize and meet actual people, we spend our time on the internet. I'm introverted, very much so. So, the internet helps me to connect really well. Like the person above said on her blog, it's like stepping out the hallway for a break only to see the room filled with old and new friends all chatting away, catching up on each other's lives. Now, to be honest, people are really silly on social media. Sigh. Huge problem, but it also helps a great deal. We can't all meet the people we look up to and aspire to be like. Instead of waiting to meet them and be too star-struck to say anything, why can't I follow them on Twitter to get a glimpse of their lives? Well, you can wait till they write memoirs in the next one million years, or you can read their blogs and get inspired there. Plus it's fun anyway. Lol. Now as for putting it all out there, that's your own personal choice. As for social media being a cause of depression, because when people see their peers uploading pictures of their 70 carat diamond rock a la engagement ring and you can't even manage to get a first date. Honey, it's mostly a fa├žade. I hate it when random people use words of endearments for me by the way. I'm not your puppy please lol. Anyway, I don't get fazed by what I see on social media at all. Not everybody is fake but lots of people are trying hard to give an impression. An impression that their lives are somewhat better than what it really is. I know someone whose life was just as regular and random as mine but she'd Tweet like she was living on the fabulous lane. That and many other things helped me stay grounded on social media matters. Plus there will always be someone better anyway, just stay satisfied and content, okay? Good. I hope I have convinced and not confused you that social media is indeed not a harmful tool. Thank you. LOL

7.) Fellow Nigerians, aren't you just a tad proud that Nigeria (read Lagos) was able to contain Ebola. May the soul of Dr. Adadevoh and others who lost their lives to Ebola rest in peace.

8.) After reading this post on the making of human hair weaves, I started to consider ending my non-existent relationship with weaves and hair extensions. I mean, GOAT HAIR!? Nah. It's never that serious. They are too expensive for my likening anyway.

9.) A lady wrote a post on Bellanaija about the first year of her marriage, her decision to stay a virgin till she married and some more juicy stuff on sex for virgin brides. I used to hold out a little bit of hope for my generation, I have now lost all that hope. Never before had I seen anyone be so insulted for standing for their values. The irony, as my friend S and I later discovered was that, if that was a juicy sex stuff celebrating promiscuity and  infidelity, people would applaud it and watch/read. But you know, it was a lady who chose chastity, who chose good morals, so of course, she was cyber bullied. And her post was so needed because even mothers never talk to their daughters about sex anymore, it is an informal taboo. You'd never see anyone explain the nitty gritty of marriage. It feels like there's a code now among women, where no one is allowed to say anything about marriage, it is all a big secret. Yet, someone willingly allowed the world into her private life, to educate people. But the comment section was filled with so much  vile because she defied the norms and stood vehemently for what she believed in. What has life become?

10.) This Friday Reflection was so long and bulky. Bleh. It somewhat defeats the entire purpose but meh, I had a lot on my mind this time around.

11.) A new edition of LoveOasis is out. Check out this cover and tell me you are not already drooling! LOL. Because I love you for reading, I am going to give you the three steps to getting the new issue. i.) Visit ii.) Click on issue 10 iii.) Download your preferred edition. EASY PEASY.

J.K Rowling, On Failure, Imagination and Friendship.

I was going through a post written by a Harvard alumnus, about her commencement and graduation ceremony in 2008. She had written that she was displeased with the school's choice of speaker--J.K Rowling--for the ceremony, which by the way was by popular choice since the students were asked to vote. She would later be impressed and in fact, write again about how wonderful the speaker was. I, too, just like her wondered why J.K Rowling would be invited to the 'great' Harvard. Yes, J.K is a fiction superstar and you know, has all the right flavor and ingredients but probably because like the lady I first spoke about, I was never a fan of Harry Potter. Therefore, inviting  J.K seemed to me like inviting 'Superman',  in that many of the students probably voted for her because she created Harry Potter not because she is J.K Rowling. I bet that didn't make sense. Lol. Anyway, I  went back to the speech to read it and it was the best commencement speech I have ever listened to/read. And, boy, have I listened/read A LOT of commencement speeches? I have listened to Oprah, Shonda Rhimes, Steve Jobs, John Legend, Bill gates, Jim Carrey, and many more superstars. We shall talk about my addiction to commencement speeches on a later day. Anyway, this speech is long. But I think that you'll want to read through it all :-) Here goes:

President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates.
The first thing I would like to say is ‘thank you.’ Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I have endured at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and convince myself that I am at the world’s largest Gryffindor reunion.
Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can’t remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, the law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.
You see? If all you remember in years to come is the ‘gay wizard’ joke, I’ve come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first step to self improvement.
Actually, I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that have expired between that day and this.
I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.
These may seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.
Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation, is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.
I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that would never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension. I know that the irony strikes with the force of a cartoon anvil, now.
So they hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents’ car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.
I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all the subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.
I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.
What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.
At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.
I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.
However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown.
Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.
Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.
So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.
Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.
The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.
So given a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.
Now you might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I personally will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.
One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working at the African research department at Amnesty International’s headquarters in London.
There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.
Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to speak against their governments. Visitors to our offices included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had left behind.
I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him back to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.
And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just had to give him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country’s regime, his mother had been seized and executed.
Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.
Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard, and read.
And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before.
Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.
Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.
Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.
And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.
I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.
What is more, those who choose not to empathise enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.
One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.
That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.
But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people’s lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.
If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.
I am nearly finished. I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children’s godparents, the people to whom I’ve been able to turn in times of trouble, people who have been kind enough not to sue me when I took their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.
So today, I wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

I wish you all very good lives. Thank you very much.

What is the most beautiful and shortest story ever told?

As seen on;

A boat is docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village. 

A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took to catch them. 

"Not very long." they answered in unison. 

"Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?" 

The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families. 

"But what do you do with the rest of your time?" 

"We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. 

We have a full life.” 

The tourist interrupted, 

"I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! 

You should start by fishing longer every day. 

You can then sell the extra fish you catch. 

With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.” 

"And after that?" 

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. 
Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. 

You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City , Los Angeles , or even New York City!

From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.” 

"How long would that take?" 

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years." replied the tourist. 

"And after that?" 

"Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting," answered the tourist, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!" 

"Millions? Really? And after that?" asked the fishermen. 

"After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends." 

"With all due respect sir, but that’s exactly what we are doing now. So what’s the point wasting twenty-five years?" asked the Mexicans. 

And the moral of this story is: 

Know where you’re going in life, you may already be there! Many times in life, money is not everything. 

“Live your life before life becomes lifeless”.