Plan B – May Be My Stumbling Block

I have always prided myself on having a plan B. Whether I would be driving from place A to place Z or starting a business, I always had a plan B. All my life I considered this characteristic to be a positive one and a good success strategy. Having a Plan B sounds like a sensible, intelligent and logical thing to do or at least I thought so.

After reading Kent Thune’s blog: Entrepreneurs: use your delusion sell Illusion, I realised that there is a very dark side to having a plan B. Why do I say this? Well, success at anything requires total commitment, focus and some luck. The funny thing about luck is that you usually get it when you have total commitment and focus but that’s another matter altogether. Plan B’s if done correctly also require commitment and focus, not as much as plan A, but some. If we only have a finite amount of commitment and focus to give, that means we have to share it between plan A and plan B. In so doing we are in fact diluting plan A. It is hard enough to succeed at anything and in order to give ourselves the best chance possible we need to be completely committed and focused on Plan A.

I have also realised that a Plan B provides me with comfort, less stress and renders me emotionally subdued. But to make a plan succeed, you need to be completely invested in it, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, there should be no leftovers. To only have a Plan A requires that you put your all into whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. To be completely committed is a very difficult thing to do but also your best chance at success…

Birdie in the Sky

Birdie, birdie in the sky
The blue blue sky
Flying so so high
Wonder what u see
Just little figures, as they be

Birdie, birdie in the sky
The dark dark sky
Lying in your nest
Wonder what u see
Just little stars, as they be.

Birdie, birdie in the sky
The floating sky
Dreaming in your rest
Wonder what u see
Just little worms, as they be.

Childhood Dreams

As a child I remember having dreams, of things I want to do, places I wanted to go to and goals I wanted to achieve. Some were wild and crazy while others were tame and downright boring and yet others were just sheer impossibilities. These dreams all shared boundless imagination, great hope and infinite optimism. These dreams brought me great joy and anticipation. But – yes there is always a but – somewhere along my journey to adulthood those dreams withered and faded into the past. It’s almost as if the passage to adulthood is the extinguishing of dreams.

My children often remind of me of my own childhood in which I find scraps of dreams lost. Inspired by them I have slowly began to piece together some of my chilcdhood dreams. In supporting my children’s dreams, I have awakened in me a drive to do the same for myself. So now I practise day dreaming regularly (I call it meditation) where anything is possible and when I am done, I plan its realisation.

28 years ago, a dear friend, Dr Khaleel Ismail told me about a mountain whose biodiversity was unmatched anywhere else. At its foothills, lay a rainforest and at it’s peak, a snow cap. I was immediately drawn to this mountain within my dreams. I dreamt of watching the sunrise on this snow capped peak. For many years I tried to realise this dream, but somehow it too faded into the black hole of lost dreams.

One fateful day in May 2011 while paging through a caxton newspaper I saw an ad for an expedition to Kilimanjaro, and I was slapped in the face by a dream that refused to be sucked into the black hole of lost dreams. I pledged there and then that I was going to do this no matter what. Just like that it was decided! On 10 September 2011 I left to find my sunrise and my dream.

Watch this space, my dream continues with a day by day account of each day as I lived it……..

Ride Through the Puddles

A few weeks ago I rode in a family mountain biking event in Sabie which had many water puddles along the route due to rain the previous day. While riding I noticed that the kids participating always rode through the puddles while adults avoided them like the plague, including myself. I watched the anticipation on the kids faces before steering their bikes straight through the middle of the puddle and thereafter the pure joy in their eyes and grins on their faces. I felt a pinch of jealousy, even some envy, I wanted that feeling, I wanted that grin on my face! I tried in vain to ride through the puddles, all I could think about was all the things that could go wrong and the mess on my clothing and bike that would need to be cleaned. I was overcome with sadness, I had lost my inner child.  I was this tight assed killjoy adult. I wanted my inner child back, I wanted that grin on my face!

We spend our whole lives experiencing stuff from which we build little rule engines in our minds which determine our future decisions. We slowly block out the wonder with consequences and fears. We stick with the known and avoid the unknown, we become, dare I say it, killjoy’s. We wonder why we are no longer as happy as we were as children and seek answers in self help books, religion, living through our children and who knows what else. We take comfort in the fact that we are no longer children but mature adults now.

I have never liked the idiom “To have one’s cake and eat it too”,  so I for one, would like to be a childult i.e a mature adult who experiences childhood joy. From now on I challenge myself to ride through the puddles.

Viva 2011 (Happy New Year)

I have not written for many weeks now, because I just did not feel like it. Have you ever experienced that? Every time  I thought to myself  that I have not written, I would just change my thoughts, almost like I did not want to think about it.  I wonder what other thoughts I deliberately not think about, but will leave this for another blog.

First I would like to welcome the new year and I look forward to all the exciting  experiences it will bring. I wish you all, the best year yet.

Well this morning, during my morning routine of reading emails, facebook and other blogs, I felt compelled to write this blog about why I started writing in the first place. Ever since I was a very young, I think around 7 or 8, I wanted to be a writer. In fact I wrote my first fictional story when I was only 10. Throughout my schooling years I enjoyed writing but only when something inside of me poured forth. That is really the only way I can describe my writing experience. It is not a deliberate act, I cannot write when I choose to and believe me I have tried. My mind becomes completely blank and all my thoughts are about the fact that I have no thoughts which  quickly starts to loop infinitely, so I break out before insanity reigns or at least I hope so. But when the writing feeling erupts within me, it flows out of me and I cannot write or type fast enough (I should invest in a dictaphone). I wrote mainly poetry or essays which I have never shared with anyone except the occasional love poem I wrote for someone. Unfortunately I have discarded all my writing from over the years and in fact during my University years I stopped writing all together. I am not sure why?

Thorughout the years I always believed that some time in the future I would start writing again, but that future is just not arriving. So finally I started a book which I am still writing and hoping to finish before my worldly departure. I then started a blog called Ahmed On IT which still exists but is pretty much dormant and finally I started Thingz that Matter, which really is meant to be my thoughts made explicit, a place where the writer in me is free to express himself whenever he feels the need to. So I hope the writer in me would make more regularly appearences in 2011 but can make no promises.

Till next we our minds meet……

Reflecting on Tri Continental Film Festival – War Child

Horrific!! Horrific!! The impact a war has on children is unimaginable. This is one of those topics where I am overcome with emotion and cannot reflect on rationally, I just feel anger and helplessness. So I will just provide a synopsis of the documentary.

War Child is the story of a boy, Emmanuel Jal who was separated from his family at the tender age of 7 and had an AK 47 in his hand at 8. He was a child soldier in Sudan’s civil war and all he wanted to do was kill the people who separated him from his family. He was one of the lucky ones (if you can call it lucky) to be removed from his violent playground. Now he uses a microphone as a hip hop singer to promote peace in his land. A land where yet again greed of the powers that be (so called public private relations) using religion to subjugate the people and fan the fire of war.

Emmanuels Jal’s music tells the story of his experience and brings attention to the plight of his land and his people for peace. You can find out more at War Child website!

Human Rights Watch estimates that 200,000 to 300,000 children are currently serving as soldiers for both rebel groups and government forces in armed conflicts. That is 200,000 to 300,000 too many for me!

“I’m a war child
I believe I’ve survived for a reason
To tell my story, to touch lives.” Emmanuel Jal

Reflecting on Tri Continental Film Festival – Dirty Oil

On Sunday the 3rd of October 2010 I attended the first day of the Tri Continental Film Festival at Rosebank Mall’s Cinema Nouveau. I went in the hope of finding a last minute ticket and was also willing to purchase black market ones’ at exorbitant prices as well.  To my surprise, it was rather empty.  Unfortunately it seems that not many people were interested in learning about the challenges that affect other people in other places.

I decided to watch Dirty Oil, which is a behind the scenes look into Canada’s Tar Sands – the striped-mined world of Northern Alberta, where vast and toxic oil sands supply the US with the majority of its oil. What was striking for me is the total disregard politicians and corporates have for people or the environment. People and the environment are just ‘Collateral Damage’ in the quest for must have profit margins.

The documentary focuses on the impact the mining has on a small community who live in its vicinity. As a result of the mining, these people are denied access to safe drinking water and they are now riddled with health issues and their overall quality of life is on a downward spiral. A doctor trying to help this community by investigating the recent spike in cancers and other new diseases and illnesses had his licence revoked and is facing perscution.  It left me feeling sick in my stomach and angry at the powers that be.

Yes, we need oil for our economy to function, but at what cost? At what point does the cost become too much to bear? More importantly for me is, if governments provide the license for mining why don’t they also ensure that those companies are liable for the cleanup. Yes I know we will pay more for oil, but we pay for the cleanup anyway while some fat cats take no responsibility and spends his time counting his profits. I would rather pay for ensuring there is no pollution in the first place than pay for the devastation after the fact.

To quote from the documentary “Saving civilisation is not a spectator sport”.


The Occasional Burning

For years Scary Bones had a vision of a world that was filled with goodness and righteousness. He spent most of his days in the employ of the Big Boss (who is many and one), where he did not make any headway career wise or any other wise. Sometimes in a previous life he moonlighted in Hollywood’s blasphemous underbelly making people all around the world break into laughter. But after years of preaching and marketing to save his fellow men and women from the fiery fire of hell, he had a paltry following of just 50 people. This ignited a burning desire or fire within to do something big, something that would bring worldly attention to himself and his flock and maybe win favour with the Big Boss.

He organised a late night meeting with his think tank. They prayed, whispered and secretly met with the group that has no name but is, to no avail. One morning while watching the news on the sacred box he caught a glimpse of Obama Sin Pardon from a rival bearded clan who was world famous on another burning issue, and that inspired him. He thought of his inspiration as a secret memo from his boss. Once again under the cover of darkness he met with his think tank to tell them about his divine mission and the message that was revealed to him. He was to resurrect the ancient ritual of burning anything related to witchcraft. And since people of all colors have been joining the bearded clan in droves there must be witchcraft involved. His boss knew best and who was he to judge.

So on a warm summer morning he called a press conference at which only the A-Clan(the clan with no clan) attended.  He declared that the bearded clan’s book of witchcraft shall be burned in public on the 11th of September to coincide with the end of the flaming birds. The A-Clan spread the word of the spoken day because they always considered the clan types as a helluva bunch who just did not understand the Book of Science.

Flaming birds, poverty, corruption, stolen land, war and just plain maliciousness had become somewhat normal and boring, so the sacred box clan and its sister clans jumped on the this new news worthy topic. It has been centuries since we have had a clan burning occasion (except of course in other exotic places where it happens fairly regularly). And so the word of the occasional burning spread like wildfire.

The bearded clans all around the world went into a religious fervour. Their think tanks got together and were at a loss on what to do. A small group from the bearded clan had an insurgent creative burst and decided to respond in similar fashion, threatening to burn Scary Bones much revered book as well. Just don’t mess with a clan scorned.

The A-Clan watched on in disbelief thinking: “shoo we should be in the book selling business”.

Ultimately the lizard clan stepped in and miraculously found a late, after-hours memo for Scary Bones. A memo he did not get due to his late night think tank sessions. And so the occasional burning turned out to be just smoke with no fire and 1 Afghan dead and 12 injured. Alas Scary Bones may not have grown his flock but now he is as infamous as Obama Sin Pardon and his Boss does not seem to care.

And who says where there is smoke there is fire. Sometimes there is just smoke…….

Unexpected Benefits

Do you know the feeling when you unexpectedly find something useful like money in an long unworn piece of clothing? Or an item of jewellery you thought you had lost, but found between your couch pillows? Well, I recently had that feeling after my DSTV was disconnected. You can’t see the good feeling here can you? Well initially neither could I. I thought, what am I to do with all the time I used for watching TV and how would I ever get my entertainment fix now. Now, I would have to make conversation during my mental down time after a hard work day. Uugh!

A few days into my TV withdrawal, I began to feel a clarity of mind. An un-cluttering if you will. There was an emptiness that I really enjoyed. My short term memory area felt like it just had an upgrade and now has a lot more space. I now certainly had time to ponder upon this weird and strange mental phenomenon. I realised the best thing about not watching DSTV, is not seeing any advertising at all (even the fast forwarded ones for those with a PVR). I have had approximately four weeks of no adverts, and it feels wonderful. It is my unexpected benefit.

Advertising and marketing have a way of consciously and maybe subconsciously occupying your mind with things you don’t really need but now want. For example, I was quite happy with my iPod until I discovered that a new and better iPod was now available. I somehow found myself convincing myself that my iPod was now old and maybe does need to be replaced. I was buying this logic, fortunately I caught myself in the act and put an end to it. My kids would see a KFC advertisement and then would want to have KFC to eat. Predictably, the next time we drove pass a KFC guess what the kids wanted.

Now, since my family and I have minimal exposure to advertisements, we have alleviated all these unnecessary wants and cleared our minds from its clutter. It sounds crazy, and you may think it does not affect you but it does in ways you don’t even realise. Even if you dont give in to the ads by purchasing the product, your mind uses time and energy to consider it and make decision about it consciously and maybe unconsciously. Whereas in this case,  “out of sight, out of mind” rings very true. So I challenge you to take month off from viewing any commercials and let me know how you feel.

Bye 4 now  

My Kruger Park Visit In Pictures

What is it about getting a really good picture that makes me feel so good.  Is it the patience to wait for the right combination of elements?  

The Kruger National Park is the one place where I always hope to shoot my next great picture.  And on my recent trip there, I had a good feeling.  I had a sense that this time I was going to get my leopard in a tree.  Excited, and camera in hand I was ready.

Entering at an ungodly hour has its payoffs.  

This elephant was kind enough to take a break from trying to break off a branch to pose for the camera.

At Skukuza camp I found this beautiful bird.

and these pigeons having a go at each other.

He had an appointment to have his picture taken with a bushveld background

Found this Warthog feeding and it does this on bended knee eating the low growing grass

I had to get one scenic picture, which happens to have a hippo in there somewhere. Let see if you can find it

This was just an awesome close up picture. The eyes look amazing

Very colourful bird just sitting in a tree

Curious giraffe looking back at me

then turned around and coyly walked away

The zebra crossing in the park

Just reminded me of  Zazoo in the Lion King

These tortoises were watching the traffic on the Lower Sabie bridge. I could not get them to smile…

At Lower Sabie camp, I found these birds just cooling off in a bath

Giraffes having a drink courtesy of the Sabie river.

Not sure what this is but it posed for my picture.

Elephants frolicking in the river. The weather so good I was tempted to join them, but sensibility prevailed.

And in the sand.

Finally seeing this group of lionesses on my way out of the park.

Alas, NO Leopard in a tree…….Hopefully there will be another day!

Bye 4 now!