Category Archives: learning

Not Indispensable

Part of being human is the intense desire to prove worth. To be worth something. The ego desires acknowledgement of the impact your life has made on those around you. And hopefully in a positive way, not a mass murder Columbine way, most people want to be remembered when they are gone.

Sounds extreme?

Yes.

But even on a smaller scale than life or death, it’s what we want. We start families believing being a parent creates little dependants who need you for everything. It makes us feel special. We own pets knowing we are the centre of their furry/feathered worlds. (If fish float your  boat, I’m not exactly sure how this works out for you although admittedly your screensaver behind glass is more dynamic than mine.) Sad is the human who did not realise one day their children will grow up and need them less. That pets can turn on you and bite if ill treated.

The thing is, we take this same attitude into work. Into jobs without soul, without fulfilment. With colleagues who annoy us and bosses who don’t understand us. And, for the most part, we persevere. Age, circumstance, experience (or lack thereof) meaning very often we try outlast the job. We tell ourselves it’s about stability, promotion, that we are ‘invaluable’. Sometimes our companies feed us the same lies, ‘we couldn’t do without you’.

The fact is, no one is truly indispensable. Not in a work situation. No matter how important you think you are. Empires may fall and rise as despots and leaders are executed or rise. But when they vanish, humanity does carry on and nature finds the vacuum.

That is not to say you shouldn’t enjoy your work and be important and significant in it. That you won’t change lives and make a difference to many.

You just have to remember it’s still just a job. It’s only a part of who you are as a whole.

And more importantly, if you hate it, yes, perhaps it’s not easy to change your circumstance. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. And the surprisingly thing when you do is how many of those people who told you they couldn’t do without you will understand and let you go with greater ease than you thought.

Sometimes because they didn’t like you and are glad you are gone. But sometimes because they are your friends and glad you are going somewhere better.

 

 

 

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Filed under balance, learning, Relationships, social, work

Lost

I lost my purse this weekend.

I am annoyed.

This has never happened to me before so I’m at a bit of a loss.

Ironically I periodically turn out the contents because I think I will lose it but I hadn’t done so lately so I lost more than I normally would.

  • Around 40-45 quid, normally not that much money in there but I had a paranoid turn about taxis and late nights and buying emergency food for a braai that particular day
  • A coffee shop card with all it’s stamps, validating a free coffee, probably worth up to £3.70
  • My drivers licence which I don’t even USE in the UK (Was using it for ID for something weeks ago) This costs £20 to replace and has my address printed on it but so far no joy with honest citizens
  • Random change from around the world, especially the States and a 2 pound coin with the London underground logo as a special print run
  • A series of store loyalty cards. My suspicion is at least one of them has over £20 on it.
  • Receipts for the last million places I have gone
  • Hopefully not two cinema vouchers I’d collected the week before, valid for any cinema within a certain franchise. Value at box office around £20
  • Bank and credit cards. Fortunately they don’t charge you to replace these in the UK but they aren’t that efficient about sending them immediately either so I’m literally cash poor now
  • One silver earring. (I lost the other one but I’ve been convinced I bought three of them so kept the earring in the hopes of finding the last triplet somewhere)

Probably about £100 if not more GONE in one go. They say the average handbag in the UK is valued at well over £250. When you remember people put their phones, ipads, house keys etc into them,  I can see how this is the case.

note to self: Weed out what is in your purse/bag more regularly because you never know when it may go for a walk. And don’t carry the non-essentials with when you don’t need them because they become essential when they are gone.

 

 

 

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Filed under anecdotes, learning, modern living, paranoia, Uncategorized

Justifications of Colonialism

I did an obscure English module on African literature. One of the books was Heart of Darkness, which was not really ‘African’ but boring as hell and written from a white patriarchal viewpoint. This was followed by Things Fall Apart which I preferred but also detested as the other extreme.

It reinforced how I generally have issues with books written about the ‘dark continent’, especially if the literature moves southwards to places and people I may recognise.

I’m just finishing Alexandra Fuller’s Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. I sent an interview she did to a friend of mine who hilariously pointed out how the American interviewer kept referring to her time in ‘Africa’ and she kept going ‘no, just Malawi, Zim and Zaire’. Because, of course, to many abroad, Africa is just one very large country, treating it like the old Soviet Union or China, no discrimination placed on the different tribes and cultures within the large landmass.

The book pulled at my heartstrings because she, like me, will always associate herself with Africa, no matter how long she is away. Ironically so does her father although he only moved there after meeting her mother there on a gap year. This is what the continent does to you.

Near the end of the book is the description of the Zimbabwe I heard about in my childhood, the one where people condescendingly said the country would fall apart as land was repossessed, displacing farmers and their staff, many who had been on the land for decades and knew nowhere else.

It was like Gone with the Wind all over again. The stories of how farm clinics, schools, stores were all shut as the whites had to pull out and fend for themselves leaving behind those in need they had always protected. The argument being freedom has been granted, all men are equal now. The reality that the unequal system also offered protection to those least educated, least able to support themselves. Just as you took care of your property, you took care of the assets on it.

Of course in the long run this is unfair. But so is a blanket land repossession that just displaces everyone there before and offers no protection to the weak.

I’m not sure what the solution is. How does a government manage a slow transition turning farms into cooperatives where people aren’t scared off the places they have lived for years ? How do you educate and be educated in how to manage a large farm rather than a series of sharecropping plots, where people all benefit from the prosperity of good land management and a more equal society?

Oh, there are token examples spread about but these are the exceptions not the rule. In many cases these farmlands were better sustained under their previous owners who’d had decades to learn how to manage large properties.

I worry that my country, my beloved country, could undergo a similar renaissance. And it’s not that I don’t want every man, woman, child, to have equal right to water, housing, education, a place to call home. I just don’t know how you do that fairly.

And how you explain to those receiving that it also means this gift comes with the caveat that ownership also means sacrifice. That when something truly is yours you have to be willing to suffer through the bad times too, there is no government, no baas, no guarantees to social assistance.

Because this is Africa. And these are not first world issues but tangled third world ones with generations of hate, history, oppression only slowly dissipating away.

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Filed under balance, book review, equality, Housing, learning

Similarities between managers, parents and English speakers

As you get older you become less flexible, especially if you are a parent with a child who is unable to compute putting their shoes away even though they are now actually taller than you.

Fact.

As you rise up in the food chain you get more accustomed to people fulfilling your every command.

Fact.

If you only speak English you assume everyone else really wants to speak it too to communicate.

Fact.

So this is how it works if you fall into one or more of the three above catagories.

Someone says something to you which will impact on your life. One of three things occurs.

  • It is not what you wanted them to say as it seriously inconveniences your life in some fashion because they have just stated they either can’t do what you want or won’t do what you want when you want it done
  • You don’t actually believe or understand what they just said to you
  • Everyone jumps to obey your command

If the third option does not happen your solution is to:

  • Say it louder and slower
  • Say it louder and slower and more insistently when the person keeps going ‘no missus, is not possible’
  • Ignore what they are saying and reply, ‘So it’ll be done by tomorrow, yes?’ and walk out to end the conversation in complete bliss that everyone will jump to your command in your absence

And you know what really irritates me in this situation?

The problem is STILL THERE tomorrow. Just because you commanded that tomorrow the moon needs to orbit the sun because an eclipse would suit you does not mean your minions/children/slaves can achieve the task, even if they stay up all night. Or in fact that they want to even if they tried.

I don’t understand how it is the people who are meant to be running things are often the most oblivious to the reality.

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Filed under anecdote, balance, learning