Debrief After A Literary Pilgrimage

How do I start a gratitude piece for all the bountiful harvest that I have partaken in? That is the question that has been pushing me closer and closer to debriefing from a truly magnificent and perfect-in-every-form-ten-week-whirlwind of an American rendezvous. Well, as the trip fully and without any compromise demonstrated to me, perhaps I should start by thanking myself for the sheer tenacity, determination, courage, faith, and pure passion that has driven me to be still and hear, and be fully awake to see the signs as they presented themselves to me; to have trusted my perception instead of doubt it; to have shunned any inkling of doubt or fear; and to have honoured my own voice that has consequentially led me to my own truth.

I feel validated in my beliefs, gratified by my journey, closer to my relentless vision, and inspired to be extraordinary. I have seen in clear daylight the intensity of my own power; the unparalleled spark of possibility lying, dormant, seeking engagement with those driven by pure intentions to be creators in their own worlds; the spontaneous combustion between possibility and determination, initiative and faith, knowledge of self and passion; and the sheer magic that can be woven and witnessed in one whose higher self is in direct alignment with self. I am now possessed by a thousand thundering voices that speak with me, and through me. Where I once had shoulders I now have wings…

I am now more certain that ever that we are one with all living entities; the earth and its magnificent solar systems (this is no joke; the full moons and mercury in retrograde had me in full grips, begging for ‘normality’), the animals, plants, and human beings all form a cosmic and holistic part of who we are. I only exist because of all those living things. And there is no living without the dead—the persistent balance and harmony of life—so I have tasted the sweetest connections of them all; being awake in more worlds than this physical one; hearing, seeing, and feeling the intensity of the moment; but most importantly, trusting the moment and taking notes that I consequently use as a blueprint of my vision and dreams. Let no one succeed in convincing you your physical body is all you are!

I have grown spiritually, emotionally, mentally, intellectually, and cosmically on the literary pilgrimage I took from Amsterdam to New York, to Washington DC, to Chicago, to San Francisco/Oakland/Berkeley, to Los Angeles; following and being followed by the footstep of a sage whose guiding hand, embrace, and mentorship—felt, heard and seen without his physicality—has led me to treasures of my own soul, of the larger cosmic world of our people, of the South African literary landscape, and of the broader black diaspora. The magnitude of the alchemy on this trip is to be fully experienced in the forthcoming months of writing this dissertation, this book, and producing this documentary. I have grown creatively too. I am decidedly embroiled in the cosmic world of the arts, where being a writer has so seamlessly and without any fear or favour led me to being a filmmaker: an art form that I have enormous respect for.

I trust myself more than ever. I am not the chosen one, but I chose myself to be the one for this task. Perhaps I should rephrase and say InI (I and eye—third eye perception and reception. I’ve explained this in detail here https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/ini-self-n-divine-self/ ) chose myself; perceived of self as capable, and received the ordained calling as my own. As the wisdom of the elders does state clearly, we exist in duality, like any product of nature and life—the yin and the yan, the body and the life force, the physical and the metaphysical—must be in unison. My life force and metaphysical self, the other ‘I’ in InI, are now lounging languidly with my physical self, at one, in perfect harmony, pregnant with larger-than-my-physical-body possibilities. My voice is stronger than ten weeks ago, and my resolve is only perfectly demonstrated by the image of being possessed by a thousand thundering voices. I move because I am moved…

What follows is a continuation of a photo essay that started here

https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/the-golden-years/

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I travelled to Washington DC to interview poet, legendary jazz critic and literary historian A.B. Spellman, who was warm and happy to walk down memory lane with me

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Karen Spellman was an active member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which Keorapetse Kgositsile joined seamlessly when he arrived in the States

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I went to meet my mentor, Professor James Miller, at the George Washington University. He was the first person who ever introduced the term ‘Black Atlantic’ to me at Wits in my Honours year, and I have been dreaming about conducting research in this field since he ran a fascinating course mapping the similarities in black South African and black American cultures in the 20th century

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Fall/Autumn is pumpkin season and America has quite a family of them I tell you. All shapes, colours, textures, sizes, and flavours…

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…but what do you do with so much pumpkins? Well, they have all kinds of pumpkin yumminess like pumpkin chai tea/coffee, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin pie, pumpkin waffles, etc. Pumpkin chai tea with hot milk really moved me to tears

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Of course while I was in town I thought I’d pop in and have tea with my girl Mitchelle, but the security guards had something else on their minds. They’ve since been fired 🙂

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Maybe something major was happening at Mitchelle’s house! I mean snipers on top of her house?? Really??

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The area between Capitol Hill and Lincoln Memorial gave way to an area of feeling deep in my heart. I was filled with all kinds of conflicting emotions from disgust to triumph

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I really really love how artists engage with the city, especially at the Washington Square in New York. It is a beautiful square with all kinds of artists, and they are well-respected if the tipping is anything to go by

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The student becomes the teacher. The interviewee becomes the interviewer

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On my last night in NYC I managed to score tickets to a Talib Kweli performance. What an amazing experience to hear him, feel him, and be entertained by him in his native New York…

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Kweli is a lyricist extraordinaire, and I was pleased that the sound at the legendary Blue Notes did justice to his flow

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I have been to quite a lot of jazz performances and festivals, but never have I seen a trumpeter display such barbaric devotion to his instrument – breaking all the rules

Common Sense Concert

I arrived in Chicago on the 20th September, and the next day I prepped to dance away at this dream line up. The special guest was Kanye West, and I have to admit that I absolutely enjoyed his performance despite my better judgement of the man

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In Chicago I managed to link up with my brother Ignatius from Polokwane. It was great to speak Sepedi in Chicago and crack ourselves over the mundane and magical

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Sterling Plumpp – the man who made almost everything worthwhile. He led me in the right direction and guided me gently into the very dense jungle that is the political and cultural life of Keorapetse Kgositsile. I am forever indebted to him

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During this interview with Keorapetse Kgositsile’s daughter, Ipeleng Aneb Kgositsile, we were visited by fireflies, hummingbirds, and butterflies. It was beyond magical. In that hot Oakland weather I was suffering (with pleasure) from chills

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The way I loved the bay area – San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley – was truly special. It will forever remain my dream destination and crush address

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Don’t even ask! Okay, I’ll tell you. I went into a shop, looked around, and next thing I know there was an impromptu photoshoot and wine #hides

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The beauty of the bay area. It reminded me of Cape Town with all its beautiful hills and mountains, winelands, botanical gardens, and laid back culture

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I missed this documentary to celebrate 20 years of Illmatic the album, and as I was minding my own business buying books I came across this poster and immediately heeded the calling

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Ipeleng Aneb Kgositsile

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We caught Fourplay at the legendary Yoshi’s Jazz Bar in Oakland; one of the most reputable jazz bars in the world. The owner, Yoshi, is a Japanese beauty of soul and spirit whom I’ve been fortunate enough to spend an intense afternoon with.

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The saxophonist and trombonist are from Oakland School of Arts, a public school where I have had the pleasure of teaching a literature lesson on Kgositsile. 51 Oakland, an NGO ran by Jason Hoffman and Yoshi, helps with putting arts and music back in public schools. These are the results of their work. These public school learners are playing with a legendary Latino band

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I felt the power of this NGO’s work. This youngster from a public school displayed so much skill on the trombone, and all the applause certainly gave him positive self esteem and motivation

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My lens caught this wonderful child

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Universe please conspire!! I need to live here, even if it is for a two year fellowship, or even better, getting a post at the Berkeley campus of the University of California…

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This is the NGO in discussion, 51 Oakland, and one of the co-founders Jason Hoffman. I met Jason through Ipeleng, and he was jsut so generous and kind enough to host me at his house during my stay in the bay area. There was something magical in our interaction, which has led me to my own treasures

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I helped out at the event where the students were playing; selling T-shirts and garnering support for the organisation. This has moved me to decidedly be more involved in the caring for others and making a difference in the less fortunate’s lives. A challenge I take on keenly

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Take Off Your Mask

Mother earthh

The best thing about being in an adult, which can ironically be simultaneously the worst thing, depending on your general disposition, is that you get to decide everything about your life. When you are a child under your parents’ care, they are trusted aides that can secure you in the backseat, passively journeying onwards. But then you grow up, and everything about you and your path lies entirely in your hands. You become the sole proprietor of the spiritual, emotional, psychological, sexual, and physical businesses of your life.

Ultimately there can be no one who tells you to change your job based on your visceral sadness in your work environment; nobody can tell you to leave your emotionally abusive relationship(s); nobody can decide that since you have such deep yearnings to travel it’s time you cashed in your pensions and finally took that trip; and absolutely nobody can decide for you when it is the right time to have children, join the gym, get married, get divorced, seek counselling, or start eating healthy.

This is the best thing about being an adult if you are secure and confident in your every stride. It is empowering and promises perpetual validation when you are in sync with your needs and make conscious decisions to pursue change. All of the things we have to make decisions on are about one thing: change. Change can be scary, but resisting it can stunt your growth. So ultimately, decisions have to be made, change has to be embraced, and growth must be a natural state in our lives.

The great existentialists spoke about this anxiety born in adults who cannot possibly fathom that their destinies are in their hands. Most people indeed wish they could hand over their very agencies to live a life of their making. This would essentially mean you choose to renounce your very essence, your inherent resolve, sensibilities, and desire. It would mean you give up your life force and choose stagnancy and death of the true self. It would mean you choose to conform and hide from the winds of change instead of setting sail and being propelled by them.

We are humans, not animals. You are you, not the next person. So take off that mask! You are dynamically charged with the triumphant DNA of your ancestry, who have walked with the sheer resolve of living that is unparalleled. You are the sum total of that dynamism, resolve, and triumph. You are not here by mistake; you breathe the very fuel of life. Live your life. Don’t be afraid. Do not fear change; take risks, dabble in the gamble of personal success, look out for yourself, and always know that ‘normal’ is a concept created to make us second guess ourselves. Go out and conquer fear—wage a war with yourself, and your true self shall be revealed.

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In other news, I was put on these amazing guys called Koffie, Dutch, who are inspired by the music of Fela Kuti so immensely. I love their stuff, and have bought both their albums on iTunes… Do good!

Apathy is the Hole in our Whole

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There’s a beautiful truth that will save us from the trap of apathy and procrastination that perpetually guzzles our plans into an abyss of a never-coming tomorrow: there is no tomorrow! There is only today. In fact, there is only NOW. Every moment we live and experience is always NOW. The concept of time as a linear continuum that moves from compartments of past, to present, to future; of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, is a Western concept of time that is based on a socially constructed Roman calendar with its attendant trappings.

Time is not linear but cyclic. Apathy is brought on by the belief that tomorrow will be different from today, or next year will be a better year to do something. The truth that glares at us is that, just like seasons of the year, there is no major difference between last year and this year; they are both years that constitute the seasons of our lives that are cyclic. The only way they are different is in relation to our growth (both physical and otherwise), because as we know nature abhors stasis so there will always be evolution of humans, plants, animals, and all living matter; and as long as they exist in nature, their lives will be cyclic.

My biggest lesson of last year and in continuum NOW is that if you are a writer, write! If you are involved in creativity, it is your prerogative to release yourself from the trap of linear time and exist in a space that allows you to create at your most optimum. There’s a particular charged energy that propels us to create, and procrastination can only be birthed from that energy: a wasted energy that has to recede and perish unceremoniously. That energy is the difference between possibility and hopelessness: being and nothingness.

apathy2That energy may never be regained. It is the key to a world where you can be a creator by making something out of nothing. It is a sacred space charged with positively flowing magnetism that ropes all existences together into NOW. The mental image of all possibility framed into a reality within reach is an image tantamount to a miracle, jostling you into action to discover the nexus of your creative being. There, in that hub of possibility, choose creation. Choose NOW, not tomorrow, not later, not next year.

The nectar of the seasons does dry out and crust over what could have been. Where there was once possibility there is now just a bump in the interflow of energies. Apathy and procrastination are the enemies of harmonious creative energy. They create speed bumps in the vitality of thought; they function to block the unending passages of the rituals of creativity. They mute the cantations of a charged vibrant heart—the heart, the seat of passion, should be given free reign, especially in the moment that seeks to meet you halfway and guide your soul to ecstasy. Purposeful action NOW is the path to pure uninhibited happiness.

Let us see your works. Let us share in the creations of your heart. Let’s live in the house of our legacies. NOW!

Who We Be

Nina

I’m inspired by this image as I am roaming the head space of various geniuses from the black diaspora, who defied the odds and humanised themselves when the world told them their cultures were not worthy, their languages were but a cacophony of indecipherable non-sense, their music was noise, and their progressive ideas were crazy.

Those are the crazy geniuses my life work is dedicate to: John Coltrane not giving a goddamn thang about rules and boundaries of the jazz world, blasting open the square they seek to stifle him in. Pharoah Sanders removing the cloak that straitjackets his soul with much ease; with Thembi: ‘Morning Prayer’, ‘Astral Travelling’, and ‘Red, Black & Green’.

Fela2How about that crazy motherfucker Fela Anikulapo Kuti, our black president? What kind of species of genius is that? The kind to shape Zeitgeist and propel the world forward; turning the country on its head and rocking the nation and continent with Nigerian funk … Meanwhile injecting black politics with home-brewed satire resounding in tunes he would belt out from  his unclothed chest.

That crazy, young, gifted, and black rebel Nina took to the arena and seduced white hegemony till they involuntarily leaped onto their feet and shook rigid waists to the sound of See-line woman and Mississipi Goddam … God dammit woman!! Where do you get that voice that ties all black experience together and make it one?

How about that indomitable lioness Aretha with her Harlem funk flexing the vocal chords until they shake chains off the ghettoes of America, Ghana, and South Africa; until you would find your hands in the air worshipping unchained spirits of those who have come, are here, and are still to come. Aretha of aesthetics, polishing the grime off the ghetto…

Robert Nesta Marley the naturally mystical dread scribe who moved the world with love that is one and ties all into one. We dub you father and master of the mystic and natural: you demonstrate that black art is black magic; magic is not ominous but miracles that spring out of jewels we were born with. Inside not outside – “don’t gain the world and lose your soul. Wisdom is better than silver or gold”.

There’s music in the air; we revere sound for it is omnipresent and transcendental. It moves with ease in leaps and bounds and will always tie experiences together. When Harlem was Sophiatown, and Masekela played Louis Armstrong’s trumpet we all heard it and continue to move closer to it. Our imaginations soar and we continue to shape sound that will change the world. And that’s not Crazy!!

Who we be

And to other vilified and celebrated crazy motherfuckers that changed the world: Prince, Billie Holiday, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendricks, James Brown, Miles Davis, B.B King, … too many to mention. Thanks for giving us the bravado to celebrate difference!

I leave you with this crazy motherfucker:

Purposeful Action

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Habits are born out of actions we do for at least five days in a row. That’s what I believe. Moreover, when your actions are purposeful, then you catch onto that habit holistically. If you have serious desires to find a job of your deepest wishes, eat healthier, exercise more, drink water, write a blog/thesis/book, or whatever else; you have to firstly concretise your reasons for wanting it so badly, which will give you purpose for going out there and getting it. You have to have hope, faith and courage to forsake most things and focus your energy on those wishes, and you have to come back to your own centre to be able to receive a clear voice that will guide you and propel you forward.

Once you want to change your life for the better, that’s exactly what it means, change! If you want to visit the gym regularly, you have to see what you can forsake in order to create time for that. If you want to lose weight you have to look at your eating patterns and see what to forsake. If you want to write you have to start with one sentence. How bad do you want it? What’s at stake? What is in the way of you getting it? And how much do you stand to equally lose and gain? Those are motivating questions to get you started. Growing up essentially means depletion: you will inevitably choose this over that—contrary to popular belief, there are enough hours in the day. We must focus on purposeful action.

I would like to take this opportunity to inspire you as much as you have inspired me to change my life. I have moved, in four weeks, from a lethargic, surly, and dull me to the best me I’ve ever known. I have allowed myself, in the past, to be swallowed by negative energy to a point where I thought I was melancholic (if you’ve ever watched Lars von Trier’s melancholia then you get it). This was a result of waking up tired, having a fuzzy cloud in my head, my body sore from sleeping for too long, and being generally dissatisfied with the course of my life. This led to bad eating habits and being a basket case to my husband.

One morning in January I woke up and knew exactly what to do (considering that my life was otherwise great, and actually quite privileged). I joined the gym and took up yoga lessons, stopped drinking and smoking, and started juicing and opting for healthier food choices. I am so dedicated to gym, and I cycle 17km’s in 40 minutes right now, and am going for glory; I have made that choice, I wanted it badly so I gave it my all for five days in a row, and now I cannot imagine spending a day without spinning and yoga. Yoga has been essential in unblocking my energies and helping me appreciate and celebrate my vision to write a sound thesis that will make a tremendous contribution to my field of study.

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Oatmeal with roasted sunflower seeds, topped with sliced nectarine, pecan nuts, blueberries, cinnamon, goji berries, and a dollop of plain yoghurt

I have always made good eating choices, but when you’re unhappy with yourself you have those days you scoff a rack of ribs unconsciously, not even paying attention to their taste or portion. Comfort eating it is called. But now I have found comfort in climbing mountains and hiking with friends, which allows for true meaningful connections that don’t involve alcohol. I have been inspired to eat more grains and seed, which all contribute to a fibre rich diet, which means rapid digestion, feeling regular, having high metabolism, and being energetic all day.

I’d like to share with you the best way to eat seeds, legumes, and fruits/vegetables every day (this was central to our ancestor’s diet). This is also great for your children; to start them from an early age so they can also pick up good habits of eating healthy and feeling energetic all day. My husband brought this habit into our home: have a salad with every evening meal. I would add to that and say, roast some seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, linseeds) and sprinkle them on your salad. Alternatively, you may roast those seeds and put them in your oatmeal for breakfast. Kids will love it too. Breakfast is the most important meal, that’s why mine looks this way. I also put pecan nuts, goji berries, blueberries, cinnamon, and seasonal fruit in my oatmeal. This is just full of bursts of creative energy. You want that wonderful energy will take you through the day.

Purposeful action <> Hope <> Faith <> Courage <> Resourcefulness <> Good Habits

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Balance, Harmony, and Lightness of Being

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The human brain is an engine, and like any other engine it is in top form when it’s young and new. Growing up means it goes through wear and tear of everyday experience, and starts to slow down, needing service and refurbishments, and seeking to be consistently oiled and taken care of. And just like an engine it starts to clog up, function with much industrious difficulty, and becomes sluggish, dragging the body with it. It is of utmost importance that we service our brain, optimise its functionality, and assist its everyday working to preserve it for the long run.

I have to confess that as much I follow a very healthy diet, I do not exercise. My body and brain in the past year have been perforated by sluggishness—a tiredness that grew and grew out of proportion the more I tried to rest. This slowed me down, got me unmotivated, and reduced me to a somnambulist dragging her feet through life wearing metal shoes. When your body is feeling this way, it takes a toll on the brain engine: I found I needed to channel a lot more energy just to read a book; I wasn’t motivated to hike up any mountain; and of course my PhD suffered most.

Since dreaming about dying last week, I proclaim “no more”! Dying signified rebirth, and I am embracing a better life of physical and mental health, which go hand in hand. I have stopped drinking and smoking (yes mom I used to smoke socially); started cycling, which is the most exciting thing and makes me feel like I’m in Amsterdam; joined the gym, which I started yesterday, and will elaborate on it below; and have completely adopted a better approach to life: juicing vegetables every day, waking up all of three hours earlier, and cutting meat out of my diet.

This year I’m turning 30, and it has brought with it decisive moments. I want to be proud of myself instead of a sluggish somnambulist; I want to be available on a fuller level to those I care about; I want to say yes to invites to hike up Lion’s Head; I want to feel every muscle in my body; I want to a better lecturer to my students; I want to be the best wife to Reineir; I want to be up early on a Saturday morning to join yoga at gym; I want to cycle the Cape Argus; I want to be Dr Phalafala-Smit! All these desires: all possible though positive brain function and a healthy lifestyle. Period!   Blue

Zone Fitness: Kloof Street

Yesterday morning I woke up and sighed hopelessly, as I have done most of the days the past year. My morning routine includes doing 50 sit-ups in bed before I proceed to make tea. Lately it’s been getting more difficult to get to 45, then to 40, and then just avoiding the whole thing entirely, leading to disappointment in myself: the worst feeling one can experience.

I did a harsh overhaul and took stock of my life, this time for the positive, and not towards deeming myself a useless sloth. I checked who I am, where I am, and what I’m doing: I’m a privileged young woman, married to the love of my life, living in recently-voted best city to live in in the world, doing life work that fulfils me. So then what is the problem?

I haven’t serviced the engine that is my brain and body in a long time. Yes, through mental activity like blogging, writing my thesis, and having ‘intellectual’ chats with my best friend Richard I have toned the brain, but the body was suffering a malfunction. The body, just like the brain, is made up of muscles that are intended for motion, not inertia.

I am privileged. I am smart. My body is communicating with me. I must respond. I picked up the little I have of exercising clothes and headed for gym. I had a particular gym in mind: Zone Fitness on Kloof Street. This gym is only for women and has fantastic facilities. After explaining to the admin lady that no, I can’t take a year contract because I live in two hemispheres, we signed, paid, then got to it.

Muscles have memory I can tell you that much. The minute I got on the treadmill my body immediately gave itself to exercise. That is just who I am from a young age: a soccer player, a gymnast, an athlete, a netball captain, and an energiser bunny. It really was like riding a bike. I felt muscles waking up with zealous energy, and congratulating me on heeding their call. I spent 2 hours waking myself to me.

The gym itself is great. It has a huge sauna, a Jacuzzi (which I used to get the blood circulating in my body going), a sun bed (a complete MUST in my books 🙂 ; classes that range from yoga, pilates, aerobics, spinning, and dance; access to personal trainers to help your reach your goals; and beautiful, homely bathrooms which you can use to move from gym straight to work.

This morning I have an induction, where I will have a personal trainer for an hour, listening to personal issues like my capped knee from soccer injuries, and subsequently recommending exercises and machines for me. That’s it. The power of the mind when all else seem to lack direction. My serotonin levels are high, I am full of energy, and I am conquering in my small corner. Now I can finally enjoy the quality of my life. This is the life I choose to live! Now…

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It’s about balance…

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… harmony…

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… and lightness of being

***These are not New Year resolutions; these are resolves: I am bigger than yesterday, I want to be wiser than yesterday, I want to use my mind and body as an engine to propel me forward to my dreams, I want it now, and I have the means to make it happen. Not in the new year, but in my life.

This song is dope!

I Have No Skin

Be

Last week I found myself speaking candidly to a young beautiful writer in Durban, as she shared her fears and reservations about starting a blog. She felt a particular doubt about having something valuable to share with her readers. There is something there, I thought. I remember especially being hard on myself, for I started writing creatively at 19, only to have a long hiatus between 24 and 28. I scolded myself for having neglected the very life source of my wellbeing. Why was I not writing? And why is this blog only emerging in my final year of my 20s?

Well, like I said to the young beautiful and adventurous woman, age has got something to with it here I’m afraid. At 21 I published a book of poetry, Raisibe, and it was received well. What I can say about that book is that it will never be reprinted or revived because it emerged out of a space that conquered the world but had not yet conquered self. Youthful endeavours are special because nobody can advice your far-reaching sense of adventure. Nobody can tame it. Nobody should. But with age you manage not to tame but prune and trim your own wilderness so it may grow productively. At this age now I know better than to write a book without having read any.

Age is like concentric circles. The younger you are the further you are from the centre of that circle. The twenties are most turbulent (puberty is just a sick joke), and the various proximities we share with the unlawful, toxic, dangerous, divine, sensitive, hurtful, lies, disadvantaged, opportunities, and blunders can only function to bring us closer to ourselves. The late 20s are for exhaling. Everything that erupts must converge. You start to quieten down and remove various onion skins of your past: friends are trimmed down, Friday nights are spent with feet up, nesting with home-made guacamole, and relationships with others become meaningful and divine.

In other words, you are beginning to make the world secondary to your own being. You start looking inside yourself more than outside. You are seeking a truth that is your own, a narrative to speak with your own tongue, and a voice that is uniquely yours. There is a special sense of achievement in knowing just what and who you are. That cannot happen without experience, and it is an ongoing process. The journey is long, but the best thing would be to document it. If you are a writer, write. Start writing without thinking about an audience. Find your voice. Find an unapologetic stance and ideologies that perfectly capture the nuances of who you are.

I am 30. I feel a sense of achievement and gluttonous anticipation to see what other truths open themselves to me. Today I am without skin. I used to have a thick one. I have shed it for the benefit of my own soul.

ImageI am without skin,

I have no beginning or end.

I am of the trees and animals,

of the moon and the stars.

I am of the wind, fire, water, earth

 

I have many hearts,

they beat in places disparate.

I have planted love and light

in those who water my garden.

I have sons and daughters

not of my own devices.

 

I am their mother,

I am those wondrous arms

that pulsate with warmth

from my many hearts.

For I am without skin

 

I see with my third eye the magic of my own presence.

I perceive with my solar plexus the truth of universes.

I smell the dung that has sprouted and given shape to these thought patterns.

I live in the ancestral time zones so I taste the future.

I hear trom-boning staccatos prying the bone of essence open!

I am that animal whose colours and reverberations are known by few hearts.

Still my hearts beat with many hearts, for I have no skin.

 

This may as well be a letter to my sons and daughters: the 20s are not a safe place; they are a dangerous place to live. You cannot shed your skin, you may not put the fences away without putting in their place ideologies that shape who you are and in turn shape your place in the world. Find your own truth. Find your voice and set it free unapologetically. The more you hone in your concentric circle, the more you realise what is worthy of your senses: your sensuality, sensibilities, and sensitivities. There will come a time when you naturally gravitate to your own centre. You want to know then who deserves you at your barest, when you have no skin.

Furthermore, there is no sanctuary to be found without purposeful action. Whatever you do must be in the service of the community and in the upliftment of your fellow sentient. These words may be paraphrased from Ingoapele Madingoane and Keorapetse Kgositsile, but they ring an eternal truth. I say to you now: the world as we know it has gravitated furthest from itself; we have no spirit of humbling ourselves to nature, and we insist on being possessors of worldly goods. There is no joy to be found there. True joy is without bounds or territory.

When you fence a fruit tree expect to receive less than it can offer. We are fruit trees. Our juices seek to flow, our fruits yearn to be picked, our roots thirst to be nourished, and our leaves will surely fall with the seasons. You do not chop down a tree that shows no life. You give it a chance and look above, below, and forward to the next season. We are fruit trees, we are here for the consummation of others: we live with birds, with insects, reptiles, moons, stars, humans, floods, and lightning; we are the beginning and the end. Without ego we are true embodiments of love.

Toni Morrison