About the author
It is the eleventh day of the tenth month in the eleventh year of the twenty-first century and something strange is happening to me. It is hard to give it a name but I can feel it. It is an awakening to the realisation that after nearly twenty-two years of hard labour, the time has finally come and I am ready to do what I must do.
The feeling I had anticipated with trepidation is not as dramatic as I had imagined it would be. It is gentle, it is seeping like rich red wine through my heart’s vessels, warming and cooling on its way – in and out. I feel this sensation that finally the stop cork that had kept my heart fermenting, frustrated, anticipating and unwilling is giving way and my heart’s main artery can finally link up with the many arteries already in action for the world transfusion that has already started.
As I settle on the sofa to watch Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN and the interview with Tony Bennett, I sense a purpose in what I am about to hear. Then again, most things that happen to me these days feel purposeful like nothing is wasted, nothing is a coincidence and that every experience is linked for learning, for growing, for purpose.
Mr. Bennett did not disappoint. His face glows a glow that tells a story on its own – grace, beauty, peace, dignity, love, wisdom, contentment, joy. These are just some of the adjectives that come to mind as I listen to him speaking and, perhaps, inadvertently teaching. He speaks primarily about his music and his paintings. The interviewer interrupts the flow of the lesson a number of times but he can be forgiven. He may have a chronic form of ‘double consciousnesses’, that Anglo-Saxon syndrome, but he plays his role perfectly. His questions are purposeful. Clearly, he is a very clever man on a mission; whether he succeeds at it or not.
Mr. Bennett makes reference to a lesson he had once had to heed himself, the danger of sinning against his talent. This hits home suddenly, very hard. I sit up and begin to take serious note. He talks about how he feels blessed that the level of success he is now experiencing came to him at the age of eighty-five. It hits home even harder. For more than half a century, this man achieved uninterrupted success as a singer. Yet, here he is admitting to not being ready until now to experience the type of success he is meant to be experiencing; and that perhaps had he had it earlier he could have ended up like Elvis Presley or Marilyn Monroe; and may I add, Amy Winehouse with whom he recently did a duet.
The issue of “sinning against one’s talent” affects me deeply because I understand so much what he means. Here I am, on the cusp of releasing my writings to the world, terrified about what it may or may not mean for me; and really wanting to connect with an audience I do so sincerely believe in. It is a feeling that is so complex that it just might be inexplicable; having the ability to communicate with one’s fellow man and woman, as we all do, but being so fearful of this ability that we never get to do it.
There isn’t that much difference between the blockages that handicap Joe or Josephine Blog from expressing themselves in these little ways and Amy or Marilyn or Elvis who experienced the privilege of sharing their talents on a global stage. The only difference that I can see is that they got to be adored and revered and pitied, unlike Joe or Josephine. They expressed their talents alright but are they much different from Joe or Josephine Blog in their pain, their despair and inability to reconcile themselves with their talent, to accept themselves or even their roles? Had they not sinned against their talent so to speak – the former for being self-destructive and the latter for being too scared to dare?
And yet, I believe that they came to play their roles perfectly! It really is not an issue for judgment over who does and does not sin. I don’t think that is what Mr. Bennett is alluding to. It is about being aware of having talent, a role or a purpose and choosing not to respect it or revere it and in essence not making use of it. Mr. Bennett woke up to this realisation in the midst of a self-destructive drug binge. Many didn’t back then and, like Amy, still, don’t today.
By the time the lessons from the maestro ends, I feel the shift within me strengthen. I have to do it even though it scares me. Although I have no time for religion and the notion of sinning, I do understand Mr. Bennett’s meaning. To not do it will be to sin against my talent, my family, my friends, all those people who continue to support my writings and believe in the message of love and celebration of our individual and collective humanity and of overcoming, that I convey. It is a message laced with the pain and heartache of overcoming the blockages of anger, hatred, despair and suffering that our conditioning often lodges in our hearts as it is about the process of thinking and feeling our way to healing.
Mr Bennett gave me the courage to finally believe that there is an audience, which may be big or small, which wants to hear a voice that speaks from the heart about the issues of our time, honestly and unadulterated; that celebrates our collective and individual humanity, that keeps the flame of hope alive that we can evolve beyond our limited intellectual ‘caveman’ consciousness as he describes it; a voice that has chosen not to sin against the opportunity it has been given to speak up, trusting that it is time and that she can do it, even if in the guise of her alter ego. Let the art speak for itself is how his son and manager put it. If it does, the audience will emerge, free from spin, commercialisation, and cynicism.
The world needs to move on, to evolve, transform, renew itself but it must do so naturally and it must do so, as far as it can, using both its emotional and intellectual faculties. Emotions that have not been subject to our intellectual scrutiny run riot. It is why our world is in the mess it is. Too much emphasis on the intellect without the barometer of our feelings to test the authenticity or congruency of our thoughts is equally responsible for the chaos. Women trained by a narrative to feel but not to think and men trained by this very same narrative to think but not to feel has left generation after generation of children trapped in a vicious cycle of fragmentation, and as prey to ruthless marketers who exploit our insecurities. Authentic change must feel good not only at an intellectual level but at the heart level too.
How would that make you feel? is designed to contribute to this process, by engaging ordinary men and women in the issues that I write about – the hot button issues of gender, race, class, and religion which invariably inflame our minds or our hearts. They are the bread and butter issues that must be tackled before we can begin to contemplate the future of our planet. If we don’t respect our fellow men, because we still cling to the caveman consciousness that Mr. Bennett talks about, how can we be expected to care about our environment as the cavemen did, in our fast-paced technologically advanced world? If we are enslaved by our lifestyles and un-fulfilments, how can we be called upon to empathise with the suffering of the starving and the physically enslaved even though our fortunes are bound so closely together?
This blog will give you the opportunity to begin to explore, in small bites, your thoughts, and feelings on these issues from random extracts – snippets and sneak peeks – of chapters from the book series.
As I gift the bulk of the proceeds of this book series to the BGUN of Africa community, I can only hope that this project, as just one of the many networks of metaphorical arteries, capillaries, and veins opening up all over the world, will help to sustain our new-found courage to move for change. We must dare to root for change; knowing that change begins with me and you, individuals. As we grow in numbers, the shift will come, giving our consciousness a chance to evolve further into a higher level of being – loving, peaceful and contented.
The world knows we deserve a break.
Enjoy, reflect and hope you feel the change.
Post-Script: In the end, it took me eleven years to truly feel ready to not sin against any talent that I might have. I could never have imagined back then that it would be such a hard task to achieve. I now really understand what Mr. Bennett was talking about. (;