The words of the tongue should have three gatekeepers:
Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
Last week I had one of those days where everything seemed to happening at once. Vital tasks were piling up; big decisions needed to be made; deadlines were brought forward as projects were rearranged by circumstances out of my control. Payments had to be made, presentations had to be prepared and presented. I was swamped. My response to all this was to do everything faster, speed the process up. My logic being that the more tasks I could fit into an hour the faster everything would return to normal. Rushing around like Speedy Gonzales merged into Road Runner worked for a while, but things fell back and soon I was rushing and swamped. Things were now in danger of getting completely out of hand.
What saved me was I remembered wise words that have been tested through out the ages and are as relevant now in the 21st century as they were when they were first verbalised. Every culture seems to have a version of the following proverb:
Waswahili wanasema “haraka haraka haina baraka”
The English: Haste makes waste
A mind that is fast is sick
A mind that is slow is sound
A mind that is still divine
All human evil comes from this:
a man’s being unable to still still in a room.
The world today is all about speed. How fast we can complete a task, how fast our computers are, how fast our cars are, the quickest route hapa na pale. To an extent that is fine. Who wants a slow computer after all? But although the world moves at what is sometimes breathtaking speed I am beginning to appreciate that our minds work better when they slow down. When we can retreat into our mind and see things clearly. I always used to think, “Haraka haraka haina baraka” referred to physical tasks, now I am convinced it relates mainly to mental tasks, to the mind. Slow down the mind, our ancestors are telling us, and everything else will fall into place.
Martial art film fans can testify how when the film director wants to highlight a special fighter he slows down the fight when we see it in the eyes of that fighter. While for everyone else the fight is progressing at a terrific speed, for the hero the fight is almost in slow motion (a concept brilliant borrowed/highlighted/stolen by the makers of The Matrix trilogy.)
I had the pleasure of attending a school that had its spiritual base in the Quaker tradition of the Christian faith. Quakers, The Religious Society of Friends to use their proper name, have many good practices. The two most famous ones are probably non violence and silence. Quaker meetings place a lot of emphasis on silence. Be still with your thoughts and listen to your heart, to your mind, to your God.
At the Quaker school I attended assembly everyday would finish with around 5 minutes of silence. In addition, every Wednesday for morning assembly the whole school would sit in silence for around an hour. Imagine that. A whole school from Standard 1 all the way to A-Levels, all the teaching staff, in one hall, sitting in silence, for one hour. If anyone wanted to say anything they could stand up and say it to the whole school without fear. For the first few weeks it felt completely strange. After a few months it felt completely normal and even vital to having a productive week. Most Wednesdays no one would stand up to share. Sometimes a couple of people would share something. Mostly though it was silence. Those silent assemblies are something every school should implement!
Well back to my crazy day. I decided to go home and be still for a couple of hours. It didnâ€™t matter that it was the middle of the day or that there were a million things to do. I knew that instead of speeding up which had been my initial response, I needed to slow down completely. To use todayâ€™s terminology when your computer is running many programmes and the virtual memory is working overtime sometimes it is easier AND faster to CRTL-ALT-DEL and start all over again. One step back, two steps forward. I went home, I lay down and when I got up I basically restarted my day. Now if I can do that for a crazy day why canâ€™t I do that for a crazy week, a crazy month, a crazy year? I think I can.
“I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale;
handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail;
only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick;
I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”
Happy Birthday “The Greatest”
Aside: I now have my blog back from the bleeding 500/302 black hole, let the noise begin!
Aside part deux: Go Kenya Go!, now that’s what i call a spanking! (and a spanking brilliant way to start World Cup year).
Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa has a beautiful campus with excellent facilities. The newest building on this campus is the Africa Media Matrix which hold the School of Journalism.
The AMM is the base for the Digital Citizens Indaba. This journalism school features brand new TV studios with professional studio equipment. Brand new radio studios. In their finally year students form media companies and these companies have offices in the building. They have massive computer labs and the whole building has wireless broadband. The walls are decorated with historical pictures, original art work, autographed books by Rhodes Alumni,and pieces of media art. In short it is a very impressive building.
The best thing however, yes even better than the wireless broadband internet which by the way is powered by some serious looking equipment, comme ca:
Yes even better than that wireless system and the historical pictures. The best thing about this building is the place where many of us do our best work, the toilets.
The tiles in the toilets are decorated with quotes on the media from various sources. It makes for very interesting reading. Here are a small selection.
From the famous historical:
Three estates in parliament; but in the Reporters’ gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth estate more important far than they all.
To the calls to action
Make it your pledge to keep Africa on the front pages of the world’s newspapers and television screens. And not just the bad news, because great and good things which take place on this continent often go unreported.
To the beautifully surreal
Radio lets people see things with their own ears.
New York Times editorial
To the uncompromisingly honest
Only cowards and panic-mongers will think of surrendering to this threat (of apartheid).
The African proverb
The cock that crows in the morning belongs to one household but his voice is the property of the neighbourhood.
Some give advice
Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.
To the funny
You cannot hope to bribe or twist (thank God!) the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.
An editor is one who separates the wheat from the chaff and prints the chaff.
Adlai E. Stevenson
Yeah my camera goes everywhere with me because you never know!
There is nothing noble in being superior to some other person. True nobility is being superior to your former self.
Iâ€™m not the man I could be, and Iâ€™m certainly not the man I want to be, but thank God Iâ€™m not the man I used to be.
Martin Luther King Jr
Show me; and I will remember.
Involve me; and I will understand forever.
What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand.