Martians and Earthlings

That the book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, sold over two million copies1 lends credence to something I read: women spend more time thinking about what men think than men spend thinking. If you’re rolling your eyes, I’ll rephrase. That the book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, sold over two million copies lends credence to something we already know: men are from Mars, women are from Earth.

When a friend brought the poster2 that inspired the one below to my attention, “Hilarious!” was my response. But, I wondered what motivated the author to coin the words? Was it true? Was it a joke? Was it a barb aimed at Steve Harvey enthusiasts?

 

think like a man

 

I asked several brave men who saw the poster to let their thoughts roam and pen flow. I hope you’ll join the conversation beginning Sunday. Perhaps, if you keep an open mind, you might learn or disagree with a thing or two. Or you’ll share your laughter with a friend or three.

If you missed The Hunter Games, now might be a good time to catch up.

 

Take lemons, make life, & jump for joy!

timi

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Steve Harvey’s book rose to number one on The New York Times Bestseller list after its release in 2009. A feature movie, a sequel to the movie, and an expanded version of the book has since been released.
  2. The original poster: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154257033455431&set=a.10151940356485431.878240.602760430&type=1&theater

 

 

 

 

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An Open Mind . . . Really?

open mind

This thing about having an open mind, sha . . .

 

So, my friend is twenty. When I visit her blog, I find only photos.

“Oh, I don’t really write stuff, I just post photos of people who inspire me.”

Lupita, Serena, Flo-Jo. I understand. She has a British passport, her parents are of African descent, and she grew up in The Netherlands. Her toned calves and arms speak of her devotion to track and field events.

She points, “I like this photo of Lupita, makes me feel that my arms aren’t too muscular.”

I understand. A long time ago, I used to clip photos of Naomi Campbell.

 

Many people I know surround themselves with images, words, and people who validate them and the choices they make. In a world of conflicting ideologies, without an anchor, one could find themselves on a raft in the middle of the ocean. It is harder to make progress while rowing in uncertainty.

I live with quotes, poems, photos, books, videos, and people who feed and reinforce what I believe. This invisible baggage, I carry with me wherever I go. Through this prism, I navigate my world and often it pits me against those who think differently, if I let it, if they let it.

 

In most of our human relationships, we spend much of our time reassuring one another that our costumes of identity are on straight.  – Ram Dass

 

It is natural to run towards information that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, so I can do a fist pump, “Yeah, I was right!” Certainly, it is difficult for me to shell twenty Euros on a book by an author who trashes what I hold sacred, but you’ll find me online reading his viewpoint free of charge, like someone with an “open mind”.

Reading opposing viewpoints gives me a broader view of the world. It challenges me to question what I believe and in that process, exposes what I really believe. It stretches my thinking so I can deconstruct the author’s argument one by one and thereby hold on to mine.

Is there such a thing as reading with an open mind? Perhaps for those on a raft in the middle of the ocean and not for those on a ship anchored in the harbour.

 

The human brain knows many tricks that allow it to consider evidence, weigh facts and still reach precisely the conclusion it favors1.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

  1. Gilbert, Daniel. “I’m O.K., You’re Biased” Published: April 16, 2006 www.nytimes.com/2006/04/16/opinion/16gilbert.html?pagewanted=print

 

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

The Promise of Spring

acting

The wind brushes my hair into a side part and I curl my fingers around my thumb. My hands dig deep in my pockets, pulling the fabric down, as far as they will go. My neck is warm, my feet are warm, the rest of me shivers. Every winter is the same; I ask myself, why am I still here.

A seven-minute walk separates the station from Chizanes. The harried strides of rush hour has given way to languid walks. I linger by the oldest statue in the city, the first mayor on a horse. Inscribed on the marble plaque is my answer: the promise of spring. The wind, kinder now, carries distant laughter past me. It is the sound of a man and woman in love. Even the stars twinkle in appreciation.

Inside Chizanes, after my eyes adjust to the dimmed lighting, he is easy to spot. He waves and rises to greet me, leaning forward. I hesitate then stretch my right hand to dissipate his confusion. He takes it.

“Thank you for meeting me. How are you?”

“Fine,” my falsetto is on, “how are you?”

“Good. Good to see you! You look good!”

“You too.”

We order drinks. I ask about his family. He asks about mine. We waste time on the menu, searching for our rhythm—this, no that; are you sure? I heard it’s good. What of the chef’s specialty? No, you decide.

He signals for the waiter.

He asks about my job. I tell him I left. He doesn’t pursue an explanation. We talk about the weather. I cannot believe that the passion we shared has fizzled to this: the temperature is expected to go below zero on Wednesday.

He clears his throat and begins. “The reason I left—”

“Fish?” The waiter looks at me, then at him. He places three more dishes on the table, naming them with flair. “Is everything okay?” He asks with a half nod.

We both nod.

“Enjoy your meal.”

We dish food on our plates. Raise bowls and pass them, careful not to touch. We eat like famished travellers.

“As I was saying I left because . . .”

He covers his eyes with his hands. I stop chewing.

“What can I say? I’m just a coward . . .”

“What?”

“I said, ‘I’m a coward.’ I . . . I—”

“Three years of my life and you tell me you’re a coward?”

“Sssh, sssh, lower your voice,” he whispers, reaching for my hand.

I snatch my hand and look around. More interested stares. Chizanes packs about thirty people in a circular arrangement. The walls are windows, which stretch and nearly kiss the high ceiling, an illusion of space. Our table is sandwiched in the centre.

“He left me three years ago,” my chair scrapes the ground protesting the sudden movement, “and now he says he’s a coward?” Standing, my voice booms and blankets all conversation. “Can you believe that?”

Quiet like the embarrassed silence after the president farts noisily.

I catch the man in a navy shirt before he averts his gaze like the others. “Sir, can you believe that? He’s a coward?” His girl whispers something to him and he examines his plate as if there’s gold in the soup.

“Ma’am, we’re gonna have to ask you to calm down and sit down.”

The man addressing me sounds important, like the manager.

“No, I won’t sit down with this coward!” I stand on my chair goaded by impulse.

“Ma’am . . .”

“Three years.” I try harder, “Three years people!”

“Ma’am we’re gonna have to ask you to leave.”

I get down slowly. Now they are watching. Cowards, all of them. Maybe someone is recording for YouTube.

“May I escort you? Sir . . .?”

“It’s okay, I’ll handle things from here,” my coward’s smile convinces the manager. He leaves us to organize our shame and repackage our dignity.

“Are you just going to let them walk me out?”

“Sssh, sssh. Let’s just go before they call security.”

Outside, he holds my bag while I don my gloves.

“Now that the world knows how you feel,” he gestures at the people watching from inside, “Have a nice life!”

He hands my bag over and walks away.

I run after him. “Don’t leave me!”

Out of view from Chizanes, he stops. “That used to be my line.” He lifts my chin and lets my tears wet his gloves. “Award-winning actress,” he whispers. “You were supposed to storm out. Wh . .  . what if—”

“Coward. You need to get a job, we can’t keep doing this.”

“In the spring when the quarries reopen, things will be better. This is great practice until we can afford acting classes. Wasn’t the food good though?”

Three years of doubts dissolve in laughter. The wind is harsher now, unforgiving, breaking tiny branches off stoic trees, sending twigs sailing across the sidewalk and freezing my tears. I nestle my head on his chest. Nothing is sure. Last year only a few quarries reopened. When his arms circle my waist, I close my eyes and count, December, January, February; three months until spring.

“Do you want dessert?”

“Do you have any money?”

“No, but I know another place where we can act . . .”

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

Author’s Note

The Promise of Spring is about anything you fancy. Me? I wanted to depict some challenges immigrants face in a country unlike the one they left.

The frequent references to the wind portrays how immigrants experience climate change and how the weather now becomes an important aspect of life in their adopted country. The story opens with a question immigrants may ask when disillusionment (winter represents foreign culture and systems as much as it does weather) sets in. Hope (spring) sees them through from year to year.

The author delves into the ingenious ways immigrants survive (some illegal), and plays with the idea that although immigrants are in plain sight they live on the fringes of society (in the restaurant, although she stands on the chair, she is ignored by other diners).

Acting is the ‘job’ of choice in the story because immigrants live at least two lives—a ‘glamourous’ one for friends and family in their native country, and a ‘grim’ one for their hosts.

The story ends with the suggestion that there is another place where they can act. This is a reference to the immigrants’ mindset about moving from region to region or country to country when perhaps immigration policies tighten or economic realities no longer favour them. Returning to their native country is not an option.

Why add love and romance? Because love is oxygen. And because I have done some foolish things for love. Haven’t you?

timi

 

 

 

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And The Mountains Echoed

 

and the mountains echoed

 

Out beyond ideas
of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

Khaled Hosseini’s book, And the Mountains Echoed, opens with this poem by Jelaluddin Rumi. When I finish reading, I think I know what informed his choice. But what do we really know about each other?

Two sisters, Masooma and Parwana, are sitting on a branch high up an oak tree, their feet dangling. Parwana has always lived in the shadow of Masooma’s exceptional beauty. Life is like that, we are not gifted equally. Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly1. Parwana is in love with a boy who is in love with Masooma. Life is like that, the heart often wants what it cannot have. Love isn’t always requited in the measure it is given.

When Parwana discovers that, the boy she secretly loves plans to marry Masooma, she shakes the branch and Masooma slips off it. In those seconds of clarity we all have after we set an impulsive destructive course in motion, Parwana tries to save Masooma. Too late. Masooma loses the use of her legs and becomes an invalid. Parwana’s penance is to care dutifully for her sister in rural Afghanistan in the forties. It is gruelling work. Her devotion is one long unspoken apology.

Betrayals play out in different forms in the book. There are tsunamis of cause and effect sweeping through generations. Hosseini, in my view, shows us what is in the human heart. He shows us that . . . human behaviour is messy and unpredictable and unconcerned with convenient symmetries2. I find myself suspending judgment each time. When I read these words, something clicks.

I have lived a long time, . . . and one thing I have come to see is that one is well served by a degree of both humility and charity when judging the inner workings of another person’s heart3.

In each scenario, I ask myself what I would have done. Without the pressure of the moment and with the benefit of hindsight, I weigh my options and choose noble actions. This game I play, read and reflect; it is easy. My life has not been a journey of reasonable actions. I understand every character’s dilemma. I understand their choices even when I don’t approve of them.

Eventually Masooma decides to give Parwana a gift, freedom. She decides to die in the desolate endless expanse of sand and mountains, abandoned on the ground under the darkened sky, cold, and drugged out on a potent mixture from the hookah, with Parwana’s help.

I ponder the nature of Masooma’s gift—freedom, at what cost to Parwana’s conscience? Although she presents it as self-sacrifice, I wonder if it is not self-serving. But such is Parwana’s devotion that she leads Masooma to her death. Of course, the man who Parwana loves, who was in love with Masooma, (but married someone else), is now looking for a wife, having been recently widowed. Can unspoken wishes twist the hand of fate or are we master chess players?

After Parwana reluctantly leaves Masooma to die, trudging back home, she hears something, maybe the wind calling, “Don’t leave me, sister. Come back.”

I tell myself I would go back. Parwana does not. She reasons that nobody will know, just as no one knew about the branch of the oak tree. She has lived with secrets all her life.

For nearly 500 pages, Hosseini shows us the subtexts of our hearts, the subplots that drive our actions, like an onion, he peels layer after layer exposing, in my opinion, our capacity for self-deception. Even with a moral compass, anyone can make black white. The characters are achingly familiar to me.

And the Mountains Echoed, is not about Parwana and Masooma alone. If I have made it seem so, I have done a disservice to Hosseini’s masterful story telling. It is about Saboor, Abdullah, Pari, Nabi, Suleiman, Nila, Idris, Timur, Roshi, Markos, Thalia, and many others, including you and me, a collage of stories linked by strong and weak threads. They have had their time. We have ours now. When the mountains echo, I hope we heed its silent meaning.

Out beyond ideas
of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

Does such a place even exist?

 

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

  1. Hosseini, Khaled, And The Mountains Echoed, (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), 378.
  2. Ibid., 378.
  3. Ibid., 124.

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Happy New Momentum

Momentum

Momentum:

  • the strength or force that allows something to continue or to grow stronger or faster as time passes
  • The impetus gained by a moving object
  • The impetus and driving force gained by the development of a process or course of events

 

1.

About 300 metres to the junction, the traffic light changes to green so I do not need to stop. I cruise past the cars queued on the right lane, which are rousing from varied states of slumber. I do not remove my foot from the gas pedal on my way home, save once. My confidence grows at each succeeding intersection; red does not faze me. It is that kind of day; every light turns green as if anticipating my approach. “It’s a sign,” I say to myself, “So this is what momentum looks like?”

 

2.

Traffic on Tuesday is unexpected. That cars on the slow lane crawl faster than cars on the speed lane bemuses me. I am undecided as to where I should be. I fix my lipstick and smack my lips using my sun visor mirror. The man in the car on my right smiles at me. I smile back and ease my Toyota in front of his Nissan. Life can be as easy as changing lanes. At every crossroad in my life, someone on the ‘fast’ lane has allowed me cut in ahead of him. Riding on their momentum, I arrived at my destination faster than I otherwise would have. Later, I look at the rear-view mirror and my eyes collide with a strange pair. It is as if the man who made room for me was never there.

 

3.

When I receive a notification from WordPress that my stats are booming, I am surprised. On Saturday, even I rarely visit my blog because it is a distraction from the business of writing. Facebook is the culprit sending viewers my way. It happened that an acquaintance stumbled on a story on my blog and shared it with her friend who is a person of influence. He enjoyed the story and shared the link on his Timeline. Then his crowd came to see. In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell writes that we are actually powerfully influenced by our surroundings, our immediate context, and the personalities of those around us1. We rely on them [connectors] to give us access to opportunities and worlds to which we don’t belong2. Your friends, after all, occupy the same world that you do3. The number of views rise like the tide over the course of the evening. I reflect that the only thing I did was agonize over every single word of a short story for five nights before publishing it on a Sunday, weeks ago.

 

4.

In the mythology of various cultures, man supplicates assistance from deities who guarantee success or reverse fortunes, from Zeus to Thor to Sango. If one subscribes to the Biblical narrative, one encounters a prophet, Elijah, running behind a king riding on a chariot. The king should arrive long before Elijah does for man is no match for horses. However, Elijah receives a boost in momentum from his God. He runs faster than the king’s chariot, a sight that may have made it to YouTube and gone viral, if it were today. Technological advances make reliance on deity a primitive concept for some. Man and the machines he has made have created momentum that carries him beyond the moon and back. But what is momentum for you? Wherever you anchor your belief, I wish you what I wish myself: that you consolidate the gains from the previous year and ride a new wave. Happy new momentum.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

  1. Gladwell, Malcom, The Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference, (London: Abacus/Time Warner Books, 2001), 259.
  2. Ibid., 54.
  3. Ibid., 54.

 

Photo credit: Acatana/ http://pixabay.com/en/highway-night-traffic-spotlight-409126/

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.