A Letter From The Truthsayer

It sounds dramatic to say my life was changed the minute my feet touched African soil when I was there now almost 6 years ago. But it’s not an overstatement. Every facet of my life right now began to be hewn and chiselled out of who I was in that moment. My new career path, my change of residency, the shifts in my significant relationships, were all products of the immediate reckoning that came with the magnetic pull of that land; the true land of origin. I surrendered immediately to that commune and connection, which also meant that I inevitably had to disconnect from the superfluous noise that didn’t belong to it. This is dangerously close to sounding like it could be convoluted with the new and shallow perception of “mindfulness”, but in fact it’s as old and deep as the act of connecting with the truth within yourself. I’m not saying my path since then has been free of tricks (mostly my own traps that I laid for myself), but I can no longer pretend to be confused by my own nature; I am as plain to me as I can ever be.

I suppose put another way: I am fairly certain I wouldn’t be here now had I not been there then. Africa literally changed the way I saw myself in the world. The way I finally understood that I am both minuscule and immeasurable at the same time. That I am both utterly myself and yet absolutely universal at the same time. That I am both powerless and powerful at the same time. The awareness that the stuff of my eyes, my hair, my skin melded together with the essence of my spirituality, my music, my consciousness are all at once the joint ownership of the ground beneath me and the heart within me. And the blinding clarity of the things that are unequivocally necessary and the things that are not.

We cannot find a way out of the messes we’re in without this clarity and awareness and the understanding of who we are in our world. There is no vaccine that can inoculate us against our learned disconnection, our comfort with our own greed. We are drowning in our poverty of personal and social consciousness and when this pandemic ends, it will not be because we have floated any closer to the surface. And it will certainly not end equitably around our globe. Africa, for one, may not see the back of it for some time to come. 

I do not speak of this life-changing experience casually. I know my fortune. I know that although I might still have ended up where I am now at some point, it would have taken a considerably longer time. I know most people will never experience, or be open to experiencing, what I have experienced. But I say this with humility: LISTEN TO ME because I know what I’m talking about. Our only way through this is to understand both our nothingness and our everythingness. It is to see and respect our invisible threads; to tighten the slack and reconnect them at a quicker rate than we are cutting them off. We really cannot afford to be disconnected from the things that matter and attached only to the illusion of our power and ignore the truth of our insignificance. We will otherwise sink into the blackness, and make no mistake: no matter who we are, we will sink as one.

Africa, I hope to set my feet humbly at the font of your nourishment once more. Until then, I carry your lessons with every step I take.

A Letter From The Truthsayer

truth nugget #80 (Tribute to Grams)

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My grandma and grandpa are the most significant people in my life, after my mum. I know most people have special relationships with their grandparents but it always seemed to me that Grams and Gramps were so free with their love and support of me and every tiny, little thing I did or wanted to do, that I also got to experience their support as primary caretakers, as well as the unlimited patience and kindness that only grandparents have with their grandchildren. It felt like my Grams was born to be a grandma. That’s not to take away from the many other things she was, but she just knew how to do it. She had softness in all the right places, and fierce protection in all the other ones. I don’t remember her ever scolding or disciplining us, but we somehow knew never to cross her, not because we were afraid of her, but because we knew it would just be the wrong thing to do. I think she taught us how to respect her by simply respecting us. If you respect a person’s essence, they will respect yours. It’s really that simple. Grams understood that simplicity and I think the real truth of that, is that she understood it innately – not cognitively. She didn’t reason those things out. She just loved.

As a team, my grandparents gave me the greatest gifts. They both provided and nurtured in their own way. Gramps bought me a piano when he saw a spark in me, and Grams facilitated the environment so that I could be free to explore, learn and most of all, enjoy it. I would not be the person I am today without my music and unequivocally, I owe this to my grandparents. When I wanted to make my own clothes, Gramps bought me a sewing machine, and Grams taught me how to use it. Gramps gave us hard truths because he wanted to make sure we were ready for the world and Grams softened the edges so we would know that no matter how hard things could be, she would be there.

I watched Alzheimer’s ravage my grandma. From the early stages after my Gramps passed away 16 years ago when it would send her into anger and frustration; to the mid-stages when she would forget who, what, when, how, where, and forget the things she really loved and really hated; to all the in-between stages, which were sometimes full of cheeky moments, and sometimes really difficult when as a family we’d have to make tough decisions; to the very end when it was impossible to tell whether her essence was indeed, still within her. But it was when she forgot my grandpa that I knew the final stage had begun. As people we don’t like to face things that are cruel and ugly – or else we‘re morbidly fascinated by them. What happened to my Grams at the end was cruel and ugly, and I know we don’t like to think about it. BUT. What Grams lived in her life – respecting the essence of others, no matter what the situation – taught us how to look at that cruelty and ugliness and taught us not just to assume that goodness was there, but to recognise it, in the face of life’s most merciless tricks. And so that’s what we did, because Grams showed us how. We knew how to be free with our love for her.

I know it sounds like I’m being overly idealistic. Family is always complicated. But for me, with my grandparents, IT NEVER WAS. I never had to wonder if they were proud of me, I never had to wonder if they would be there. I never had to fear that they would hold any of my mistakes against me and they never made me feel guilty for anything. That’s saying something because “family obligation” never occured to me with my grandparents. I cared for them and loved them because I cared for them and loved them. They cared for me and loved me because they cared for me and loved me. There were no other strings.

Even though we just said goodbye to my Grams a few days ago, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard her voice or her laugh, or looked into her eyes and seen her there. Still, when she finally died, the thought that she was really, really gone shook me to my core. I repeated the platitudes – she’s never really gone, she’s always in our hearts – and I’m not saying I don’t believe those things, but I think I’m only now realising what it means that my Grams is gone. My significant person has left and I will never again hold her or joke with her or sing to her or cry to her. The little girl in me is longing for my Grammy. But I also know that I carry her in me and that I know how to love because she showed me how. And I know how to look for the good in others because she showed me how. And I know who I am because she showed me that being me is all I ever need to be. I could never thank her enough and I will spend my life trying to honour her.

truth nugget #80 (Tribute to Grams)

truth nugget #79 #metoo

#metoo
the thing about this – from what we deem small instances of sexual harassment (cat-calling, perhaps) to violent sexual abuse – is that it’s ingrained to a point that once in a while I get cat-called, and a part of my brain goes, “oh thanks, I didn’t think I looked good today” or I receive a subtle, patronisingly sexist comment and I’m so used to it, that it takes me a second to register that I should be offended. it’s so EVERYDAY. it affects everyday decisions. it means people who identify as women end up BELIEVING that we have to be careful of what we say, what we wear, where we go, who we talk to. or that our self-worth is measured by the people who think they can toy with it casually. it means having to EXPLAIN WHY these things SHOULD NOT be commonplace and JUSTIFY that our reactions are NOT friggin triggered and we are NOT BEING SENSITIVE. I’ve been talked down to, been told to calm down even when I’ve been blatantly disrespected, been called “little girl”, whistled at, countlessly undressed with men’s eyes, flashed at, asked to flash myself at others, touched in the front seat of a cab, grinded against in clubs and on trains, and (even though this is an assumption, I’m pretty sure something bad would’ve gone down if Dawn Ho and I hadn’t stood our ground) possibly been considered for kidnapping into some sex exploitation ring. this has happened all over the world and while I’ve tried to be vocal about it, I’ve also played my part in dismissing things to myself, telling myself that maybe I AM overreacting, like the world has told me, and/or controlling my rage because… what else can I do about it. it’s bullshit and it’s intensely f$%&ed up. and I’m done with it. every one of us needs to ask ourselves how we perpetuate this everyday, from the things we act upon, to just the things we think in our heads. cos that’s where it starts.
 
much respect and thanks to all the people who have shared their stories. ♥️
truth nugget #79 #metoo

truth nugget #78

JAZZ is not exclusive.
JAZZ is not elite.
JAZZ does not have to be erudite.
JAZZ is for the body and soul.
JAZZ is music that lifts and breaks chains,
opens the mind and says, thou SHALL.
JAZZ is night and day,
thunder and silence.
JAZZ is now and then,
lush with history and full of promise.
JAZZ is a Meshuggah drum solo
and a funk guitar riff,
a Dilla beat and a
boogie bass line.
JAZZ is all or nothing at all.

truth nugget #78

truth nugget #77

I’m very thankful that I was raised a Catholic by a family who never emphasised dogma, ritual and sin but instead, truth, forgiveness and above all, love. because of that, I believe that the Easter season is supposed to be about the triumph of love and courage over hate and fear. I’m not religious but I respectfully wish everyone hope in that triumph. 

truth nugget #77

truth nugget #76

it’s Women’s Day. the word feminist has become such a dirty word to most people but here’s what I think it means. I’m a feminist so I believe in equality for all genders, colours, and tribes. I believe that feminism is about my right to choose – what I want to do with my life, who I want to do it with, what I want to put on my body, who I choose to show it to, how vocal I want to be, and how loud or how soft I want it to be. my mind is my own, my body is my own and that means no one gets to tell me that what I’ve chosen is right, wrong, smart, stupid, strong, weak, modest or downright seductive. I believe being a fierce, bold woman means that I make my mistakes and own up to them, give due to the people who deserve it, never be too proud to accept counsel, and always hold myself up to my own ideals of gender and feminism. I am the only one who has a say in my life. here’s to all the women who taught me these things along the way and who made my proud to be a representative of my sex. HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY! ♥️

truth nugget #76

truth nugget #74

TEMET NOSCE.

KNOW THYSELF.

it is my main tenet. being fully honest about your own strengths and weaknesses is the only thing you can really control and be responsible for. it’s not very pretty and you need to face up to some scary truths about yourself sometimes. but in this world where rugs are being pulled out from under our feet almost everyday now, there is so much outside of the self that can be completely disorienting.  

so. the last thing you want to be blind-sided by, is yourself. 

truth nugget #74

truth nugget #73

here’s the thing people don’t understand about insomnia – it is VERY traumatising. when you’re going through a bout and after a few nights you’re AFRAID to get into bed because you don’t want to deal with the sleeplessness; when you’ve been tossing for 3 hours and you’re doing all you can to think about everything EXCEPT sleep, because people say don’t think about it, just let your mind wander; when your eyes burn because you’ve been clenching them shut, because what they really want to do is fly open; when your face aches from subconsciously frowning for hours in bed and when your body cramps up from lack of rest. some nights you give up and get out of bed and ride it for a few days, some nights you pop a pill. some nights you cry into your pillow because the frustration is so deep it’s all you can do and some nights you’re so hysterical you can’t help but laugh at yourself. 

I’ve been there, I’m there tonight, I have been this whole week. 

to my fellow insomniacs, I hope the attack doesn’t last long, and more than that, I hope we get to the truth of what is causing our minds to play havoc with our sleep. goodnight and good luck. 

truth nugget #73