On “The Food We Eat” — October 19, 2022

On “The Food We Eat”

There was a Time…

I read and listen to the “now” generation talking about food. I see that there is a slight shift in the things they want to eat and the ways they think these should be cooked. They talk about “plant based” food. As opposed to what? I ask myself. “Animal based”? 

We search the shelves in the grocery stores for “organic” and pay the high price for so choosing.. How and when and why did this concept come into our lives? Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad thing. But it reveals much about our culture. 

Without realizing it, we are reinventing the wheel, reverting to living in a way  that was the age-old basic lifestyle  of those who are over 60 years of age. I am older than sixty and in my childhood, I never heard the term “plant based” and “organic” applied to our food.  We ate food from plants for every meal. Our food was not planned with a choice that was in opposition to anything. This was a given. Vegetables or nothing. 

Small amounts of protein were stir-fried into the garden vegetables that all mothers cooked. A handful of fried fish or shrimp was all we had to sweeten the palate. Stir fried vegetables for breakfast, lunch and dinner with dhall, rice, roti or breadfruit. It was no unusual thing to hear my mother calling out to one of her brood, “Go by the front fence and pick all the bora (beans)  and some tomatoes.” 

On week ends there was meat – one meal. A cockerel that couldn’t serve his purpose any longer  would see his last days, or two pounds of beef cooked into a curry with a vegetable to stretch the amount. My mother planted  everything that she cooked for her husband  and nine children. She had a yard full of chickens and ducks. They gave eggs. 

We caught shrimps and crabs when the tidal water rose in the swamps and canals. We fished for snook and basha and catfish  in those same canals. These were cleaned, seasoned, fried in home-made coconut oil and put out in the sun every day to preserve them. We might listen for the conch shell that heralded the approach of the fish-seller with a catch fresh from the sea. There were no refrigerators then. Everything was fresh from the soil or the sea.

We planted, reaped and threshed our own rice that would last the entire year until the next crop was reaped. We bought fresh milk from Uncle Parnel (no relation). My mother sent us with buckets to get the cow manure from his cow pens to fertilize her garden beds. No one knew the word “chemical” could be applied to the word “fertilizer”. From an early age we learned how to spread the cow manure and “tickle” the roots of the plants. The lilies, crepe myrtle, roses, ferns, periwinkles and marigolds grew cheek-by-jowl with tomatoes, beans, peppers, squash, egg-plant and cassava.

Yes,  there was a time when all  we  ate was  “organic” and we didn’t even know it then.  We do now. 

On The Tired Wives’ Resort — October 18, 2022

On The Tired Wives’ Resort

The things we do.

Cook, cook, serve, clean, sweep, vacuum, wipe, make up beds, do laundry, pay bills, shop for food, keep an eye on appointments, clean the yard, trim the bushes, sort the mail, put out the garbage, ….

It has just dawned  on my foggy mind that tired wives need a place where they can go and free themselves of the angst, and  the resentments and frustrations of dealing with irascible, old,  husbands. Retired couples in Japan have solved this in a very unique way. They have two homes.

Couples who are retired especially need this outlet. To be living all day with someone who is reverting into childhood can be emotionally and physically debilitating. Men think that once they retire, it is the wife’s duty to look after them. Who, I ask, must look after ME? The wife?

Think about it. Once in this “getaway”, she  will have a room to herself. Her food will be cooked and served to her  by other people. She will have the TV all to herself. More than all of these, she will not have to listen to complaints,  run around picking up dirty, smelly socks, empty coffee cups, lower the toilet seat, cook things she doesn’t want to eat. Her nights will be silent and sweet because the snorer is somewhere else drumming the walls.

Developers should incorporate this concept into their plans when they are building communities. Put a woman in charge. Set a-fair price for stays. One, two days, ten, thirty depending on the level of frustration and the mood at the time of her departure from her prison.. and how long it will take the old ……. to come to full realization. 

Here freedom rings. She will meet sisters who are of like minds.Share stories of her PTSD.

Learn how to deal with her nemesis. Purge her frustrations. Rejuvenate and then, when she’s back on an even keel, smile, go home  and know that return is always possible. 

Channie 

2022

ON BEING CONTENT — October 15, 2022

ON BEING CONTENT

I am content
Are you content too?
Look!
There’s a pair of us. 

To spend our days bemoaning 
For what we do not have
To wish for things impossible
Is tiresome and sad.


To be held a vile and vengeful prisoner
By poisonous discontent
To share a cell with greed itself
Is not the soul’s intent.


We two have freed our jealous hearts
Contentment marks our days
We do not want what can’t be had
We’ve tempered our wayward ways.


Look down, look down my fearful friend
See how neglect, and want and care
Have marked the lonely, hapless brow
Of those whose hands are bare.


Give thanks for what you already have
And receive the virtuous reward 
Complain and watch what happens
In hell, your irascible soul’s abode.

So to you my contented friend I say,
We know and understand,

Contentment sings a glad refrain
In hearts that it commands.

Channie

09/03/2022

ON “LEISURE FOR THE OLD.” — October 30, 2021

ON “LEISURE FOR THE OLD.”

Or as Davies puts it……

“What is this life if full of care

We have no time to stand and stare

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep and cows?”

If William Henry Davies were my neighbor, I might see him on my morning walks as he stops to feed the ducks or to see the sand crane do his courting dance, or we might share a conversation on many things because we are both old and time is what we have in abundance.

Have you noticed that in  these times defined by  sheer hustle and bustle, we have lost the  true meaning of leisure? I note with concern that “leisure” days for the young mean a frenetic dash to do things. Move. Get going. Never sit still. Become a  hostage to modern living.

Now, those of us who are retired see leisure in a different way. I see older  people taking long, slow, leisurely walks, hands clasped behind their backs, or holding on to a walker. They stop in the shade  and look. They notice things.  They  greet each other and stop to say things that might have no meaning but  are sincere. I do that too. And why not? We bring years of thought and wisdom into understanding the value of things. We think more deeply on the meaning of life. We don’t want to change the world. We just want to be nice to each other. Time is our “capital” to be used as judiciously or as frivolously as we desire.

I’m retired so I have time.  Time to  look at the birds, time  to  feed the ducks in the pond, time to see perfect  reflections in the still waters of the pond and consider if I should bring a few water lily plants and ask a young person to stop long enough  to plant them in the pond. That will bring a smile to all who can “stand and stare” for a while.

If I do this then there is a bit of beauty for people like me to “stand and stare” and enjoy. 

I bemoan the fact that our culture doesn’t see leisure in a wider sense. Think about it. There are stadiums, ball parks and theme parks, ice rinks and other places  to hold the energetic in thralldom and steal their leisure. But these are for the energetic young.  If you have ever been to a theme park after you retired, you might understand the revulsion with which old people view them. Why would I want to stand in line for two hours waiting to go on a five minute-ride and listen to the young scream in ecstacy  and which might give me a heart attack ?  Heaven forbid. I’m not ready for that.

In the place where I live, there are no parks with shady pathways. No benches and tables to allow for a leisurely walker to sit and think, to sip her coffee, listen to songs from the 50s or  to read a book. No place that says to the elderly “Come bide here awhile”. This might be a dream fulfilled for those who might be put out to grass otherwise. We have become the forgotten. Do you know why? Giving us a foot-path with  a bench, a table in a shady place, might not put money in someone’s pockets. No sarcasm meant. It’s the truth.

I am not a dog walker. I don’t own a dog.  A few weeks ago, I saw (with not a little consternation), that there is a “dog park” not far from where I live. A DOG PARK mind you. Where are the parks for PEOPLE pray?  Is there a bit of irony here?  Or don’t the old deserve? We who have given much to life and to community, must now give way to DOGS. So you see, we are also held hostage to  modern living when dogs become more important than we.

Much of the stresses in our lives might be seen differently if we understood the value of slowing down, but sadly, it is only age that brings this wisdom with it. I do not begrudge the young their energy and their rush to “be” and “do”.  After all, it is the way of things. But  I do not have the energy to be  on a continual rush to be, and to do. I am old.

This is why  I would like for someone to say, “Let’s create a place for the old to enjoy their leisure hours. They too need to enjoy something. It’s time for them to stand or sit  and stare, if they wish to do so.”

IMG-3853IMG-3811IMG-3810IMG-3844 (1)

Rural Legends and Stories : # 4 and 5 “Charow-Charow” (An allegory)and “Trial by Water” — August 28, 2021

Rural Legends and Stories : # 4 and 5 “Charow-Charow” (An allegory)and “Trial by Water”


CHAROW- CHAROW: A metaphor for kindness.

Listen and sing if you remember dis song.

🎶🎶🎶🎶p

Charow, charow mere bhaiya

Tum tum mein ya -tum

Bookh mere, mere bacha

Tum tum mein ya-tum

🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶

She was a little bird. She did juss lay she eggs and dem hatch out into lil baby bird.
The baby dem hungry so she fly out the nest fuh go search fuh some food fuh feed them.

She fly to the garden of dis stingy, dutty ole woman. She does pelt them bird when they pick she bird peppah.
So dis day, dis mother bird fly to the tree and pick de peppah dem and fly back to she nest with the peppah and feed she baby them.

Now, this old woman see the bird pick de pepper and she make a plan fuh ketch dis bird. She put some gum on the peppah tree. When de mooma bird fly to the tree fuh get some more peppah, she stick on to the gum. She cant move. She try. How she try. She know dat she baby dem depend on she. She fighting and fluttah she wing. She heart going buddum- buddum, buddum-buddum.

De ole woman come and ketch de bird and lock she up in a cage.
She hear she baby dem crying. she heart beating fast, fast. She begging. Ow, how she crying and begging. De ole woman nat even hearing she. She plan fuh kill and cook de pore bird.

Then the bird see a maan and she start singing she sad song to the maan..

Charow charow mere bhaiya

Tum tum mein ya-tum

Bookh mere, mere bacha

Tum tum mein ya -tum

The maan hear and he know she begging he fuh help fuh she baby dem. So he go up to the old lady and he tell she,

“Ah know wah you plan. Leh me pay you fuh de peppah.”

Fuss ting, she refuse. Then he threaten she. She get friken and she hand ovah de cage and he open it and de bird fly home.

From dat day, whenever de mooma bird see dat man, she does sing she song so he know that she remember he kindness.

🎶🎶🎶🎶
”Listen to me my brother

My babies are hungry

Listen to me”.


TRIAL BY WATA

De mooma cook de food fuh dinnah and leff it over the fireside fuh stay warm till aftahnoon when dem gun eat it.
Mooma gone ah de cane field fuh cut cane.

De pickney dem deh home. Lil bit after midday, one ah dem pickney get hungry. She go to the pot and full up she dress with the rice and she and them oddah wan dem hide and eat.

When mooma come home, she see that the food eat out. De pot empty. She vex so till. She line up dem pickney before she.

“ Who eat dis food out?”

No ansah. All maan friken. Dem head bend down. Dem crying.

“Nah me.”

“Me nah eat nothing.”

“Ow mammy! Me nah know who eat de food out.”

Den she see the guilty one with rice hanging on to the clothes.
“You, you eat out dis rice. Come! Me guh teach you fuh teef.”

She throw de pickney in the rivah. Everybady line up watching.

“Tell me now if you eat de food.”

De chile friken. And she start fuh sing

🎶🎶🎶

Oh me mooma nanny,

Oh me ma

Nah me waan eat ah rice.

Guinea cack and guinea hen fly all about

Wata covah me up to me knee.”

Mooma screaming,

“Tell me if ah YOU eat de rice.”

🎶🎶

Oh me mooma nanny

Oh me ma

Nah me waan eat ah rice

Guinea cack an’ guinea fly all about

Water cover me up to me neck.”

Everybody waiting fuh see wah guh happen.

If you see how dem pickney ah cry.

Mooma scream again.

“ You guh talk now?”

🎶

Oh me mooma nanny

Oh me ma

Ah me waan eat ah rice.

Guinea cack and guinea hen fly all about

wata covah me all ovah.”

Rural Legends and Tales – #3 : The Almost Virgin Bride — July 26, 2021

Rural Legends and Tales – #3 : The Almost Virgin Bride

THE ALMOST VIRGIN BRIDE: True Story

Hear this one.

In the villages, when a girl get married, she got to be a virgin. If you is not a virgin, if you mother-in-law nah see a spot of red virgin blood on the bed sheet on the morning after the wedding night, you just got to go back to you mooma and daadie house. Big scandal. Story done. Wedding bruk up. You nah good. You tek maan before you married. Eh heh!

Well, big wedding plan in dis faamily. Plenty food cook fuh all the people what get invite. Ceremony done, and de bride gone up to she bedroom fuh change into she wedding dress fuh go with the dulha and he baraat to the dulhaa house. They gun have more celebration there too.

Eh! Eh! While she getting dress, she mooma come in the room. She ask everybody in the room fuh go out till she call them in back. She now tek out wan small bottle from she pocket full of something. She tell she daughtah something quiet and easy in the gyal ears. De daughtah tek de bottle and push it in she bra right down, down, nice and tight. Nobady ent gun see dat bottle.

Aarite! De dulhaa come upstairs fuh claim he dulhan and they going down stairs.

Everybody throwing rice and flowah and teasing the dulhan and the dulha and swan. Dulhan bend she head and smile.
Eh! Eh! Mooma smiling up too. If you see she face. She happy. Everything aarite.
Then…..the bride lil niece come fuh get wan lass hug and kiss. De bride bend ovah fuh kiss de lil pickney.

Braddaps! The bottle fall out from the bra and bruk pan de concrete step and red chicken blood pitch up on the white wedding frock.

Dulha – bridegroom

Dulhan – bride

Baraat – bridegroom’s friends accompanying him to the ceremony



Rural Legends and Tales: # 2 – Visit to the Ring-Maan (A true-true story) — July 6, 2021

Rural Legends and Tales: # 2 – Visit to the Ring-Maan (A true-true story)

De ring did get wan big, black stone that fix into it. People seh dat if you gat problem and you look in de stone, you does know wah fuh do. The stone does be like TV. But nah everybady can see ting in de ring, though. The pandit who own dis ring seh dat only young, lil pickney dem can see ting in dis ring.
Pandit RING-MAAN got to get pay fuh leh you see ting in this ring. Pandit is wan business man. Weekend does be busy time.

De people who live in the village got to ketch de bus and go to the stelling and wait fuh de steamah come back from the opposite bank fuh them go over de rivah. Then they gat to ketch wan bus or cyar fuh go to the village weh Pandit RING MAAN live. Laaang trip. Tek whole day fuh go and reach back home. Only important ting guh mek you leff house fuh guh to see Pandit RING MAAN.

Cha-Chee, who live in the village, had wan problem. She did saving money fuh buy wan gold necklace fuh wear to wan wedding. Well now, goldsmith come with de necklace. Cha-Chee go fuh tek out de money from the chess weh she hide it fuh give the goldsmith. Eh! Eh! Money gaan. Cha-Chee search all ovah. No money.

Trouble in the house now. Cha-Chee call husband, pickney, neighbor. All bady seh dem nah know nothing bout no money. Cha-Chee tie up she head-kerchief and put the knot in front over she forehead and she wailin and cryin and beatin she chess till afternoon. By this time, goldsmith gone he way with the necklace cause he know payment nah deh.

Ovah night, Cha-Chee hit on a plan. She gun go to Pandit RING MAAN fuh see is WHO teef she money. She dress she lil daughtah and she self, ketch cyar, cross de rivah with the steamah, ketch wan next cyar and go to Pandit house.

Pandit RING MAAN start asking all kine ah question.
Where dis money did hide. Who and who know bout it. How much people live in the house. Who does come, come in de house. If she see anybady spend money.. And swan, and swan.

Pandit put on de ring on he right index fingah and then he call de pickney in front ah he.
He seh “Tink about wah happen to you mooma and look in this stone and tell me wah you see.”

Cha-Chee lean forward waiting fuh hear who gun get it from she.

Pandit seh, “Talk wah you see.”

De pickney start fuh talk. “Me see ………(she call she bruddah name) open Ma chess and tek out wan ‘kerchief wah tie up. Look he put am in he pants pocket. Look he closing de chess.
Cha-Chee mout open big. Cha-Chee get up. Cha-Chee haul up de pickney and leff RING MAAN house. No money fuh RING-MAAN. Cha-Chee gone fuh deal with the thieving son.

Rural Legends and Tales #1 : Mr. Camoudi — July 4, 2021

Rural Legends and Tales #1 : Mr. Camoudi

Stories – wild and scary, funny and astonishing, sad and tearful – abound in the rural villages of my country. They are calculated to scare, to warn, to teach, and to entertain, and even to mock those who fall from grace.

In these villages where are no libraries, no cinemas, no screens, the people find escape in coming together at weddings, religious festivities, funerals and the rum shops where they share stories.

Some of these stories may be considered allegories, metaphors for living. Many are true.
This is the first of a few I will relate. Each story will be published in a different blog.

Bear with the few instances of Creolese as I consider it the best medium for the telling.

CAMOUDIE COMES A-COURTING: An allegory

Camoudie aka Python


Long time ago, in one of the far flung villages where life proceeded in mindless days of toil and sweat, there lived a family of husband, wife and children. Travel outside of the village, and strangers to the village were rare occurrences. The villages were self contained units. People existed on what they grew, bartered or managed to sell. Marriages were often arranged mainly with people from neighboring villages. Young girls just out of puberty, did not question their parents’ choice of a husband.

In this family, it was the same. However, there was a wild seed in the home. One of the daughters in the home was never pleased with any of the men chosen by her father. Each prospective bridegroom was turned down. This hopeful was too short, that one too illiterate, ugly, poor, not enough well dressed or employed. The father never gave up hope though.

However, one day there appeared in the village a young man – handsome, well dressed, soft spoken.

He was dressed in a suit and tie. He wore leather shoes, a hat, dark glasses. He swaggered.
He caught the eye of the picky-choosy young woman. Oh! she was enchanted. Her eyes and thoughts followed him. She decided that here was the ONE she was waiting for to be her husband for life.

He also looked on her with much favor. So they decided that since her father would never agree to this match with a stranger, they would elope (the villagers referred to it as “ get away”).
They got away and set up house together. They were mostly happy. He set himself out to please her in every way. She smiled and fawned on him and soon forgot her family.

Soon, she began to see strange changes in her husband. His eyes were always red and he changed his shape often – he had fangs and a long tail. His skin grew scales. She asked him about it and he was sorely angry.

To her amazement, and right before her eyes, this love of her life began changing his human shape into that of a camoudie snake. He pounced on her.and wrapped himself around her as is usual with his kind. She then realized that he was going to kill her and swallow her.

Oh! How she screamed and begged. As she was being slowly swallowed, she saw a man she knew from her childhood. She begged him to tell her father that her husband was not human, but a snake and that she was going to die.


As she was being swallowed, she sang this song…

Gentle, gentle gentleman,

when you go home gentleman

Tell my daddy, gentleman

That the man I married

is a camma-camoudie,

Gentleman.

And then she was no more.

On: Being Contrary — June 23, 2021

On: Being Contrary

My daughter’s friend, V. is a wise young woman and a pragmatist. She never hesitates to tell her friend what she thinks. One of her favorite aphorisms to her dear friend is…

“Ting fuh cry, you ah laff.”
or as we Guyanese might put it….

“Why some people stay suh?”

I does think bout this plenty. Now, hear nuh? We got Prezzy Biden sharing out plenty money to dem poor people what cyant pay dem bills. Ow ! he sarry fuh dem. Dem pickney guh get food and gun go back to school. I glad.
Now dis money going to everybady- Democrat and Republican – all two. They gun stretch deh haan and tek it. Most ah dem gun seh “God bless you, Joe-Boy.”
But dem namak-haram Rebuplicans? Eh? Dey gun go and kiss up Trump foot and seh how is HE mek dey get the money.

DAH is contrary.
Why some people stay suh? Eh? Why?

De wuss ting is when you got contrary pickney. When one of my brood was small, she did always contrary. People come to visit. We gyaffin. We laffin. Drinking cold drinks.
I muss tell you that like plenty ah dem Guyanese people, as soon as they gone I gun stuuups up on them.
She now pulling the lady dress. Pullin de lady dress.
“You want hear wha me muddah seh ‘bout you?”

I skin up me eye on she, but she ent see me eye yet. Next time, I shouldda duct tape up she lil koka mout.

Da is pickney turning contrary. Shaming up mankind.

Anodda time I juss leaving the house fuh ketch cyar fuh go to work. One ah dem hollering,

“I got to make ninety- six dhall puri fuh carry to school today.”
Dah is contrary. Why she tellin me NOW? Why she ent say so lass night? I couldda bile the dhall and season it up , get up early and mash the flour and leave she and the maid to do the ress.
Is so pickney does be contrary.

And then again….
Everybady who born in Guyana know that you got to FRY pholourie. Dis odda wan tell he sweet wife fuh bake the pholourie cause he ent like the oil. The bake pholourie hard like cricketball. Cricket ball does do what the bowler tell it fuh do even if is a googly. Not dis pholoutie. It haaaaard.
So come he learn quick, quick how fuh treat pholourie with respek.


Talking bout pickney what contrary, hear dis wan.

V. got two son. Waan day, she look out de window and see one of them haulin a car into the front yard.
She fly to the door.

“__ where are you going with that?”

Hear the boy. “I buy it.”

By dis time,V deh by the cyar inspecting it.
“You buy a stick gear and you cant drive stick gear cyar? Boy is wah wrang wid you?”
“Mummy, I buy a stick gear cause I ent want ___ to drive me cyar.” ( he mean he bruddah)

Dat boy real contrary, you hear.
De moddah juss leff he. Wah she cyan do? She know she got wan contrary son. But he prappa sweet.

Leh we tek a look at some contrary tings people does do and say.

Leh we start with “Ting fuh cry, you ah laff.”

Look nuh! You deh in the cinema watching de movie. How dis movie story mek you cry . You trying fuh hide eye-wata. Den de lady next to you start fuh laff . Wah she laffing fah? She shame fuh leh people know how de story mek she feel?
You see now wah ah mean? Ting fuh cry, she ah laff.

Some people know good how fuh laff when bad ting happen to oddah people .

Some ah dem see wan pickney fall down and bruk he foot and dem ah laff. You ridin’ you bicycle and you fall, them stan up laffing. Big joke. Dis time, you knee well and bruise up.

Some Guyanese people does go to dead-house and dem don’t know how fuh give sympathy. If you see how dem does mek joke with they fren… “kya kya kya” all de time as if they at a party. Nevah mine, the wife and pickney deh inside the house mourning fuh the dead fada.

De wan dem wah does mek me get vex is dem wah ALWAYS finding fault as though them want fuh show you dem know more than you. They gyaffin with you. As soon as you seh something, they open up with NO and BUT.

Contrary. Dah is wah dem is. CON-TRAY-REE

Pickney see old zinc with nail stick out. Wah he do? He walk pan de zinc.. Braddam! He fall and cut he haan to the bone (or almost). Next ting you know …….12 stitches.
He ah de same wan wah put corn in he ears and deh complaining bout ear-ache. The doctah pull out the corn almost growing leaf.
He muddah well-an-tell he how he haad-aze and contrary..


But is this waan wah does crack me up.

Guyanese people see a sign that say “NO FISHING”. Wah hard bout dat?

But, they now, they andastaan dah fuh seh “Plenty hassa deh heh. Come and throw you net.”
Is so we Guyanese people does do. Contrary as the day is long. AND……. when de police come, they saying how they going and carry de fish to LAKE CARAHEE.

I sorry fuh dat policeman, you hear.
He wan American.



On: Defining Yourself — June 16, 2021

On: Defining Yourself

I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.

Rumi

Too often, we allow ourselves to be seduced by societal norms and laws which circumscribe the ways in which we define ourselves.

I am a doctor, engineer, professor….I am the mother/ wife/ daughter / friend of…..mostly someone who is famous or wealthy. Our position in society defines us. We often use our possessions to gain status among friends. The house/properties we own, the car we drive, or the places we go for vacations give us a certain cache among relatives and friends, which mostly is guaranteed to arouse jealousy which in turn, makes us feel important.

If you were to hear, “I am a beggar. I am homeless.“, what might be your reaction to this? It is not jealousy, surely.
The beggar and the homeless have no status except that of being ignored. Circumstances have driven them to that place. The essence of that homeless man or the bag- lady is hidden. They do not lack intelligence. Yet we see them through the lens colored by our perceptions of the terms “ homeless” and “ beggar”. Those preconceived notions blind us to the fact that they too, but for the tides of fortune, might be like us. Yet , if tomorrow, the homeless man won a fortune, dressed in Saville Row suits, bought a big house, drove an expensive car, how might our perceptions of him change?

My point is that we are so tied to what others think of us and the ways in which others perceive us based on material things that we give no thought to who we really are. The outward appurtenances of possessions is the face we show to society.. The public image we manage to project is formed on externals and so, these become the things that define us. How much of the inner core of ourselves gets to see the light of day?

What happens if we were to lose our jobs, or our possessions? If these are our truths, it stands to reason that we are in danger of becoming non- entities like the beggar and the homeless. If we cease that frenetic search for material things which are erroneously thought to add gloss to that image we have built up for ourselves, we can begin to be who we essentially are. There is no harm in having these material possessions if that is what you want. The danger comes when we allow them to define who we are , when they become a backdrop for our self portrait.

I would like to think that who I am is not tied to possessions. I have very few of those anyhow. I would also like to think that my image is not tied to my family connections, or a position I hold in some company or to a common currency tied to social norms.

Let my image be of how I think, what my philosophy of life is. The extent to which I subscribe to humanity or the the uplift of the human condition but of these things, I must never boast or allow the world to see because they must not be for the consumption of others.

How often we hear conversations in which participants preface each sentence with ”I”? This ego that must be visible or we sink into anonymity. This is the great fear holding us to ransom.

I favor conversations in which the currency of communication is intelligence, in which no one forces the unpleasant ego on others.

To this, I give you Rumi.

“You think of your self

as a citizen of the universe

you think you belong

to this world of dust and matter.

Out of this dust

You have created a personal image,

and have forgotten the essence

of your true origin.”

In Shakespeare’s play HAMLET, Polonius gives advice to his son, Laertes

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Act 1 : Sc 3

Do not be afraid to be who you are if you desire to do so. Put wealth and poverty aside and say to the world, “This is who I am. I am proud of it.”

Be at peace with yourself. Be true to yourself. Be you. Find your place in the world and mark it with honesty, hard work, honor, integrity, wisdom and intelligence. Stand tall and above the common herd in the society in which you live. Of course you will be spoken of and maybe mocked. But you will be celebrating YOU, acknowledging  YOU. defining YOU. You will be free.

When you allow others to define you, who you are and how you must act, you become a slave , bound hand and foot, and forever forced to act in ways that confine , ways that are contrary to the real YOU. Why do you want to be forced to be who you are not.? Do not poison yourself by laying this burden on your soul.

I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think. Rumi

Rumi asks us to remember who we were born to be., certainly not an image created out of the dust and the matter of this world. but blessed with the original essence of an individual human soul.