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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Who am I?

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With Aicha

Ramadan Mubarak dear readers, it has been a while. The holy month of Ramadan is a time for reflection. It is also a time for tieing loose ends; things that have been postponed should be done and words unsaid should be spoken.

What kind of loose ends should I try to tie? It is not an easy answer to give right away and that is why this month is given us for reflection.

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I am a creative person and I tend to start several projects and not fulfill them.
When I was younger I blamed myself for this but with time I have learned that this is how I am. I have also learned that I am not alone being a creative ‘loose-end’ kind of a person, a lot of creative people are like that. In a way it is a matter of trial and error; we get an idea, try it and find that it is not going our way. Then it is better to leave it for a while, put the idea at the back of our head and make a new try one day when there has been a process and the ideas have matured.

A creative person has a lot of small rooms in the brain, not literally of course, but I think this is the best way of explaining it. Some rooms are wide open and ideas walk in and out, sometimes in the company of other’s ideas. Other rooms are closed and the ideas in them are more secretive. Different projects have their own rooms; some with windows so they can see each other and maybe interact. I make it sound as my brain is a world filled with ideas which like to walk around in there like small figures. A somewhat crazy thought but it sounds fun.

I have been taught that if I begin something I should end it before I begin something new. That is a good advice but not always applicable in all situations in life. When it is a matter of studying, it is wise to make the homework before one relaxes but sometimes it is better to relax first.
Coming home from school, hungry, thirsty, maybe upset because of something that has happened during the day are not the best circumstances for studying. It will be better to take a break and then continue with the homework. The brain can become tired too and stress is like a filter between what we need to learn and what we are capable of learning.

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Coming home from work, hungry, thirsty and exhausted is not the best foundation for being a good parent or an affectionate spouse. Our life project is leading us from one thing to another so we need to press the pause button sometimes and give ourselves some time to catch up.
There is an ancient Chinese saying that goes: “Let the soul catch up with the body.” Nowadays we connect the Chinese with business but from the beginning they were known more for their philosophy. Letting the soul catch up with the body means that it is important to give ourselves some time for reflection.
People who seem to be rich and successful are so busy making more and more money so they forget the wealth of their soul.

Poor people are so busy trying to stay alive so they don’t allow themselves to dream because they can’t stand the disappointment.
I am using a wide brush when I am painting this picture, I am aware of that, but sometimes it can be good to exaggerate to make people stop for a while and consider what I am actually saying.
Being a little provocative is a good thing as long as it has a positive purpose.
Our ‘life project’ needs to be evaluated from time to time, as well as a business project.

We need to ask ourselves where we are heading, what kind of results we are dreaming of, are we satisfied with the results so far, if not – what can be changed? If we begin to treat ourselves as our best friends and give ourselves good advice life will get another meaning.

Imagine you stand next to yourself, you look at the person you have become. You see your pros as well as your cons. What would you say to yourself as your own best friend? A best friend is looking at you with patience and compassion. Do you see yourself with those eyes? Are you reflecting over who you are and who you really want to be? Is that the same person? If so, I can only congratulate you, but if not I will ask you to join us who struggle on with our lives and try to do the best of it under the circumstances.

It is so easy to be accusing oneself for not being able to do this or that but instead we should take one step back and allow us to relax and reflect for a while.
Be your own best friend and ask yourself if you really need to stress out or even punish yourself for your shortcomings.

I am very good at punishing myself but I have become kinder to myself during the years. I have allowed myself to be human and got to know myself better the older I have become. I began this article with a question: ”Who am I?”
Have you asked yourself that question? Who are you? What defines who you are? Is it your parents, your spouse, your profession, your income? Who are you? Do you know? Have you ever asked yourself that or have you had time to reflect over that matter?
We live different kinds of lives.

I live here in Sweden and you in The Gambia. In Sweden it is very easy to live alone but it is also easy to be lonely. No one is questioning us if we want to live alone. A single person is nothing strange here. A single woman can manage on her own as easily as a single man. In The Gambia you are more or less surrounded by people all the time. You don’t need to be lonely but you don’t seem to be alone either. Being lonely is negative, being alone is positive. Loneliness is depressing, something that is forced on you and can be hard to break. Being alone gives you time for relaxation, reflection, focusing on what is important in life, improving your soul skills. Many people are afraid of loneliness. They fear the silence, listening to their own thoughts and they don’t know what to do with their time.

When I was a child I lived on a farm, far away from other people. I didn’t have any friends nearby so I was forced to be alone. I don’t remember that I was bored because I was used to this life. Creativity is born out of boredom actually so it is good for kids to not be stimulated all the time. If a child is forced to be bored for a while it will come up with something to do after a while. Here in my society young parents seem to believe that a good parent should be like a kindergarten teacher. They seem to believe that their kids need to be stimulated all the time so the kids get unreserved attention and by that they don’t learn to wait for their turn.

The kids get something to eat as soon as they say they are having a craving. The brain has a part that reacts to stimulations; food, sugar, alcohol, drugs, tobacco, gaming, and if we don’t learn to control that part it will take over the control of us. You might think that this is only a problem in the western world but look at younger men and women. What cravings do they have? What do they see on TV or Internet that they ”must” have?
Time for reflection.

On TV and Internet we see a virtual world, a fake world where things appear cool, everything happens fast, people seem to be happy because they appear to have beauty and by that success. We get instant satisfaction, or do we? Are we fooling ourselves and building up a fantasy world? Is a beautiful person automatically happy, rich, successful and lives a great life without any problems? Is an ugly person automatically unhappy, poor, a failure and lives a problematic life? What is beauty and who decides the criteria for it?
As far back as humanity existed, people have been searching for perfection, but who decides what is perfect? A perfect life can be a life in solitude as well as a life surrounded by a large family. A perfect life can be a life when you know that you have your basic needs or when you have more than enough so you can share it with others. What are your basic needs and what is more than enough?
Time for reflection.

Things that have been postponed are connected to the loose ends in a way but they can also be a matter of laziness or even fear. I fear going to the dentist and I haven’t been there for several years. When I was a kid there were two male dentists in town and we had no option but to endure whatever they ‘tortured’ us with. This is at the beginning of the ’70s and dentists at that time didn’t know better than to drill in every cavity they found.

Nowadays they know that small cavities in the teeth can heal with proper mouth hygiene but when I was little the dentists made the holes bigger and deeper and ended up filling them with amalgam. Amalgam is very strong but it contains mercury which is toxic. Many of us kids from the ’70s have a lot of these toxic fillings in our teeth and these fillings are beginning to crack.

When the fillings crack, the amalgam comes out in the blood system and causes problems. We are so used to be intoxicated though so people who go to the dentist to get rid of the amalgam have to take it little by little. If all the amalgam is removed at once, this causes the same symptoms as if you stop with a drug or heavy medication instantly. The removal must be done with great care too or the symptoms will become worse. This became suddenly a lecture in health care. Sorry for that, but I think I am trying to persuade myself to contact a dentist.

Can someone come with me to hold my hand, please?
One of the loose ends of this article are the words that need to be spoken.
That can be a question I have been afraid to ask or a discussion I didn’t know how to begin. It can also be something as easy or hard as to say: ”Please forgive me!”
This is one of the things this Holy month of Ramadan is telling us but we need to remember this all year around – not only now. We have got Ramadan as a gift from God, a time for reflection, a true blessing.
Let us never stop reflecting over that.

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