“Just living is not always living. Look at your life. Can you call it a blessing? Can you call it a gift, a present of existence? Would you like this life to be given to you again and again?”
I must confess Yvonne Chaka Chaka hasn’t been on my radar screen for a long time until she hit the headlines in the last week or so.
After looking up what she has been up to, I realised why — she has moved on and is no longer just a singer.
She is not in the competitive “new album release” space but has evolved into something which cannot be easily defined.
On January 25, 2012, Yvonne became the first African woman to receive the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award, which is given to outstanding artistes who use their talent to change the world.
As founder and president of Princess of Africa Foundation (www.princessofafrica.com) and a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador for the fight against malaria, she now collaborates with powerful individuals and institutions to make a difference in the area she is passionate about.
As she says on her website: “I know what it is like to sleep without food. I know what it is like not to have. My mum taught me that when you die you are never going to take anything with you. So when I have, I share with others.”
In the past I have written about how we can change our lives and those of others.
Reading Yvonne’s achievements and seeing the level of support that she has, I will focus on the challenges of moving forward without that level of support.
Oftentimes we would like a host of things to be in place before we can make a move — there must be buy-in from so and so, the funding must be in place, the prospective buyers must be identified, the list goes on.
We are afraid of uncertainty, of taking the plunge without guarantees and I found some gems in OSHO’s Courage, The Joy of Living Dangerously: Forget all you have been told — Do you realise how many of our decisions we base on the past?
This can’t be done because so and so tried it and failed.
Or worse still, I can’t do it because it has never been done before!
We are conditioned to behave and think in a certain way and few people break out of this mould.
Past explanations cannot apply to the present moment and that includes definitions of what a woman, wife, mother, sister or daughter does for a living, looks like or how she behaves.
The key is to decide anew in each moment.
Withdraw from the crowd – this can be done physically or mentally, by being part of the crowd but not of it.
Technology and the media make it easy to keep abreast of anything happening almost anywhere in the world.
But this has its shortcomings — it’s easy to be blown this way and that way; by what this person has or hasn’t achieved, by who has married or divorced whom.
And in most cases we are only being told the tip of the iceberg and we go on to base life decisions on that.
Each person is unique in their way, which is why comparison is futile and imitation even more so.
Activity versus Action — A common excuse for not doing something is that there is no time and yet a closer look reveals that a lot of our time is spent on fruitless activity.
This could be endless talking or gossiping, hours of television watching, sleeping and eating out of boredom.
It’s been said that a third of our lives is spent sleeping, add to that all the other hours “wasted” and it’s easy to see that we do have a lot of time at our disposal, it’s how that time is used.
Decisive action on the other hand has a purpose – and this applies even to the simple things.
“Everybody has to pass through a dark night before he reaches the sunrise,” says OSHO and that’s because following your heart is not easy but it’s the only way.
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