When life overwhelms you— A view from the bottom of the steps

Growing up, I soon realized that physical obstacles weren’t shrinking, I was getting bigger.
Trees that once seemed unconquerable became accessible.
The wall at the back of the yard could be scaled with some effort.
Falling hurt less with each passing year until the top of the wall was breached triumphantly one afternoon.

A pretty girl who lived down the road could’ve very well have been the Princess in the Ivory Tower.
Nobody ever seemed more unapproachable.
One day we ran into another at a service station and simply ended up chatting without too much effort.

There’s a certain cadence to the way the universe functions.
There are times when we believe we are handling issues when we are merely “living through” a scenario.
We “grow through” tough times and often end up moving beyond the problems.
Do not by any means however allow your perception to diminish the grace you received to be able to weather the tough times.
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A few important lessons from the “Fast and Furious” franchise

The “Fast and Furious” franchise has been called “big and dumb.”
“Mindless action with preposterous stunts and wooden acting.”
I’ve seen a few worse tags as well.
And I’m not shy to admit I love every minute of it.

What drives this franchise to maintain such momentum though?
Multiculturism, cars, sexy babes at the races?
Perhaps all of the above?
Maybe the creators simply managed to randomly chance upon a package containing that “undefinable something” that translates into success.
Or perhaps there is a shrewd genius behind the creation of something which has been labeled “drivel” and “garbage!”

Think about days gone by— When some comics, novels and musical genres first appeared on the scene it was lambasted as rubbish by critics and lapped up by fans.
In later years these cheesy pop culture treasures and coveted childhood memories grew into beloved icons we wouldn’t dare discard today!
Not only does cheesy pop culture remind us of times we perceived as being “simpler” but it also shoves us back into that time traveler’s bubble from the past in which we never seem to grow old.

Yes, we’re asked to suspend belief when we watch the F&F crew use cars to assist with unrealistic feats of bravery and epic heroism.
Some say they can’t stand the “unrealistic” footage.
These are the same people who often believe everything they see on Twitter or Facebook.
I struggle to fathom the cruelty, hedonism, chauvinism, entitlement, self-absorption, and materialism I see in real life.
At the very least F&F was never dished up as anything other than entertainment.

I’ve watched my fair share of “intelligent” art movies.
Some I enjoyed.
Many of the world’s greatest classic novels are in my study.
A lot of those still rank as favorites.
Fortunately, I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m able to understand and analyze my own needs.
Movies are the same as food, but surely you knew that?
At times we might crave the pomp and circumstance surrounding the dinner table at a formal wedding.
We might look forward to some fancy “pretty food.”
Then, of course, occasionally we simply crave a burger and french fries.

For me, the biggest takeaway is, if you don’t like it, you can be furious, but nobody cares.
The fans like this stuff, and someone very clever is supplying that which they crave!
So here’s what you can do— Switch gears, become fast and scoot past the articles, fandoms, reviews, movie theatres, and collectible die-cast toys and merchandise.
That’s your choice!
Learn to be brave within this mean world, be like Dom, Hobbs or Shaw—Don’t sweat the small stuff!

Looking through the glass and finding yourself

Right below the sign that reads “Please don’t touch the fish tank” I’ve seen bored children press their faces against the glass.

If I were a fish on the inside, what would I think or do when I saw a monstrous face leering at me?
Perhaps I wouldn’t care enough to think anything.
One boy who kept tapping the glass identified with a big mean-looking fish.
“Look at the spikes! That’s me!”
He pointed at a clownfish and decided that was his little brother.

We are animals, I guess that’s why we subconsciously identify with traits we observe in other animal species.

If I were on the inside I don’t think I would’ve bothered to “identify” with the outside creatures.
They are more trapped than anyone on the inside.
They lug about electronic trappings such as phones and tablets.
Those devices are nothing more than tethers that link them to offices and problems 24/7 as well as make-believe worlds in which they believe they have real lives.
Those on the outside are prisoners of a myriad insecurities.
They lack confidence.
Callous oversight, arrogance, and entitlement are leading them to destroy the little lifeboat called Earth they live on.
In the process, they are slowly poisoning themselves and eroding the quality of life for future generations.
But hey, if that whiny kid with the bad haircut doesn’t decide to throw his straw into the tank there will still be less plastic in here than in the spaces my free brothers are navigating right now.

I do believe a growing number of people are starting to identify with the creatures that the fish might’ve seen through the glass.
We’ve been taught we need to look in the mirror to see a reflection of ourselves.
That’s become a problem, with selfies, beauty-filters, and Instagram-ready representations of ourselves we’ve become too accustomed at fooling the mirror.
Perhaps it’s a better idea to look around us for a change, look at others, look at the spaces we occupy, and the spaces we leave behind.
These could very well become the elements that define us, once we are well and truly out of the picture.

To die for! A perspective on “toughness”

I guess this is a bit of feelgood comic?
I drew this one a very long time ago.
When I look at the art I go… “Aaargh no … wat the hell was that?”
But then I remember that we shouldn’t attempt to edit the past.
Even if I were to “redo” it for whatever reason it would still be a new comic.

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
― L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between

Anyway, here goes, this is the quote that inspired the comic..

“Toughness is not  hardening, toughness is withstanding all the forces that want you to harden, whilst still retaining your sensitivities and your humanness.”
― Drishti Bablani

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The actual truth about fame, immortality and being a poster on a wall

The only way to stand out from a crowd is to be the person on stage.

I can only begin to imagine what a rush it must be to perform in front of thousands of cheering fans.
That might explain why so many veteran musicians never seem to retire from the limelight.

There’s one debate in my head that still begs for a definitive answer.
Does an epic performance move into the realms of legend, or is it the performer who becomes legendary?
Perhaps this is a “both sides of the coin are equal” situation?

But after any show, the avid music lover can already decide which concert to attend next.
There is just so much happening in the world.
You only need to look at the sheer volume of entertainment releases and upcoming events each week to acknowledge how spoiled for choice we’ve become.

Even the most stellar events receive press coverage for a couple of days until it’s eclipsed by something new.
Perhaps it’s my imagination, but it seems like the flavor of the month hardly lasts a month these days?
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Are you afraid of becoming someone’s disposable person?

You might as well put that fear to bed now because you probably are already someone’s disposable person.

I keep receiving spam phone calls from a company that sells insurance.
One of my acquaintances decided to include me in his list of “5 References for unsolicited sales calls ” so that he could get a gift.
We might see one another once a year so therefore I’m not a close friend.
Perhaps on some subconscious level, he figured if he angered me it wouldn’t have a great impact on his life.
I felt like a disposable contact.
All is well though, as long as he enjoys his gift!

Do you have a subordinate at work?
Are there times when you see that person as merely a component who performs a task?
Have you ever felt like a mere drone whenever you got your daily instructions from the boss?

How do you treat shop assistants?
On a cold freezing day, would you offer a cup of coffee to the delivery guy who has been taking care of your parcels for years?

Are you that person who has been summoned as a “Plus One” whenever a friend couldn’t get a date?
Occasionally we feel flattered but instinctively we know we’ll be discarded once we’ve served a purpose.
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Ruthlessly confronting the fear that erodes your joy and other emotions!

Sarge taught us that fear keeps the soldier awake, gunfire gets him moving and training might just pull him through!
I think he wanted to illustrate that fear is real but ultimately unproductive.

Recently I chatted to a colleague who had just come back from holiday.
He said he enjoyed the break a lot but each day he feared the “there’s a crisis” phone call from the office.
The call never came.
I’ve also been on that beach, sipping a cola while struggling to unwind completely and being too afraid to turn off my phone.

Fear becomes that insidious little gremlin that we can’t seem to shake.
Do you often fear or dread going to a highly-anticipated event?
I’ve heard people say they feared it being a disappointment.

Fear of getting hurt causes people to lose focus during dangerous activities… Often resulting in the injury or loss they feared.
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4 Surprising reminders that challenge the belief in dishing out kindness to everyone

Make no mistake, you don’t have the energy, time or means to be kind to “everyone.”
It’s a big world out there, last time I checked there were a few billion people.
Society teaches us to use feelgood kindness-buzzwords without substance.
Generic kindness-memes get us all fired up and enthusiastic without delivering the tools required for implementation.
Somehow there’s the perpetuation of this mystic and esoteric vision that we need to go on missions of mercy and kindness to exotic faraway places and be transformed into saints of sorts.
Kindness begins at home.
Sorry… You needn’t book a travel ticket just yet.
Feed your kids, be civil to your wife and make time for them.
That’s the most basic kindness you can put on the table.

Kind people can be undercover bullies.
We do get individuals who force kindness onto others irrespective of appropriate context or not.
They can be ruthless in their attempts to feel good at all cost.
Let’s not beat about the bush.
Fueling a desire to give can become a narcissistic act.
Those who launch huge charity events in the name of kindness can surely do a lot of good.
But the attention and publicity it reflects onto them can feel and look oh so good!
Ironically enough I’ve experienced seriously unkind abuse of staff members and crew at the very events designed to promote kindness!

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Why the caveperson started walking towards the mountain

One of the guests at a party attempted to tell a story about a caveman who decided to start walking towards the mountains…
Almost immediately a paleontologist silenced the narrator.
He proposed that the term “caveman” was outdated.
He said there were better terms for the character that the storyteller tried to depict.
A cunning linguist from the back of the room insisted that paleoanthropology was better suited to describe the ancient protagonist from the story than paleontology ever could!
The archaeologist in the group had a few bones to pick with much of the narrative as well.
He was very vocal about unearthing tangible proof!

Just when most reached consensus that “caveman” would be suitable as a generic term for a simple story a Professor in Geography questioned a meteorologist’s take on the caveman scenario.
A fight almost broke out.

One of the mathematicians in the group used doodles on a paper napkin to illustrate why the caveman couldn’t possibly have been able to navigate a straight route towards the mountain.
The nihilist didn’t care about any of this, because he felt there was no mountain.
At that point a feminist joined the discussion.
She was very adamant that the main character in the story could’ve been a cavegirl!
To preserve the peace, the term “caveperson” was voted in as a suitable alternative for “caveman!”

For any given story there will be as many opinions as there are people in the room.

We’re often so busy dissecting comments for some truth that we tend to forget they don’t necessarily enhance the original story.
Sometimes we only want to hear a story!

And due to the interference from third-party experts, we still have no idea why the caveperson decided to start walking that day…

Photographs, living and “serving suggestions”

When I look at people in old stock photos I wonder where they are now?
Did they marry, do they have kids?
Do they even hang out in that place where they were photographed?
Were they really as happy as they looked in the photo?
Did someone ask them to pose in a specific way?
How long did they have to maintain that pose?

I’ve experienced fun moments in the coffee shop or in the office.
But somehow I feel we’ve never looked as “brochure ready” as the people in the stock photos.

The pictures of burgers on the restaurant menu always look better than the real thing you get served.
Even worse, on the pictures you always see side dishes and extras that seldom accompany the actual meal.
Restaurant owners have cleverly circumvented this problem by labeling their display photos as being “serving suggestions.”

Don’t walk into a new job and expect the photos on the company website to be a true representation of actual working conditions.
Perhaps the company’s graphic artist could label those website pictures as “Working suggestions.”

The same “serving suggestion” applies to people in holiday adverts.
To be honest, I often mistrust any form of advertising.

A picture might paint a thousand words but only a few of those words paint the real picture.

We’re all advertisers these days.
Consider the extent we go to in order to make ourselves look appealing to the outside world.
We have filters and a truckload of other photo-enhancing tools at our disposal.
Often it’s quite shocking to see a person’s “serving suggestions” in comparison to the real deal on offer.

I do understand it’s a competitive world out there and influencers need to have proper HD photos in their arsenal.

But recently I saw an old grainy photograph from my childhood.
It was out of focus and faded.
But it represented a broad swathe of how I remembered our old home.
It wasn’t picturesque or retouched in any way, but it was real.
There was no “living suggestion” viewed through the beauty filter that society has come to expect …
There was only “living!”