Friday, February 27, 2009

My death clock: a reminder

Every once in a while I consult my death clock. It's like the little witch in the village that nobody likes but still keeps around just in case her predictions are right. It's a virtual tool based on some random research (truthfully, I don't even know if any research were done behind that clock) that predicts when you'll die, try it for yourself.
Sometimes it's important to remind ourselves what's important and not take tomorrow for granted. To take a step backward and contemplate, appreciate the goodness of this life. As I often hear, we only have 'One Life to live'. And more often than not, the challenge is to live a life worth living. I suppose each one of us has their own definition of a worthy life. For some it's through their jobs that they find value or give value (e.g. Doctors, Counselors, Caregivers, Pastors, Teachers etc..). And frankly as a Software Engineer who spent most of her time in front of a monitor, I find it somehow difficult to find value in it. I have no doubt I must be giving value to some third party cause I get paid for it. I'm sure there is much more to life.
There is a story in the bible about this guy who goes to some far away land and gives money to three of his servants. To the first, he hands 5 bucks (back in the days, it was a ton of money), the second 2 and the third 1. Each of them went ahead and utilize it in a very productive way but the third one buried his buck. The guy comes back from his trip and has a briefing with each one of his servants. The first two came boasting about what they did and how they earned more money, then comes the 3rd one and he says "I was afraid of you master, so I buried the money you gave me, here it is take it", needless to say the master was fulminant and fired his servant. A lot of us are like that third servant. We're afraid of life, its challenges and sometimes its rewards. We either give up, or stay so much focus on the moment with no long term perspective or we just waste our time checking out the servant with 5 bucks and lusting after what he has.
Some of us have 5 million bucks in bank, others have 5 bucks, some of us are good at one thing only while others have multiple talents. However, it's not about how much we have, it's about what we do with what we have. Regardless of the longevity of our lives, let's make them quality lives. And this is where comes the death clock. Were you to know when you'll say goodbye to this earth, what kind of life would you live?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tyler Perry's Movies

For a long time, I've wanted to write about Tyler Perry's movies. And this is one of those pieces that I never got to publish until I went a couple of days ago to watch his recent release which is currently leading the box office with $41.1million.
I just love Tyler Perry's movies. Yes, they're corny, seem like déjà vu but they have this thing that make them worth watching, they're purely enjoyable. The themes are very simplistic: Family, God, Relationships. Matters that anybody can relate to. His most recent chef d'oeuvre which is currently playing in theatre is "Tyler Perry's Madea goes to Jail", is a hilarious two tails story about a 6'5" granny that goes to jail after hauling a woman's car from a Big K's parking lot and a young woman (and this is the corny part) who finds the love of her life on the streets of prostitution. One poignant moment is a scene played by Derek Luke where he finally lets out the guilt that he has been carrying around for years and the defining scene comes where Madea (in jail) sermonizes another inmate about taking responsibility of one's actions (e.g. stop blaming your abusive father for your miseries) and forgiveness is first for oneself, then the other person.
Last year, one's of Tyler's Perry masterpiece was "Tyler Perry's The Family that Preys". Movie in which the beautiful Sanaa Lathan displays a wonderful performance of a bitchery character, a cheating woman ready to do anything to get ahead. I particularly love this quote from her mother played by the talented Alfre Woodard: "You can't find happiness by bringing deceit to other people, that's a road straight to disaster."
Perry's movies are all about essential life's values, values that serve of pillars upon which one builds their own character. They're a good kind of comedy, that anyone with a modicum of good sense would agree with the central message: God , Family (Madea's Family Reunion), Forgiveness (Madea goes to Jail), Love, Hope and Marriage (The Diary of a Mad Black Woman; Why did I get married?).

"The sadest thing in life is wasted talent, and the choices you make will shape your life forever"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Where are Africans in all this?

I read today's column by Thomas Friedman, it could be easily retitled the case for a strong immigration. In his essay, in response on how to stimulate our economy, Friedman quotes Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper saying: “All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,” . And he goes on praising the Indian culture who believes that not paying mortgage is considered shameful. A thought came to my mind: what about my fellows Africans? Indians, Koreans and Chinese are recognized "worthy" of getting green cards but not Africans?
Well, not long ago I had lunch with a friend who informed me of a Madoffish scheme ran by some Kenyans here in our great metropolitan area: $15 Million in tax fraud conspiracy. You can enjoy the story here. Another source reveals the name of all the parties involved, all of them except one in their 20s or 30s, hard workers and very resourceful. After all, one needs to be very astute to come with a way to bereave Uncle Sam of $15 million U.S.
About a year ago, it was four Cameroonians who got themselves arrested in a bank robbery for half million dollar. It's truly unfortunate to see this immigrant generation whose parents (most likely) have sacrificed to send abroad to further up their education, who have taken upon themselves to give the best to their children and now have to suffer the humiliation to see their family names cited in those crimes.
There are so many of us African Immigrants here, doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, nurses, researchers and so on, why can't we get recognized for our hard work and have the same impact as Chinese, Indians and Koreans have in this country? I have no empathy for those criminals. They steal to keep up or impress the Joneses, to reflect a lifestyle that they'll see pass away from their jail cell. They buy big houses and big cars, my friend told me one of those Kenyans used to ride a hummer. May be a grain of sympathy could be uttered their way, were they building baseball field for universities like A-Rod.
Our economy is already in bad shape, Africa in a worse shape and we sure don't need scums like these to ruin it for everybody else who has come here in a hope of realizing their own american dream.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Let's Count Our Blessings

It's true we're in a recession, although some are already in a depression. Nevertheless there are still people and things that we can be grateful about. Be grateful for that person that pulled through for you and showed you there are still some honest, genuine people out there that you can on. Be grateful for your family that is resplendent with health, joy and quality time. Talking about quality time, my folks decided to play karaoke and I joined in. I spent the entire time rolling myself on the floor with teary eyes. I think I had one of the best times of my life. I also discover something else, actually I already knew so, I can't sing!!Lol, therefore I will never leave my daytime job or convert it to a singing career. You still have a job you can hang into, be grateful. Do you have a delightful relationship with your significant other, be grateful.
In hard times it's very difficult, even arduous to think positively. To think positive does not mean to ignore your dire circumstance, but to acknowledge it and take proactive actions to dig yourself out. A year ago, I found myself in an asphyxiating situation. I couldn't eat, was sleep-deprived, lost my concentration and focus, forget about prayer: I couldn't pray either. Results, and this is according to my doctor: I had little to no iron in my body, became anemic (nearly got transfused), my liver got attacked. The only thing I could think about was 2009. Why? Because I knew by then I'd be in a much better place (actually it didn't take that long). And today not only I'm in a much better place, the place is different from what I've had envisioned a year ago, highly improved.
Granted, not all stories have a good ending like mine, nevertheless we should still remain deeply appreciative of what we have. And like Ms. Orman always says in her show: "People first, then money, then things."

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