Life's Too Short to Give a Damn - Poetry Weekend 31/10/2015

Three poems for today (also featured on PoemHunter):

Borderline Madness

Borderline madness,
All-inclusive sadness
Coated in plastic joy
And chemical-infused gladness.

No longer do expressions and rants pass as ordinary, okay
Instead you’re shunned,
They turn away.

And what was once borderline
Turns full-blown
But nobody sees,
Nobody knows
Before the descent begins
Into a dark hole infused with specks of light.

But madness remains
So who’s to say you’re mad

We all have it –
An inclination towards insanity
That creeps in
And it is your choice
How much you’d like to tame it,
If at all.

Steel-framed Sadness

Don’t you see?
The photographer shot it.
Happy smiles, matched outfits
And all of that.

Plastic pretenses
Edited into eternity
With a wisp of uncertainty
Hidden in the pixels.

It’s all there
So that one day
We can point
And recollect
Distorted memories
‘Wasn’t it all perfect then?’
‘Wasn’t it all wonderful?’

That will be the definition
Of deliberate insanity
Living for yesterday
Conforming for today
And tomorrow?

Life's Too Short to Give a Damn

‘Excuse me,’ I said.
‘Sorry,’ I cried.
‘I was trying to explain.  I don’t really care,’ I denied.

All they could do was look on and shun me with judgements
Based on misunderstandings.
‘Let’s cherry pick our fights,’ they laughed.
‘Let’s base our arguments on the things we feel.’
They do that instead of listening, understanding,
Trying to experience what’s real.

So I stopped my arms mid-air,
Placed my hands in my pockets,
Shook my head,
And walked away.
Life’s too short to give a damn.

Maja Dezulovic

Modern Self-Employment versus the Antiquated Nine-to-Five: The Difference between Freedom and Boredom

‘I cannot fathom how people accept the dribble of an ordinary life.’ (Another Friday by Zaheera Mayet)

A friend and colleague of mine made that statement in one of her blog posts (check out Zaheera's blog).  It struck me, not because I thought it was anything new, but because once again I was being confronted with a concern that many people have and few have the courage to voice. Yet, we carry on in the rat race, declaring ourselves powerless to the way the system works.

We need to realise that the power is in our hands to change our lives.  You do not have to be miserable five days a week at a job you hate, just so that you can spend the other two days enjoying the things it affords you to buy.  The thing about working 9-5 all your life is that it cultivates a certain type of ignorance.  I’ve seen it when people get laid off and then have no idea what to do with their lives.  Also, when people with comfortable paychecks lack the vision or creativity to see what life could be if they did things a little differently.  These people often also lack strength and adaptability, which are assets in any business.  When you’re self-employed and things don’t go as planned, you make another plan.  You have to write your own paycheck.

‘[T]he cubicle that so many inhabit, ironically sharing the dimensions of a prison cell, acts as the tunnel vision needed to ignore the light at the end of a completely different tunnel.’ (Another Friday by Zaheera Mayet) 

I knew the moment I left high school that I wanted to run a business and take charge of my own life.  The reasons for this began when I was a little girl – I saw that my father, who was self-employed, enjoyed more freedom and generally had more money to spend than other parents.  One day my best friend and her brother came over to our house to play, and my father sat down at the dining room table to count money and sort out coins and bills for his weekly bank deposit (something he often did as a result of running a cash business).  My friends’ eyes grew wide when they saw this and they told me that they had never in their lives seen so much money. I decided then, at about age 10, that when I grew up I wanted to be like my dad and have a business that generates money.
Of course, that was one of the advantages of the kind of life my father lived.  One of the major disadvantages that came with running a small business was the long hours.  When I was a little girl, I’d sometimes lie awake at night, fighting sleep, because I knew that my dad would come give me a kiss goodnight and tuck me in when he came home.  I wanted to be awake for that (although still pretending to be asleep as I’d be in trouble for being awake so late).  I wanted to feel his presence because I knew that by the time I woke up the next morning to get ready for school, he’d already be gone.  It’s sad that only when my father’s business declined and he made less money, only then did we get to spend more time with him.  So, I altered my life plan.  I wanted a business and I wanted money, but I also wanted time.  Enter the internet.

I love the internet.  It has revolutionised the way we live and my life is a product of that revolution.  I can work anywhere in the world, provided that I have a stable connection and my laptop.  I don’t have to commute to and from work every day like my father did, pay high running costs, or try to get as much as possible done by myself.  I can quickly pick the right freelancers and employees to do what I need to get done from a global pool of professionals.  All this makes my life so much simpler and more satisfying than it would have been without the internet.

For years, my family and friends tried to talk me out of this crazy idea of writing and running an online business.  I received dozens of emails with links to job postings that I was thought to be suitable for, and I was criticized for not pursuing these opportunities.  There were times when I just wanted to give up, stay under the covers and accept that I just wasn’t ever going to reach that ‘work from home dream’.  The reason it took so long is because I spent too many years listening to the naysayers and not simply focusing on my passion.  I also lost a few years studying for towards a law degree – knowledge and skills that have come in handy but I will seldom use on a professional level.  Thankfully, I can now proudly say that I’ve learned to listen to my gut and I earn a full time income online.  How did this happen?

‘One day when I’m all successful, I’ll say that I had nothing better to do.’ (Maja Dezulovic, 2009/2010)

This was a self-fulfilling prophesy.  When I wrote it five or six years ago, I was still freelancing on a part-time basis and earning pocket money for it.  Last year, when I started writing full time, I did it because I had nothing better to do.  We needed the money and my husband and I had a goal – to live life on our terms in our own house in Croatia.  We had to push to make that happen, which meant paying the expenses to get and stay there.  So, why did I start taking writing seriously?  It was the only marketable skill I had under the circumstances.  Simply put, I had nothing better to do.

I feel that is the way we need to look at things.  If I find myself counting the hours or constantly thinking of other ('better') things I could be doing, I know that I am not living passionately and I am not free.  Freedom is being able to do what you want without having to worry about what you need.  Freedom is not boredom as a result of necessity.  If this Friday marks the beginning of a two-day 'freedom', you are not free.

Maja Dezulovic

The Joys of Adulthood - Paying Bills

I remember my first perception of bill paying.  My father owned a cash business (restaurant) so once a month, he’d organise stacks of cash and on top of our dining room table.  Each stack would then be placed in an envelope along with the invoice or deposit slip for the bill he was paying - the bond on our house, electricity and water, merchandise orders for his business.  I remember thinking, ‘Wow!  My dad has so much money to pay for all these bills.’ He would proudly go to the bank the next day and pay them.  I don’t remember him ever complaining – paying your dues was simply a part of life.

The downside is that, for a long time, I held a false belief that it was actually easy.  I didn’t see the sweat and toil my dad put into building a business that could pay for itself and support two households.  My dad did that before I was born so I took having money for granted.  It’s no lie that I was a spoilt brat.

When my father approached retirement, the cashflow and his previous investments died out.  I had to stop depending on daddy and stand on my own two feet.  It took years and now that I’ve actually accomplished it (that is, being able to ‘comfortably’ pay my own way through life), and I must say that one of the things I take pleasure in is paying bills.

This morning, the first sms I received was a notification from the bank that money had been paid into my account (thank you to my clients).  I then spent my morning paying bills – telephone, TV, internet, electricity, loans, etc.  I find so much joy in logging onto internet banking and seeing money go out of my account.  The reason for this is that I do not work for the money – I work to have a home with all the modern necessities that make it possible to do what I do and live the way we live.  After paying the bills, my husband and I went shopping and we were able to buy food, toiletries and nurture my husband’s chocolate addiction.  So we spent some of the money I received and we returned happy and satisfied, but not because of the spending part, but because our kitchen is now stocked up with all the items we need.

I see so many people complaining about bills and the rising cost of living, yet they do nothing to progress themselves and increase their earning opportunities.  Yes, the cost of living is rising and we all know that many companies are milking us for everything they can get.  We can fight, but none of us can argue that we do not want the things that make our lives more comfortable – clean running water, electricity, wifi.  And although some of these things should ideally be freely available and we will continue to fight for this, it is both a pleasure and a blessing to be able to afford them.  Instead of complaining, I advocate working harder at building sustainable businesses.  We need to educate more people to make more money in order to meet the rising cost of living.  Companies aren’t doing this as salaries stagnate and let’s not even get started on the government.

My heart goes out to people who cannot pay the bills.  I have been there.  My heart goes out to people who lie awake at night with an uncertainty of how they will make ends meet.  I have been there too.  I am grateful that I am able to pay the bills and help support my family.  Until we live in a world where the basic rights of every human being are met, I hope and I pray and I will fight for the opportunity for as many people as possible to be able to enjoy the pleasure of paying their bills.
Maja Dezulovic