Author Archives: mattS

Eat the Whole Bag, Realistic Advice For a World On Fire

Eat the whole bag, because let’s be honest, that bag of chips is all you can afford for dinner. Guess you shouldn’t have bought that Starbucks as you rushed between jobs.

Finally, the inspirational book of life advice we all really need to survive the dumpster fire our world has become!

Because if you’ve survived high school without getting shot to death by a classmate, and survived college without drinking yourself to death or getting shot to death by a classmate, then you deserve to eat the whole damn bag of chips.

Chances are you’re going to grad school now because that’s what you were conditioned to do. And since you have zero financial literacy and don’t realize you’ll be graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt that will financial and emotionally cripple you for the rest of your life—if you manage to survive grad school without getting shot to death by a classmate or random stranger at Walmart. So go ahead, live a little; eat the whole damn bag of chips.

Go ahead and eat that whole damn bag of chips, because you’re going to spend the rest of your life working six jobs and still earn less than your parents. And through it all you’ll blame yourself, having been raised under the false assumption that if you had just worked harder everything would be ok.

It won’t.

So go ahead and eat the whole damn bag….

After all, the planet is going to literally cook us all alive next week so that the ten people who control 99% of the world’s resources can buy another 100,000 square foot house they’ll never visit.

The updated edition also includes the essays:

“Coffee Will Kill You Instantly…. And Other Things We’ll Tell You the Exact Opposite of Next Week”

“Red Wine Will Cure Your Coffee Cancer…. And Other Things We’ll Tell You the Exact Opposite of Next Week”

“Avocado Toast Is Why You’re Poor”

“10 Things Millennials Have Ruined Because Wages Are Half of What They Were 40 Years Ago”

“Suck It Up, A Cure-All Guide to Mental Health”

“Your Insurance Only Covers WebMD; You Have Cancer”

…and a new poem from Lewis Black called “You’re All Fucked! / Love, Baby Boomers”


The original cover this post is based on is for “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish”, a collection of inspirational essays from Penguin Books. Based on those who contributed to the book, I have no doubt that these essays are full of actual positive advice from social, political, and cultural icons who have dedicated their lives to fighting for the very things I’ve mocked with my fake inspirational advice book and the essay titles included. For anyone who didn’t find this funny, I’m sorry; I was being foolish, and I was very hungry at the time.

However, I fully support eating the whole bag of chips.

Here’s the publisher’s blurb for “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish”:

“Graduation day is a pivotal moment. After a lifetime of learning, and at least three years of studying, we’re thrown headfirst into the unknown world of adulthood.

That day – and the months afterwards – are full of possibilities. They can feel thrilling and rudderless, dreamy yet terrifying but it’s the perfect time to reflect on the past and look at what’s still to come.

In this collection of carefully curated speeches, Barack Obama, Gloria Steinem and Tim Minchin and many more share their advice for graduating students who have gone on to shape the world we live in. This little collection is perfect for anyone seeking inspiration, no matter which life stage they’re at.”


And just so we’re being completely honest with each other, I just ate an entire bag of chips while writing this.

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Considering Potential, Adversity and Alice Childress

I came across a post the other day referencing the Biosphere 2 project and a surprising discovery scientists made during the experiment. Within the completely perfect and balanced contained world of the biosphere the trees appeared healthy and thriving but none would grow to maturity. Before they could reach maturity however, the trees would topple over.

The scientists realized that within the biosphere there was no wind, there was no pressure or adversity exerted in the trees. They grew without resistance, without hardship, without adversity. The easy explanation is that the wind forced the trees to grow stronger, deeper roots to fight the outward forces of nature and their surroundings, but the truth goes far deeper than that.

It was more than strong roots the trees needed to rely on and develop, it was a tougher skin. There is a layer of wood known as reaction wood, or stress wood, that the biosphere trees were not developing. This layer allows the trees to adapt and to branch out in directions and at angles that would otherwise not be structurally sound in order to find the sunlight and other resources they need. In a perfect world they didn’t need that stronger layer, that muscle and fortitude. They grew fast and straight and collapsed under their own weight, too weak to maintain themselves because they had never faced any adversity, had never had to fight. They could never reach their true potential because they had never been challenged to do so.

I was reminded of this a few days later when lookin through my materials on Alice Childress, an author, playwright, actress and woman of color who worked fiercely for four decades in theater and on Broadway addressing social issues through her work during a time when she was denied basic civil rights. She began her career in 1949, writing and starring in the one act play, ‘Florence’ which touched in many of the themes that would define her career and the social causes she would fight for; the empowerment of black women, interracial politics, working-class life.

“My writing attempts to interpret the ‘ordinary’,” she said, “because they are not ordinary. Each human is uniquely different. Like snowflakes, the human pattern is never cast twice. We are uncommonly and marvellously intricate in thought and action, our problems are most complex and, too often, silently borne.”

Remembering S.E.K Mqhayi, Imbongi ye Sizwe

S.E.K. Mqhayi
Known more commonly as S.E.K. Mqhayi, Samuel Edward Krune Loliwe Ngxekengxeke Mqhayi died July 29, 1945. Mqhayi was a Xhosa dramatist, essayist, critic, novelist, historian, biographer, translator and poet whose works are regarded as instrumental in standardising the grammar of isiXhosa and preserving the language in the 20th century. Xhosa is an ethnic group of people of Southern Africa mainly found in the Eastern and Western Cape, South Africa.

Among those who revered Mqhayi’s poetry was Nelson Mandela, who described him as the “poet laureate of the African people.” Mandela was proud that he had not only seen twice in person, but had on one occasion, heard Mqhayi recite his poetry.

Mqhayi’s addition of seven stanzas to “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”, which was originally written by Enoch Sontonga in 1927, was adopted by several African states as their national anthem including South Africa, Namibia and Zambia.

Sinking of the SS MendiIn reading translations of some of Mqhayi’s work, I found “The Sinking of Mendi” a 1943 poem about the sinking of the SS Mendi during World War I after a collision which resulted in the deaths of 646 men. The dead were predominantly black South African troops from the 5th Battalion of the South African Native Labour Corps on their way to serve in France. Most had never seen the sea before this voyage, and very few could swim.

According to Alan Straton’s article ‘The Cold Sea: Mendi Poems’, “S.E.K Mqhayi who was the Imbongi ye Sizwe (National Bard) of the Xhosa people at the time of the First World War felt deeply about the disaster as he had played a formative role in the recruitment campaign through a poem that he wrote calling men to arms titled, ‘The Black Army’.” Mqhayi intended to keep the “memory of this event alive in the oral narrative of the Xhosa communities in the Eastern Cape during the Apartheid years when black historical events were written out of the history books.”

Oral histories passed down from survivors and witnesses tell that the men trapped aboard the ship as it listed and sank into the fog covered sea were calmed by the words of Isaac Williams Wauchope, an interpreter and former minister, who called out to them:

“Be quiet and calm, my countrymen. What is happening now is what you came to do…you are going to die, but that is what you came to do. Brothers, we are drilling the death drill. I, a Xhosa, say you are my brothers…Swazis, Pondos, Basotho…so let us die like brothers. We are the sons of Africa. Raise your war-cries, brothers, for though they made us leave our assegais in the kraal, our voices are left with our bodies.”

The captain of the boat that collided with the Mendi, which sailed away rather than offer aid to survivors, was later found to have been operating recklessly in the thick fog. As he was responsible for the deaths of 646 men, his license was revoked for one year.

Mqhayi also wrote to lament the westernization of Africa as he lived through the culmination and collapse of European colonization of the continent.

“Human movement in search of land grabbing land from chiefs.

Using the word of God as a tool

and instrument to rule kings and nations.

An education so inferior became an institution to prepare slaves

for new masters.”

He saw that the education the missionary schools provided was meant to erase his people’s history and prepare them only to be subjugated and enslaved by ignorance. He understood the importance of his cultural history and advocated for it though his poetry and prose.

Mqhayi ultimately hoped to inspire his people to future greatness by reminding them of all they have achieved in their cultural history, striving for “students of History to have a critical eye on the events that happened thousands of years ago, have a broader perspective of events around him and get armed for what is to happen tomorrow.”


For more on S.E.K. Mqhayi and the Sinking of the Mendi check out the links below.

https://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poem/item/13291/auto/0/SINKING-OF-THE-MENDI

http://mype.co.za/new/the-cold-sea-mendi-poems/88359/2017/06#ixzz5YUpFYJB0

http://museum.za.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=57:sek-mqhayi&catid=25&Itemid=168

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