An Explanation

A friend asked me to take a good long look at the mirror. I have a sneaky suspicion that it should be “long good look” not “good long look” but that’s neither here nor there. Why he said it is also inconsequential, the only thing about it that matters is that he said it and it stuck. It is the trigger that inspired this unwilling explanation. 

I do not find mirrors particularly useful. They show you how you look and can stoke the fires of your vanity or self loathing; but whatever it is, what they show is merely only skin deep. Writing, on the other hand is a different thing entirely. When I write about myself, only the semantics can be adjusted. The who, the where, the when, all endlessly manipulatable. I alter them at will. The same is not true of the what and the why. The what: a statement of fact that this happened and that happened, rigid. The why: endless introspection about motives, mine or someone else’s. Always and everywhere incomparably deeper than I am willing to venture. 

Over the past year, many things have changed, and as regrettably cliche as this may read, nothing has changed. I read my journals from when I was 13, 17, 19, 22, and I am the same. The things I fear and the things I hope for, unchanged. The only difference is where I stand in relation to them.  If you talk about the concrete plan, the vast network of roads I may take to the final destination, then I am well on my way. I am a journalist not by a stretch of the imagination, or by some stranger’s estimation of my blog or talent. I have a degree that says so, and then there’s the job with CNBC Africa, the year I’ve spent without leave or many a sick day, reporting, writing, producing, tweeting and sometimes anchoring Africa’s business story. No amount of pity partying with demons, old or new could ever change this. I do, so therefore I am. 

If I wanted to take the easy way out, I’d say, “all of this journalisting is so intense that I simply have no time to write anything.” You would buy it without pause for thought, but there’d be no point. I do not write to deceive or to spin. If my motives were so shallow I’d stay silent and spare us both the agony. Are you tired yet? It is hard, is it not? To read 418 words at a stretch. 

The breadth of my contract took a while to sink in. I signed it straight away in spite of it; but the liberties I signed away stayed with me. How do I keep a blog called the Ramblings of a Madman and not somehow find myself in breach? What if I want to rant about a certain Company, but that Company’s a client or a potential client? There are clauses that require I seek permission before I embark on a project, and then there are some corners of the media world that I cannot venture into. 

I counted the days, the weeks and the months. On some days I’d blast out 300 words then delete them.Words once familiar seemed strange and then the you’re not any good demon and I started kicking it again. At that point I was damned. Even if I found the time and the presence of mind, whatever I managed to write wouldn’t be good enough. 

There was a bubbling, something underneath saying that happiness or at least my version of it isn’t what I thought it was. It isn’t the glittering fleeting feeling you get when you’re with friends, or when the thing you get when your now is infinite and it isn’t having a lot of money. It is climbing the rungs of a ladder one foot after the other, ensuring that at every stage of your journey, you’re at least a half step higher than where you were - a fraction closer to the dream. There’s a difference between happy in life and happy in now. Having both of them simultaneously would be amazing, ideal. But if I had to choose, I’d much rather have the former. 


I have taken a look in the mirror and I do not always like what I see. I am a journalist. I produce my show, or my shows, regardless of the day, or my mood, or the shit that happened the day before. I like this part of my reflection. The writer in me has not enjoyed the same growth. I do not like this part of my reflection. If only I was born fully formed, all good and wise and not at all reckless and occasionally foolish. If only I made no mistakes and crashed less cars. If only… If only… If only… But one foot ahead of the other, one step on the rung at a time. One word ahead of the other, one sentence at a time. 

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