For 24 years of my adult life, by choice I weighed well over 200 pounds. I say ‘by choice’ because I have never ‘accidentally’ eaten anything, so when I choose to eat too much, I have chosen to weigh too much.
I feel to that the gap between my new life in New York and the situation at home in Africa is stretching into a gulf, as Zimbabwe spirals downwards into a violent dictatorship. My head bulges with the effort to contain both worlds. When I am back in New York, Africa immediately seems fantastical – a wildly plumaged bird, as exotic as it is unlikely.Most of us struggle in life to maintain the illusion of control, but in Africa that illusion is almost impossible to maintain. I always have the sense there that there is no equilibrium, that everything perpetually teeters on the brink of some dramatic change, that society constantly stands poised for some spasm, some tsunami in which you can do nothing but hope to bob up to the surface and not be sucked out into a dark and hungry sea. The origin of my permanent sense of unease, my general foreboding, is probably the fact that I have lived through just such change, such a sudden and violent upending of value systems.In my part of Africa, death is never far away. With more Zimbabweans dying in their early thirties now, mortality has a seat at every table. The urgent, tugging winds themselves seem to whisper the message, memento mori, you too shall die. In Africa, you do not view death from the auditorium of life, as a spectator, but from the edge of the stage, waiting only for your cue. You feel perishable, temporary, transient. You feel mortal. Maybe that is why you seem to live more vividly in Africa. The drama of life there is amplified by its constant proximity to death. That’s what infuses it with tension. It is the essence of its tragedy too. People love harder there. Love is the way that life forgets that it is terminal. Love is life’s alibi in the face of death. For me, the illusion of control is much easier to maintain in England or America. In this temperate world, I feel more secure, as if change will only happen incrementally, in manageable, finely calibrated, bite-sized portions. There is a sense of continuity threaded through it all: the anchor of history, the tangible presence of antiquity, of buildings, of institutions. You live in the expectation of reaching old age.At least you used to.But on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, those two states of mind converge. Suddenly it feels like I am back in Africa, where things can be taken away from you at random, in a single violent stroke, as quick as the whip of a snake’s head. Where tumult is raised with an abruptness that is as breathtaking as the violence itself.
I don’t even have a choice. Rachel thought how that was pretty much true of everything now, that you got one choice at the beginning but if you didn’t choose right, and she hadn’t, things got narrow real quick. Like trying to wade a river, she thought. You take a wrong step and set your foot on a wobbly rock or in a drop-off and you’re swept away, and all you can do then is try to survive. (83)
What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do? What a waste, what a senseless waste! But what of those things which you actually didn't like, not because you were not supposed to like them, not because to dislike them was considered a mark of refinement and education - but because you actually found them distasteful? The very idea annoyed me. How could you know? It involved a problem of choice. I would have to weigh many things carefully before deciding and there would be some things that would cause quite a bit of trouble, simply because I had never formed a personal attitude toward so much. I had accepted the accepted attitudes and it had made life seem simple ...
You’ve said life is a series of choices, but I think it’s also a series of opportunities, a series of lessons, a series of moments all strung together that loops around into a lifetime—it’s a lifetime of moments. Every decision, every person that has entered my life, has shaped who I am today.
Lies I've told my 3 year old recently Trees talk to each other at night.All fish are named either Lorna or Jack.Before your eyeballs fall out from watching too much TV, they get very loose.Tiny bears live in drain pipes. If you are very very quiet you can hear the clouds rub against the sky.The moon and the sun had a fight a long time ago.Everyone knows at least one secret language.When nobody is looking, I can fly.We are all held together by invisible threads.Books get lonely too.Sadness can be eaten.I will always be there.
When I say that I am convinced of these things I speak with too much pride. Far off, like a perfect pearl, one can see the city of God. It is so wonderful that it seems as if a child could reach it in a summer's day. And so a child could. But with me and such as me it is different. One can realise a thing in a single moment, but one loses it in the long hours that follow with leaden feet. It is so difficult to keep 'heights that the soul is competent to gain.' We think in eternity, but we move slowly through time; and how slowly time goes with us who lie in prison I need not tell again, nor of the weariness and despair that creep back into one's cell, and into the cell of one's heart, with such strange insistence that one has, as it were, to garnish and sweep one's house for their coming, as for an unwelcome guest, or a bitter master, or a slave whose slave it is one's chance or choice to be.
So began my love affair with books. Years later, as a college student, I remember having a choice between a few slices of pizza that would have held me over for a day or a copy of On the Road. I bought the book. I would have forgotten what the pizza tasted like, but I still remember Kerouac. The world was mine for the reading. I traveled with my books. I was there on a tramp steamer in the North Atlantic with the Hardy Boys, piecing together an unsolvable crime. I rode into the Valley of Death with the six hundred and I stood at the graves of Uncas and Cora and listened to the mournful song of the Lenni Linape. Although I braved a frozen death at Valley Forge and felt the spin of a hundred bullets at Shiloh, I was never afraid. I was there as much as you are where you are, right this second. I smelled the gunsmoke and tasted the frost. And it was good to be there. No one could harm me there. No one could punch me, slap me, call me stupid, or pretend I wasn’t in the room. The other kids raced through books so they could get the completion stamp on their library card. I didn’t care about that stupid completion stamp. I didn’t want to race through books. I wanted books to walk slowly through me, stop, and touch my brain and my memory. If a book couldn’t do that, it probably wasn’t a very good book. Besides, it isn’t how much you read, it’s what you read. What I learned from books, from young Ben Franklin’s anger at his brother to Anne Frank’s longing for the way her life used to be, was that I wasn’t alone in my pain. All that caused me such anguish affected others, too, and that connected me to them and that connected me to my books. I loved everything about books. I loved that odd sensation of turning the final page, realizing the story had ended, and feeling that I was saying a last goodbye to a new friend.
What happens if your choice is misguided?' I ask, softly.Miss Moore takes a pear from the bowl and offers us the grapes to devour. 'You must try to correct it.''But what if it’s too late? What if you can’t?'There's a sad sympathy in Miss Moore's catlike eyes as she regards my painting again. She paints the thinnest sliver of shadow along the bottom of the apple, bringing it fully to life.'Then you must find a way to live with it.
Real poverty is when hunger pangs force from my mind all thoughts but those of food. Real poverty is when the children are not dressed warmly enough for winter. Real poverty is when the housing we can afford is not adequate to the needs of our families. On the other hand, real poverty is - equally - when I have eaten so much that I am uncomfortable, and again, my thoughts center on food. Or when I have so many clothes that I have to spend a lot of mental energy making choices among them or finding ways to store them. Or when, regardless of my living conditions, I am discontent and brooding about how to have more. Real poverty is when material things are uppermost and pressing - whether because we have too few or too many of them. It is poverty, because the human mind and spirit are made for higher things, worthier pursuits.
Now in my eleven years of conventional life I had learned many things and one of them is what it means to be convicted of rape--I do not mean the man who did it, I mean the woman to whom it was done. Rape is one of the Christian mysteries, it creates a luminous and beautiful tableau in people's minds; and as I listened furtively to what nobody would allow me to hear straight out, I slowly came to understand that I was face to face with one of those feminine disasters, like pregnancy, like disease, like weakness; she was not only the victim of the act but in some strange way its perpetrator; somehow she had attracted the lightening that struck her out of a clear sky. A diabolical chance--which was not chance--had revealed her to all of us as she truly was, in her secret inadequacy, in that wretched guiltiness which she had kept hidden for seventeen years but which now finally manifested in front of everybody. Her secret guilt was this:She was Cunt.She had "lost" something.Now the other party to the incident had manifested his essential nature, too; he was Prick--but being Prick is not a bad thing. In fact, he had "gotten away with" something (possibly what she had "lost").And there I was at eleven years of age:She was out late at night.She was in the wrong part of town.Her skirt was too short and that provoked him.She liked having her eye blacked and her head banged against the sidewalk.I understood this perfectly. (I reflected thus in my dream, in my state of being a pair of eyes in a small wooden box stuck forever on a grey, geometric plane--or so I thought.) I too had been guilty of what had been done to me, when I came home from the playground in tears because I had been beaten up by bigger children who were bullies.I was dirty.I was crying.I demanded comfort.I was being inconvenient.I did not disappear into thin air.
I think the Fed still has no other choice but still to raise rates. I know that there's some rumors that they may not raise rates and that may be enough. There are several elements that go into this. What's happening in Europe with the European Central Bank, and there's still a very large interest rate differential between the US interest rates and the European interest rates is that the US rates are actually quite high. So the European rates have to come a bit higher. Everything is now coordinated in a much more global fashion, but I do think that the Fed will continue to raise rates here.
My life will be what I make it," he told her. "That is true for all of us all the time. We cannot know what the future will bring or how the events of the future will make us feel. We cannot even plan and feel any certainty that our most carefully contrived plans will be put into effect. Could I have predicted what happened to me in the Peninsula? Could you have predicted what happened to you in Cornwall? But those things happened to us nevertheless. And they changed our plans and our dreams so radically that we both might have been excused for giving up, for never planning or dreaming again, for never living again. That too is a choice we all have to make.
I got to the end of my first year, and I'd had a f---ing great time - I slept with a lot of loose women, drank far too much alcohol. But what's going to be different in three years? I'm going to be three stone overweight and still want to be a singer. So I grew some testicles and said to my mum and dad, 'I'm coming home, I wanna do what I wanna do'. Thankfully they didn't say, 'We spent a fortune on your education, go and get a f---ing degree!'
I just like the idea of looking back at my life and feeling like I made different choices than everyone else, you know? Most people are inherently boring if you really dig deep. They don't want much, they don't veer from their chosen path, and they're generally scared of change. I don't know, at least that's how my grandfather tells it. I don't want to be like fifty and realize that I was one of those people who didn't bother to think outside the box.
If my twelve-year-old self, of whom I had grown rather fond, thinking about him, were to reproach me: 'Why have you grown up such a dull dog, when I gave you such a good start? Why have you spent your time in dusty libraries, catologuing other people's books instead of writing your own? What had become of the Ram, the Bull and the Lion, the example I gave you to emulate? Where above all is the Virgin, with her shining face and curling tresses, whom I entrusted to you'- what should I say?I should have an answer ready. 'Well, it was you who let me down, and I will tell you how. You flew too near to the sun, and you were scorched. This cindery creature is what you made me.'To which he might reply: 'But you have had half a century to get over it! Half a century, half the twentieth century, that glorious epoch, that golden age that I bequeathed to you!''Has the twentieth century,' I should ask, 'done so much better than I have? When you leave this room, which I admit is dull and cheerless, and take the last bus to your home in the past, if you haven't missed it - ask yourself whether you found everything so radiant as you imagined it. Ask yourself whether it has fulfilled your hopes. You were vanquished, Colston, you were vanquished, and so was your century, your precious century that you hoped so much of.