Saying goodbye 2012 and welcome 2013 with thoughts from Shirley


Shirley smiles with hope and confidence

Dear friends, followers, readers, lovers and haters… I am thankful for all your help and support over the years. I am mostly thankful to everyone who has shared, read, subscribed to or joined my work ever since it begun a little over a decade ago. Special thanks to Odumankuma. Now please let me try and encourage you with words spoken to me way back in 2012 [that still resonates today as 2018 draws to a close] by senior high schoolmate Shirley (pictured) whom I’ve known over 2 decades.

Shirley is an old friend of mine from my high school era in Ghana. Unbeknownst to her, she gives me a lot of inspiration for keeping my work as a digital storyteller alive. As the year 2018 drew to a close, I went back to a 2012 convo I had with shirley and with her permission would love to re-echo it before we enter January 2019… Below is the piece from December 27, 2012.

I would love to express my profound gratitude to Shirley if she’s reading this and to share some of her inspiring thoughts with you all and pray it ushers you into 2013 with a lot of positivity and hope!

Writing is something I love to do and I do very well at it more than talking, this is far too obvious for those who know me very well. I don’t expect all who read my work to love it because I could actually use some great critiques. I have received constructive criticisms from good friends like Joshua Anny Osabutey who is one of the 2012 CNN journalist of the year from Africa working for JoyFM in Ghana. My blogs are very infused with my personal thoughts and opinions. It is meant to be very intentionally unconventional too sometimes.

I have had the experiences where sometimes some of my blogs have not followed laid down rules or met expectations of my journalists buddies and it was in one of those times when in a subtle attempt to rediscover my ink that I had a talk with Shirley. This encounter made me aware of a few truths in life that like me, probably most or all of you are already aware of. Some of her thoughts have returned to the fore of my mind and I feel like sharing them with you because on the most lighted paths in life, there are dark alleys too, so when I chance upon light, I love to share it in the hope that karma will smile upon me too.

Shirley believes some people are born with meal tickets tied to their umbilical cords, a summer house in the Hamptons, five star hotel stays, and a good education—it seems like as though they were born with the thickest and heaviest golden spoon in their mouths.

On the most darkest path in life however, Shirley thinks there are also rays of hope and possibilities in places no one has ever thought of looking. We sometimes become worn out from strife with never having enough. Living sometimes becomes a struggle each day. While for some of us–depending on which parts of the planet we’re on–humility becomes the only tool we have to use to earn simple things like a meal ticket which sometimes comes through blood, sweat and tears. We are sometimes forced to leave dreams and ambitions as they tend to look so dim in the distant. Relationships, health and self-worth are sometimes even shelved because you’re hitting and stumping but so far, there hasn’t been a dent of hope anywhere, not even a flicker of light in the tunnel.

And then there are classes of people everywhere (and when race, gender, sexuality, beliefs and other things are not thrown into the mix) going through some or unfortunately all of these rather bleak circumstances and yet when stripped down we are all the same, with the same color of blood flowing through us. We must be very grateful for the lives we live and cherish the opportunities each day offers irrespective of whatever we are going through, be it a positive or negative experience.

This is because death is the only fair thing in this life, yes it is a predator but it gobbles up both the privileged and the under-privileged. Death does not admire the strong so it could pick on the weak. It has no pity for the young nor respect for the old, it does not favor women over men. It basically cares less about your bank account and its contents or your status in life.

Death is allowed by God whose only begotten son even suffered it too according to shirley.

If you want to live your life, know that until death comes knocking not even the best of us can have it all. Brace yourself and try for the thousandth time to hone your skills in hope to achieve your dream(s). It is not our weaknesses that makes us fail, it is rather an imperfect world filled with imperfect people that tirelessly encourage failure or the simple but dangerous choice we make to stop trying.

To escape this trap, create your own perfection (tailored to your needs) with your todays and tomorrows in mind, minding the kinds of friends you surround yourself with and what you allow in and out of your ears, eyes, mouth and mind!
Because you can’t control everything, always be mindful of the fact that your needs are as important as the next person’s, yes they may not be the same but damn they heck well are all priorities!

The universe won’t stop spinning because you broke a nail or have a tumor but we can help each other live. Give a hug, be a reliable friend, listen to someone whine for a minute and please do some of these things (you certainly can’t do all) when and where you can. Inspire and nurture a nourishing dream or relationship with someone and for heaven’s sake don’t hate, that never got no one anywhere.

There you have it guys, these are simple truths of life that the lady pictured shared with me long ago and I have not been perfect at adhering to them, yet on the times that I have, it has always served me well.

Many thanks goes out to all who stand in firm support of #TheAfricanDreamLLC. You too my friends in Connecticut USA and all those who time, memory and space have failed to let me mention. Have a prosperous 2013 that will bring to fruition everything you are working hard towards. God bless!

Written by Oral Ofori

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