The Recurring Dream.

I am now in my last few months to the end of my studies. It is near the end and I am to graduate. It is a wonderful feeling and a relieving sense of accomplishment. It is from here that I move on to greater endeavors. I look at my attendance sheet, as I am notified, “you have attended far too few classes in this course for successful completion”. I have only one course left to graduate. I can’t graduate now! What do I do?!

Then, I wake up. Each, and every so often this dream haunts me. It is a dream of my failure to graduate from school. Most often, it is about my failure to graduate from university. This is bizarre, to say the least, because I graduated (with Honours) from university just recently. Even more bizarre is how the dream’s scenario alters each time, but the basic premise of me failing to complete my studies remains the same.

As you most likely already know, dreams can be bizarre and absurd. And, to me, the projection of this recurring dream has become so absurd that it is now mildly laughable. This is due to the fact that my latest dream had nothing to do with my failing to graduate from university at all! No, it was now about my inability to graduate from elementary school!

Waking up with fear and anxiety each time, my first spoken words as I’ve woken up with relief mixed with anger are: “Come on, give me a break!”. I would not be lying if I said I’ve seen this dream dozens of times, but each time it seems to become more bizarre and ridiculously out of context. This last time I was louder than usual when I responded to my brain in protest!

If we want to talk about dream analysis, I really don’t know what to make of it. I try not to read into it much but this is one of those dreams that just will not go away. The inaccuracy of it baffles me the most. I know, it is not right. I know it is just a dream. I tell myself, it is just a dream. But, alas, it won’t go away. That is just a dream.

In reality, I am a graduate, I have a degree and I do not think that I’m a failure! Take that, you bastard subconscious of mine!

Insignificant Goals [poem]

I live in ambition, aiming to fulfill my role

What that may be depends on my goal.

Day by day, I look to the skylight

Wondering what would be the day’s highlight.

I posture my thoughts, challenge my beliefs, and aim up high

Yet insignificant I feel with each breath, with each sigh.

Too much expectation, too much dedication,

has now left me with prescribed medication.

I talk to myself, wonder what steps should guide me safely to morrow.

Keeping me steady, for once without sorrow.

Keeping me grounded, with the experience of yesterday, with the knowledge that my actions will determine the days that follow.

Experience gives birth to knowledge.

And my experience suggests today:

that no goal is insignificant, no action unworthy,

if the aim was magnificence.

“PRIME MINISTER.” – [fictional short story]

Title: PRIME MINISTER

Written by: Sam Dali

CHAPTER 1 – CHALLENGERS

 The opposition was relentless. They wanted the Prime Minister to resign. The scandal was all over the newspapers, and the accusations continued, each with a different tone, and story. The King had not consulted with the Prime Minister on the issues, and did not wish to intervene. The constitutional monarchy had just been re-established in this land only 4 years and was recovering from a revolution against a corrupt and violent Republic. King John III, reinstated after 15 years of exile did not see it his duty to side with one political force against another. He did not want to make the same mistake twice. The King was fortuitous when he fled the hands of those who claimed his throne thereafter.

The speech was ready to be delivered in Parliament in the fall of this most tumultuous year since the revolution. The Prime Minister, a tall figure, with a commanding voice, and an expert orator during debates, had this most crucial task of controlling his words to secure and capture the attention of his allies in Parliament, the citizens of the State, and most importantly, his opposition. The words he chose determined his fate, word by word. It was the task for him to deliver on his promises, and clarify to the people how the accusations were false.

This time it was him who came clear, ready to speak, not shying away from the ruckus that existed in this chaotic parliament, right up to the moment he stepped up to speak. Amid all the shouts and chants and calls for resignation, the Prime Minster was given the permission to speak by the Speaker of the House. Then, the Prime Minister began: “Mr. Speaker, fellow parliamentarians, and most importantly, the citizens of this great country of ours whom we represent. I stand here today amid all the solid evidence that the opposition states that it has against me, about my conduct in handling the scandals that are coming at this government left and right. But before I attempt to answer questions regarding my role in these affairs, I would like to guide our attention to the bigger picture.”

This beginning statement was met with some applause but more echoed jeers. It was a posture the prime minister knew was going to be of risk since the opposition wanted answers quickly, while his allies wanted a firm stance. The Prime Minister continued, “We shall not let our memories fail us that while only 4 years ago, when this great nation rose against the tyranny of the Republic, we held a promise in this very parliament we rebuilt, to have civil conversations and debate on the affairs of the State to the interests of this great land and of its people. We are not here today to answer questions of my conduct, Mr. Speaker. We are here today to re-evaluate our conduct as parliamentarians. We have been given a god-given mission, to sustain this revolution, to reinstate its history, to spread its glory, and protect its valour from evil forces that aim to undermine this national solidarity. Mr. Speaker, the people do not forget who their enemies are. The people are the judge and jury of my conduct, not this opposition. The accusations against me should not reflect the conduct of my cabinet, or those who have fought and sacrificed their lives to serve this country and preserve its freedom. Mr. Speaker, I do not accept these accusations as having any merit. I truly challenge this opposition and its Leader, to really question the purpose of these attacks, what good it would do for this nation, what good it would do for its future. I firmly deny these allegations, and I stand here as an elected member of this glorious parliament, proclaiming my allegiance to the King and the great citizens of this land, and I pledge that I will never back down, until this heart of mine is beating.” The speech was met with a rising ovation from the cabinet and all the allies of the government. It did not silence the opposition, though it did make them less confident than before.

Later in the day, the Prime Minister met with the King, and spoke to the words he used in parliament and in his cabinet meeting that he “would not back down”. He comforted his highness, that the system was not to be under threat, and this was simply a challenge for the government. The King assured his Prime Minister that he would offer his support, whenever it was necessary to intervene.

King John III was middle-aged, sent to exile when his father had just handed him the throne, upon his death, fifteen years ago. Initially, King John III had ambitions for his country. His highness had hopes and dreams to modernize the state, to build new roads and schools that were systematically abandoned through policies that did not favour those areas (those areas had inhabitants of different ethnicities that had distinct languages, customs, and traditions that posed a threat to the state if rejuvenated). King John III wanted to do away with those policies and make drastic changes to the affairs of the bureaucracy. So, His Highness decided with some members of the allegiance to confront the prime minister on these affairs amongst other failed policies, and deal with them. However, with the Constitutional Monarchy in place, it was difficult to make any moves unilaterally without the approval of Parliament.  It was here that King John III met with a young but experienced advisor to the Crown, Mr. Peter Callahan to discuss the options available. The plan was discussed and the secret moves were made to reach an agreement with the opposition parties to vote a non-confidence motion in parliament.

The citizens of the State did not see the efforts of the King to confront the political parties and the government in dealing with the growing discontent, and only saw the lavish lifestyle of him and his family with a mansion in each of the big cities around the country. The concern was real, the purpose was high honour and dignity, and the result was disastrous! The plan to confront the government led to the Prime Minister at the time proclaiming that the basic tenets of the Constitutional Monarchy were under threat of unspecified forces and the integrity of the Prime Minister’s Office was in grave danger.

Though Prime Minister Cunningham did not hint at all that these forces were guided by the King himself, he did warn the people that the very fabric of the system was under attack and a possible need of force (in the form of protest to show support for the system) on the streets of the capital and across the country was necessary to quash any movement that jeopardizes the political system, and the “justice and freedom” of the State.

This radical response was initially thought to be a sincere gesture by Prime Minister Cunningham to instil confidence in the government against forces of dissent, let alone the King. But what nobody expected became a deception that took the country down a road that only paved the way for greater corruption, greater fear, silenced opposition, and the exile of the King and his family from the country. What was known by the people as his Right Honourable Prime Minister Lee M. Cunningham, became the leader of the Revolution (and the first President of the Republic) who manipulated the feelings of the people against the Crown, and blamed all the economic failures of the rural areas, the poor economic condition of the country, including its (modest) corruption, on the newly risen Monarch, King John III.

 

CHAPTER TWO – CALLAHAN

Peter Callahan, along with his family, like many others who had close ties to the monarchy, fled the country amid the chaos and settles in a reasonably up-scale area in the neighbouring country that denounced the newly Republic. The country they resided in deemed the revolutionaries as traitors and unworthy of political ties (However, they did not go so far as to express readiness for war). But for Peter Callahan, it was a devastation that was still etched in his mind, the loss of his homeland, the pain and anguish it had ahead for the citizens, and the regret of whether something could have been done. Peter Callahan did not believe that the people were worthy of respect and dignity. He believed that the people can be manipulated easily by just a few words. It was certain to him that all the efforts of a government could be blown to dust by a number of accusations that outweigh long years of service by a government. This, he believed was due to the feeble minds of the people, who believe whatever they see and hear, lacking any sound judgment. In a way, he believed the people now deserved the government which they had now orchestrated.

One day, sitting on the porch of his house, on a sunny but cloudy day, with mild winds coming across, Peter Callahan received a letter from the King he once knew closely. It had been 7 years since the Republican Revolution and stories upon stories were coming about executions, torture and a brutal suppression of any dissent. The tales that were coming from those who escaped were disturbing. He reluctantly opened the letter and read the message. The king had been ill and feared not seeing his advisor, the only one he had not seen in years. The letter was an invitation to meet in a town far away. Though it was not safe to travel, it was quite important for the determined Callahan to respect his king’s wishes. Thus, he packed his suitcase, and left his family of a wife and two children, a boy aged 5 and a girl aged 12. He kissed them one last time at the door and told them he would be back soon, that “daddy is going on a mission”. This was only two days after he received the letter.

The travel to this land of the unknown was surely protected, and hopefully not in an environment unsuited for a king, he thought. The time he spent on the days and nights, reaching his destination, he carefully disguised himself so no one, not even his friends, would recognize him. At this point, nobody could be trusted, but the King. Peter Callahan therefore, put on a beard, and tried to look as though he was of the lower classes. He began to view the different cities and daily life as he passed through, with each transit, each fellow giving a ride to another part of town. He saw how people lived, more closely than ever before.

Peter Callahan was still reluctant to accept that these people were deserving of service, of respect, since all they did was ask for more from the government, not at all cognizant of the various channels that each bill needs to go through in order to be passed by parliament for a policy to be changed. He thought the people were not even capable of understanding what a treasury is, what a budget pays for, and what difficulties a government has to deal with on a daily basis. He looked out the window of his carriage and said: “To hell with them.”

Once he reached a town close to where his beloved King resided, Peter Callahan was told that he had to stay here for a few days. Of course, Callahan complained and told the man he could not wait here, and refused to stay among these people. The man replied, “There is not much I can do, sir. There is word of troubles a few miles from here. I think it’s best to stay out of trouble over here.” The confusion and worry rose out of Callahan, thinking it was something involving the King. Having little choice, yet eager to find out if the King was in fact involved and if he was in danger, Callahan surrendered to his wishes, and opted to take the man’s advice.

It was here that a lot of things changed for Callahan. What was to be a few days of residence, became a few weeks. He met some shopkeepers and townspeople who spoke of their daily lives and the routine trials and tribulations they faced. Many complained of basic necessities of food and water, among other things. One day, he walked into a nearby pub and saw a man, seemingly ranting on about everything. Callahan still wished to keep a low profile and invisible to the rest of them as much as possible, but he was still interested to see how the people lived, and the sort of things they talked about on a day to day basis. He studied their lingo, the expressions they used, their mannerisms and values. It was beginning to occupy his mind to the core, with more questions, and less answers. In the pub, Callahan sat in the corner away from the man, and just listened. He ordered a light beer to compliment the show he was watching. What he saw was not simply a drunk man, but a man with old parents who rely on him, with a wife and children he needs to care for, and taxes he cannot pay for. The tirade was endless, and somewhat irritating, but for Callahan, a moment of clarity came forth, complimenting his mission.

From the corner he rose, and walked forth to the drunken man’s blistering presence and cut off his fiery words with his hand on his shoulder. Calmly Callahan asked him a question: “What is this drivel you obsess of? Can you not see you are disturbing the peace in this establishment? Are you not aware of your lonesome ordeal? But I know where you come from. I feel your pain. I see that you are victim of misfortune; abandoned by authority and bitten by bloodthirsty wolves in this lawlessness you and I call society. You are right…We are pushed around, spit on, used and manipulated by the very individuals who are supposed to help us, since they represent us. But I ask you one question, and I do not expect you to remember this when you wake up tomorrow morning: What have you done to effect change? Huh? What have you done to rally your brothers and sisters, to fight this tyranny? What have YOU done besides hurting yourself, with every pint? Serve your family, and fight for your people.”

 

CHAPTER THREE – EXPANSION BEYOND THE BORDERS

The words and lessons given by Callahan had taught him more about himself than the lessons ever taught his audience. The experience of living in this town for the few weeks, Callahan had certainly made connections with the townspeople. The bond, however condescending from his stance, still opened his heart to the other ways of life that needs respect and attention, from his class in society. Sadly, though, for him, it was also time to leave. The paths and routes were safe and the road leading to the residence of the beloved King John III.

The ride was ready and off he went, seeing much that need not be seen yet necessary for his new vision of society to be embraced. His conservative views were more and more fading to progressive values. He was now beginning to realize the true meaning of the ideas of the King. Once abandoned, without a fatherly presence of a king, how would they be able to love him? If the rural townspeople and the village people cannot see the guiding light bestowed on them by the King? How can one love the king? He thought about this for hours and hours. Then finally he had reached the safe house of the guarded area. With rigorous checks and meticulous searches, the small cavalry were convinced that Callahan was safe to enter the premises and meet the overthrown King.

“Your highness”, he said, “I-” The king quickly responded, looking much older and weaker than the last time they saw each other. “Oh Sir Callahan, how are you? I thought you’d never come.” The two were moved by the initial exchange and both seemed distraught and worried for the safety of the other. Each of them thought the other had been held captive by the Republican forces, or worse, having been killed. The talks quickly became more and more serious and heavy. King John III had news for Callahan. His Highness had sources that informed him of the possible attack of the Republican forces into the neighbouring lands. The King sternly looked at Callahan and said: “Cunningham is looking for resources, and a way to divert attention from his failed politics. He knows there is potential upheaval. The people are ready, we are ready.” Callahan, initially excited by the news, was not prepared for the next words to come from the King. “Your highness, what can we do? How can I be of service?” The king looked at him with fear in his eyes and said, “We can only pray, we can only hope … because, the Republican Army is coming. The Republican Government wants war.”

The threat was real, but the sources were contradictory over the coming days. The King and Callahan, along with all his advisors and royal guards, including the royal family planned an escape if the attack was imminent. The character of Callahan was tested, as he began to worry more and more for the safety of his own family whom lived in the other neighbouring State. The plan was put to action as word came of an invasion. The armies of the neighbouring allies came to aid the royal forces defending the land of King Servetus, friend of King John III and host to him. The tension between the States had boiled over and each of the countries publicly condemned the crimes committed by the Republican President and refused to recognize his Republican State.

The three armies had combined much to the surprise of the autocrat, President Cunningham and his army generals. “We are in a fight that cannot be won without a truce with at least one State,” said Cunningham, in a meeting with his Secretary of Defence. He continued, “We need to assure the other States that we do not intend to threaten their sovereignty. We must link ties with them. Give them incentives, economic advantages, whatever they shall need. But I will not allow another kingdom, another kingdom that challenges my authority, that defies my orders to release the traitor of our people, and instead opts to protect him. I shall not stand for this. I will lead this great nation to the glory it never had, and present them with the head of the man who challenged my leadership, and dared to take it away. And now, he sits somewhere in the countryside lower than a peasant, lower than a serf, and lower than scum.”

The forces were given orders by President Cunningham to wait. He wanted to see if there could be a deal to be struck with the neighbouring Republics. The leader of the Republican Revolution believed he could make a case to those States and convince them that there was more in common between the Republics than initially thought. The armies were on standby on all sides, and Cunningham was determined to conjure up a desirable result. In effect, he had no choice but to wait.

On the other side of the border, King Servetus sent for King John III and all his men to be brought to his palace. Being made aware of the dangers in the countryside, King Servetus sought to keep his Royal friends close to him in proximity. On one frightful day, a cloudy day yet again covered the skies. The cold brisk air was met with occasional rainfall. It was here that from afar, the guards loyal to King John III panicked as they saw legions of forces coming in from the hilltops towards them. They thought this was the time they were caught by a surprise attack by Cunningham himself. As the forces got closer, the men on the horsebacks seemed to have different coloured armour and flags, which did not at all resemble the ones worn and held by Republican Army. Upon arrival, it was clear that they were the Royal Cavalry loyal to King Servetus.

With the checks in place, Peter Callahan rushed outside to inquire about the matter. An army commander declared: “We have been sent by His Majesty, King Servetus, in order to secure the safety of His Majesty King John III. We shall provide his safety, and of all those whom His Majesty wishes to bring along, under the supervision of the Royal Army Chief and His Majesty himself at the Royal Palace.” The message was clear, but Callahan was still a bit sceptical, and he thus asked if he could be excused so to relay the message to the King. Callahan rushed to see the king waiting to see him by the window, where he had already seen everything. “Your Highness, King Servetus has sent for us,” he proclaimed.  “I know”, he replied, looking out the window. He then turned and looked at Callahan, concerned and defeated. “Tell me, Sir Callahan, why are we here? Why are we doing all this? The Monarchy that once was, the Monarchy, the history, the culture that once was … a source of pride … is all gone. What are we doing out here? We have no hope, no shelter, no home, and no homeland … We are seeking refuge, before we die.” Callahan had nothing to say, and felt a lump in his throat. He fought hard to say something, and he finally remembered why they were here: “We are here Your Highness, because we failed our people. We failed to bring the glory of the Monarchy to the people who would have cherished us the most, the countryside peoples. The forgotten people, who farm, who work tirelessly in shops, who fight for the honour of their country, and are failed by the very system that vowed to better their lives. They were abandoned Your Highness, and now, we are abandoned. We are the forgotten ones. But we are not dead. As I passed through lands on my travels to this residence, I saw men and women surviving every day, as if it were their last. There are countless of those individuals living in our homeland, Your Highness. Now imagine, with the inspiration of your presence in our land, many will be willing to not only fight to live another day, but to fight for a better tomorrow, and for a better State under your guidance. That I am sure is our mission.”

The entire royal family, the guards and advisors set off to travel to the King’s court. The concerns Callahan had were not only increasing, but it was in his mind that the Royal Families would not survive if they stood idle. Thus, upon arrival and a quick greeting at King Servetus’ Court, Callahan inquired about the Country’s state of affairs, and of what the neighbouring States were deciding on doing. King Servetus informed Callahan that the neighbouring Republics were offered a truce and incentives if they “did not interfere in the war waged on us”. Callahan thought about it and later asked to meet with King Servetus and King John III. He declared, “Tell the Republics to accept the deal!” Much to the dismay and confusion of the kings, he quickly explained his reasons. “We will have Cunningham think he has allies, so then he focuses all his forces on us, but then he would not expect the neighbouring Republics to invade his territory in a surprise attack,” Callahan said immediately.

King John III immediately opposed. He questioned his closest advisor’s motives. He responded feverishly, “How could you dare entertain the thought to put your people in harm’s way and risk the death of thousands of your compatriots by encouraging a foreign army to invade your homeland?”  The king was furious, but Callahan was defiant as well, and argued that “my people and my homeland have been under siege for quite some time now and need a liberating force to save them. If there are casualties, and men die in combat, then they shall be deemed martyrs of tomorrow’s freedom. This is a surgery that needs to be undertaken. It will be painful, it will be costly, but the freedom and justice I idolize and dream of does not come by itself. Your Highness, this is our only option.”

These challenges to the King were met with some alarm at its worst, and scepticism at its best, whilst the remaining advisors to the His Majesty attempted to gain his trust by opposing Callahan in every possible matter. These advisors, one of the most contentious of which being Gerard Fickle, privately met with the King later that evening. He attempted to persuade the King that Callahan was not seeking the interest of the people, and more importantly did not work to serve the interests of His Majesty. In the quiet room with a small fireplace Fickle reminded the King that “We are in a dire situation with little resources at our disposal. This battle for survival Your Majesty…it is not in our hands to act in the offensive. We have an unpredictable enemy, a brutal enemy. These strategic moves you have entrusted into the hands of Peter Callahan, who has done nothing but defy you and question your authority, can only get us killed. I would rather die knowing that I fought for my King, and not for a man who disobeyed my king and sacrificed us all, only to satisfy his ego.” The King watched as his advisor Gerard Fickle expressed his anger at Callahan had an unappreciative behaviour and an inner urge for power and glory. He did not go so far as to compare him to Cunningham. But it was a relatively close characterization, for sure. King John III was aware of this subtle change in Callahan, and was concerned as well. But the king did develop as a character in the sense that he learned to trust his advisors, even when he was most nervous and ambivalent to their plans. In this conversation, too, the King calmly accepted the concerns of Fickle as welcomed criticism that he shall take into consideration, but also reiterated:

“We are under terrible circumstances Sir Gerard, terrible circumstances. We have not only ourselves to consider…we have our families as well, our wives, our sons, and our daughters. Let me tell you a little story. There was once a king, in a land far, far away…and he knew nothing of being a king, because, of course, he was young. He did not have a wife, and thus, no children to worry about. He wondered if he could be loved by his people. But the people were too busy with their lives. So, he asked to get married and have children, and see that the people could see that he brought an heir to the throne. He got married, and had three children. But he still felt that the people did not love him. The government was doing the job, but he felt as though nothing, no achievement was his doing. So he strove to be more involved, but the people did not like that. And when he really attempted to get involved to serve his people, he was overthrown. The moral of the story is that a king must trust his advisors, trust his government, and above all, trust his people.”

The king’s advisor was taken back a bit, wondering if King John III was referring to himself. Gerard Fickle paused and said, “That was a very inspirational story, Your Majesty. I shall regard this as your newfound trust in all your men…But, forgive me, Your Majesty, why it seems as though you are showing more trust in one advisor over the rest?” King John III quickly responded, “That is none of your concern, Sir Gerard!” The room’s temperature cooled quickly, yet the blood rush from the two men would have felt otherwise. Gerard Fickle quickly stood and with a bit of disappointment and royal disapproval of him, accepted what was said: “I sincerely apologize if I stepped out of bounds and violated my boundaries. I shall live and breathe at your service, Your Majesty…May I be excused?” Fickle left the room unwilling to accept this favouritism from his beloved king. His opposition to Callahan was now turned into near-hatred.

CHAPTER 4 – WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

News had arisen from the homeland that one of the Republics would declare war, while the others would “declare neutrality, unless their sovereignty was under threat.” The news confused all parties involved since neither Cunningham nor King John III had expected neutrality as a prime option. Cunningham was more relieved of this option since it was still a point on which he could work with. He knew that “if they do not overtly proclaim their animosity toward us, we can move our forces toward our main goal, which is to obliterate the last royalist regime in our region. And the people shall not forget that this royalist regime is protecting criminals who are sworn enemies of our glorious Republican state.” The drawing board was vast, and the military generals were few. But each general had their own suspicions as to why the Republics had not outright rejected the offer, considering they had condemned the Cunningham’s Republic as criminal and inhumane, committing wide scale atrocities, creating tension and instability in the region. The generals thought that their President’s letter would not only be rejected, but a united declaration would soon follow. But Cunningham refused to believe that his enemies would dare follow up their powerful words of hate with action. He also argued that the other Republics also had their quarrels with the Royalist regime.

On the other side of the ever more present border, the group of advisors were also perplexed as to the sudden proclamation of neutrality by the Republics. Callahan inquired to know if the plan was still in place or if the Republics had received orders from another source. They discussed the matter and argued that it would not make the Republican government suspicious, while others argued that the whole mission had been compromised. To Callahan, it was not important what was debated, but rather what in fact was the goal of the Republics by declaring neutrality. He firmly believed that an anonymous source had changed their views, giving no credit to their rationalizations. Soon, however, there was word from each of the Republics to the host King, King Servetus, to the effect that the Republics would remain true to their declarations. This meant that an offensive to decoy and overthrow Cunningham was no longer possible.

While every individual was terrified that their deaths were imminent, Callahan looked around the room to see who looked guilty of sending the wrong signals to the neighbouring Republics. But, Callahan also thought it could not have been done by one man. He decided to speak to each of King John III’s advisors, including those of King Servetus’. What he found was in fact, nothing. He himself was now worried and refused to believe that it was a strategic decision made by the Republics under their own volitions. Having no choice, Callahan accepted this situation and went to see both Kings in a room, with no guards. In there, Callahan made promises and projected that the Royalist government would not survive unless it bribed the Republics with economic incentives. In return, the emboldened Callahan also promised quite humbly that if there was any glimmer of hope, this Royal Monarchy “would be greatly rewarded as our brotherly neighbours to the north.”

This appeal to King Servetus was met with apprehension and conflict, within the government of Prime Minister Barrington. Since King Servetus met with Prime Minister Barrington, who always sided with the King, but on this matter he was more apprehensive knowing the king was greatly influenced by desperate advisors to King John III. He and his cabinet debated extensively. Barrington called a secret cabinet meeting and exclaimed that “we are indeed in a dire situation and no neighbour ours has expressed support for our sovereignty, unconditionally. It is true that each nation protects their national interests.  We respect that. However, under these new revelations, where our neighbouring Republics have expressed neutrality, when war is imminent, and an invading force is on standby near our borders, I see no reason why our government should stand idle and allow these Republics to betray our sovereignty at this turning point in our history. I ask this cabinet, to vote on the matter to provide incentives to these Republics.” The word “incentives” were carefully crafted to replace bribes, and the government debated again in an emergency session in parliament.

To the surprise of every parliamentarian, who usually endures chaotic sessions, a swift consensus was reached to support the dialogue to give incentives to the Republics in exchange for a backdoor support during this crisis. The Prime Minister was send emergency letters, explaining the government’s position and the expectation that “under the current circumstances, any level of neutrality is costly to our sovereignty. We shall expect, as the only nation under threat of a malevolent and psychotic leader, that our Royal system and your Republican nature should not be the sole reason for your withdrawal of support. Surely, the threatening country under Cunningham is Republican by name, but it bears no resemblance to the values and customs we cherish and share. Should you support or much less refrain from involvement, you have put your country in close proximity to god forbid, the same grave danger, my compatriots are in at this moment. I, as the Prime Minister of this great nation, plead that you be on the right side of history. I ask for your support for the people who are weak against evil, but show strength against tyranny.  So I ask you the leaders of the free and just world, whose side are you on?”

This powerful letter was sent and as every parliamentarian, and all the cabinet, including the advisors thought that the Prime Minister had in fact “bribed” the Republics for support. Prime Minister Barrington had in fact not at all mentioned any hint of concessions and incentives to the Republics and simply threatened them without threatening them. The success of this letter was made known as the Republics had each made declarations one behind the other that they support Cunningham’s Republic, whole-heartedly. PM Barrington immediately panicked and rushed to see the King. It was in this meeting that Prime Minister Barrington, King Servetus, King John III, Callahan and Fickle were involved to discuss what had just occurred. Prime Minister Barrington was assured repeatedly that Cunningham was not to think he was alone in this war.

The small number of armed forces Cunningham stationed on the borders of the Republics had now been ordered to join the forces ready to attack the Royalist state. Cunningham was ecstatic at the prospect of what he had been trying to accomplish for years: first, to remove any thought of the people for a revival of a monarchy in his country, and second, to bring his sworn enemies to justice. The response from Cunningham was clear: “This is precisely what I thought, the Republics first consider the advantages and disadvantages of siding with our glorious army, and of course, they exercised their logic finally, and chose to side with the victor.” This was the time everybody was now considering…that the whole region was now to be involved and the countdown to the moment of truth was underway.

CHAPTER 5 – WAR

The destruction had began, as the Republican army finally stormed into the borders of the Royal state. There was tremendous bravery and many soldiers sacrificed on the fields, those who fought to protect King Servetus and King John III (and all their followers) and on the other side, much of the same bravery if not more came from the determined Republican army, the compatriots of King John III. Many matters were conflicting and ironic. But there was little time to allow one’s head to spin. Callahan of all kept the men, women and children at the Royal house assured that all shall be well, and the war shall end fortuitously. But of course, even he had his worries with his wife and children alongside.

For weeks on end, the Republican forces were held of near the border and soon had the Republics brought their forces to back the Royal army against the aggressors. It was soon apparent that Cunningham had no strategic plan aside from using brute force to push through the borders. The Republics had now received orders from the Royal government to attack the Cunningham’s Republic from the Eastern and Western borders, each according to its geographic location. It is unknown if King John III and Callahan had further discussions on the merits of such an invasion, or whether it was warranted considering the exhaustion of Cunningham’s forces at the border. The theory was that while the battle was clearly being won and Cunningham was surprised at the resistance of the Royal regime, he would have been open to discussion fearing a pushback by the Royalist forces. But such a theory was not tested and it would be a fair assessment that the Monarchs under the advice of Callahan, and the now trusting advisors, specifically Gerard Fickle, were now supportive of the idea to go on the offensive.

Within months, the Republics had gained ground from the East and from the West, while there were many casualties and deaths, along the way, mostly deaths from innocent people in Cunningham’s Republic. The advance was gradual and there were more and more feelings of optimism for the Royal families as they were told by each Republican government that they were close to victory. The Prime Minister of the defending Royal state expressed optimism that “our country and people, with the assistance of our neighbours who in the name of justice and freedom, fought to preserve the dignity and solidarity amongst our people. I salute those who fought and sacrificed their lives to preserve our freedom, and those who are still in the trenches as we speak.” The words PM Barrister had a sense of arrogant hype and self-assurance, as though the war was over, yet these were exactly the words that excited not only his nation, but also the Royal House.

The words were now seemingly a fulfillment of the wishes of Callahan himself. In the final days of the war, it was becoming more and more apparent that the mastermind behind all the diplomacy, the wording of the Prime Minister’s speeches and his behaviour and mannerisms, where indirectly but heavily influence by Peter Callahan. Callahan could now be called “the most powerful advisor in the region” since all the advisors, Royals and governments listened to him. The important announcement was coming and many of all had gathered in a large room ready for it. They were a vast array of government officials, advisors and staff representatives. King Servetus was ready to give his speech in parliament:

“In the holiness of spirit, the Greatness of God is sensed again. As the protectorate of this great nation that I have been privileged and bestowed upon to serve, I, King Servetus, speak today to you members of the people’s Parliament, and to the great nation of this land, that the aggressors have withdrawn! (cheers) … We are also made aware, that the aggressors, specifically, the government of President Cunningham has fallen. (louder cheers) … We are hopeful, that the people whom are exiled from their homelands, who have the true well-wishes for their people, shall return to serve with dignity and respect for their compatriots. I trust that with the right people in power, and the effective co-operation of our neighbours, we can achieve what we have been deprived of for too long, and that is a lasting peace in the region. Furthermore, I would like to give my humble gratitude to the brave and courageous Prime Minister of this great nation, Prime Minister Barrister! (cheers) … Our Prime Minister exercised utmost resolve and proved that  he can be diplomatic in handling unfortunate crises such as this one and of course did not hold back in protecting this nation…never did he show mercy to the evil aggressors of this land.”

With the power of government now in the hands of the Republics on their joint mission, it was now a matter of discussion of how to hand over the reins of power, and to whom. To be fair, there was never any agreement signed by the Republics and the Royal government on what should occur if Cunningham was overthrown. In the eyes of the Royal government, it was obvious, in the view of the Republic, it was not. The tension began to rise again, as each side had argued its case, although it was never the intention of the Republics to seize the land as their own, and divide its areas, it was tempting. The Republics soon decided that it was in their best interest to avoid further conflict with each other, and “let the people of the land determine their own destiny”. Once this was made clear, it was curious to see how these and other messages were now relayed directly to Peter Callahan, and not even mentioning His Majesty King John III. It was apparent that Callahan had become the man to deal with, and nobody else.

CHAPTER 6 – THE KING AND I

The safe return was made available, and the routes secured. After nearly 15 years of exile, the Royal Family, along with the supporters had at last moved toward the capital. The occupied forces were still in the country as the country’s own military was still in disarray. Upon reaching the capital city, and tears coming down almost every passenger, it was here that King John III promised a more progressive government, a more just society and more open society. The now more powerful Callahan looked at the King, as if to agree with him, and yet he looked not totally on board with the agenda.

The country was now in near destruction. The people were poorer, less civilized, and the values had deteriorated beyond recognition. What had to be done, had to be done quickly. Callahan, in his still official position as Royal Advisor, sought the approval of the King to his agenda. The idea was that “the country is stagnant and that there is no time for a referendum to choose a form of government. The people want food and shelter, and security. The colour of a house is not important when there is no roof.” Callahan knew that if the King was to accept, it would effectively make him the likely candidate for interim Prime Minister. So, in effect, Callahan pushed his King to declare the monarchy “re-instated”, although that some changes would be made to strengthen the authority of government, with minimal involvement of the King, and an assurance that progress and justice would be the most important of all priorities.

Although King John III was worried at the now confident, shrewd and bold Callahan, it was also specifically the type of characteristics he wanted in a Prime Minister. Thus, upon reaching the capital, the arrangements were made for the King to declare the country a Royal state, and a constitutional monarchy in nature. It was also encouraged (by Callahan), although not required, that Peter Callahan be named the honourable Prime Minister, effective immediately. This was very worrisome to some of the people who joyously welcomed home those royalists who “always knew what was best for us”, as one man proclaimed when getting word that they were in power now.

The self-appointed Prime Minister was instrumental in guiding all the oppositional powers to effectively side with his mission to overthrow Cunningham from powerful. He was a brilliant tactician and had the ability to make calm rational decisions, which were outstanding among his peers. The Prime Minister had not forgotten his time when he was travelling to meet with his King in exile. He saw how the people lived, and had his own plans to fix these issues. But first, this Prime Minister was to make his speech regarding the state of affairs, to the people in parliament, who were now a small branch of followers, now calling themselves Parliamentarians. To this makeshift Parliament, Callahan argued:

“It is here and now, we shall challenge ourselves to see why we are here. The people have spoken…the will of God, and the will of the people are one. We represent the unlawfully persecuted, murdered, executed, and imprisoned men and women of this great nation. We will bring to justice those who put the lives of our compatriots in danger, and risked the sovereignty of this country. Specifically, I ask that our newly forming justice system make an example of the evil dictator, and traitor of the people that was once called Cunningham. I shall be undeterred of my wish to avenge the senseless deaths of people who opposed Cunningham. I shall further move to make it law, that if anyone sympathizes with this befallen regime, you shall be seen as enemies of the State.”

Nobody could challenge this new Prime Minister, it seemed. The tides had turned in his favour and the more he seemed defiant toward the former officials, the more his approval rose with everyone, except for the King. The neighbouring Republics and the Royal state were pleased to see a stable government gradually picking itself up and standing strong. The praise however, was explicitly at the Prime Minister, and nobody ever mentioned the King any longer. It was as though the King had no part in anything in the country. All the plans King John III had to help the forgotten villages and rural areas (among other economic policies) were now achieved under the tutelage of PM Callahan. The people did not see the King’s efforts in bringing these plans to fruition.

The Royal advisors were called to the King’s Court one morning as the first of all the King’s affairs to be dealt with. King John III actually wanted to meet with his advisors before he was to meet with the Prime Minister. The King’s Court was now well-established and built with grand design (although the Prime Minister’s home was not much different). Upon the arrival of the advisors, the King wanted to know the circumstances leading to the government’s decision not to sign a treaty with the Royal neighbour to the north, and asked if such decisions were well thought out by the government. Each of the advisors addressed the issue as being a diplomatic overture by the Royal state to the north. By signing the treaty, the government would be putting them at ease against any theoretical attack by the Republics against the Royal state. “Effectively, our government would then swear to defend our Royal friends, against any aggression by any nation,” one advisor noted.

It was no secret that Prime Minister Callahan’s government was generating closer ties with the Republican states to the East and West than with the Royalist to the North. This was seen as a direct insult to King Servetus, and a poor gesture to Prime Minister Barrister’s government. King John III argued that “we must not let our good friends to the north to think we are ungrateful for their hospitality, all throughout our time in exile.” The unpredictable advisor, Gerard Fickle, also present at the meeting, posed the idea that he speak to the Prime Minister on behalf of the King, and notify him of his concerns. This, he argued, would make the matter seem less contentious if he was involved, rather if the Prime Minister and the King argued about it head-to-head.

Once the meeting was over, and the King rejected Fickle’s proposal respectfully, it was time to meet with PM Callahan. The King waited for the Prime Minister to sit down, as he then sat down himself. In this large room, with portraits hanging everywhere, it was the only place King John III could feel he was more powerful than Callahan. The King began, “How are you, sir Callahan?” “Great, Your Highness”, Callahan quickly responded. “Sir Callahan, as you can see, I am getting old. There is much that one day I could do without trouble, understand without difficulty, and solve problems without any attempt at all, whatsoever…Why? …Because, I had you by my side. I knew my family was safe, all along, because you there to listen to my concerns, and understand where I was coming from. Where are you, now? The people thankfully seeing better days and more service to their needs, but they also complain that we are also a dictatorship. We have not setup elections, yet still. I advised you not to execute, Cunningham, yet you did. We were meant to serve, not to rule.” Callahan listened carefully, and thought about a proper response. To which Callahan rose, and said:

“We do rule, governments rule. I will try to explain a concept, as though, you have never read a book, and forgive me Your Highness, but…We know what’s best for the people…because the people never know what’s best for them. Like a child, what do you, Your Highness, think would happen if you have a small child the chance to choose his candy? First he chooses, the flavour of the candy…fine. Then, he chooses the colour of the candy…fine. But then, what happens if the child tells you what candy to bring, tells you where to get it from, and then refuses the candy you worked hard to pay for? …All this can be avoided if you choose what candy the child is to receive, how much you pay for it, and what candy you give the other children in the land, based on the resources you have.”

The King looked at Callahan, and was again convinced that his Prime Minister was to be trusted, but had one more question: “Why are you refraining from signing the treaty with Barrister’s government?” Callahan paused, smiled and thought to himself, I must explain everything, it seems. “Your Highness, it is due to the fact that it is more important to keep the Republics satisfied than the Royal government to the north…If we show support for the Royal government, and proclaim ourselves allies of the Royals, we raise the tension in the region, and indirectly say to the Republics, that we do not trust them.” Callahan continued, “I have instead drafted a counter-treaty that assures all states, that our country shall defend any aggressor to any land in this region.” The King was eager to ask: “and will your government do as such to defend that nation?” Callahan responded with his cold logic: “It all depends on the circumstances of that scenario.”

CHAPTER 7 – FULFILLING THE DESTINY

The new challenges for the Callahan government became louder and louder, as his cabinet made outstanding leaps for economic policies that advanced the country to modernization and economic stability. What was once one of the poorest countries in not only the region, but the world, was now on the rise, and a threatening force to be reckoned with. The people were no longer poor and the rural areas had resources allocated to help in its reconstruction. The political atmosphere was not as open as the King had hoped, but all the freedom of speech in society helped to do was to antagonize the government on every single issue. What began initially as praise for Prime Minister Callahan, and a disregard for the King, soon became a respect for the Constitutional Monarch, and a dislike for the longstanding Prime Minister. But if there was one man who could hold off these waves of criticisms and relentless opposition, it was Callahan.

To the Parliament he spoke with clear defiance, now calling the overthrow of Cunningham a “revolution”, Callahan spoke of the new allegations against him without fear of any man to dare challenge him. He knew that as long as he had the support of the King, he could challenge anyone. As he expressed many times, “I hold this office of Prime Minister, without which His Majesty King John III, it would not be possible. It is his efforts, his love for this country and his tireless treachery for the good of this land that we owe our lives to. Without His Majesty’s guidance, our country would not see the day it has now been rewarded with. The days we are blessed with, are from God’s gift of life and through the faith of His Majesty in his people.” Callahan concluded. Again, on this day when all opposition had called on force Callahan to resign, some being members of the King’s advisors, led by Gerard Fickle. The Prime Minister gave his speech on this day, noting to Parliament that:

“We shall not let our memories fail us that while only 4 years ago, when this great nation rose against the tyranny of the Republic, we held a promise in this very Parliament we rebuilt, to have civil conversations and debate on the affairs of the State to the interests of this great land and of its people. We are not here today to answer questions of my conduct, Mr. Speaker. We are here today to re-evaluate our conduct as parliamentarians. We have been given a god-given mission, to sustain this revolution, to reinstate its history, to spread its glory, and protect its valour from evil forces that aim to undermine this national solidarity. Mr. Speaker, the people do not forget who their enemies are. The people are smarter than what we give them credit for. The citizens of this land especially are aware of the real men who served this nation. And clearly recognize those who only fight to betray this trust between His Majesty, and the people.

Mr. Speaker, due to some unfortunate ailments, and unforeseen circumstances, through extensive discussion with my family, I have decided that I shall resign as Prime Minister of His Majesty King John III. With this resignation, I invite you to listen to a story I have withheld for far too long. A story about yours truly, the son of a devout father to His Majesty King George II. As a young man, I saw with my own eyes the love he expressed for his King. The love he had for his countrymen. And as I witnessed, helplessly, when my father was wrongfully accused of treason by the Crown, I vowed to avenge his death. But since then, I remembered the great many life lessons I learned from as an adolescent from my father, on how to stay strong, fulfill your duty, and serve your country, first and foremost. I stand today leaving this Parliament with great pride, as I believe I have fulfilled my promises to this Parliament and to our people. I find no joy to stand here and claim my father’s innocence, because his love for his country and his people were certainly profound, and unquestionable.

More importantly, as mentioned, upon getting word of my father’s sentence, I from then on loathed the very idea of Kingship. I wanted no involvement in the Royal system, and studied hard to make a living for something more worthy of my time and effort. I saw changes after changes to the Crown, and ultimately had to flee to exile during the Republican Revolution. Again, I wanted nothing to do with His Majesty King John III.

But one day, His Majesty sent me a letter, explaining the circumstances for my father’s death. His Majesty apologized, and sought my advice on some important matters. I was heavily conflicted, and asked myself over and over, what my father would do. Finally, I accepted the offer with some ambivalence. On my way to His Majesty’s residence far away, I stalled many times, and I thought I would be betraying my father. But also on my journey, I began to live amongst the people. I mingled and asked about their concerns, hopes, and dreams, and it was there and then that I realized, my father would want me to serve the people, in whatever capacity I could. So there it began, as the “reluctant advisor” to the Crown, and the hopes and dreams of a nation, and the memory of my father, Douglas Callahan, who wanted nothing but to see this nation rise, and progress for the betterment of tomorrow. And I can comfortably stand here, Mr. Speaker, and inform this Parliament that we are on that path. My father foresaw the blessed air we breathe today, and I see another for the next generation. I wish to see this nation continue to progress and secure its position as a key player in the region and an ally of each nation striving for freedom and justice. Mr. Speaker, I trust that any government that takes the oath of office, has the best interests of this nation at heart, and puts the interests of this country far ahead its own, and proudly serves His Majesty, the King.”

Many were left in disbelief that the usually defiant and calm and calculated Callahan had now resigned. Some believed that he gave into the pressure at last, and others believed it too was a calculated decision. To the end, nobody in Parliament could believe the tears running down the eyes of Prime Minister Callahan, when he sat back down. But many were compelled to at least applaud his service to the nation, while it seemed others applauded his departure.

Beneath The Cloudy Sky… [poem]

Beneath the cloudy sky and the occasional sunlight reaching through, I panic as my role diminishes in this world and nothing feels new. Every step I take is a step too late. One step too many and I am told to wait.

It seems I am not permitted to move ahead. The safest way is to hang on to a thread. No ones arm to bend, and no one to offend. Hoping for the best is the only means to an end. What is this path we are on?

What is this pain we endure? When all that we need seems to be love. But love they say cannot cure. Love thyself, love thyself. Funny thing is, I do love myself. I love who I am. The question is then, why do I
give a damn? I love to be loved. I love to be true. Through this trek of life, it would be nice to hear the words, I love you, too.

Politics: The Most Underappreciated Artform

God, I love politics, not for the backstabbing, smear campaigning, double dealings, or its general propaganda. No. I love it because it is about intelligence, and as much as it is about emotional insight. It can be about how you raise an issue or word a phrase, to being about the science of presenting one’s image to possessing emotional gravitas.

To make it in politics, one must have more than one or two sets of skills. It is essential that one be masterful in a wide variety of areas in life. It is essential that one have high self-esteem and self-confidence, utilize their interpersonal skills, have fluency in language to convey a clear message to their audience, and be cognizant of impromptu questions that may lead to mistakes. Those are just the basics.

A political figure must be on a mission. The politician must have a goal. In this realm, therefore, it is not enough for one to attain all the aforementioned skills without a motivating factor. One must work with a motive in politics, like in life itself, in order to reach their audience and achieve a purpose. In essence, if we put aside the negative sides of the prism of politics, think of the best political statesmen, we can see: charisma, motivation, leadership qualities, fluency in language, and courage.

To me, politics is a form of art, and the politician is the painter. If you like their politics, chances are, you like their art work. A politician must paint a good picture for their audience, regardless of the scenery. With their words, the politician must portray an image with subtlety and detail yet render it abstract and vague in the end. A great statesmen possess all the skills I have mentioned and more, to paint an image as though it exists for real, though it may not be so.

What Is The Social Bank Account?

As I was listening to the doctor in the middle of a psychotherapy group session, I was reminded of the importance of attending these classes yet again. The weekly classes are deep thought-provoking discussions about life. Specifically, at its core, it puts emphasis on our thinking process, our relations with others, and more importantly, our relations with ourselves. Every week, the leader of our group discusses something called ‘Mentalization’ – in general terms, it is the process of mentalizing or thinking about a situation or an act from a perspective OTHER than your own. This process requires practice and patience in order for one to adapt to his or her own environment without constantly personalizing events and seeing life through a narrow lens.

The doctor in our class argues that IF we incorporate the practice of mentalization in our daily lives, we will live more stress-free lives and have more understanding of others and their points of view. A simple example he uses is a scenario where you are walking down the street and you ask somebody for directions, then they respond by saying: “Go to hell!”. The doctor argues that you should not take it personally or think about it for the rest of your day asking yourself questions like: ‘Why did I bother asking a question?’. To some of us it may very well be our response to think this way, but according to our therapist, it is wrong because we haven’t thought about what that person may have been thinking and feeling at the time you asked the question! They may have been having a very bad day, or maybe they were insulted by another person just minutes before you asked your question.

So, each week our discussions surround core concepts such as mentalization. However, this past week we came across a new different concept. This new concept was called the social bank account. The term came into discussion because we wanted to know what it would mean if we abandoned our family and friends and tried to make new connections with people. How would that affect us, if at all? Well, I did not understand the concept because I always thought that what we were, and who we were, was a result of all our previous connections with family and friends. And of course, the firmer your connections were, I thought, the more it marked your identity. So, in effect, if you grow up in a family for most of your life, by weakening those connections, to make new ones would probably poke holes on your “identity wall”, so to speak.

I guess I was wrong, because according to the doctor, we are always making new connections, and are not technically “replacing” our parents or relatives with other people, but merely adding to our social bank account. Thus, the more we invest our time and energy, with meeting and strengthening relationships and connections (like “networks”), the more we can withdraw from that social bank account when we are in times of need or when we are feeling lonely.

Regardless of how close or distant your previous relationships were, the “investment” of building more relationships with others is not a threat to past ones. It is merely a healthy social lifestyle that prevents one from becoming socially and emotionally bankrupt.

3 Easy Ways to Turn Life’s Staccato into Legato

Sometimes in life there are ups and downs. Sometimes there are “downs and downs” and prolonged experiences of frustration and despair experienced by many a day. There are bumps and bruises and beaten up souls, and yet life goes on it seems. What is our role in this movement?

There are indeed several ways one can tackle life’s challenges from the state of Staccato to a more in tune melody of Legato. This musical reference is not without intent as our lives can be seen as rhythmic changes in essence. It is difficult to see such a concept, but like music, we cannot see it, yet we use other senses to enjoy it (be it listening or dancing).

But in this very short blog, I aim to show that we can change the hardship lifestyles we carry and control its rhythms by rewriting the notes and playing it with less attention to the staccato’s of life, and thus eliminating them to form a legato of smooth indifference and joyous melody.

You may be thinking, what the hell is he talking about?

Don’t worry, just imagine that if we were all nothing but a song being played, and life was the singer, wouldn’t you want there to be proper voice? Or, would you rather it was all over the place?

The secret lies in the fact that we all think the staccato is created by life. We all think the noise and beats are drummed up by life itself and the people around us. But the fact of the matter is these sounds are only in our heads. So, the three things to remember are:

1) The Staccato of life is normal, it is to be there so life doesn’t get boring. But if you feel that it is taking over your life, you should try to aim for becoming your own singer and must drown out the life’s noise. This could be through meditation, jogging, yoga, Enya, etc.

2) If you want to achieve Legato, it is not enough to drown out the Staccato rhythms of Life that disturb you. You must accept that there are uneven, unbalanced moments in life that pressure us everyday. The acceptance of the fact that Staccato exists, will make it easier to hear and feel a sense of emotional and psychological Legato.

3) And finally, it is important to know that this is not a one, two, three fix. This takes time and a concerted daily effort. Quite literally, one must listen to calming music, or go out for a walk, maybe to a park (where there’s no car noise or construction sounds) and listen to nature. It is this exercise along with a process of internalization of the sounds of Legato within nature, right in our environment that we can utilize to help us become more peace-minded and at ease with the world around us.

I hope this helps.

When ‘Pourquoi moi?’ Becomes ‘Pourquoi pas moi?’

It is easy to fall into a trap of thoughts ruminating around in your mind about ‘why this happened?’ or ‘why that is still happening’ to me. We fall into this cycle and in the middle of it, we lose our sense of self. We become critics harsher than the harshest film critics. We dwindle on and on unknowingly about what could be or what could have been. And finally, we reach the inevitable question we tend to ask ourselves: why me?

We ask ourselves this question because we look around at those nearest to us and compare ours lives to theirs, first. Then we look around further and see people wandering around places to get to, seemingly happier and more content with themselves. Then we see the success stories on a daily basis in media outlets and crush our lives, concluding that: ‘this is bullshit’. You start to believe somehow that it is only you in this world who is lost, maybe lonely, and directionless. You feel compelled to do so because you think it’s all about you, or up to you to do it all.

With this concept and outlook, you become exhausted, almost immediately. Looking for answers, to questions that don’t need to be asked. But you want to ask these questions because you are curious. Curious you are to know what this is all about. Why have events triggered events that seem to be happening only to you, and sabotaging your inner spirit. You become understandably complacent. Eager yet you are to do something. You believe there are answers. But the worst question to ask is: ‘why me?’

Many have come before you to ask the very same question, and many more will come after you. There are many other open-ended questions that have been asked in history and to no definitive response, and to no avail. But one open-ended question can lead one to a better understanding, and may bring a definitive response. It is a question that questions the former question we asked. If you ask: ‘why me?’, then one could question the thought, with ‘why not me?’. The word ‘not’ plays a positive role here, for once at least, which is to turn a negative question into a positive one.

We ask it to hopefully see the positives in why one should eliminate themselves from an equation, ‘why not I’ you ask yourself, who has been put in these circumstances. And, why not I, who can see to it and address it?

Half-knitted Lover.

When you fall in love, you allow another living being to become part of you. With time, and gradual bonding beyond the initial layer of attraction, comes a deeper sense of attachment. The two of you inevitably blend and mesh into one and the same. A new fabric so as it may. You are woven into, tied together now one and the same. The feeling is beautiful. You have grown to be greater than you were, because of another living soul, breathing with you side by side, never feeling alone. You are in heaven as it may. You are in warmth, covered by the very fabric that bonds you both. The part of you that you felt was dark and empty was then knitted with joyous colours.

But now, you wish they were here, while you’re cold, staring motionless under the covers, feeling like a half-knitted lover.

Great Football Managers and Film Directors: The Similarities and Differences

On this day, I would like to discuss the blatantly dissimilar yet fascinating overlap in nature of the art of filmmaking or film directing, and the role of a Football (soccer) manager. The essence and fluency of a great film generally lies in the vision and imagination of its director. Likewise, the flow and fluency in a tireless team’s effort on a football pitch reflects the vision and demands of the manager in charge.

Every little detail on a football pitch is planned, defined, and refined for players to orchestrate and execute. The role of a football manager is to make sure each of his players knows his role. When conducted with under the right direction of a manager, the game will inevitably display sheer talent and an elevation of skill and precision, at least on their side of the pitch.

Like a football manager, on a movie set, a film director must prepare a game plan for the movie. The director must rehearse (training/practice), storyboard the script (detail a strategy formation), work with each actor and help them understand the character more clearly (motivate the players and clarify their role on the pitch with each step/run), and finally hire the best and most suited collaborators aside from the actors to make a good picture (hire the best assistant managers/training staff and medical support staff).

In major North American sports such as: Hockey, Baseball, Basketball, for example, the job of acquiring/trading players, signing contracts, dealing with cap space (salary cap), or scouting young up and coming players is delegated to a “General Manager”. However, a football manager, unlike the aforementioned sports and their respective leagues, must oversee every aspect of a football team, aside from producing the finances for the club.

Likewise, in the process of making a film, a good director does not always need to produce his own films, but must worry about the finances at times, including a tight schedule and the input of investors (producers). Thus, the film director must be equipped with a high form of competence and intelligence to oversee many aspects of the job and exercise restraint and zen-like qualities in spite of these pressures and demands in order to transform not only his vision onto the screen, but also to maximize the performances of the lead actors, the supporting cast, and the numerous other collaborators on the set. What we see in a film is essentially what the director has imagined and put together, little by little, in careful collaboration with those working under them.

It is in this light that I see the best directors and football managers having very similar qualities and extreme sense of work ethic, of which they demand of themselves and those who work for them. It is an essential requirement to be meticulous, driven and to have a remarkably acute awareness of challenges and potential setbacks. Each must also be a masterful mind reader as well, in order to manipulate those around them to work for them and want to work for them.

In order to give examples of great film directors and football managers, I can only think of one name for each. Although this may be controversial, I think the two men are arguably the two most detail-oriented artists of their craft. In the world of football there is a man named Jose Mourinho a.k.a. “The Special One” who emphasizes a strong work ethic from everybody around him, but that is not all. He is a highly motivated individual, and has reached the border of arrogance at times, but is generally a man who is highly confident in his abilities. He has a strong attention to detail for each minute of every game and most important of all, has a Machiavellian approach to football in order to motivate his players and unleash psychological warfare on his opponents.

In the world of film, those who are movie buffs will probably already know who I am nominating, and you would be right if you thought it’d be none other than, David Fincher. This acclaimed film director has passion for filmmaking. His style is unique, and his attention to detail, also relentless. Many actors, if not all, speak of this director fondly of elevating their performances, and maximizing their strengths.

To conclude, it is worthy to take note that the amassed responsibilities of these two roles is unlike little else. It is one of the hardest things to achieve, which is to become a great film director or a great football manager. And of course, so much is riding on your hands, and if anything goes wrong, it is your fault. Major decisions must be made quickly, and swiftly before, and after the words “action/cut” and likewise, before the kickoff and final whistles. Furthermore, unlike other major sports, in football, there is no stoppage or break on the time clock. So, time is of the essence, along with everything else.

We have arrived inevitably to the part where I entertain the idea of whether Jose Mourinho could direct a film or that David Fincher could manage a football team. Although I don’t think it is possible for them to succeed immediately, I do think that the two do have the ability to bring out the best in people.

However, I have just realized I’ve done a disservice to myself, because now I can’t relinquish the thought of Jose Mourinho as a film director! I wonder what kind of director he’d be. I’m sure he wouldn’t be much different to David Fincher. Except, Mr. Mourinho would then probably call Ridley Scott a “specialist of failure”.