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Self-Help Uncategorized

A Story About Freedom Within the COnfine of Reunion Island

I wrote the first draft of this article – A story about freedom within the confine of Réunion Island – in our little hideaway cabin up the hills where my youngest daughter and I spent our week of quarantine (called septaine here as it only lasts 7 days). The year 2020-2021 would be remembered as the year of lock-down, confinement, curfew, quarantine. Never in our modern history has our freedom of movement been so restrained, albeit justified for public health reasons. This is not an article about the pros and cons of restrictions imposed for public health reasons, it is a story about freedom within the confine of Réunion Island; it is the story of some brave souls from Réunion Island who fought in the most admirable manner to free themselves from their shackles. This article is also the perfect excuse for me to introduce you to Réunion Island, where I was born and where my family lives.

A story about Reunion

Réunion island, or in French ‘Ile de la Réunion’, is a smallish island situated east of Madagascar and about 175km southwest of Mauritius. It’s a volcanic island, like Hawaii, with a mountainous interior and a population of about 1 million people. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s not unusual, it’s typically only known by sailors and stamp collectors. The island is famous for a number of things including the first Euro Transaction, occasional – but very heavy rain, and one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

A story about the First Euro transaction

Réunion Island is a French Department and because of its geographical position is the most easterly part of the eurozone. The Island was the first European territory to handle the Euro currency when it was introduced in 2002. The mayor of St Denis (the Capital city) purchased a kilo of lychees after a brief barter with a local stallholder.

A story about Rainfall

For the most part, Réunion Island has a mild tropical climate, but it is in the hurricane belt (here it’s called, cyclone belt) and when it rains, oh boy, it rains. Réunion has set a number of records for the highest rainfall measured including the official 24-hour rainfall record (1,825 mm or 71.85”) during a tropical storm in 1952 and the 48-hour rainfall record (2,467 mm, or 97.13”) at Cilaos, which has sadly – or happily- now been beaten. Have you ever wonder what is the difference between hurricanes and cyclones? It is just a question of geography. A tropical storm system is called a hurricane in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific and is called a cyclone in the Northern Indian Ocean.

A story about a very active volcano!

Life is an adventure. Out and about with an active Volcano in my sight – Photo taken by Alize Reed – Piton de la Fournaise – Réunion Island

Piton de la Fournaise, or Furnace Peak in English, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, along with Kilauea in the Hawaiian Islands, Stromboli, and Etna in Italy, and Mount Erebus in Antarctica. The volcano is a major tourist attraction and offers some excellent hiking and scenery.

Since 2010, the Piton de la Fournaise has been a member of a very exclusive club as one of the natural assets listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their outstanding universal value. It is an honor that it shares with the island’s other volcano, the Piton des Neiges which culminates at 3070 meters and which is a dormant volcano. For the past 10 years, the Piton de la Fournaise has erupted on average every 9 months, fortunately without endangering the islanders. Not many volcanoes can boast such exuberant activity.

The latest eruption of the Piton de la Fournaise started on 9th April 2021 and is still going on as I speak. I went for a hike with some of my local friends to the volcano site to have a closer look. We saw the fumes coming out of some craters, we couldn’t see the flow of lava from our viewpoint but we were told that there was a tunnel of lava still running underneath. The whole volcano site is surreal, very out of this world kind of scenery.

A story about freedom

Coming back to the main topic of this article – a story about freedom within the confine of Réunion Island, slavery was used widely in the French colonies in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. The French slave trade began in the 15th century, not for use within mainland France, although France’s northern ports were heavily used to trade and ship slaves, but in the French colonies, where sugar accounted for 80% of exports. Slaves from Africa were brought into the colonies to cultivate sugar cane. Regulatory measures constantly governed the supervision of slaves, the control of their labor, their movements, any possible activities by them outside the plantations, and events in their personal lives.

These regulations allowed extensive freedom to plantation owners regarding the range of punishment they could administer to their slaves. Slaves were subjected to physical and emotional abuse on a daily basis. The phenomenon of resistance on the part of the slaves, individually or collectively, has been the focus of relatively little research. Yet, slaves in the French colonies resisted their plight in the most varied and admirable ways.

They attempted to escape on a regular basis (a phenomenon known in French as “marronnage” escaping the plantations in coastal areas to find refuge in the mountains where they remained hidden in the hope that the plantation owner would eventually give up looking for them. The word “marron” originates from the Spanish word “cimarron” which means “to escape.”

On Réunion Island, historical accounts reveal stories of the Black- Marrons taking great risks to escape to the mountains, preferring to live as free men in precarious conditions rather than staying at the plantation under the bondage of a brutal plantation owner. Those who successfully escaped established semi-permanent camps in the mountains. Once a small group of trusted companions had settled and had organized themselves, they conducted regular raids on the plantations to steal weapons, tools, food, seeds, and farm animals (chickens); they also brought back with them their women and children.

Eventually, the Black-Marrons successfully managed to grow their own food, raise farm animals and create a new community of free men, women, and children up in the mountains. The plantation owners were terrified of these raids which were becoming more and more frequent. They started manhunts for the Black-Marrons and offered hunters 30 Livres per “catch” dead or alive. Hunters had to bring as proof of a “catch” (in order to claim their prize) the severed left-hand of the Black-Marron they had just killed. Hunters were free to capture or kill men, women, and children alike. Despite this brutal repression against the Black-Marrons not all of them were captured or killed and the most resilient managed to keep living as free men and women in the mountains until slavery was abolished.

The Black-Marrons became legends in their own right; nowadays, if you go hiking on Réunion Island, you will come across several mountain peaks that are named after them, amongst them, Dimitile, Cimendef, Mafate, and Anchaing. One of the most notorious of those Black-Marrons was a slave known by the name of Cimendef. After his escape to the mountains, Cimendef created a new identity for himself. Originally from Madagascar, he created a name from the words “tsi” meaning “non” in Malagasy and “mandevi” meaning “slave” – so, Cimendef means “non-slave.” Through his new name, he wanted to show everyone his will to live as a free man. Slavery was abolished in France and its former colonies in 1848.

There is a policy of organized forgetfulness of the past that suits the agenda of the rulers, the people in power. History is written from the perspective of the victors and not the oppressed, whose role in their own liberation is often forgotten or downplayed. Historical accounts have found a way of denying centuries of resistance by slaves and the role they played in resisting oppression and pursuing their freedom. Historical accounts tend to attribute the happy resolution of a very shameful episode in history to a particular government or piece of legislation; while forgetting the acts of resistance that were carried out by the slaves themselves and the oppressed, who fought bravely for their inalienable right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is worth pointing out here that despite what most people believe slavery should not be automatically associated with ethnicity. Slavery has existed since the beginning of time; the color of someone’s skin was not a key factor to determine whether that person could find himself in the unfortunate position of being a slave. Those who became slaves were chosen because of their vulnerability compared to another dominant group and not because of the color of their skin. Since the beginning of times, Europeans enslaved other Europeans, Asians enslaved other Asians, Africans enslaved other Africans and Arabs enslaved other Arabs. A slave is a person who is the chattel or property of another. The etymology of the word “slave” finds its origin in the medieval Latin word “sclavus,” originally “Slav” because of the many Slavs sold into slavery by conquering people.

Of all the tragic facts about the history of slavery, the most astonishing to an American today is that, although slavery was a worldwide institution for thousands of years, nowhere in the world was slavery a controversial issue prior to the 18th century. People of every race and color were enslaved and enslaved others. White people were still being bought and sold as slaves in the ottoman empire, decades after American blacks were freed. The region of WestAfrica was one of the great slave-trading regions of the continent before, during, and after the white man arrived. It was the Africans who enslaved their fellow Africans, selling some of these slaves to Europeans or to Arabs and keeping others for themselves. In East Africa, Arabs were the leading slave raiders, ranging over an area larger than all of Europe; slavery is often and wrongly associated with ethnicity and skin color. This practice was an accepted fact of the society of the time on the basis that the strongest has the right of appropriation over the weakest.

Thomas Sowell

This article is dedicated to all the people who have been oppressed and have suffered injustice and who have found the courage to resist oppression and somehow free themselves from their shackles.

For a more detailed analysis of this subject, I invite you to check Chapter 7 of my book “This Is Your Quest.”

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

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Self-Help

You Are Too Old For This. Too Young For That!

Age is often an issue in our society. It is not uncommon to be judged just by age alone with the verdict coming in the form of statements such as “Sorry you are too young, come back in a few years’ time when you have gained more experience” or “Sorry you are too old, we cannot take the risk of taking on board someone of your age. Age should not matter. Being young or being old should not interfere with your mission in life, if you have the conviction, the energy, and the willpower to follow your gut-feeling and pursue your dream, then go for it. Through this article, I will introduce you to some amazing people who didn’t let their age define what they could or could not do.

“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”

Samuel Illman

You are too old for this

Explorers are a special type of human being. They have physical endurance, mental toughness, abundant determination and willpower, a deep feeling of purpose; they have faith in their pursuit and live every day with the conviction of their Quest. Meet Alexandra David-Neel and Sir Ranulph Fiennes two extraordinary explorers who engaged in hazardous and demanding adventures at an age where most of us would want to put our feet up and take it easy.

You are too old for this?! Meet Alexandra David Neel. Photo from @LesEchosWeekEnd

Alexandra David-Neel[1] claimed to have this deep desire for adventure since she was a child. She was born in Saint-Mandé, a suburb of Paris, and her earliest childhood memory was the desire to explore further than the confines of her own yard; her first break for the street being when she was just two years old. Later, during her teenage years, she recalled feeling distressed by the long, idle vacations her family took.

“I cried bitter tears more than once, having the profound feeling that, my life was passing by, that the days of my youth were going by, empty, without interest, without joy. I understood that I was wasting time that would never return, that I was losing hours that could have been beautiful.

Alexandra David Neel

Alexandra David-Neel was 56 years old when she undertook her expedition to Lhasa, Tibet when it was still forbidden to foreigners. She disguised herself as a beggar and traveled for many months along very difficult terrain, including a 19,000-foot mountain to get into Lhasa. She witnessed murders and battles, had to barter with warlords, suffered from hunger, and traveled through snowstorms. She is believed to be the first Western woman to ever visit the holy city of Lhasa, the center of Tibetan Buddhism, and she lived to the remarkable age of one hundred years old.

You are too old for this?! Meet Sir Ralph Fiennes. Photo from @warwickartscentre.co.uk

Sir Ranulph Fiennes[2] was described in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s greatest living explorer. He is also a prolific writer and poet. Fiennes served in the British Army for 8 years. He later undertook numerous expeditions and was the first person to visit both the North and South Poles by surface and the first to completely cross Antarctica on foot.In May 2009, at the age of 65, he climbed the summit of Mount Everest.

Prior to that in 2003, he had suffered from a heart attack and had had a double heart bypass surgery. Several months later he agreed to complete seven marathons in seven days on seven continents in the Land Rover 7x7x7 Challenge for the British Heart Foundation. In June 2005, Fiennes had to abandon his attempt to become the oldest Briton to climb Mount Everest, forced to turn back due to heart problems, after reaching the final stopping point of the ascent. In 2007, Fiennes made his second attempt to climb Mount Everest, getting to within 400 meters of the summit before bad timing and bad weather stopped the expedition.

On 20th May 2009, Fiennes reached the summit of Mount Everest, becoming the oldest British person to achieve this feat. Ranulph Fiennes demonstrates that age and even a heart condition is no good reason to stop you from going achieving your own Quest.

Photo of Deshung Wang from @worldkings.org

But you don’t have to climb Mount Everest or travel through Tibet to be extraordinary, you could just go to your local gym or your local swimming pool.

Meet 80 Years old Deshun Wang.

“My name is Deshun Wang. Born and raised in Shengyan, China. Many people started noticing me after a catwalk show. Some people call me the hottest grandpa. Some people said that I am an instant internet sensation. But you know what, to prepare for this day, I have been getting ready for 60 years. At 24, I was a theatrical actor. At 44, I started learning English. At 49, I created my own pantomime troupe, I went to Beijing and became a Beijing drifter. I had nothing to my name, starting everything from scratch. At 50, I stepped into my first gym and I started working out. At 57, I returned to the stage and created the world’s only form of performance art called ‘Living Sculpture Performance’. At 70, I really got into working out. At 79, I got my first catwalk. I am 80 this year and I still got some left in me. I still have some dreams to achieve. Believe me, potential can be explored. When you think, it’s too late, be careful to not let that become your excuse for giving up. No one can keep you from success except yourself. When it’s time to shine, be the brightest. I am Dushun Wang.”

Your are too old for this?! Phot by @worldkings.org

You are too young for that

Jessica Watson[3] is Modern-Day adventurer and explorer. For her, it started when she read (at the age of eleven years old) the book Lionheart by Jesse Martin, an Australian Sailor who in 1999 became the youngest person (at the age of 17) to circumnavigate the globe solo, non-stop, and unassisted. How many of us have heard or read about people doing amazing things and said to ourselves – “I can do that” and then gone ahead and done it?!

Jessica Watson became the youngest person who, at the age of sixteen years old sailed solo, unassisted, and nonstop around the world (18 October 2009 – 15 May 2010). She explained during an interview for the Los Angeles Times the reasons for her journey:

“I wanted to challenge myself and achieve something to be proud of. And yes, I wanted to inspire people. I hated being judged by my appearance and other people’s expectations of what ‘a little girl’ was capable of. It’s no longer just my dream or voyage. Every milestone out here isn’t just my achievement, but an achievement for everyone who has put so much time and effort into helping me here.”

Jessica Watson

Not all of us want to sail solo around the world but Jessica Watson’s story is an inspiring story that shows how grit and determination can help you achieve your dream, even at the young age of 17. In the same vein is the amazing Laura Deker[4] from Holland who started her 2-year-round the world solo trip (with stops) in 2012 (at the age of 14) but only after winning a fierce legal battle with the Dutch authorities who did everything, they could to stop her adventure because of her young age. Laura Deker’s inspiring message to us all is that: “You have everything you need to become the hero of your dream”.

Youth by Samuel Ullman

Youth is not the age of life, but the age of the heart. Not rosy cheeks and red lips and a flexible body With strong will and abundant imagination.In the fountain of deep and deep life. It is freshness that elutes.

Youth is not a spirit of courage. Jumping from great love. It is in courage and adventure. 20 years old without courage is an old man. Courageous 60 years old is youth.

People don’t get old just because they get older. You grow old only when you lose your dreams. Although time increases the wrinkles more, the mind that has lost its enthusiasm becomes wrinkled. Worry, fear, and self-harm kill my mind made of garbage.

The important thing for everyone is to move and what’s next? Childlike curiosity. It is a heart-warming and joyful challenge to an unknown life. Close your eyes and think. The wireless base in your mind. Numerous antennas soaring high in the blue sky. That antenna will receive.

The message of the great man and the message of the noble Mother Nature. How beautiful and wonderful the world is. How cool it is to be alive! As long as you keep receiving the message of life without losing your courage, hope, and smile, you are always a young man.

If the antennae of your heart collapses and is covered with snow-cold cynicism and Ice-hardened disappointment; you are certainly an old man, even at the age of 20. But while your antennae constantly received the message of life, you are always young, even at the age of 80.

Youth, not in a young body. It is in a young spirit.

[1] Alexandra David-Neel (24 October 1868 – 8th September 1969 – France). Explorer, spiritualist, Buddhist, anarchist, and writer. Best known for her exploration trip to Lhasa.

[2] Sir Ranulph Fiennes (OBE) (born 7 March 1944 – England) – Explorer and holder of several endurance records.

[3] Jessica Watson (born on 18 May 1993 – Australia) – Sailor – Author of the book “True Spirit” – “True Spirit”.

[4] Laura Dekker (born 20 September 1995 – New Zealand) – Sailor – Author of the book “One Girl One Dream” – Maiden Trip.

This article was inspired by Chapter 1 & 2 (Olden -day and Modern-Day Explorers) of my book “This Is Your Quest

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

Categories
Self-Help

How to Find Meaning in Life? The Secret is Revealed…

How to find meaning in life? Engage in worthwhile pursuits

Finding meaning in life has always been of paramount importance. Human beings have contemplated their existence since the beginning of times.  The primary focus of our ancestors was to find food (preferably without being killed in the process), find shelter, and a community to interact with. Fast forward to our modern era, with our basic needs taken care of, our main focus has become trying to find meaning in life.

The feeling that one’s life has meaning can come from any number of things, such as committing ourselves to the pursuit of academic knowledge, focusing on doing our job to the best of our ability, committing ourselves to help others by doing some volunteer work or dedicating ourselves to raising a family. All of these are examples of worthwhile pursuits, but the important point is that the actual purpose does not really matter. What matters a great deal more is that there is a purpose.

How to find meaning in life? The possibilities are endless

“Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it because you can’t ever really know the meaning of your life. And you don’t need to. The only thing you need to know is that every life has meaning, whether it lasts one hundred years or one hundred seconds. Every life changes the world in its own way. So, don’t take it for granted. But don’t take it too seriously either. Don’t postpone what you want. Don’t leave anything misunderstood. Make sure the people you care about know you care about them.”

Mahatma Ghandi

Life can be hard and finding contentment and meaning in what you do can help you withstand the innumerable hardships of existence. A 2019 study conducted by the University College London revealed that feeling your life is worthwhile could have a positive impact on your physical and mental health and also influence your economic and social standing. Ultimately, the pursuit of happiness and finding your life purpose goes hand in hand.

How to find meaning in life? Go on a road trip

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

Christopher Reeve
How to find meaning in life? Go on a road trip

Why do so many people fail to achieve their dreams? There could be many valid reasons, but failing to achieve your dream because it is going to be hard is not a good reason. Nothing is easy, so expect some pain and consider the possibility that sometimes hurdles come your way to test your resolve, teach you some lessons and build your resilience.

Imagine you are in your car on your way to Pleasant Ville which represents your ultimate dream destination. You put in the coordinates and drive along quite happily until you realize you are going in the wrong direction after taking a wrong turn. There is no need to panic, the GPS will re-direct you to Pleasant Ville, albeit using a different route. This little detour cost you some time, but you are now more focused on the road, determined not to take another wrong turn or to miss the next exit. You are getting closer to your destination and will get there as long as you stay focused.

How to find meaning in life? It depends what type of driver you are

Now, imagine that you are sharing the road with three other drivers and you all want to go to Pleasant Ville.  Driver 1 is the fast-and-furious type who starts his engine and immediately speeds-off, impatient to get to his destination as quickly as possible. But, after taking a wrong turn and finding himself in the wrong place, Driver 1 is now annoyed, discouraged and disheartened by losing his early lead (who said that this was a race anyway). Driver 1 returns home feeling defeated.

Driver 2 is the are-we-there-yet-type of driver who drives around not paying attention to hid GPS and turns around in circles thinking are we there yet? Driver 2 eventually gets disheartened by driving around in circles not knowing where he is going. He also returns home feeling defeated.

Driver 3 is the zig-zag-type of driver. Before arriving at his destination Driver 3 decides that a different place is better than where he was originally going, so he changes the coordinates again and again, never arriving anywhere.

How to find meaning in life? Road Trip gone bad?!

Driver 4 is the smart-and-steady-type: focused, and patient, he pays attention to the road, and doesn’t fret if he takes a wrong turn, because it doesn’t matter which road you take, there is rarely only a single road that leads to your destination. Eventually, driver 4 arrives to Pleasant Ville and when he gets there, he realizes that it was worth all the time, effort, sweat and tears and rejoices in the happiness of the moment.

I know what type of driver I want to emulate. Which one are you?

Where to find meaning in life?

You will not find your life purpose delivered to your doorstep and waiting for you inside a box wrapped with a nice pink ribbon. You will have to go out to find it, it could be hidden underneath a rock or hidden deep inside you, and it will take some effort and some courage to unearth. In this situation, think of yourself as an explorer.

Explorers are a special type of human being. They have physical endurance, mental toughness, abundant determination and willpower, a deep feeling of purpose, they have faith in their pursuit and live everyday with the conviction of their Quest. For more on this fascinating subject, check out this video below and follow me in the footsteps of some modern-day explorers.

Modern-day Explorers, Adventurers and Travelers – Chapter 2 of “This is Your Quest”

And this, my Dear Companion, is Your Quest!

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The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

Categories
Self-Help

Be An Explorer – The Lost City of Atlantis

The world is full of unsolved mysteries. Rather than the land we live, what seems strange to us is the Ocean, which is home to many myths, legends & mysteries. Lost cities, hidden treasures, mystic ships are all part of the alluring marine world. Of all of these, the lost city of Atlantis tops the list.

The Lost City of Atlantis

The lost city of Atlantis was first mentioned by the Ancient Greek philosopher Plato more than 2,300 years ago. In his stories, Plato describes Atlantis as a legendary island idealizing it as an advanced society where Utopia dominates. In Atlantis, wisdom is the primary characteristics of the people and their wisdom should bring peace in the world. According to Plato, Atlanteans were great engineers and their technology was much more advanced than in other parts of the world. Atlantis was special as it was technologically & educationally much more advanced than any other society.


Atlantean Jellyfish and Goddess of the Sea!?

Tale of God’s Love. Legend says that Atlantis city was built by Poseidon – The God of Sea, Storms & Earthquakes when he fell in love with a mortal woman called Cleito. He built his city on top of a hill, in an isolated island in the sea to show his appreciation for his wife. Atlantis was said to be inhabited by people who were more beautiful & more intelligent than the rest of the world. The myth says that the inhabitants of Atlantis City were superior beings.

Underwater Ray of Light

Atlantis was paradise: no one had to work hard. Every type of wonderful food grew there, and animals were plentiful. It had a glorious culture with wonderful palaces and temples. The kings were rich in gold, silver and other precious metals. The people of Atlantis lived a golden age of harmony and abundance.

Then things started to change. As the Atlanteans grew powerful, their ethics declined. They became greedy for more than they had. They became corrupt. Angered by the Atlanteans’ behavior Zeus summoned all the Gods and decided to teach Atlantis a lesson.

The legend of Atlantis ends with the wrath of Zeus who sent an earthquake that made Atlantis sink into the sea in the course of one day and one night. And just like that, Atlantis, its people & its memory were swallowed by the sea.

THE END.

In Atlantis, you don’t count sheep to get to sleep

Photos taken a Atlantis, Dubai.