One day I am going to write a book about being organised. This is not because I am especially organised myself, but more because I am always being accused of being organised.
When my book comes out, those who know me well will roll on the floor laughing, but I shall ignore them, because I figure it’s only fair to share some pointers on how one can create this magical illusion.
After conceiving this brilliant idea, I realised that there are people all around us who are creating all kinds of illusions, faking all kinds of funk and who if asked nicely, would be more than willing to share with us how they achieve their spectacular results.
For instance, have you noticed how some people perfect the art of being busy? Nobody ever quite knows what they are doing, but they dash to and fro carrying important-looking folders which one must assume are full of top-secret documents (from WikiLeaks maybe?)
They are abrupt on the phone and in meetings, their sentences usually start with “Due to pressure of work . . .” before they niftily dodge all responsibility for whatever they are supposed to have done.
They nod gravely while pretending to listen before they dash off to another “important” meeting.
These people have so perfected the art of faking it, that the only way they get caught is when someone eventually realises that their busyness seldom produces any tangible results!
“Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of.”
The truth in this quotation rang out to me as soon as I read it, because posing has to be one of the most difficult habits to discontinue once you have started.
Jim Morrison puts it this way: “Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending, performing. You get to love your pretence . . .” (thinkexist.com) And so goes the cycle we should think through before we set out on a funk-faking mission.
A colleague was recently explaining to me why he doesn’t get involved in risky romances.
“Before I start something, I always ask myself: How will I end this?” He reckons that question alone is usually enough to prevent him from doing anything stupid!
Women’s magazines are full of ideas on how to create all kinds of illusions: “Minimise a big bum!”, “Appear taller”, “Disguise a flat chest”, “Conceal flabby arms”
. . . Even if you didn’t think you had a problem area, you are sure to have identified one by the time you get to the last page.
You are also sure to have a few ideas for how you can pretend you don’t have the problem that you didn’t know you had until the magazine said you did!
This gives magazines a lot of power. By producing and reproducing ideas on how people can pretend to be what they are not month after month and year after year, these publications expand their spheres of influence enormously. And rake in a lot of money doing so!
Now that Zimbabwe is enjoying an economic recovery, we are in a new phase of keeping up with the Joneses.
During our decade-long “dry spell”, social status could be achieved by announcing that your generator could power everything in the house, “even the oven, girl!” with no difficulty whatsoever.
This denoted that you were not only wealthy enough to afford such a powerful generator, but also sufficiently well-connected to be able to fuel the guzzler in a country where fuel was a rare and precious commodity.
Another favourite status symbol from that period was that your husband knew some people who knew some people who could get you meat, sugar or cooking oil without having to stand in a queue.
Now the conversation has changed somewhat and with a little help from our friends in China more of us can fake the funk with knock-off designer bags and too-fake-to-fly labels like Nike with the tick facing the wrong way and Adidas spelt with a double “d”.
In fact, the other day I was driving a bunch of children through the industrial sites and, being a responsible adult, I went into tour guide mode and started pointing out all the different factories.
“So this is where everything is made,” I concluded. Wide-eyed with wonder, one little darling responded, “Oh, so this is China? Because everything says: ‘made in China’.” Enough said.
My favourite brand of fakes at the moment is fake leadership.
When people strut around demanding to be addressed by fancy titles and wanting all manner of privileges for little or no input, one never knows whether to laugh or cry.
Whether it is a farm, a luxury vehicle or the honour of reserved seating at an event, one sees pseudo-leaders rushing in to get first preference while forgetting the real reason they are appointed to that position, to serve.
Genuine examples of servant leadership are so hard to come by that we the led have even ceased to expect it from our leaders.
I suppose if you start out with an administration whose authenticity is in question anyway, you cannot really be blamed for continuing to perpetuate the illusion of leadership.
The trouble with living out illusions is, you can only do it for so long. At some point, something has to give. Faking the funk is only fun for a while.
Thembe Sachikonye writes in her personal capacity. Readers’ comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Thembe on www.twitter/localdrummer