Investing in our success - the book


Investing In Our Success: A glimpse into our world is a story about most Jamaicans which began in the struggles of their ancestors for freedom from slavery to enjoy economic, political and social freedoms; to chart their own destiny. Slavery and its aftermath did not prepare them to achieve material success. As such, the majority of the population fight, literally and figuratively, for their share of the spoils to achieve their version of success. 

Investing In Our Success: A glimpse into our world is a story about the struggles and successes of Jamaicans who are on their never-ending journey to achieve their version of success.

Investing In Our Success: A glimpse into our world takes you on an excursion into the lives of these Jamaicans and allows you to travel with them on this journey. It exposes the secrets to the successes that Jamaicans have been achieving in all spheres of life on the local and international stage.

Three chapters of Investing in our success for your reading pleasure

Two chapters from Investing in our success...


            1. For whom is this book?

This book, Investing In Our Success: A glimpse into our world, is for all of us.

It is validation for all of us who grew up in circumstances in which poverty has been pervasive, but instead of allowing this poverty to dictate the circumstances of our future, we've been taking matters into our own hands. We've been following a course that we've charted for ourselves, and we've been rising above our circumstances.

This book is also for all of us who grew up in circumstances in which poverty has been pervasive, but instead of taking matters into our own hands and trying to rise above our circumstances, we've been allowing this poverty to dictate our future.

In addition, this book is for all of us who grew up in circumstances of privilege, but have decided to improve on the foundation that we've been given, instead of settling into what already exists.

    1. Purpose of this book

This book, Investing In Our Success: A glimpse into our world, is inviting all of us to continue to invest in our own success because this is what all of us want. It is inviting all of us to engage in a process of stocktaking, our selves containing the "stock" of which we will do a detailed inventory, write our own reports, and spend time studying them, before taking the necessary actions to improve our stock in terms of its quality and, therefore, its value.

    1. Inspiration for writing this book

This book, Investing In Our Success: A glimpse into our world, is the product of my reflections on my life as a Jamaican, as well as the reflections that some of my friends with whom I've interacted along my continuing journey through life have shared with me. It is also the product of my observations of Jamaicans who've shared similar experiences to mine, as well as my observations of Jamaicans whose experiences have diverged markedly from mine.

This book reflects my understanding of my experiences and observations, as well as my understanding of the experiences of Jamaicans with whom I share space in the many environments in which I have my being. My reflections, in concert with the reflections of relatives and friends, as well as my listening in on the reflections of strangers whom I have met along the way – strangers who proudly tell their stories to all and sundry of rising above their circumstances in spite of the odds that they've been facing – have convinced me that we have powerful stories to tell, stories which I've told in this book.

These stories of our lives, which we've only been able to process on reflection, have been the fodder from which this book has taken its form. These stories have always been simmering just below the surface of our consciousness, but now have escaped their constraints. These stories constitute this book that is before us, urging us to read it and to do further reflections.

    1. The impetus for our journey

Many of us were born into circumstances where some form of deprivation was a feature of our existence. Some of us lacked many of the material things of life, or haven't had them in the acceptable quality and quantity that society holds up to us as standards of success. Some of us lacked the nurturing that we needed to develop the emotional strength to cope with life's challenges. And, some of us lacked both the material and the emotional resources.

Having developed an understanding of our circumstances of deprivations, we've decided to leave these circumstances behind because we've realised that there are more and better things "out there" than the ones to which we've been accustomed. We've, therefore, struck out into the unknown, being determined to find our version of success, the kind of success that we know will not be possible within the confines of the circumstances that we've come to know.

Our version of success, we've realised, differ in many respects, and, in many cases, don't reflect the standards for success that some elements in society hold up to us as the ideal. Our version of success reflects what we believe is important to us. Therefore, it's this success – our version of it – that we've embarked on our journey to realise.

We've been on this journey since the dawn of our understanding of the circumstances of our lives and we've been making progress. We've not been satisfied with being bound on all sides by deprivation in some or all of its forms.

    1. Our stories

This book, Investing In Our Success: A glimpse into our world, tells our stories. Our stories recount our journey from environments where we've been surrounded by lack, to our destinations, yet to be finally attained, but which we hope to reach. These destinations are our version of success which we've envisioned for ourselves.

Our stories are multifaceted, and we are the characters with our diverse personalities, motivations, beliefs, experiences, orientations, body types, features, colors, ethnicity and race, among other differences. We've had our beginning in diverse environments. We've suffered through many disappointments, fears, and hurts. We are at different stages on our journey to the success that we've envisioned for ourselves. But at many points along our journey, our paths have intersected, literally and/or figuratively, as we hurry along the roads that we've chosen to lead us to our version of success.

Our stories are ones of struggles – emotional, mental, and physical struggles. But, they are also stories about winning; winning some of our struggles against the odds. Ours are also stories of strength – emotional, mental and physical strength that we've been depending on to confront our circumstances, and rise above them. We've been searching for and have been finding our emotional, mental and physical fortitude that has been buried deep within us, and we've excavated it and have been using it to chart our course to our version of success.

Ours are stories of reflection, that is, staring our past in the face, and examining all its characteristics. Ours are stories of self-discovery and decision-making. Ours are also stories about possibilities – what is possible if we are willing to exert the effort to attain the reality of our dreams.

    1. The structure of this book

I have written this book in the first person plural, and, for the most part, in the present continuous tense. I have done this because this book tells our stories of our journey that is still in progress.

This book has an introduction and twelve chapters. Each chapter explores a different element of our stories. Chapter one explores the issue of our past in our present. Our stocktaking and our SWOT analysis of ourselves are explored in chapters two and three, respectively. Giving up on failure is the issue that we explore in chapter four. Chapter five explores our ambition. The issues of sacrifice, effort, and reciprocity are explored in chapters six, seven and eight, respectively. And, the issues of faith, choices, rest and success are explored in chapters nine, ten, eleven, and twelve, respectively.

This book chronicles the journey that some of us have been taking to our version of success. We are on our journey because we want better and/or more than we've had for ourselves and our families. This book provides the reader with a glimpse into our travels on this journey that we Jamaicans have been on, as well a glimpse of some of our accomplishments.

    1. Reading this book

In reading this book, the reader is invited to note that it is not presenting a linear path that we Jamaicans have been carefully following to reach our destination. Far from that! Our journey has been iterations of all the steps that we've listed in our action plans.

In addition, the reader is further encouraged to note that no prescriptions are given herein which are to be slavishly taken by people who've found themselves in conditions of poverty on which the book focuses, and have been trying to overcome their circumstances. Instead, Investing In Our Success: a glimpse into our world outlines some of the strategies that some of us who are on our journey to our version of success have been employing as we move away from our circumstances rife with poverty towards the kinds of success that we've defined for ourselves.

These strategies have been working for us. You, the reader, are invited into our world, the world that Jamaicans, full of ambition, have been creating for themselves and we invite you to share our stories that we've been writing as we journey to our version of success.

You may choose to read selectively any chapter of this book that has peaked your interest. Each chapter tells its own story. Or, you may choose to accompany us on an exploration of our journey by reading this book from the beginning to the end. The choice is yours.

    1. Thanks

I am thankful to relatives, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, who've shared their stories about overcoming the odds and being on their way to achieving their version of success. I am also thankful to the many strangers who've chosen some of the oddest places to share their stories: bus stops, in the buses, in taxis and for choosing to strike up a conversation with me – for just celebrating their joy in their achievements when their tongues were made loose by thinking of the great distance that they'd travelled, from where they'd started out, and all that they'd been achieving.


Our past in our present

Many of us who are on our journey to our version of success try to run away from our past but, the faster we run, it's always one step ahead of us, demanding that we take notice of it. This is a source of irritation for many of us because while we would like to get rid of it by pretending that it doesn't exist, or that it's something other than it is, we've come to realise that our past is part of our essence. It's always going to be with us because it's embedded in our memories. Anything from our present, we've been realizing, can transport us back in time to the circumstances of our past, of which all of us have our own perspectives.

Some of us look back on our past with nostalgia. It holds some good memories for us.

Some of us look back at our past with regret: there are things that we wish we'd not done; there are things that we wish we'd done; there are things we wish that we'd not said, and there are things that we wish we'd said.

Some of us look back at our past with disgust. "Good riddance!" we say. We refuse to be constantly tormented by our memories of hurts and deprivations that have been hallmarks of our past. But even though we think we've put it to rest, like a cheeky child we see it peering and smiling at us from around the corners of our consciousness.

Some of us look back at our past with a mixture of nostalgia, regret and disgust, each at times fighting for ascendancy, but none quite winning. There is no escape, for us, from our past.

Memories of our parents or caregivers

At times, memories of our past flow through our consciousness like a swift moving river. At these times, our senses are roiled and our emotions are in spates. For all of us, different memories of our past take precedence at different times. But, for some of us, our parents or caregivers are the recurring subjects.

We sometimes still hear the murmur of their conversations with each other. Sometimes, we hear the roar of these conversations. Sometimes, we hear the silences. We remember the tone of their conversations. Sometimes it's amicable. Sometimes it's quarrelsome, and sometimes it's indifferent. They have had their moments.

We still remember the nature of these conversations. We hear them discussing the state of their finances, their work, and the businesses in which they were engaged. We hear them discussing our neighbours' business. We still hear the worry in their voices as they talk about our needs and the things that need to be done in the home. We still hear their approval, their disgust, their dismay, their shock as they discuss the news of the day. The topics of their discussions are still with us, and some of us are realizing that we are becoming our parents or caregivers.

From the interactions of our parents or caregivers, we learnt about their beliefs and the principles on which these beliefs are based – whether religious or non-religious. We also learnt about their practices relating to their beliefs.

Some of us still remember their insistence that we follow their beliefs and practices because they are the "truth". Some of us remember voluntarily embracing their beliefs and practices.

However, some of us remember reluctantly embracing their beliefs and practices and, at the first opportunity that we've had, finally rejecting them for our own version of the "truth". But, from an early age, we've learnt from the interactions of our parents or caregivers about our place in the world that they created for us.

In our memories, their faces drift by. Some of us still see our parents or caregivers always lazing around the home with no care in the world. Some of us still see our parents or caregivers engaging in their daily activities. Some of us still see them bustling about the home, always busy, their faces studies in concentration. Some of us still see our parents or caregivers getting ready to go to work, anticipation written on some of their faces, dread written on others, while written on some of their faces, we see resignation.

We still see them returning from work. In some of their faces we still see the imprint of the day's toil. In some of their faces we still see purpose; there is much more yet to be done before the evening is over. In some of their faces, some of us still see the glimmers of recognition of who we are, glimmers that they quickly replace with indifference or distraction.

Memories of being disciplined by parents or caregivers

Some of us remember being flogged by our parents or caregivers for any of a number of reasons. We remember being flogged for getting our clothes dirty, when our parents laboured to get them clean, and because we are not buying the soap, and we can't wash them for ourselves.

We remember being flogged for eating too fast because if food gets stuck in our throats we will be punishing them to take us to the doctor where they will waste time by "dragging their bottoms" on benches for the whole day, when they could be doing something useful. We remember being flogged for eating too slowly because time is going and we still have chores to do.

We remember being flogged for running when we should have been walking because we can fall and hurt ourselves, and we hear the story about dragging their bottoms on benches again.

We remember being flogged for doing what we are told to do because we don't do it well and because we aren't learning to do anything. We need to learn to do things for ourselves because we don't want to grow up to be worthless, so that people can take advantage of us.

We remember being flogged for not doing what we are told to do because we are behaving like we are men and women in the house, but only "one man" or "one woman is in this house". We are still children so we should do what we are told.

We remember being flogged for not hurrying to do our chores because "time waits on no man" so we should get a move on.

We remember being flogged for being back late from doing our chores because we've been wasting time gallivanting with our friends, and their bread is buttered on all sides while we don't even have the first slice of bread.

We remember being flogged for waking late in the morning because if we waste half the day in bed, nothing will get done.

We remember being flogged for going to bed too early because we have chores still to do, and we must not shy away from work because work will put food on our tables.

We remember being flogged for going to bed too late because if we go to bed late we will not wake on time in the morning.

We remember being flogged before going to school because we need to make sure we learn what teacher is telling us; we don't want to become anybody's play thing.

We remember being flogged for returning home from school late, and not being able to recite all that we learnt at school that day because they are not wasting their money on nobody who is not interested in school.

We remember that the floggings were all punctuated by lectures. We also remember that the number of slaps that our parents or caregivers gave us seemed to be commensurate with the number of words that they uttered while doing so, unless we managed to escape from their clutches.

Some of us remember that most of our parents were careful in their flogging of us so as not to leave any lasting physical damage on us. We've since realised that the beatings that they gave us were the only effective form of discipline that they knew, having gone through it themselves.

We've realised that our parents or caregivers didn't have any malicious intent when they beat us. This pastime of theirs was intended as discipline. So, every time that we'd, in their eyes, infringed one of their rules, or any time that they believed that we needed encouragement, they drew for their trusty belts.

We remember being resentful of these beatings, but many of us can expound on all the lessons that we learnt from them, lessons that we've been putting to good use in our lives.

Memories of our communities and living conditions

As we've grown older and have traversed outside of our immediate environment, we've developed a much keener awareness of our circumstances than ever before. This awareness has been, more often than not, driven by our exposure to others who, we've come to realise, have been more privileged or less privileged than we've been. This awareness of our circumstances has dictated every move that we've been making to get us to this point in our lives.

Our travels outside of our neighborhoods opened our eyes to ways of living other than that to which we'd been exposed. We've been able to compare our neighborhoods to other neighborhoods, and because we've done this, some of us have found our neighborhoods lacking.

As our eyes have been opened to other possibilities, some of us remember wishing for bigger and prettier houses than the ones our parents or caregivers were able to provide for us.

We remember wishing for electricity, water and telephones in our homes, as other people outside of our communities had.

We remember wishing for paved streets and street lights that other communities had.

We remember wishing for well-maintained, demarcated and equipped areas for sports and other recreational activities.

Some of us remember wishing for quiet neighborhoods in which there was no incessant reverberation of sound systems in our heads to keep us always awake.

Having become aware of other communities that seemed to be "better" than ours, we've also focused our attention on our living conditions. And for some of us who are on our journey to our version of success, we don't have fond memories of them.

Growing up in rural communities

Many of us who've had our beginnings in deep rural settings, and haven't been "well-off," remember our houses made of board with their one, two or three rooms, in their dilapidated states. Some of us remember having always with us a view of the outside world, presented to us by the multi-shaped holes in the walls of our homes or in the roofing. We remember not minding this view during the day time, but remember our terror at nights when the moving shadows outside seemed to be getting ready to invade our space.

Some of us remember the leaky roofs that often forced us to have an even tighter bond with our family members than we normally would have preferred, but had to enjoy on rainy days.

Some of us are still seeing our tiny, outdoor kitchens in which our parents or caregivers spent countless hours preparing every meal – breakfast and dinner. It's a tiny wooden building or a lean-to that is standing apart from the house.

We can still see or hear our parents or caregivers creating their own magic inside. We can still smell the aromas emanating from there, and some of us can still feel the anticipation that we've had for whatever had been dispensed from its dark interior.

Some of us are experiencing the opposite reaction.

However, for many of us, every time that we think about our childhood meals, we've been amazed at the seeming wizardry of our parents or caregivers who managed to feed their multitude with so little.

We remember our dining tables and chairs: the steps leading into the house and our laps; or the tree root and our laps; or the rails of the veranda, for those of us who lived in houses with them; or anything else that we were able to find to accommodate our weight at meal time.

Some of us who remember having proper tables and chairs remember our parents or caregivers either using them for decorative purposes or only on special occasions. And some of us remember these as being either the preserve of the father in the home, if there was one, or them being used for additional storage.

Some of us remember our toilet facilities. We can still see them; tiny wooden or zinc-framed structures. They are standing far away from the house and kitchen. They are embracing the woods whose mysteries we had no intention to meet at nights. We remember rushing to them any time nature made her calls on us, whether day or night. We remember the races that we the children always ran to get there first, and we remember the discomfort that we always endured when we lost.

Some of us can still see our river, sometimes lazily, sometimes urgently making its way along its bed, all the way to the sea. This was our bathroom and washroom on the good days, huge and unconstrained on all sides, affording us unfettered views of the heavens, and unlimited amounts of water for all our hygiene needs. We can still see its pools, small and large, deep and shallow in which we spent countless hours frolicking until either the voices of our parents or caregivers or our consciences alerted us to the passage of time.

However, on rainy days, some of us remember our bathrooms being the back of the house under the great expanse of the sky, while some of us remember the lean-to in which we were able to enjoy our privacy, away from the prying eyes of passers-by.

And, we remember the pitch blackness of our environment at night. We can still see our mobile, trusty lamps, framed by the "home sweet home" lampshades, providing the light from which we read, and studied and stayed awake until bedtime.

We can also see our makeshift lamps that we used to light our paths through the thick darkness to church at nights, to the party down the road or to the shop to get something that was so important, we couldn't wait for the morning to get it. We can still see the circles of light that these contraptions emanated, and we can still feel the dread as we put one foot in front of the other in navigating the wall of darkness in front of us. Our hearts still race every time we remember our neighbours springing at us out of the darkness, and we, throwing off all good sense and taking off in the opposite direction at speeds unimaginable, with their laughter chasing us.

Growing up in inner city communities

For those of us who've grown up in urban centers, and who've been from poor families, we can still see our wooden or concrete framed homes, or all zinc structures, or high rise structures that we called home. Some of us who've grown up in these wooden, concrete or zinc framed structures can still see the corrugated zinc fencing that seemed to have been carelessly constructed and which separated our yards from our neighbours.

We can still see the containers of different shapes and sizes that we, or our parents or caregivers, strategically placed to catch the water that found its way inside by seeping through our inadequate roofing – an exercise in futility that we never failed to engage in on rainy days.

Some of us can still see our crowded homes, with hardly any space to put our feet because every available space was taken up with the furniture that our parents or caregivers believed they needed, furniture which we had to keep in pristine condition, or else.

Some of us can see not much beyond the bed that took pride of place in the room we called home.

Some of us can still see our communal shower and toilet facilities in their dilapidated structures. We can still see and hear the battles that were fought over these: somebody wanted to urgently use them while we were using them; somebody left them in an unsanitary state; only one person had been cleaning them – our communal shower and toilet facilities were the sources of many of our quarrels.

We remember the feuds between and among rival groups over either guns, or politics, or space, or women, or men or a combination of all these factors. We still remember the perpetual dread and discomfort of our existence then.

Many of us who've grown up in living conditions such as these remember our communities, rife with either underemployment, unemployment, violence, or a combination of all of these. We remember our states of poverty.

Some of us remember our family members and other members of the community using unorthodox methods to eke out a living. We remember many of these family members and friends who, in their quest to survive, perished in their plots. We remember attempts by the masterminds of everything devious to draft us into that seemingly unending game of "Russian roulette," but either fear or self preservation or both seemed to have restrained us. We've survived our environment.

And for some of us who've had tough beginnings, we just remember our past as a stream of never ending poverty. When we look back, we realise that we lacked. We lacked the material things of life that we believed would complete our lives, if only we had them. We remember our poor and overcrowded homes with everyone jostling for a little space, a space to be.

Yes, we'd wanted nicer homes, we'd wanted our own space, we'd wanted access to all the utilities, we'd wanted toys, fast food, new clothing, enough warmth, less warmth, yards with a few trees, yards with no trees, paved yards, vacations, books, schooling – we'd wanted much. But, we'd not had what we'd wanted.

Memories of inadequate schooling

Some of us remember lacking schooling. We'd wanted to go to school regularly like other children in our communities. We remember the school in our communities and we remember the one or two days per week that we'd graced its walls, and being excited by all the information that had floated this way and that, but being unable to grasp its significance, being stymied by debilitating absence. We remember vowing to ourselves that one day, one day, we’ll figure it all out.

Memories of abuse

Some of us remember our whole past as a stream of never-ending abuse. Some of us remember our parents or caregivers as people who to us had seemed to have had frustrated ambitions with regard to professional boxing. Or, we'd thought that they might have had too much zeal for the sport, and because of poverty, or stinginess, or both, or because of some other reason that we'd never been able to fathom, they'd chosen to use us as their punching bags, over and over and over – again, and again, and again, until we'd become as frayed and worn as the punching bags, limply going through the motions of life.

Some of us have memories of being molested by people in our lives who we'd believed had the responsibility to protect us, but who had abdicated their responsibility to do so: fathers, or mothers, or uncles, or aunts, or siblings, or cousins, or friends of the family, or other friends, or people in positions of trust or a combination of these people.

Some of us remember bringing our abuse to the attention of a significant person in our lives and being unceremoniously turned away, being called liars and worse.

Some of us endured this abuse for years. But now, having grown up, we are filled with disgust and contempt for ourselves and our abuser/s. Some of us have felt such a deep sense of shame that we've refused to confide in any one. We've been carrying this burden alone, all of our lives.

Memories of our relationships with family members

Some of us remember with anger and resentment our past relationships with our parents or caregivers or siblings. We remember the actions of our parents that we deem to have been excessively unjust, and for which we've been unwilling to forgive.

Some of us have memories of what we perceive to be ill-treatment by our parents or caregivers. We remember them deliberately giving us less food than our siblings, or the worst part of the meat – whichever part we think that was. We still remember the floggings to which we were subjected, which we know we didn't deserve. We still remember mistakes that we made, and what we believe were overreactions from our parents or caregivers.

We remember our having to go without the new dress or pants or whatever item of clothing that we'd wanted, because our parents or caregivers claimed that they couldn't afford it, even though we knew otherwise.

We remember their treatment of us in relation to our other siblings. We remember our siblings making fun of us, abusing us without our parents or caregivers reprimanding them.

We remember things they've said to us in the past that they are now pretending not to remember.

We remember our relationships with our parents or caregivers as bouts after bouts of discrimination and disadvantage.

Memories of the insults that were tossed at us

For some of us, our memories of the past have centered on the insults that we endured. We remember every insult that the people in our lives carelessly tossed our way. We can still hear the voices: the voices of our family members; the voices of those whom we considered to be friends; the voices of some of our teachers; the voices of strangers – we can still hear these voices taunting us.

Our minds spin as we hear these voices, voices which refuse to be silent, reminding us that we are ugly; that "so and so" is prettier than us, we still hear. We are afraid to look in the mirror because we remember that our nose is too big, or too small, or too pointy; it doesn't meet the ideal standard that someone has set for noses.

We hear the voices telling us that our eyes are too beady or too big; again, our eyes don't meet the ideal standard that somebody has set for eyes.

We hear voices telling us that our foreheads protrude too much, or that they are too flat or that they are shaped "funny"; yet again another one of our features doesn't meet the ideal standard set by some random person for foreheads.

We hear that our hair is too short, too curly, too nappy, too stringy, too dry or too oily; even our hair doesn't meet the ideal standard for hair that these random people have set.

We hear that we are as black as tar or as white as ghost, or as yellow as any comparison that they can pull out of their hats at the moment; our complexion is far from whatever that person thinks is the ideal.

Every part of our being has been found wanting; the criticizers all have different opinions of our person.

We hear ourselves being called lazy, no matter how much work we do or how little. We still hear the voices telling us that we will not amount to anything; that we are dunces; the negative superlatives never cease to haunt our memories.

These voices have been inhabiting our memories and therefore our present.

Memories of the provision of parents or caregivers

Some of us, in spite of lacking much, remember our past as being bound up with a parent or parents, or a caregiver or caregivers, who had a dream for us. These significant people in our lives never let go of the belief that education is the door through which we must pass to achieve success in life. As such, they never failed to send us to school every school day whether it was rainy or cloudy or sunshiny. We remember our parent/s or caregiver/s encouraging us to go to school and to do well because they want us to achieve much more than they achieved from their schooling.

We remember going to school and doing our best, yet constantly being reminded by our more privileged friends and foes that we were dunces because we were poor. We remember teachers glossing over our work and giving us poor grades, no matter how hard we tried. But we remember, well, those teachers, friends and strangers who encouraged us to do well at school, so that one day we would be able to help ourselves and family.

We remember our chores that we had to do before and after school, and during the weekend, chores like walking great distances to water and feed the animals, to tote water for the family's use, to do laundry at the river or spring, to collect the harvest from the farm, among a host of other chores which our parents or caregivers thought would be essential to our survival in the "real" world. "Horse must not be too proud to carry its own grass!" they drummed into our heads.

Memories of neglectful parents or caregivers

While some of us remember with gratitude the care and love of our parents or caregivers, there are some of us who remember with regret and/or anger the laissez-faire attitude of parents or caregivers who managed our upbringing by what seemed to us like remote control.

We remember being left to our own devices, left to make our own decisions about our lives and some of us took what we thought was the easy way. We enjoyed all kinds of freedoms: freedom from what we perceived to be the boredom of school; freedom from observing etiquette; freedom from any constraint on our time; freedom from familial obligations; and freedom to be who we thought we wanted to be.

Some of us have been managing to find a path out of this situation, while some of us have been hoping for some kind of anchor to keep us grounded in the uncertain environments in which we've found ourselves.

Memories of our middle-class upbringing

Some of us remember our past as one in which we've not been rich, neither have we been destitute. We remember that our parents or caregivers worked hard, and were able to satisfy our material needs. We remember having access to nice clothing and to satisfying and, more often than not, nutritious meals. We remember always having access to all the utilities. We remember that our parents either created recreational centers for us in our homes, or we had uninhibited access to them in our communities. We remember that though our homes were not huge, they were comfortable. We had a good family life when we compared our lives to the lives of people who we've been meeting on our journey to our version of success.

Memories of our very privileged past

Some of us remember our past as a stream of never ending privilege. Our parents had much money, and had not been afraid to spend it on us. We went to the best schools; we wore the best clothing; we got every material thing our hearts desired; we were exposed to every opportunity and we enjoyed many enviable experiences. We've had a good life and we continue to have a good life.

Yet, for some of us who've had privileged backgrounds, not all of us have agreed that it was all idyllic. While we accept that we've had many enviable experiences and have enjoyed all the privileges that our parents or caregivers made available to us, some of us believe that we suffered from deprivation.

We believe that we suffered from a lack of acceptance, and from a lack of confidence to chart our own course, therefore the memories of the constant scrutiny of our family, friends and strangers, the scrutiny to ensure that we were "perfect" in their eyes keep on haunting us.

We remember the constant criticisms: of our features; of our clothing; of our attitudes; of our choices, and we remember being condemned to failure unless we toe the line that they drew for us. In addition, some of us have now realised that we've been trying unsuccessfully to live up to the expectations that these people have had of us.

Our pervasive past

Many of us who've been on our journey to our version of success have accepted that our past will always be a part of our present circumstances. We've been realizing that it has laid the foundation from which we've been expected to build, and from which we've been building.

We've also been realizing that the end result of our construction will be the result of our innovation and care with the resources with which we've been presented, whether much or less. We've also been realizing that whatever we've been constructing will remain mostly unfinished because, until we die, we are navigating the complex process of just being, and being requires that we keep on adjusting to the vagaries of life.

So, we've accepted that our past and subsequent experiences will continue to shape us into the people who we've been becoming as the years roll by. Therefore, we've been examining our memories of the past every time that they've invaded our present. Whether or not we believe that they've been good, bad or we are indifferent to them, our emotions have been aroused.

For those of us who relish our good memories of the past, we've resolved to continue our journey in order to acquire the resources to be able to continue to make good, even better, memories for ourselves and families.

For those of us who remember having had bad experiences, we've resolved to continue our journey because we want to acquire the resources to create better memories for ourselves and our families; better memories than the ones that sometimes push past the barriers that we've set up to keep them out.

And, for those of us who are indifferent about our past, we've resolved to continue our journey to our version of success because we've been realizing that the more resources that we have, the more we've been able to satisfy our needs and wants.

We are all on our journey to our version of success, and we've decided not to quit. We've decided to do whatever it takes to prepare us to take on the ravages of our journey, and we are confident that we will reach our destinations one day.

 Our baggage

We who are on our journey to our version of success have started out with much baggage that we've been accumulating through the process of living. As we travel along on our journey, we've been realizing that this baggage has been weighing us down. As a result, we've been finding it difficult to take great strides, or travel great distances daily on our journey because of the weight that we've been carrying.

We know that we have many miles still to cover, and we know that we have a limited time in which to do so. Therefore, many of us have realised that we need to stop and sort through this baggage. We are aware that there is much of this baggage that we need to throw out, but there may just be some of it that we want to keep. So, we've been stopping at intervals on our journey to our version of success and we've been taking stock.

Chapter 2


Just as the retailer, at intervals, takes stock by doing an inventory of items in her store, making note of those items which need to be re-stocked, removing items which have spoiled and/or have passed their expiration dates from the shelves and storerooms, many of us pause from time to time as we travel through life to take stock. We take stock of our lives.

The nature of our stocktaking

Some of us have realised that even though the stocktaking process for the retailer is oftentimes scheduled and organized, for us, it's oftentimes not scheduled and it's oftentimes not organized. We've realised that we've been forced to deal with the experiences that persistently clamour for our attention.

These experiences may be from our past – where we are coming from. They may be from our present – where we are in our lives right now. Whichever set of experiences, whether from the past or present, that seem to be having a hold on us at the moment is that to which we tend to direct our attention. These experiences that have a pervasive effect on us are usually the negative ones and they all impact us in different ways.

For some of us, however, stocktaking has been a deliberate process – one that we've scheduled. We've been taking stock because we've the trajectories of our lives, in terms of accomplishments, carefully planned. We've set objectives that we hope to achieve at predetermined points in our lives. We've been modifying these objectives as we navigate the twists and turns on life's road.

As one friend on this journey to her version of success once said, after taking a new job which saw her elevating her status, "this is where I saw myself at this point in my life". She has been achieving the objectives that she's set for herself, and she is noting another of her achievements – evidence of her success.

Our lives are storehouses which have many items that we've been collecting along life's way. However, there are times when our storehouses become too full, much of its contents being junk. We do an inventory of all these items in our storehouses; things that we've been carrying around with us for a long time. We've been sorting through these items, separating the ones we deem to be good from the ones we deem to be bad. Some of us have been discarding the bad items, which we believe are inhibiting our progress on our journey, and we've been keeping the good items that we believe are causing us to make progress on our journey.

Taking stock, for us, has meant doing an evaluation of our lives with a view to making changes, positive changes. So, like the retailer who in taking stock, wants to ensure that she has the quality goods on hand to satisfy the anticipated demands of her customers we, too, have our purpose for taking stock.

We take stock because we want to ensure that we can satisfy the demands that we've been making on ourselves. We want to make space for what we consider to be some of the more desirable collectibles that we've been acquiring as we travel along on our journey to our version of success, and we want to ensure that we've been travelling on the right road and in the right direction to our version of success.

Some of the items that many of us have in our storehouses are the memories of our backgrounds and the experiences that we've had; relationships that are shaping our present; concerns about the future; issues with our physical being and our personalities, among other concerns. We begin the process of stocktaking by examining these items.

Having examined these items, we've found much that we've overlooked before, and we've been making some decisions about what we have to keep, what we want to keep, what we will repair, and what we will throw out.  

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About the Author

Janette B. Fuller is a teacher and author of three books. Her business is to write stories set in the place she knows best – Jamaica – while also helping writers to write their own stories. When you are ready to write your story, make contact with her @ Check out her books here




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