May 16, 2020

Why I Write Long Articles

philosophy and spirituality by motivational speaker, Jacques de Villiers

One of the criticisms I hear the most when it comes to my writing is that my articles are too long and convoluted. 

That’s about right. When I reread them later it is clear that they’re not an easy read. They’re gritty, dark and stark of candy floss.

  • It’s clear that I struggle to be articulate.
  • It’s clear that I struggle with concepts and my own place in the world.
  • It’s clear that I struggle to figure things out.
  • It’s clear that I struggle.

A lot of my writing is a reflection of my own struggle to make sense of this uncertain life. My themes are darker – loss, fear, death, redemption, surrender, regret and wrong turns. 

If I really think about it, my take is that both good and the bad happen to us to shape us into the beings we are today and the beings we are to become. If I really interrogate my view of the world, it is frightening in one sense and liberating in another. There’s a dim realisation deep in me that says, “You’re not in control of your destiny … something bigger than you is pulling the strings.” I have a feeling that my journey has been mapped out already. The only ‘control’ I have is how I use the cards that I’m dealt. That’s where I get to use my greatest gift …


The only time I’m ever in control is when I choose how I’m going to respond to anything that’s dished up to me.

When something bad happens to me and someone says, “Everything happens for a reason,” I used to get angry. Seriously, what a patronising response to my misfortune. I don’t get angry anymore because I’m starting to believe that it’s true.

The author, Douglas Adams says, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I know I ended up where I needed to be.”

I attempt to end every article on a positive and uplifting note. It’s clear that my ‘happy endings’ are not bright, revelatory sunrises. They’re more like morning mist over a muddy moor … enough light to see but not enough light to totally trust the treacherous path.

I know that ‘success’ is tainted by shades of grey. I would imagine for every ‘success’ there was some collateral damage along the way.

  • Maybe you become financially successful but lose your health and family along the way.
  • Maybe you win the girl/guy and shatter your competitor’s heart in the process.
  • Maybe you get to run a country but sell your soul to the devil for the privilege.
  • Maybe you get to worship your God at the expense of someone else’s God.
  • Maybe you get to live in the lap of luxury off the sweat of slaves.
  • Maybe that diamond on your finger is a ‘blood diamond’ and tens of thousands of people died for that privilege.
  • So, pretty much all success is tainted in one form or another. 

I believe that we’ve been sold a lie that life is easy and that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Are we really all so naive to believe that we will experience the perfect life – a forever adoring wife/husband? Kids that love us unconditionally. The house with the white picket fence. Two cars and two dogs. And, when we meet our maker, it will be at age 80 from a heart attack at 3 am in our sleep. Painless and quick.

You see, my articles are long, tortuous and uncertain because I know that I don’t have easy answers for those that read my work. In fact, I’m just a bit of a poser. I pose more questions than give answers.

I’d rather die than come off the mountain with 10 commandments of how to live your life. The ink from my pen will dry up before I ever give you “The 5 Steps to Happiness; The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; The 3 Rules To Enlightenment and 50 Ways To Fight Your Fears.

I’ll never be so arrogant as to think I can walk in your shoes and feel what you feel. I’ll never be so crass as to say, “Everything happens for a reason”, when you have lost your job, your child, your health or your relationship. I can’t ever feel what it’s like to be inside your skin. I can’t ever really feel your pain.

I can just struggle with you in empathy and love and try an make sense of this journey. That’s all I can do. And, that’s why I write long articles.

Eccentricities that I like (and you might too)

  1. Hat tip to Rich Mulholland for this piece. Kevin Kelly’s 68 bits of unsolicited advice. This is a super read and will only take you 5 minutes. Read the article here.
  2. If you’re super stressed when you hear “My Fellow South Africans …” then learn box breathing (four-secs in, four-secs hold four-secs exhale,four secs hold) and try do it at least three times a day (three full boxes.) Once again, hat tip to Richard Mulholland for sending it to me. If you feel like you want to evisicerate two people on FB a day and then yourself at the end of the day, rather try the app, it’s brilliant. It will keep you out of jail and you’ll be like a Zen master.
  3. How to talk to someone with no imagination.
  4. A new definition of killing it by Margot Aaron.
  5. The moral imagination by Seth Godin.
  6. Take your promotional showreel from meh to memorable with Jason Hewlett
  7. Barry Hilton made me miss my mom.
  8. Skit Scot Cath has been entertaining me (and others) with her quirky and eccentric skits on FB. Go watch her and enjoy. She’s a real treasure
  9. People are coming up with the most enchanting ways to laugh at themselves. This one is an absolute riot.
  10. PechaKuchaJoburg will be going online soon. I’ve passed on the mantle to a delightful and enthusiastic chap call Bjorn Salsone (who MCd the last two events). He will take PK to the next level of its evolution. I’ll keep you in the loop next week when the ink is dry on the contract.

My best,


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