The Interview with the Devil by Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hill authored a book called, “Outwitting the Devil” which caused me to have several “Ahaa!” moments and those where I felt more his victim than anything else.

So first questions first! Did Napoleon really interview the devil literally or was it the typical stretch of a writer’s imagination? Secondly, in the book, the devil seemed to have no choice out of the interview except to reveal what was asked by Napoleon, my curiosity demands to know what trick Napoleon used to subdue the devil in the interview. Did he use a spell? Did he make a sacrificial ritual like those we see in horror movies? Did he perhaps summon the devil by using some strange drawings of geometrical shapes on the floor with goat’s blood? Is my imagination running away from me?

What the Devil says He Is

Now let us see how the devil describes himself. He says he is energy. So, right there, we have been grossly misled by horror movies to think the devil looks like an angry red man on fire with burning eyes and flesh( thank the TV show Lucifer for that one), some go as far as giving the devil props such as the infamous three-pronged spike.( I don’t know if I got the name right). Anyway, at least now we know from the horse’s mouth what the devil’s true nature is: he is negative energy manifested as fear, poverty, illness, hopelessness, and a bunch of other nasty feelings and conditions we battle with everyday of our ordinary life. In short simple words, the devil is that cigarette you cannot stop smoking, that alcohol you cannot stop drinking, those negative thoughts which keep you in the dark, that deadening feeling of hopelessness, those fears of never having enough, and so on and so forth.

What the devil says he is NOT

So the devil says he has an opposition. Think of it like the story of an asian historical drama, where there are two brothers one who became the crown prince and one who fled to oppose his brother’s reign. Now the devil says he is the crown prince here because he controls 98 percent of the people in the world. Imagine his audacity! I could almost see him smirk. Moving on, he says while God is all that is positive and proactive, in charge of making sure all the planets revolve in their respective orbits and the sun rises and sets okay everyday, the devil has no time to oversee such silly stuff. Why you would ask? He is busy making more than half the world suffer from depression, or dividing countries and pitting them against one another. He is a busy fellow who preys on the minds of toddlers, and sometimes corrupts them before they are even born, through their parents and ancestors. And he will not apologize to anyone about it!

What I think caught my attention was the part where he disclosed that he could only affect people he termed as “drifters” which he explained to mean those who do not think for themselves but simply follow stuff they are told. He went on to say it is the chronic procrastinators of the world( myself included) and those who fall victim to the circumstances life throws at them either in their environment or the people in their life. Just when I heard these words, I was laying on my bed and I shoot up like a tree and started finding something to do. He will possess you if you are idle. That is when he gets room in your mind to sow his dreadful seed of misery. So get busy people! Do something!

My mouth made me miss my flight

I missed my flight today.

I have flown many times before but not one time did I miss my flight. So why did it happen today? I made it happen. I called it with my words and put it in the universe with my thoughts. Or it was just because I ran late even when I made an effort to wake up early.

I have talked about how positive thinking has led me to get many things. Now, I am here to testify how negative words spoken over something have just as much power to manifest what is spoken, if not more.

I was on my way and rain fell so hard out of the blue. I prayed to God as I took shelter under a tin roof. I said, God your will be done and not mine. You are the manager and the planner of my life, including my plan to travel today. If you decree it to be it will happen, if not it will not. At this point I felt a relaxing wave of peace and calm sweep over my now half-soaked body. The rain let up and I was able to continue on my way. Just then, I remembered I had to buy incense as a gift for a friend and my heart said to walk in to the shop despite the ticking time. I went in and that is where I think I slipped up and turned the tables upon my chance of catching that flight. I believe it was not the selfless and kind act of buying my friend a gift that made me miss my flight, but it was the words I said and the negative energy of panic and fear, which I allowed to seep into myself, which were the culprits.

I asked for incense, the man, who at the time seemed like he was a distant cousin of a tortoise or the uncle of all the slugs and snails in the world, really took his time from his feet to the shelf standing a mere half metre away from him. I bit my tongue and said to my roaring inner fire, which was swearing in all the languages in the world to get the man to hurry up, patience! Patience!

As if the world took a bet today to mess with my zen, Mr. Slug stopped midway on his turn towards the shelf and greeted new customers who just walked in. I could almost hear a Dammit man!Pick up the damn incense and just throw it at me quick! on loud speaker.

To interrupt his rapporteur with his newly found friends, I found my index finger shooting out of the right side of my body fiercely pointing to the incense on the shelf. Right there! He noticed the urgency in my voice and picked it. Just then he started to wrap it up like a christmas present when I had asked for a bag to put it in. His finger caressed the incense box as he twisted and rolled it on an old newspaper,roll,roll,roll. Then came the part when he folded the ends one at a time, using cellotape to hold it together. That was when I heard these words come out of my mouth before I could stop them,I am missing my flight this very moment as you fold the ends of that paper.I am missing my flight worth 7000 shillings!

Too late! That just stamped the seal right there! And the command was sent rocketing into the universe:she missed her flight today. Everybody, she missed it! Quickly people get to work!Get to work,so she misses it as spoken.

Then after I got out of that shop with what would become a 7000 shillings-worth of incense in my hands, it poured as if the heavenly dam just collapsed upon us, but I kept pushing on in the rain, making my bags wet like a soaking pampers. I was a disgruntled mess who should have just stopped and turned back when I still had a chance. But no! I went ahead, spending even more money renting a boat to cross me over to the airport, by a coxwain who was only slightly hopeful that I could still make it. Even then, he soon gave up even as he raced his boat in the crazed rain and tormented sea to get me across. Once we arrived there was about a 500 metre walkway on which we were runwalking, almost tripping over my wet and squishy shoes; shoes which had already given up on this forlorn trip since yesterday, and wanted nothing to do with it. Still, we treaded on and on, past the still-as-statue soldier at the airport gate, who upon seeing my sorry state of being, took pity on me and said, pole madam kwa kunyeshewa( sorry for getting rained on).

I went into the airport, and the bags get screened and everyone is telling me I have missed my flight and that it was impossible to check in since nobody was there anyway. The check-in guys had all closed up and left to board bags and people. I heard myself mumble , I got caught by bad weather. I am all soaked. Then this guy goes to call this other guy and he takes me towards the plane, hope starts to build in my heart and as we got closer and I see the plane door locked and the blades start to run, like a balloon, my heart burst.

I turned away as I could not bear to see the plane leave without me. It was as if I was seeing the love of my life exchange vows with my nemesis, I just couldn’t watch. So we turn back, and the guy is saying muffled somethings behind me but all I could see were my soggy bugs which I was holding, whose weight suddenly became unbearably oppressing and I felt sorry for my strained fingers, my sore toes and slippery sandals. They grilled for nothing! I should make it up to them.

The Power of Prayer

Praying is done in many ways. Some fast, meditate or move their bodies systematically. Others sing, clap, jump and shout. As for me, I found talking to God and starting a conversation with him very life-changing. This is how I talk to him:

I wake up, make my bed and thank him for being alive to see another day. I tell him thank you that today is gonna be an amazing day. The best day of my life. I proceed with a touching prayer, the prayer I found when I watched one of Jesus movies: Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever Amen.

I am muslim, but I find this short and simple prayer very powerful. It is full of meaning and everytime I pray it, I feel as if the world stopped to listen. It is a simple prayer because it asks God for food. This part of the prayer reminds me to be thankful for food and that is is God who gives me food and sustains me. Also, it makes me appreciate every bite and thank the food itself for nourishing me today. Another simple but profound part of this prayer is the part where it begs God to forgive us as we forgive others who have wronged us. This reminded me of that time Jesus said in one of the movies about his life, forgive and you shall be forgiven, judge not others and you shall not be judged. So in simple terms, in order to be forgiven by God, we need to forgive others. This is powerful because it changes everything I have known about people and God. I used to go to God to complain when others wrong me and ask him to punish them with swift justice. Little did I know that he is not a vengeful God, but he is merciful. He waits on me to repent of my sins and he welcomes me into his arms as if I never sinned a day in my life. If he could do that, why can’t we? This enlightened me and made me understand that the God of this world is one who loves all of us collectively. He cannot be happy if we hate on each other and resent this and that person. In fact, I noticed the moment a resentful thought about another person enters my mind, I lose the spiritual connection I had with God in that instant. It is as if God is everyone. So to be in him you have to be in everyone. If you start going away from some people, you remove yourself from his full presence. This collectiveness and interconnectedness is so true it blows your mind at first.

It is for this reason, I believe, if we wish for our prayers to be heard by God, we need to pray for all of us not just ourselves. So if I go before God to talk to him, I keep in mind the pronouns I use. I say we and us as much as I can. Help us,deliver us, bless us, forgive us, give us, and so on and so forth. I always relate my problems with what others in the world could be facing. So I make a point to ask God to help me as well as everyone in the world who is facing similar problems as me. I think it takes a certain level of bravery to forego our selfishness and to enter into a space where there is more than just our welfare on our mind.

Another powerful thing I have realized when it comes to prayer, ask for others to pray for you. So I normally ask the angels of God to pray for us. I ask also the prophets of God to pray for us, as well as animals, sun, moon, stars and everything that is in existence. I believe if everyone and everything in the heavens and on earth were to pray for us all, surely God would not miss that. In this moment, I pray for you and send love your way. May you always be nourished, nurtured and sustained in God’s infinite love and abundance. Amen.

A Life Of Service

I think God intended for us to help many people. He does not want us to succeed for ourselves or be satisfied with selfish accomplishments which have only been benefitting us as individuals. I think life purpose or mission in anyone’s life is about what they can do to make other people’s life better with the skills or talents they have been blessed with in this life.

Talent, skills, wealth and health are outright blessings. However, did you know that the challenges, traumas, illnesses, disabilities and every storm we have faced in life are also gifts which we can use to help others who are going through the same? This is what made me open my eyes today. Not everyone who has been tested with what you were was able to make it to where you are. In my case, I have known many families with the same background and challenges as mine whose situation is worse and many youths from those families who were tested like me, but unlike me, have no way out and are trapped in drugs and dropped out of school. How could I not be blessed after seeing how far I have come despite all the odds which were way bigger than me and which threatened to destroy me? If the same odds succeeded to destroy someone else’s life in what seems like irreparable ruin, am I then not blessed?

For this blessing, should I not then feel a sense of purpose to help others who have walked my path of trials and make life better for them? Shouldn’t I set out to make sure I use my skills, talents and experience to make someone’s life better? I don’t have any money to start any big venture but I know I don’t have to wait to get the money I need, when I can start doing something, anything to impact someone’s life. Even if it is just my words of support and encouragement, even if it is just the fact that I made it this far, so can you, who is suffering and fighting against overwhelming giants!

Now that I have figured out this life-changing fact, the next question is what action can I take? What is the next thing I need to do? Where do I start? Who is my audience? Which method can I use to get the ball rolling? Is it by going to local primary and secondary schools and volunteering myself to counsel and guide them? Is it by visiting hospitals and volunteering to pray for the sick? Is it by cleaning the dirty streets in my village? What can I do to help people? Can someone please tell me?

I know it in my heart that God is calling me to action. It is so urgent that I cannot stop feeling this urge nowadays; the urge to do something not for myself, but for random people. Just the other day, I noticed the amount of trash which collected outside and around my home and neighborhood. Immediately, I felt I needed to step out and sweep it all clean by myself, which I did. In that moment, I felt so fulfilled. While I was sweeping, a lady passed by and prayed for me. That felt good. Then sometime later, a kid I begged to come help me load the trash into a sack, happily complied and we were able to finish in a matter of minutes. See? That wasn’t so bad! What I needed was only a broom and a sack. I didn’t need to buy anything, even the sack was given to me by my neighbor. That simple, selfless act of cleaning around the house, which also meant I was cleaning my neighbors’ houses as well since we all live close together, made me realize life is all about the good of the many and the selfless acts we do for others. I will go as far as to say, that if you want to experience joy and fulfillment, or to be cured of depression, go out of your way to do something that won’t be just about you; help as much as you can and start living for the community and not for yourself only.

The Grass is Not Always Greener on the Other Side

I had many reasons to stay unhappy. I am lonely one hundred percent of the time, my relationship status is the famous, “it is complicated”, I am just realizing I suffer from depression and I am too sad to clap for anyone who dares to celebrate anything around this time. I have known in my heart that I could be happier if only I had that perfect boyfriend, that beautiful home, that healthy family, that healthy mindset, that amazing life which has done nothing but remained pathetic and useless stickers on my vision board. If only I could live my dream life, with my dream someone. If only I did not suffer from depression but was healthy and fit. If only I got married earlier instead of choosing to remain a lonely and sad cat lady forever. If only I had done what I loved everyday instead of forcing myself to do anything else. If only…

It is always tempting to think the grass is greener on the other side of the misery we have called our life. It is easy to leave and give up what we are not satisfied with and go after what we think could become our source of happiness. Little do we know that we are where we are with what or who we are stuck with for a reason. That reason could simply be the fact that we need to transform into what we want to have. It could be that we are unhappy because we refuse to change our paradigms. The moment we change how we look at the world, it will change in tandem. Such a simple law, why is it so hard to follow?

I remember how my life used to suck big time. And now that I am here, I realize most, if not all of my pain was caused by my perception of people and things. It was me who hurt me more than anyone else. It was my view of money, relationships, family, home, school and people in general which tormented me. All the while my finger was pointed at that boyfriend who betrayed me, that parent who did not try to get close to me, that neighbour who was spiteful, God who was uncaring and unfair, that family dysfunction, my broken home, my lonely life, my foolish mistakes, money which was not enough and on and on the list went. My life sucked and it was everyone’s fault. And then, there were the Why Me? moments. Why did I not have a healthy family which could support me and be there for me? Why did I have to be born into a family with a history of mental illness? Why did my father have to live far away from me? Why am I a secret child? Why can’t I meet my step sisters and brothers across the world? Why did I choose law and not english literature or creative writing, which are both things I love? Why am I in a complicated relationship when I should be happily married to the man of my dreams? Why me God?Why?

I have to say, the biggest changes happen in the subtlest of ways. I have been transforming big time. Even with so many dreams still out of reach for me at the moment, even as my stubborn reality still mocks me, I have not remained the same. Little by little, one day at a time, I have made progress on my personality, attitude and behavior. For example, my old self would have a hard time communicating how they felt with others. Nowadays, I feel urged by a little inner voice to speak up. Say how you feel, it nudges. And I comply despite my unwillingness, only to feel so happy afterwards, as if a load has been lifted off of my aching, drooping shoulders; shoulders which have carried so much resentment, unspoken feelings, guilt, past hurts, fears, anger, bitterness and shame.

For this reason, I believe that we can only be happy if we change how we see the world around us. There is not going to be any other place, person or thing outside there which could make us fulfilled if we remain the way we are right now. It is important to change and prepare ourselves for our dream person and life. It starts here, inside us, and if that is a happy place, then everywhere else will be too.

Sometimes All We Need is to Stop

We live in a world that requires action: We need to work hard, study hard, plan for our future, save money, travel, go out to meet new people, fall in love, get that mortgage, get that pensionable job, so on and so forth. It never ends. The easiest time we had where nobody needed anything from us was when we were in the womb. We made life hard on ourselves the moment we came to this world. That moment, we had signed a contract with a world which was designed to reward only hard work and effort. It does not have to be this way. The world has a choice. It can choose to be less hard. It can decide to give all of us a break and just hand us what we need to survive.

I imagine when Adam and Eve first landed here, they must have had all the earth to themselves. All the fruits from all the trees they could eat. All the animals to feed off of. There was no requirement to get a job and earn money to afford basic things like food and water. They did not have to go to school for half of their life. They simply ate, woke up the next day, made love and ate some more. Why do we have to suffer so much today? Why can’t life be simple? Why can’t we spend our time living this life, rather than losing it trying to survive?

Is there no way to survive without a job? Were you employed in your mother’s womb? Who fed you inside there? Do birds and bees need to go to school in order to get a job and feed themselves? Why do we have to live like this? Why can’t we just live happily, freely, enjoying ourselves of what nature has provided from trees,crops and animals? Why do we need so many things to survive? Electricity is the biggest cause of insomnia in the world. We were meant to sleep at night period. There was a reason why night is dark okay? Phones have made us but they have also broken us. On the good side, they allow for communication with those far away and provide us with information. On the worst side, they have made us addicts who cannot live without them. They are the biggest sources of distraction to those who wish to pay attention to the people in their life. I am just saying, life was much simpler back then, and much more worthwhile and intimate. Today’s life is such that you cannot have enough no matter how much you get. In fact, the more you get, the less you have. Life has become like a chase for something that you cannot have. When you get one thing, you lose another. The rate of disappointment in life is so high, that every one in four people suffer from depression. Depression is a call for us to wake up from wanting everything and not having anything in the end. It is an urgent call for us to prioritize living over surviving. We need to live each day in the here and now. We need to stop worrying about the future and just let it go.

Behind The Scenes of My Life

It is now week three and I have been struggling to get up and get going. I have to spend hours convincing myself to brush my teeth and take a shower. My day starts in the afternoon and that just means my eyes reluctantly open to another painfully passive half day, spent doing nothing aside from crying and struggling to accomplish simple tasks.

Eating is out of the question. I want to starve and I just don’t care for food. Well, my stomach disagrees and I am sure it dreads having to stay hungry all day when it knows food is only a few minutes walk away. It has come to terms with not eating breakfast…

Stomach( interrupting): Excuse me! Excuse me! I will take over from here on!(clears throat)So, where were we? Oh yes, breakfast, my God-given right, has been denied. Why you ask? Because sleeping beauty here refuses to wake up.If she ever does wake up at the earliest in these last three weeks, that would be a little after noon. Even then, she won’t care for a drink of water, let alone a meal. It is during these times, I try and send her signals to feed me. I try the oldest trick in the book: growling and pinching, hoping that would scare her to grab a banana.When this does not work, I try to call the Central Nervous System to complain and send help, by springing this human into action and go get me some food, but the line has not been working these past few weeks. It just does not go through. I wonder if something’s up, up there because normally, the CNS takes care of me every day and I don’t need to make any calls except for ramadhan, then I am reminded that I will be treated mighty well and compensated with delicious meals after sunset and I have been really happy with that arrangement. However, I could swear it is not ramadhan. I could swear that because I have been neglected way too much and sometimes I am given only a few bananas for the day and that’s it. That would never have happened during ramadhan. So no, it is not ramadhan. The CNS would have told me if it was. What is going on?CNS? Anyone?

Me(interrupting): Can I please finish what I was saying?

Stomach: Sure, but hurry up and EAT something soon, ANYTHING!

Me: Okay sure, of course. Just a few minutes.

Me: Did I mention it has been tough? Yeah. Terribly, numbingly and endlessly torturous. When will I feel normal again? Reality won’t wait forever. If I remember well, I have got oral exams coming soon, when was that? First of November? Or was it sometime later? In any case, reading any book right now would require a miracle; the sea-splitting- into-two type of miracle for Zeinab, not Israelis, to read atleast one book.

God in heaven, can’t I be a Moses? Or better yet David, so I can defeat this giant that is eating up the quality of my life?

A few minutes before now, I successfully managed to shower. While in the bathroom, contemplating my pathetic helplessness, I held the soap in my couldn’t-care-less right hand , and as I forced it to slide the soap over my I want-to-be-anywhere-else-but-here body, I found myself laughing at my sorry state of being. Even this simple and necessary act of basic hygiene, makes me uncaring and unfeeling. Hahahahaha! I chuckled bitterly as an idea came to my limp mind. I saw myself before I came to this world, negotiating with whoever it was, what hell I was going to pick to experience on earth. There were several choices displayed before me: cancer, physical disability, depression and the list went on and on and I picked depression with an added bonus of anxiety and a mood disorder. I must have also picked lovelessness, family dysfunction and secret child syndrome to complete the amazing ensemble! Wow! I am so lucky! Indeed.

Sarcasm aside, I believe there is a messed-up system in this world which makes me doubt it has our best interests at heart. We are practically handed stuff we never asked for and have to work hard throughout our life to get stuff we need to survive. I don’t think God did this. I imagine there was a group of somethings that hijacked the control room of the world stage. And I would not trust them with my cat’s dinner, let alone my life. No wonder every religion I am close to speaks of a better life, an eternal life far far faaaaaaaar away from this one. That is a relief, because this one!!No this shouldn’t, cannot, must not be it!

As long as I can remember, I have been fighting an elusive monster I don’t fully understand. On the best days, it makes me so happy I could burst with ecstacy and feelings of fulfillment and purpose but on the worst days, I struggle to get out of bed for the day. Well, I am telling this monster, right here, right now, I see you now. You cannot hide anymore!

Everything makes sense now. It is like that moment people finally realized the Earth was flat, despite having pulled off a mean joke to us all that it was round. Looks can be deceiving, and this analogy fits like a spandex on my painfully-bulging thighs of a life. I am not okay. And that’s okay.

I cannot describe what is wrong with me. I have no name for this monster that has dug its menacingly sharp claws into my life and that of my family, but I know it is there. I don’t need to wonder anymore. I don’t need to guess why I have a hard time sticking to a project to the end, or committing myself to school, or hanging out with friends or leading a normal healthy, social and adventurous life, or never being able to let go of past disappointments, or expecting the worst to happen always, never being able to maintain stable relationships and feelings, or being volatile, ever-changing, ever reinventing myself, ever wandering into and out of depression or never fully feeling safe and secure in my body. I know now. The monster won’t let me. That is why.

What do I call this monster? Why did it choose me? Why did it choose my family? How do I break free from it? How do I free my family from it? Is it a generational curse?If so, who cursed us? Is it the devil? Or was it just a random mean person? Is the monster a test from God? How can I reclaim my life? How can I heal myself and my family? How do we become happy and healthy? How can we lead a normal life?

I feel sorry for myself. I feel shortchanged by life. I was given the short end of the stick of life. Before I was even born, someone already decided I was not going to win. Someone had already set a horror stage which would characterize the tumultuous and defeating events of my life. I was going to have to fight through my life, with overwhelming odds put against this lonely, sad and old soul of a book worm, with only her faith in God( if he ever exists) as her armament. Her life, everyday, seemed like a scene from Squid Games, never knowing if she will fall or fly, in the next game and the next,of her life. Will luck be on her side?

Because Joel osteen advises me to speak victory over my life, I am going to say this to the monster who has been haunting me and my family for generations, and to every monster who is manifested in different ways as different storms in other people’s life across the world, God Is Still On the Throne!I will defeat you and reclaim my wholeness. In the refuge of my good God, my loyal God I will find healing, wholeness and the restoration of my health and wellbeing. By his might and the power which resides in his name the most high, you will release your grip from me and my family as well as all other families which you have entrapped in your hellish abode, and you will disintegrate and disappear as if you have never existed in our lives. Amin

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