Be wary of joy without a source tangible, she cautions
You can’t trust a happiness that shows up without announcement, he says
But when lockstep, good intentions and plans shuffle to a side
Happiness decides to betray your professionally curated excuses for misery
Your heart chooses to celebrate without asking permission of circumstances
And your soul goes rogue on the confederacy of gloom, by blessing the Lord
When joy sneaks up on you through doors you didn’t realize were there
And strength shows up after you forget to issue it an invite
With no recourse to facts, it unfurls warmth within you
In unassuming state of bliss, it spites pain
And flat-lines the confusing beeps of highs and lows, ushering in shhhh…peace.
Last summer, I went on a neck-snapping roller coaster ride. The ride, known as the voyage is reputed to have been the world’s scariest wooden ride at some point within the past three decades.
For days after the experience, beside being painfully aware of every muscle in my neck, I constantly had the vertigo sensation whenever I was falling asleep and would suddenly jolt back to wakefulness.
I found myself gripping the edge of my seat in a car when the driver would negotiate a meandering road, quickly. And I subconsciously relived the screams from the ride whenever everything around me goes eerily quiet.
Needless to say, I was over the whole thing and desperately wanted normalcy back in my days.
My friends and I would later joke that I was traumatized by the voyage experience, largely because I refused to get on a few other rides like it, no matter how much simpler they looked or how much fun the riders seemed to be having.
However, when the year vomited some real trauma onto my path, I knew that although vertigo and kinetosis pointed to a loss of control on prevailing circumstances, they were a far cry from being symptoms of life gone bonkers.
But unlike my post-voyage experience, I found a daily charter, to help me fall asleep in peace and pry my blue knuckles off the corners of despair. It helped me put things in perspective in small ways and live through a day at a time.
It was nothing deep, just a sticky note reminder of sorts.
And I’m passing it along, hoping it helps someone that may be going through life’s unapologetic roller coaster toss or a dark motionless tunnel:
Don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid to be by yourself. Don’t be overwhelmed by your own company.
Entertain your own thoughts, go one better, entertain His thoughts.
You are not broken, you are in good company; you are in good hands.
Don’t be in a hurry for companionship or love or even close friendships. Just be.
Be healthy, be happy, take baby steps and then giant strides.
Stop letting the days roll over you with no paths.
Make a record of something, in bits, per day.
Love. In truth. Per day.
If you find pieces of worrisome weight on your mind when you wake up, let go afresh, everyday.
Cry if you need to, then wipe your tears and practice a smile.
Pour your heart out to your Father, as often as you need.
Make faces at the puffy-eyed image reflected at you in the mirror
Then laugh: The sound of your laughter is glorious.
It’s okay to feel crushed, but remember, there is not a weak bone in you.
And you have a fighting chance to be the strongest, when you are rocked to your knees.
Although I have recently become painfully aware of climate change challenges and hope to talk about it on the blog at some point, that is not what the blog title is about.
It is about over 4 years of crickets going off on this page.
The things that can happen in a year, have happened 4 to 5 times over, without some kind of record.
Once I hit the 12-month mark of absence, it became easier to stay away rather than try again and be inconsistent.
I convinced myself it didn’t matter if I stayed away. I lied.
It does matter to me, because I love to do this and it makes my days more fulfilling, when I do. And because this probably makes some difference, however small, in the world.
It takes a lower temperature to keep an icy state, but when it gets hotter, the iciest of them all start to sweat. The intention is to ramp up the temperature (in my life and on the blog, hopefully) and get some writing activity going, break some ice, maybe even pop some cubes into a cup of *gaari, y’know. We’ll see.
And I hope to not just pick up from where I left on the blog, but to possibly take this in a whole new direction. What’s it they say about under-promising and over-delivering?
If you’re reading this, thanks for dropping by. Nice to have you here. Hope you see something you like!
Finally, after an approximate 3-year hiatus, I’d like to say : Hello again, world!
*gaari – Processed Cassava flakes
I first put up this piece as a Facebook note last year, the thoughts expressed persist till date and I still find myself marvelling at the unique- almost queer- mix and dynamics at work in the ancient city of Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria.
Do dig in, please. Bon appetit 🙂
running splash of rust
and gold – flung and scattered
among seven hills like broken
china in the sun.
– J.P Clark
There is a song by a female American singer about New York City, it talks about how the streets of New York make you feel like you can do anything and how its lights inspire.
The song often plays at the edge of my mind whenever I travel the streets of Ibadan (the largest Western African city) -at dusk, especially.
Suffice it to say, in the city of Ibadan, the lights will inspire you.
A different species of light maybe.
Embers of coal from the roasted-plantain seller; glowing stumps of carelessly tossed cigarette and mid-road bonfires, flashlight held with the “mechanic”s teeth under broken down vehicles; the lone okada in the middle of a darkened road.
The lights will inspire you.
The impatient flashing lights of vehicles, flashy wears and sequined dresses on motorcycle, colourful epithets from angry road users, rows of grand architectural designs with sudden break-ins of tattered Taverns.
The lights and sights will inspire you.
Hawkers prodding you in the face with different products, faceless men excusing themselves in unseen disabilities- asking for money; calloused hands, dark faces, hopeful faces, dejected faces, hardened faces, soft hearts, all on the road going somewhere, coming from somewhere, having nowhere to go.
It has got to inspire you.
It is a mat of peoples, cultures, stories and places delicately interwoven to give the town a ‘feel’.
Ibadan at dusk is a silent opera of light-spangled darkness; there are rude interruptions of expansive darkness by shining bulbs. It is a vast collage of bustling life and hustling lull, expensive light and even more expensive darkness, wealth and squalor.
But the evening merely continues a story that the dawn started, one that the noon gives stage lights to, because suddenly…
From the rubbles of a landscape, rusty corrugated roofs of ancient ancestry, haggard looking structures that seem like they were hurriedly thrown together, there sometimes stands the sudden startling beauty of some architectural ingenuity.
Some form of sanely planned and well executed projects make an appearance with no prior warnings in the middle of obvious disorganization, and it warms your heart, it catches and holds your attention, it can go as far as to stimulate your imagination and quicken your heartbeat. It is welcome and welcoming. It is beautiful. It is inspiring (?)
At times though, it is not the lights that inspire as it is the darkness: The people whose reality the dark has been, the ones that have been robbed of light and that, by insensitive and unfaithful mansion dwellers holding office- the shiny bulbs that betrayed public trust, the sirens and endless convoys that go home to Generators fuelled by the dark-dwellers’ sweat and blood.
Souls live in darkness of human making, yet someone that could have been of help chose not to be.
A day for the people and her government shall come. Today is the day to challenge the lights of the world shining.
Howdy Light? How do you affect the darkness that’s around? What can you do (to help) that you’re not doing?
How much ‘inspiration’ can an onlooker garner from your illumination?
You belong on the lampstand sir and ma -where city slickers like J. Blige and I can see by your shine – not in hiding. stop cursing the darkness, light a candle! There is enough in you to light up the world.
This creation still wait on you to manifest, oh light. Inspire us!
As I make my way back to my seat in the midst of the rousing ovation, the small voice was unmistakeable, it was insistent and clear.
“Well?” the voice says
“Well… wow!” I say, “This is some great reception. Are you seeing this? Almost everyone is on their feet clapping” I continue.
I hear the dry chuckle in my heart.
“Huh huh, and you made certain you did not say a word of what you were sent to.”
I carefully take my seat, adjust my cuffs, and make a show of rearranging the sullen looking cutlery on the table- which seem to have perked up with interest at the conversation (or is that reflection from the sunshine whose cunny rays have somehow boycotted the barricade of the heavy shutters?)
The ambience in the room is great, the lights are low, the mood is relaxed and everybody is friendly; back pats, handshakes, air kisses and almost warm hugs.
“You were given an in-season word for some in this room, and you traded that for intelligent sounding vowels and impressive consonants, because you doubted the acceptance of the original message.
That was a brilliant talk, but sadly, you’ve hardly taken a seat, and it’d probably be the camcorder alone that remembers what you said and is truly affected by it.
You see, God’s word (read message) never goes empty, His counsel is ever sure, His division is precise and His direction accurate. He backs up what He says with power and whom He sends, with authority. Did He endorse what you just said?”
“Okay” I silently retort, “so maybe I didn’t exactly say what needed to be said out there, but I emphatically implied it.
Potential connection to big players in this continent is just an introduction, a handshake or a nod of acknowledgement away in a place like this”
“Besides”, I continue, “I think there are certain things that are basic knowledge, going on about them would look like I didn’t know my onions, my brilliance was under a laser microscope out there.
The way I see it, that was a make or mar speech. It determines whether I am in or out, and if I am out, how can I ever reach them for God?” I rush on to respond, in time to catch the admiring glance and silent courtesy of the beautiful wife of a well known politician.
“So it’s about your status then? You say IT determines…?”
“No, no”, I cut in, “ it is not about my status. But you have taught that wisdom is profitable to direct, and I simply employed wisdom there.”
In a gentle but firm voice, he says, “It’s interesting that you choose to employ wisdom rather than allow wisdom ’employ’ you. Have you forgotten who the person of wisdom is?
Christ is wisdom; the word of God… He is understanding and direction”
I adjusted on the seat, “What I meant to say is: of course, He is my priority”.
“What do you think is His priority?
People… the subject of Love’s unfailing affection. You… your well being in every facet of life.
People. Everyday people: the bigwigs that many feel too awed to talk to about Christ, the homeless bum you’re too pious to talk to and give a kind word; the teary eyed other at the Hospital gate, the tattered kid, the old man, the bubbly youth, the jaded divorcee, the man in the prestigious white house, Mr CEO, Miss celeb, the Forbes list-er… they are all just humans, mortals, hurting, needing help somewhere, needing God.
The precious souls behind the Sunglasses and Rafter caps, them in the latest model cars and designer labels, ones in the scorching sun and on bare foot… They are God’s priority and He loves them and has had His love commended towards them. The word is His way of reaching out, because he wants them to know how He loves them.
Besides, as basic as basic knowledge sounds, not everybody has it. What you’ve taken for granted since you were barely a boy could be a surprising, life altering insight to a 60 y/o somewhere. Stop psychoanalysing God’s ways and intent, just open your mouth, let Him fill it. There is enablement and life in God’s word…”
There I am, I just gave the most impressive speech of my life and had the room on its feet, but I knew in my heart that I had hidden the truth. In the hope of affiliations- of nuisance value- and some crumbs of stale bread, I had chosen to scratch itching ears rather than feed hungry hearts. In a haystack of ‘intelligence’, I had set the truth ablaze.
But it will not die, the truth will not disappear just because I had been disobedient about sharing it. It will forever the truth remain.
The next speaker walked on stage after an impressive heralding bio was read and the thunder of applause swallowed up my thoughts…until another time.
With a word, a pink Hammer,
Apples of gold and silver frames
**Beep… beep… beep beep… beep beep beep… FOUND!
My first ever guest blogpost on here! And it has the double satisfying pleasure of being written by an uber amazing friend of mine. His mind is a treasure field and I absolutely love it. I would blaze his identity in liquid gold and diamond stones, but he prefers to go by ‘Anonymous’ -wealthy people do that, you know 😉
Er…this is still a copyrighted piece though.
If you’re reading this guest blogger, thank you, you are Midas.
I hope his brilliance touches you as deeply the as it does me. Stop all movements (except for your scrolling fingers’), this one will require your concentration. Good… now, enjoy his contribution
I know I said my tale wasn’t epic, but it seems ironical that epic is the way that I’ve decided to explain myself.
I find it the most apt.
How else am I to attempt to explain the calm and not-so-calm state of mind in which I find myself? In this instance, I’m not anxious, it’s just that calm must switch to aggressive soon. And it seems somehow funny that one knows he’s about to get agitated in say 10 seconds, and for the first 9 seconds he sits apparently unperturbed; as quiet as you may want. Not baring teeth from the 3rd second to show any indication of intent as the canines would do.
So here’s the epic: I am the member of an army… Hannibal is at the Gates… and I’m one of the brave, (or is it choice-less ?), men who get the honour of being the welcome committee, frontline, all in a days’ work, I suppose.
One way or the other, by mutual agreement or through a consideration of history’s repetitive patterns we know that no terms have been sought and none given. The relentless drumming and banging of their improvised brass knocker has since gone from being a startling interruption, to an incessant noise, to an ominous sign, to psychological torture, to the normalcy of a pained reality…the dulcet tones of a sadist’s lullaby: harbinger of something inevitable.
With every hit, the gates creak, the beams rattle, the posts give in a little, but the structure holds.
Extra rickety this morning our age-old gate is.
Mine eyes, and those of the myriad others around me behold no illusions: these proud gates will come down this day! So we stand. With hoisted shields and girded loins, uneasy smiles and nervous glances, endless cycles of the cresting and falling of our courage. Unearthly sounds carry over the walls…” but that’s just our ears playing tricks, it’s humans on the other side” *then with a faltering smile* “or is it?”
By the way we have spent our time, we’re as prepared as we’re going to be.
Which is about as comforting as it is not. And so we wait, calm yet not so calm. It is nothing less than this situation requires. When these gates come crashing down, we know the gloves will come off. And as most seasoned veterans would tell you, your carefully laid out plans take on the persona of treacherous comrades and race full throttle into the chaotic courts where Lord Murphy presides. Out with the calm and in with the aggression; passivity will be your epitaph! You will conquer OR you will be conquered. Logistically simple.
I, and the men that surround me, am jolted from my reverie by yet another thud. No different from the hundreds that have preceded it… not different- not in any way explicable, that is.
It begins as a whisper and then very quickly gathers pace. Hannibal must’ve heard it too for his forces abruptly halt their efforts. Now everyone stands motionless as it reverberates: the piercing shriek of a deafening silence. Then in a flurry of activity the helmets come on and the swords drawn.
We know without a doubt that the next hit will be the last.
Silent prayers uttered, some…that the next hit would not come. Some, that it comes so that the torture can end either way. And yet some, simply for their courage to hold as it’s clear to see why the next hit must/will come.
And then it comes. For the fleetest of seconds all eyes shut as each man receives his answer. Even before the gates hit the ground what is to come flashes before our closed lids: The first “hellos” are exchanged as arrows whizz past. Some finding their mark, the bulk splintering off shields and cannoning off the walls. And then the charge with the war cry (the only thing powerful enough to propel men into such…dare I call it madness). As the seconds race by the distance between both raging armies shrinks rapidly. Maintain the pace else you be stampeded by your on-coming army.
All thought condenses into a single moment, and just like that you’re out of time; distance erased…you can tell the colour of your enemies pupils. Shields up… anticipating the collision of wills. A sharp intake of breath… the fray.
Are you ready?
“Oh my! Honey, come look. Quick! This was not in the specifications! They seem to possess a strange ability. Sweet Lord! They came with… minds!? What did we do to deserve this? We are nice people, whom did we offend?”
My somewhat overworked mind came up with this scenario for the first set of parents when they found out that their precious children had minds of their own.
It’s not as if they thought they were getting a dummy for a child, but they certainly thought this baby was going to function exactly like they want it to -according to their inputs and that alone. Well, he is allowed to make deductions and decisions but those too should be as they (the parents) would make them, and not so differently.
Let’s explore the first parents a little more, shall we? Imagine an alternate universe, (so, stop thinking Adam and Eve already :)).
Time was freshly conceived and the starter had not yet started counting. Wish we could, but we cannot call it 0000BC, just because.
The baby came and was all pink and fuzzy. This was the being they had adored sight unseen. s/he finally comes and adoration meter shoots to the end of the scale, right before the nappy changes and sleepless nights.
I can imagine them sharply sucking in their breath in unfeigned outrage at the first audacious display of independence. That is ridiculous, I know, but these are the first parents, with no experiential or scientific information to go by. How would they know what to expect? (Yo! Stop thinking ‘wisdom’ and ‘instincts’, dude, this here is a spoof)
The child grows and so does this strange phenomenon. She prefers to swim rather than learn Music. He wants quiet when you think he should be among his peers. She wants to build Rockets, you think Medicine or Law sounds more practical. He dreams of becoming a Chef, you think: “not on your life”
Before the invention of the ‘be who you want to be’ phrase, I wonder how these folks managed. They may have gone through denial, anguish, disappointment, felt cheated, be struck with wonderment as this little fella mirrors what they do and still somehow ends up being his/her own self.
One minute, they are teaching him Arithmetic and his adoring eyes make them feel like heroes, the next, he is all smart and lecturing them on Quantum Physics.
They prefer the storybook promise of permanence but this child keeps his Chameleon outfit fashionable.
Parents generally feel pride at their kids’ achievements but it seems they constantly try to preserve a hold with their usual attack/defense being that they have been around longer than you, seen more, and well, know better. It is not uncommon to hear things like “who is the Parent here?”, “who got to this world first between you and I?”
It is understandable that parents may tend to worry and be overly concerned for their children. It’s natural. Especially as all children are wont to think they have seen it all and they are both street-smart and world-savvy (which is also natural).
You would be concerned too if you were them- as a child is a piece of you running around in the world, and you, all things being equal, want the best for him/her.
Sometimes also, you may be wanting to live vicariously through the child, making available your missed opportunities and correcting the mistakes you figure you made in life through them.
Noble intentions, but er… NO. Guide, support, nurture, advise, scold, help, gently push (where necessary), protect even, but do not impose… let them be all they want to be.
Love would do that.
I appreciate the fact that parenting is hard work, it takes a lifetime, tonnes of patience, strength, flexibility and a warehouse of wisdom.
Honour your parents, love them (in spirit and in deed), respect and cherish them. Even if some things have gone wrong between you guys or they have rubbed you the wrong way, they are human, no catalogue or manual came with you at birth, neither did any suddenly appear as you grow.
Besides, you were way too awesome to correctly assess and for some time there, they were silently wondering who made you with that mind!
You’ll see, when you get to be a parent too, more than once, about your child, you will find yourself pondering: where did s/he get that mind? I hope you remember your growing up and swallow your dosage prescription of chill pills then. 😀
Actually, I think the first parents (refer above) would have been sorely disappointed if the child hadn’t come with a mind of its own. But hey,
That’s my story
I’m sticking with it
for reading this
beautifully ridiculous piece.