Common Denominators.

In a conversation while waiting for a flight today, I heard a unique definition for one of my favorite groups of people ever (Nigerians!). When asked what cultural differences set Nigerians aside from the rest of the world and its people, my friend said: “Nigerians are suffused by the will to survive.” And her colleague, who is European, could see such evidence of that statement in everything that he encountered during his stay in the country that he has taken that as a gospel of sorts, an infallible truth about the country and its people.

 When I heard about their conversation, I was pleased, being Nigerian and liking to think of my nation as being a 160-million supermen trying to conceal their red and blue superhero costumes under the guise of Clark Kent, but as is typical with my mind, given a few hours to stretch between countries, I wondered if that wasn’t true for the whole world.

 Humankind impresses me endlessly. We have come from an era where we thought the constellations were deities (well, most of us have) to interacting with our solar system quite literally, and aggressively challenging the borders of the envelope of once accepted possible reality. Would I be wrong to assume that we achieved that mostly because we bore a restless curiosity, which drove us forward to discover our world and universe?

 There are schools of thought that believe that our curiosity is a functional response to our fear of the unknown, and there are others that believe that our inquisitive nature is really an offshoot of our love for life and the desire and will to live it, I think the two ideas are correct.

 Fear is the understanding that there is something to be lost, and what is acknowledged as a loss which does not possess value? I love my country, through her ups and downs and heartbreaks and triumphs, but I think that while the passionate will to live is easily seen in the Nigerian people, who have such gargantuan obstacles to surmount daily, it is something which is clearly visible in all of mankind, why else would we try so hard every day to be better?

  It would seem as though we are coming in for landing and thus time to shut down all electronic devices. Fight the good fight, celebrate all victories great and small, and don’t be afraid to make a mistake or two. Peace.

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You, The Change.

“Once upon a time.”

With those words have begun many alternatives to the reality we inevitably return to after the story those words start, comes to an end. Sometimes though, it’s hard to do that; return. I read a lot of fiction growing up, and I loved it, every story was a different doorway into a different world for me, from trying to decipher the meanings of the strangely spelled words in the less popular story (in comparison to Tom Sawyer) of Huckleberry Finn through the sci-fi classics of Isaac Asimov & Robert Heinlein, to perhaps the most poignant mind of them all; Stephen King and everything he has ever written. And everybody who has escaped into a book knows how ugly real life seemss afterwards, especially because there doesn’t seem a narrative that assures a happy end perhaps.

Quite often I’m faced with situations in life where I want to bury my face and forget, or un-know the things I know. The images that pass through your line of vision while you carry on your life in the time we share on this earth, are not the stuff of the lovable stories you read in books or viewed on TV when you were growing up, are they? I want to NOT see what is wrong, even though I know that will only be me lying to myself. The truth? It is what it is. But I also know that just because a thing is a certain way, doesn’t mean it must continue in that vein. I don’t believe in a single act changing the world, I however deeply respect and agree with the concept of a million drops forming an ocean. One whose waves will rise and rise and wash away all that is wrong, and leave bare the slate for a new version of history.

So, once upon a time there was an ugly, mean, dismal, sad place called Earth/Living/Life, and then one day, You/I/We did something good, and it all began to change. If you like the story so much, why not make it reality?

Shooting Star

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When you’re done wishing on a shooting star, that ‘star’ doesn’t change its trajectory and take your wish back to heaven for a speedy response, it continues its course steadfastly, burning a great deal of its mass as it continues. Sometimes it makes impact with the earth at less than a tenth of its original size, and at other timeswish doesn’t manage that at all because it burns out completely in the air due to friction against the atmosphere in our planet.

Why is this important? Well, because we wish on shooting stars a lot in real life, and they are not always mysterious celestial bodies travelling brightly through the night sky (at least not in the original sense of that phrase) but the truth is that when we are done wishing we were those fancy peopl. (yes, as much as I hate the word; those ‘stars’) living the lives that we think are perfect and so eagerly wish were ours, they continue their own life-trajectory, complete with experiences that burn their original mass down to a tenth of what it was at inception, and sometimes, if their resilient mass was too small to begin with, the experience of flight burns them out completely, till there’s nothing left.

My elementary understanding of Physics leads me to understand that all motion involves friction at some level, and friction is interaction with the environment which in our human lives, would be the experiences that we garner while dealing with other people, the things we hear, see, touch, taste, think, smell which shape us. So the question is; how much of you would be left if you were that shooting star you so eagerly wish to be like or wish upon?

Letting Yourself Be Great.

 

“Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week.”

 

 

As I recited those lines passionately, nodding my head to the beat and rhythm of what was going to be one of my favorite rap songs of that year, Kanye West’s ‘Diamonds’ remix, I probably understood at a much deeper level, the things I was going to uncover consciously over half a decade later in life: I can.

 

 

 

Why do we bubble and seethe with brilliance, seeming to burst at the seams with a hundred new, amazing ideas, and why do only a handful of what we thought on one day in the millions that we live in a lifetime, ever find their way into the part of the list that is marked ‘done’?

 

 

 

Good is hard to attain, better is difficult, great seems impossible, but these have all been done in the past by others who were either taught, stumbled on or realized through repeated attempts that focus, dedication and effort are the kryptonite that can and will bring down the seemingly infallible obstacles of ‘difficult’ and ‘impossible’.

 

 

 

Do today what you thought difficult yesterday, and tomorrow you will do what seemed impossible all along.

 

 

Obot.

You’d think that with the number of visits the Reaper has paid our world, there would be some adjustment to them, less shock and more resignation to the fates perhaps, but in what may be the ultimate testament to the human ability to hope and be positive, when we lose one in our circle, we link hands over the empty space in our lives where that one used to be, and learn to smile again, try out our laughter uneasily, until the sound of it isn’t as forced as it was the first time, trudge, and then run again, silently praying this is the last time we see Death around us, knowing all the while, in that dark recess of the mind that has, since the dawn of time, refused the light of childish illogical thought that hope seems to be, that wishful thinking will no more effectively stay his scythe than all the medicine invented has.

But when that cut is still fresh, when the vacant space is still awfully new and horrific just by being there so suddenly, how does one cope? Friends offer condolences, lovers offer succor, alcohol offers oblivion, no matter how brief, religion and faith offer hope of continuity beyond this plane, and the heavy heart offers reality; that which was is no more, and the love that held it in place as a part of your life now holds it still in your heart, a bitter, beautiful memory that is Death’s parting shot at you who are left alive.

These are not the thoughts I would share on the first day of the second half of the year, knowing as I do that hope is all that the living have to go on sometimes, and sounding as sullen as I do, but there is a place in my life and the lives of my close friends which was filled by a smart, charming, good, kind person, which is now empty, and in my own way, I feel as though if I brave the mountain of grief and speak about it, I will find ways to stretch far enough to find the other hands seeking mine across the empty space that used to be one of us. For Nsikan, Hannah, Romeo, Herbert, Oprite, Mr. & Mrs. Asananeng, who must go on living, may God’s mercy be with us all.

Good night Obot, sleep, and sleep peacefully, my friend.

Smile. Just Because.

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When I woke this morning, the sun hadn’t risen. In itself thats not really unusual, I happen to be a frequent insomniac, sometimes because the little people in my head won’t stop turning the wheels that make my mind go on and on, and at other times because there’s something really I good on television and I’d much rather watch a Dr. Who special than go to sleep and dream of my own aliens.

While the handle of the teaspoon I stirred the contents of my coffee cup with shone dully in the blueish light of dawn, vaguely inspiring the thought of what it would feel like to be a giant, as I had often imagined God to be while growing up, holding the whole earth in one hand, much like the way I held my coffee cup, I wondered how it would feel to be awake on that final day; will I know within myself as folk-lore has it most do, that the life I have led so far ends before this day does? Or will I continue my ‘life’ with no knowledge that the hourglass is almost empty for me?

The soft opening chords of Frank Ocean’s cover of Coldplay’s ‘Strawberry Swing’ tugged at some strings in my heart that lead to something forgotten in a past life and that kept my mind preoccupied for a few minutes as the cold water I showered with this morning cascaded over my head, and the independent streams found their way down my back, (always gravitating in descent to follow the course of my spine..) and down my face, neck forming mini pools in the cleft of my shoulder blades, before going on down.

There aren’t enough smiles, there aren’t enough hours of daylight when you have heavy laundry on the line, there aren’t enough reasons to be happy, period. This morning, the sun hadn’t risen when I woke, and while there was nothing I could do to convince Sol to put in an early appearance on my account, there was no reason not to continue with the things that make me a happier person, just as there isn’t a reason you cant either. Find/make your reasons to be happy, you owe it to yourself.

One.

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Evolution.

Give sorrow words. I’m not sure what author chose such a haunting title for her book, but I do remember reading it in glimpses as a young boy, actually I mostly skimmed the pages, looking for the juicy bits that contained scenes of car chases, espionage, gun fire and maybe the erotic, mostly because I found it impossible to believe that anyone would place a picture of a mostly nude woman under thin sheets on the cover of a book if they were not offering at least one of these things and so, in the same way that Dead Prez caught the attention of a whole generation with the opening scene of the video for their song ‘Hip Hop’ in the early days of the new century, my attention was caught, and I followed the story of a lonely woman who disclosed her faults and the cheap social plaster she attempted to mask them with..sex, drugs, alcohol, the usual cocktail. Why do I I begin here after months of silence from the pen and the person beyond it? *shrug* Don’t we all give what sorrow we are willing to admit words, in some way or the other?

Every time I blog (well, I wouldn’t deign to describe what I do as blogging, lest the ‘serious bloggers’ take offence..*eye roll*) I seem to be standing at some crossroads in my evolution where, as another author put it ‘I always almost die’…okay, maybe it’s a lot less grave than that in truth, but who’s innocent of a teeny bit of exaggeration?

So far in the story, I have learned much about life, myself, and friendship. Mostly about friendship and myself, life seems to happen with no interest in teaching me s**t, cheeky sod that it is, and if you’re not already back to your life and ignoring this, I will share a few with you.

I have learned that there is no accurate way to predict the outcome of things and it seems to me that you determinedly attempt to do so, the cleverer life gets at tossing the most capable obstacles into your way, not as much to teach you any solid life lessons, as much as to just lord it over you, rather like a chubby, frizzy-haired old man grinning good-naturedly as you lie on the floor, groaning and rubbing your shin in pain after you ran full-tilt into the outstretched foot he placed in your path. Does that mean I’ll stop planning every step though? Nope. Does that make make me foolish? Aren’t we all?

I have also learned that friends aren’t the people who do the most to keep you happy, they are the ones who do the most to keep you BOTH happy, because honestly, the predominant human drive in my experience usually turns out to be self preservation, and to tell me that you would give up your life to see ME happy would not only be a little cheesy, it would also be faintly reminiscent of the leftover teachings of the religious extremists that have tainted just about every major organized religion on earth. Who are my friends? They are the strangest people, it has turned out, from those who would swallow their pride and apologize (when they are wrong, mind you..smh) to those who will insist I make time for them in my sometimes unbelievable schedule because they feel they deserve it. Your friends? Those are the people you don’t want to one, Lord knows the are too few these days.

In closing, most importantly, I think I have learned that a man is nothing but red-colored water, bones held together by fragile skin, a lot of emotions and will-power at the end of the day, and that if he can not abide by the words he speaks, he is just a tangle of emotions and fluid. I haven’t been the man I would be proud to look behind myself and see, but as has been taught from the first day to me; every day is a chance to be great. So I will try. And if I fail in the future I will try again. And again. And again, until I reach such a place, utopian though it may seem, as from whose vantage point I can gaze down at what I have made of myself and my life and feel as though it amounted to something, no matter how small, so help me God.

“Be the person in reality that you dream of, one day at a time.”

“Hope springs eternal.”

“Purpose over pleasure, grind over self.”

God bless and keep us all. Peace.

F!

Furrowed forehead, total fixation made evident by frowning faces

Fingers fisted, fighting and floundering in the sea of fate

First sight, then focus, then finally: the chase

Feet first, then phones. Lips: words, fingers: texts.

Finely fluid friction beautiful and familiar fusion.

Freedom from, fought for, though frequently wished farther..

At last frost and fire fill the spaces between flanks

And the farms are filled with seed as the river overflows its banks.

(originally written on Saturday, 24 January 2009 at 18:10)

Nomads Memories

These winds sweep the plains, just as they did the valleys before them
they bear the dusty scents of a million places, familiar and foreign

These winds challenge the wanderer to a duel,
and somehow, despite their many leagues, these winds bring me..you

The scent of your hair as i remember it, waking beside you and….your perfume, from the nape of your neck as we danced slowly on cool starry nights

The scents of your hearth, and the taste that soon followed as chemistry became food…..the musk of your warmth, the memory of ascension in you, from dark earth to heavenly lights

(!!!)

These winds, bearing messages to a million nomads, just like me, bear one more with speed..
Vast i am, great indeed, but this earth misses the water that makes my desert a sea.

-excerpt from Black Tar, White Lines & Hotel Rooms: Thoughts From The Road.-

(originally written on Thursday, 11 December 2008 at 20:45)

Infinite

I am a product of Love(?) Time & Desire(?)..first Sweat, then Tears & Blood

I am a fool because I celebrate doing what millions before me have already done(?)

I am A warrior (?) because I win wars (?) though all can see they were mere battles.

I am my mother’s because she almost died to make me…and so I almost kill myself to make her proud she almost died to make me.

I am a student of time and life. A bringer (?) of smiles and peace and brime and strife.

I am a sword in the hand of Vengeful Chance, a cog of Common Fate. I am the sweet of sugar and candy and the salty ocean’s taste.

I am the first and last, start and end, as He programs. I am nothing by myself alone and thus I Am What I Am.

-Excerpt from Black Tar, White Lines & Hotel Rooms; Thoughts From The Road-

(‘Infinite’, originally written on Thursday, 13 November 2008 at 18:19)