This Thing Called Love

For two mother loving long years, I tried to write a love story.

This is something I subconsciously avoided since I started writing. And as it is with one’s fears, to overcome it, I had to start at why.

Only I didn’t because…

One freezing night, feeling delusional and inspired; I switched on my computer and decided to ‘get to work!’. And instead of the sweet juices of love pouring from my fingertips on to the screen… all I could think of was the exact type of cup of tea that should accompany such a night. Mind you, I already had a cup of tea in front of me.

Thus the procrastination began until the wee hours of the morning…

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And at the crack of dawn, eyes twitching from exhaustion and coffee induced palpitation (I switched drinks), I realized why I could not write about love. It is too freaking difficult to be honest and therefore, vulnerable in matters of love. To prove my point, after two years, all I have to show for my effort are four pages of script.

I used to attend a meeting of artists and poets, let’s call it PASS. And I quit going after the third meeting. Every time I got home from the meeting, I’d spend the night having hot flashes and cringing from BAD  love poems. I complained relentlessly until my long-suffering Sister snapped and said, “You either shut up or stop going”.  So I stopped going.

In my defense, all the poets at PASS in their ode to Love, said “your eyes are like the moon and your smile is like the sun”. And there is just so much of that my already weary soul could take. But now that I have tried my hands at writing on love, I almost feel the need to find them and apologize.

From the beginning of time, I feel love has been presented to us as a facade, and never truly been defined. It is just an ineffable description of… with no better way to say it than how my science based mind can express it; the success of love has been made to feel like load over effort. In a way that seems to mean, one factor has to be largely inversely proportional to the other. This factor usually is effort. Therefore it feels like to succeed at love one needs to put in huge amounts of effort. This is the formula for the Mechanical Advantage required for work.   Ultimately it takes work to errr… make love work.

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For those Artist and Creatives, I lost in the preceding paragraph, welcome back! No more digressions, I promise.

Talking about Artists, the people who have done a better job at talking about love (my personal opinion) are the Musicians. Some of them have been able to roll out anguish, despair, passion and hope into timeless love classics like Bob Dylan’s ‘Make you feel my love’. Mostly the rockers and indie musicians have been so open and honest. Some with the help of pure talent while others guided by sheer luck (ahem, drugs).

What then is love? Does it have a definition that can effectively be worked into our consciousness as an aid or a guide? So we collectively know what we mean when we say, “I love you”?.

I have searched and oh boy, I have searched; no book, document (holy, philosophical, or good ol’ ancient text) seems to be able to define it. All I have found is a working instruction of what love does and what it is able to accomplish.

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I have also asked many people what they think love can be defined as, and that was an education in itself. It was disappointing and frankly frightening to note the avoidance of many to dig deeper for themselves about what love is beyond what has been written by somebody else about it. On the flip side, quite heartening was it to find fellow explorers who had so much to share.

Therefore I have finally (and I will confess its only recently) come up with my own personal definition of love. Love for me, is the high value that I accord to a person or a thing; simple. This, along with my Christian mandate and values on love is to be understood the more I live, love and discover the true place of love in life.

The truth is there are dark and light places love takes us to, especially in a relationship.  Most of us are very afraid to take that journey. We escape the dark and exaggerate the light. A minuscule few have dug into both places and found ways of expressing their discoveries and sharing it with the world.

I believe there is what love is and then, there is how love is, two notions I am trying to reconcile. I may just be digging unnecessarily deep into this, something the right kind of psychologist might call an avoidance issue. But what ever the case is, it is a journey I am on… and at least He will have the full picture of what I have to give.

What is your definition of love? I want to know.

 

Images via Flickr

Open Letter To My Father

A very beautiful read…

Forward With Faltering Steps

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Dear Dad,

This letter is an act of remembering.

I think of you as a person thinks of a sweet scent that he has smelled briefly only once and  yearns for because he will never smell it again. All I am left with are weak traces of what that smell was. I fear that the greater the distance between the last time I saw you and the present, the harder it is to pull together the details of your existence into an act of remembering. Still I shall try.

You died seventeen years ago, today. May 25, 1998. I was a month away from turning 12. I didn’t know you had died until about three days later, or so. Remembering can be hard, even impossible. But I don’t want to dwell on the occasion of your death, and how it was the bitterest thing I had ever tasted, and how…

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Multiple Choice Answer

In the land of life lies the book of the living; and in the book of the living lies a question to be answered for a name to be recorded.

“How do you live a life of purpose?”, do you a) Face the danger that comes with your choice or b) draw from deep waters for strength and courage.

You must do both and that is just one of the things you do.

 

I really love this picture, and therefore could not resist the challenge to participate in this weeks Three Line Tales. Sonya’s pick for the week is just great. Click here and participate.

Don’t Mind Your Business: Help End Violence Against Women.

I was asked to speak about violence against women and my brain immediately shut down. This usually happens when a topic or theme seems bigger than me and encompasses the whole universe. It also happens when I am scared to death because suddenly something that is meant to come out of my mouth is suppose to make sense and provide answers.

“What will be your point of view?”

This was the next thing asked of me which fortunately started to unravel my brain and ease my fears. The question helped me narrow my focus. The suggestion of a point of view relayed to my brain that it was okay to pick one thing as a starting place for the discussion that will help end violence against women.

Lo and behold my answer to that same question when it came out was:

“My point of view will be philosophical, psychological, shared humanity, social commentary … if it makes any sense… type point of view.”

Well, needless to say the organizer took a chance which inadvertently caused me to explore the process by which I was allowed to BE and my starting place was from the question, what will be your point of view?

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What should be my point of view?

For those who know me, one of my many life philosophies is to question everything; and being asked about how I planned to explore violence against women led me to think about the questions and statements put to us daily and their effect on us.

So on the day of the talk, this was how I approached it:

I first asked the audience to help me with some insight into something that has been nagging at me for a while, which is also one of the most useless statement ever in life. I asked what brain processes would make an individual, who on seeing another individual that they are acquainted with after a long time of absence, would say to the them in amazement, YOU ARE FAT!!! 

Actually this happened to me one very great day when I was happily taking a stroll, and feeling extremely good about myself. Suddenly this Keke Napep (Rickshaw/Tuk Tuk) passes by me, then a girl screams my name followed by the “You are fat!” statement and for the next two minutes, I stood rooted to a spot not knowing what to do with myself.

After I recovered from the incident, it occurred to me that the girl called me by what my family calls my official name. This means it only appears on legal documents and most people do not even know it is my name, unless, you were in my secondary or primary school. So according to my calculations, she was most likely in my secondary school, not my friend and most likely not in my set.

I finished secondary school at fifteen, some eighteen years ago looking like a scarecrow due to health battles. And here we have some thoughtless and frankly not well-intention person expecting me to look exactly the same eighteen years later. I mean who has finished growing at fifteen?

And as I wondered at statements and questions, relating it to that experience (one of many), I immediately saw something that flies under the radar. It is not so obvious but I now consider it one of the biggest enablers of violence against women. This is the fact that from growing up to adulthood we are constantly bombarded with questions and statements that we are not allowed to engage with. We are somehow expected (without engaging with these statements and questions) to accept them as normal and therefore harmless. We are also to ignore their effect on our mental and emotional health because of that unspoken rule that as a female, you do not respond to such things in order not to be tagged as defensive, angry or aggressive.

9 out of 10 times, when “You are fat!” is said to a woman, she smiles uncomfortably and might even go the extra mile not to be ‘that’ kind of female and say thank you. Some even say, “it is good living,” even though they have been dieting and exercising for weeks to lose the weight they do not like. But God forbid they should own up to being an ordinary human; super women do not gain weight, they are naturally forever thin regardless of their station in life. I find it more amazing when I hear this same statement being said to women who have had kids, I mean what is up with that. To think we are a culture that is meant to mind our own business.

I believe the reason for making these thoughtless statements is because it absolves an individual of responding to the possible call of their words. For example, if after telling someone they are fat, they respond that it is due to depression and eating for comfort; you will have to engage further into the matter. It will be inhumane for an individual to express this to you and you nod and then walk away. This is because like it or not, the call that comes after your statement requires action and you will have to deal with the consequences of your action or inaction after hearing it. So we say thoughtless things and move on because they require nothing of us.

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When you can’t comment in a conversation about you but are forced to be a ‘smiling bystander.

 

Why are women also the main perpetrators of these thoughtless statements against other women?  These are the same people in our culture who will be reluctant or might never engage with a woman being abused because they are trying to mind their business. There is another unspoken rule, that you do not interfere in peoples issues because your interference may end up bringing shame on you. But we have no problem interfering with issues that concern peoples bodies which sometimes does things they have zero control over like expand due to age and genetics.

So why do we keep saying things to women that they cannot engage with in order to decide for themselves how they feel about it. How do we not think this has inadvertently caused women to permit abuse on themselves because when it subtly begins, even though they know it is wrong; they do nothing because they have little experience engaging with wrong done to them.

It has been told that abusers do not just begin with physical abuse. They start first with verbal abuse and then proceed to emotional abuse before they graduate to physical abuse. If women were generally used to engaging with verbally uncomfortable statements against their person will they not immediately know how to engage with it in any kind of relationship and put a stop to it. Instead we smile politely and by extension reward the bad behavior of potential abusers.

My neighbor, a man I do not really interact with, once told me i had lost weight in the same no greeting no preamble “You are fat,” way. And I immediately knew to start avoiding him because yes I had lost some weight but in opinion, it was three not so noticeable pounds. My first thought was how closely have you male neighbor, been looking at my body to notice? I didn’t smile politely but I eyed him disapprovingly and walked away,   angry because i wanted to engage but I knew how fast the script would be flipped on me and it was not worth the trouble… yet.

I am just using one of the more common statements used on women which most times forces them to be silent even though it is a violation and a cruelty to the issues going on in their lives. But there many more examples I could give.

What to do then? Well, be thoughtful and mindful about what you say in a conversation to a woman. Do not make statements that forces her to be silent. Do not ask questions she is ‘not’ allowed to answer. Say things that engage her so she can make a decision and contribute towards the discourse of life, especially her own life. And the biggest one of all, if you do not like a particular woman then please find that humanity in you and leave her alone, don’t pretend to be a friend; because like it or not that side of you will always find ammunition to use against her. We women tend to be each others worst enemies. We need to learn to honestly love each other.

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There are also other kinds of these types of statements which I can give examples of to say how we are also unkind to men and force them to be silent when it would be ten times more helpful if they could engage with these statements, questions and thoughts and this also leads to violence against men…But I will not. As big Sister Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has said, we spend too much time as women talking about men.

It is time we look inward more; there is a lot of work to be done.

 

Images via Flickr: David Woo, Morgan, Ron Mader, Davide Vizzini

Who We Were…

A time not too long ago, we lived in a place of flourish, in an evergreen house, in a sanctuary.

However, the world outside beckoned relentlessly, promising to be a vast land for the exploration of dreams and the mining of visions.

And so we prepared ourselves, we wrapped hope around us, we were fully clothed for adventure: but our first step outside had us face to face with something unfamiliar, something not quite green.

 

This picture was quite tricky but as always with Sonya’s prompt, it’s fulfilling fun. Try it!

An Illusion of Choice

The realtor said with a smile as wide as her outstretched arms: “Look! You have so much choice and options, take your pick.”

I looked carefully, from side to side and asked, “Are they not all the same width and height? Do they not have the same functionality and number of rooms? Is there any difference between one or the other?”

She shook her head slowly in apprehension, as my steely gaze met her uncertain eyes and spoke what did not need to be said.

 

I hope you enjoyed my take on Sonya’s picture prompt, read more here.

The Destination is The Starting Point.

My take on Sonya’s picture prompt for Three Line Tales, Week Thirty Eight . I really cracked my brain on this one but it was fun to do. Try it!

 

 

My dreams require a crawling out of the shadowy darkness of self doubt.

After which I often take a long fearful walk rife with the nagging possibility of  failure towards the light of clarity; before confidently climbing on top of obstacles with certainty that I can achieve these dreams.

It is from this height, elevated and elated that I begin my journey towards becoming, towards being.

Try…It Will Be Worth It.

via Daily Prompt: Volunteer

It is not what you wish to do in that moment but it might make an ignored person in a crowded room feel less alone, and so you volunteer your smile.

it is not how you planned on spending your evening but your old neighbor lives alone and badly needs to connect with another human being, and so you volunteer your time.

it is not where you want to feel, your day was crappy but your friend has gotten the best news of their life, and so you volunteer your joy.

Life has been unfair, you trust nobody but someone looks deeply into your eyes and wants to make it right, and so you volunteer your love.

Most times, we really do not want to do what is expected or demanded of us, but sometimes we have to try.

Freedom or Independence?

Another Independence day celebration and I still wonder about the same thing.

The Contained Life

I wonder what the general feeling was in Nigeria on October 1, 1960? We all know there was a huge celebration countrywide thanks to archived footage; but what did it all mean to the individuals celebrating? When they were clinking their bottles of beer, what did they say cheers to?

This year’s Independence day celebration really got me thinking about what must have happened in 1960. Maybe because it has been our cheapest Independence day yet; so it was basically no celebration. Last year, billions of Naira was spent on all the pomp but it was cur down this year to a measly 70 million. My sister who lives in the capital city, Abuja said, the difference was extremely clear; everywhere looked boring and ordinary. The previous year was colorful, noisy and all kinds of decoration were on display. I saw (yes, saw) the silence, all the way from Jos…

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Memento

Photo by Wolf Schram

 

The night after Ella’s Mum’s funeral, an inexplicable fire came to their house and consumed everything.

Except, it didn’t consume everything: hours earlier, a grieving man was seen walking away from a car he had just parked on what he thought, in the dark of night, was an empty street.

Hours later, a bewildered Ella, was pulled out of a very deep sleep, in the back seat of the grieving man’s car by many flashlights aimed at her face… this is why she will never sell the car to you.

 

My response to the picture prompt from Sonya’s Three Line Tales. if you would like to try it out, click this link