On The Year Ahead

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Per the internet, if you are not Donald Trump or Andy Murray, 2016 was probably a rough year. It was for me. Amongst other things, Mum left earth and there was nothing I could do about it. We can only control a small fraction of life and that sucks. We do our bit, life does hers and if we are lucky enough, the stars align to create something that is without an untimely and a sorrowful conclusion. But everything ends and sorrow is ingrained in the fabric of life. 

It seems, we are perpetually warring for and against life’s uncertainties: success and failure, Joy and sorrow, and so on. We do have (to an extent) control of the work put in, the friendships we make and break, the places we go and books we read. But, life is a careless wind unperturbed by people's dedication to happiness. A curve ball could be thrown at any time and God save the one who is unable to catch it. Yet faith teaches us to believe, in spite of and in protest against fear and defeat. I suppose it is what drags us, weary athletes, to the end of the marathon, heaving with punctured lungs and broken bones. Faith is why we look forward to things that are not there. And we must hold on to it like our lives depend on it. It is what fuels the New Year’s optimism. 

It is ever-present in the congregation at a church’s crossover service. Churches are usually packed to the rafters with faithful and exceptionally jolly people, excited about the new start January 1 provides. The pastor will declare the New Year a year of success, promotion and victory, and we will shout thunderous Amens! And dance profusely, sweating away former anxieties and putting on latent ones, that will, if we are lucky enough, remain latent. For me, the best part of the service has always been peering through the swarm of bodies for my parents, especially mum, at the dawn of the New Year. She was hardly happier than she was on January 1 and thus beamed between 11:30pm and 12:30am. Maybe it was because every year of being alive was miraculous. We hugged her in turns– my brothers and I, and she often smiled with her lips folded in, as if to hold a reckless laugh or hide a dangerous blush.

We recently moved to a much bigger church. The kind that holds two Sunday services and has a mid-week morning event with over 1000 attendees. If we weave through the avalanche of bodies in one piece, my brothers and I will make it to dad in time to keep half of the tradition alive. And although one never really 'moves on' from the loss of a loved one, life does. The speed of life means that there is a hesitation to celebrate the start of a new year. In a way it feels like I am leaving mum behind with the year. Ah, but life goes on.

As for 2017, I hope we look after our mental healths. I have learnt the hard way to protect mine at all costs. The brain is the CPU and can, like every other organ in the body, become unwell. I hope we protect our faiths and ruminate on knowledge like never before. I hope we ask questions of our beliefs and pursue personal understanding and that we are not overwhelmed by the multitude of doctrines in our religious or spiritual spaces. I hope we are kind to one another and that we help others without fanfare and the want of reciprocation. I hope we protect our dreams. And realise that the fear of failure is fine if we have figured out what we want to do. I hope we figure it out if we already haven't. And who knows? perhaps 2017 will be the year that our stars align. I hope we all hold on to hope and faith.

I hope we all have a happy new year and beyond. 

Photo source: Pintrest

 

Seize It

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Life flashes before your eyes when you are about to die.

It also does when you grow up. One day you are building mud houses with your feet, the next you are ruminating on real estate and mortgages. Your life flashes in the transition to and when adulthood is reached. Childhood and adolescence perish in record time. Innocence is tested and responsibility is realised. 

When I was a child, a teenager seemed an adult. As a teenager, an adult seemed even more of an adult. Now that I’m an adult, a teenager is a child and sometimes, an adult. Weird huh? how our shoes look different when we’ve outgrown them; how throwback pictures reveal terrible fashion choices that leave us with: “what was I thinking?”

One moment you are 12-years-old growing hair in smelly and covered places, the next you are shaving and waxing. People start to say things like “wow! you have grown” and soon you become the annoying relative who always comments:“you are now a big boy oo,” at family gatherings.

Marriage, kids and you become your parents. Trying to live out your dreams whilst burdened – albeit lovingly – with having to feed new stomachs. Watering seeds into trees. And all these experiences – looking backwards – are etched as synopses not novels. Screen shots not movies. Snippets not full songs. Just salient, distinct moments of joy—but grief,  stress—but tranquil, love—and despair, and if lucky, random moments like the time it rained on a Thursday after school.

Life does not only flash when you’re about to die. It does as time passes: day by day, year by year. Carpe diem they say, carpe diem!

Image from quotesgram.com

Even When It Hurts

Taya Smith
Taya Smith of Hillsong United

I often claim to rediscover Christ through song (worship). Not that I ‘lose’ him or backslide, rather, I attain newness that comes from spiritual melodies after a prolonged phase of internal struggles, doubts, and existential battles. But in reality, Christ finds me again. There’s peace in those moments (the type the world cannot give). An intangible and yet ever accessible serenity.

It is the beauty of worship, the peeling of the all human layers so that the spirit vitalises the mind and by so doing, the body. I dream of capturing these moments in a bottle to keep for the rainy day, for when routines wear me out. For when tears abound and for when it feels like God has forgotten to give this beloved, sleep.

I usually get to a point of brokenness where the only remedy is the message of grace and unending love. And more often than not, the medicine is in the self-forgetting ambience of worship that allows for vulnerability. That allows us to receive from the ever-giving supply, without considering ourselves. Shedding like serpent for new skin.

“Even when it hurts, I will only sing your praise.”

Image source: crowdalbun

Have a merry Christmas 🙂

Dr Olugbemi?

cadeus

“Good afternoon sir”

“Our doctor! how is school?”

An awkward silence ensues. On a good day, I’ll spend minutes justifying my decision to leave med school. On a not-so-good day, I’ll answer: “school is fine, thank you.”Besides, if anything, med school gave up on me, so I left (finally!).

Everything changes when you change your degree, and hence, career path. “What do you want to specialise in?” suddenly becomes “so, what are you going to do now?” You often become defensive when being harmlessly queried about your decision.

My reply always adds sourness to their seemingly masked disappointment. “Oh that’s interesting.” sounds like code for “really? how are you going to make money?” or “what are you going to do with such a degree?”. Or maybe I have become cynical. For these reasons, I have over the past two years, proactively avoided conversations with some relatives, friends and family friends.

Most people are encouraging about it, and even if they weren’t, why should it matter? What fuels the need to seek validation for our decisions? Maybe people’s opinions are the checks and balances of our judgements. It is strange not being on that grind anymore but I have not missed it. Of course, the regret of wasted years pursue my day-to-day but it is not unexpected. It is human nature to long for what is lost.

“Why are we here?” marks its territory in my mind. A thousand motivational quotes and trite coping mechanisms lay siege on my dejection. Sometimes they win, sometimes they are conquered. The need to make money as one ages; provide for one’s family; and repay one’s parents for their labour of love, are permanent fixtures in my musings. These things are not peculiar to anyone; I suppose we all deliberate such concerns, some of us more than others.

By December next year, I will be writing my last exam as an undergraduate. I think of the day just over two years ago, when I agonised and decided to heck with it, as I wrote that long desperate forlorn email to my dad, and I marvel that I’m one year away from concluding this ‘new’ chapter.  The torment of having stayed at home for six months waiting for something to happen is now unrecognisable.

Regrets persist and I have learnt to accept them for what they are: regrets. “We can’t change the past” is an exhaustive truth, but a truth nonetheless. There’s a spring in my step; it will often reach its elastic limit when melancholy and the stringent force of mediocrity fall upon me. But that’s okay, I guess. The darkness of the night does not affect the brightness of sunrise.

Thank you to everyone that has followed this blog over the years, for reading my poetry and occasional prose – the good and the terrible.

tomi

Image Source: turbosquid.com

 

Today

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And there I was, eyes like a nimbus cloud, head facing the earth. All 80kg of man and testosterone. There I was by the aisle of a supermarket, sobbing like an infant for no reason. Pre-birthday blues maybe, but not really. I wanted an answer for a temporal nothingness, I wanted to rid myself of me. And maybe crying was the means to an end. Why do we tell people to stop crying as though it will alleviate their pain? What if the pain is intangible and the tears are simply reflexive?

I walked out of the supermarket and there was a nimbus cloud in the sky when my head faced the heavens. I looked to God for answers, and as I cried my words, the clouds cried into my mouth. I am not on a search for happiness, and the idea of a search for self has become an exhausted thought. I am not looking for myself anymore, and it is probably because I have found me. Or maybe I haven’t.

God probably answered as he always does, but I did not hear. Or maybe the answer was that there was no answer. Maybe the chemical imbalance in my brain had other ideas. I was not feeling lonely or unloved. I just was: the way I am when I am like this; void of a problem to touch but with many intangible problemites swimming in the pool of my subconscious.

I had to restrain myself from crying for the fear of “are you okay?”. But in my room, where the doors are shut and the only voices I hear are the ones in my head, my pillow will be soaked. I will arise tomorrow, feeling better than I was today. And I will hope that the visitor who lives in me, does not remind me of a certain intangible despair.

Photo credit: Pinterest

P is for Nonsense

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Patriarchs patronising prostitutes
Pontiffs perpetuating pedophilia
Pastors propagating platitudes
Power-purchasing paraphernalia

Passive persuasive parables
Pertinent potent portables
Partially pacifying prints
Powerful pederastic priests

Pornography packaged pageants
Premature present past-tense
Preciously placed pottery
Peacefully penned poetry

Princess, prince, pauper
Proud, pompous, proper
Ponies, palace, pit
Pear, pineapples, peat

Pomi.pO

My hairy face and other stereotypes II

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Yes, this is your quintessential ‘do not judge by the cover’ discourse. So strap-on, get your ‘hmms’ and ‘ahhs’ ready, as you revisit what you already know, or perhaps, and hopefully, learn something new.

“As-salamu alaykum” — a man who I presume to be muslim said to me, as I strolled through the fruits-section of a Tesco store. I nodded my head in acknowledgement of his greeting: 1)because I did not know how to answer, and 2) because I am not a muslim. Carrying a full beard comes with certain presumptions, and I have no qualms with it.

Bigotry however, is the thorn in my flesh.
“They should go back to their village and develop it” — a Nigerian acquaintance said to me on a bus headed to town. My frontal lobe experienced several explosions, as I gazed at him to gauge the level of his seriousness and how oblivious of his bigotry he had become. I argued that Lagos belonged to all Nigerians, including the igbos, and not just the yorubas. I dared to bring up the atrocities of the Biafra War, — starving igbo children and dry-breasted nursing mothers, to which he replied: “so we should have let them take our oil away?”

Why is Lagos ours, but the oil on eastern land not theirs?

Behind this seeming bigot, is a nice, church-going guy, who I think is an absolute gentleman. Maybe I am being judgemental in calling him a bigot.

Are we selectively bigoted or prejudice? Do you have a deep resentment for the transgender folk, but bear no grudges against homosexuals? Do you hate racism but view tribalism as fair game? Is there a line between bigotry and opposing another’s lifestyle choice? and where is this line drawn?

Whilst we do have our innate and subconscious propensities towards certain prejudices, can’t we live harmoniously? Can we accept that society has problems to be discussed and discoursed? Can’t we agree, and agree to disagree, without disagreeing to agree?

So, whether or not my goatee makes me look like a stereotypical mallam; or I like to talk about Christ, the least you can do is treat me the way you want to be treated: It is the golden rule.

Wa-Alaikum-Salaam.

Tomi.O

..and other stereotypes I