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Come gather round people wherever you roam,
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it, that soon you’d be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth saving
And you better start swimming or you’d sink like a stone
For the times they are a changing!

Bob Dylan. It’s become a hobby of mine to get songs from those old artists – the ones who wrote and sang songs when your Dad still had a mustache and a fro, and wore tight stretch pants and impressive heels (to facilitate the boogie woogie) – and just listen to what they had to say to whatever generation it was they spoke to. I happened to be listening to this particular song while I took a 15 minute walk from the cabin where I slept the night before, to the cabin where I was meant to work for the day. The walk was on a quiet graded road though what looks like secondary forest-growth – this walk tended to provide me with some quiet time to contemplate issues, or to simply let my mind wander without any focused or serious thought. The day before my Bob Dylan-day I had walked without music, because I wanted to think about what I would write when I finally had to summarize my 2013. I didn’t get very far. Nothing seemed to standout for me in 2013 really. I resorted to listening to the various bird sounds and entertaining myself with imaginations about being chased by some small slouching, furry, forest beast with sharp teeth. On the Bob Dylan day however, it came together for me – what my 2013 has been about. Maybe it was something in his song lyrics. I really am not sure. Now I would love for this to be some free-flowing writ of epic and dramatic proportions. It is not. It’s just me sitting at a desk, finding a quiet spot in my mind, and reflecting. So I offer apologies in advance. I usually think in short sentences. And I wrote it down just that way.

2013 for me was a year of people. I like taking pictures. While going through the ones I took this year I was amazed at how many people I met in 2013 that became part of my everyday life. I mean like really close friends who came to understand me quite well. I’m not sure I could possibly effectively summarize all I have taken away from the process of meeting new and different people, getting to know them at close range, and seeing their thoughts and experiences and histories played out in their actions and decisions. All I can say is: People are just people. They are not perfect. They misunderstand. We all like to appear strong, but we sometimes hurt inside and even manage to hide this from our conscious minds. We all have standards. We break them. At our most dishonest moments we berate those who fall short of our proclaimed standards. In out moments of truth, we admit we are just people – trying as everyone else to find our way. This year it struck me how much energy we expend on trying to please people who we don’t like, who care nothing for us, and would not ever come through in any sense if we found ourselves in trouble. We reserve our brightest smiles for them. We put on our most charismatic performance and even go ahead to devote a good portion of our time and money to the general “audience” we imagine is watching.

In 2013, I realized one thing. They are not watching. Not really. They do not care. You’re just spending all your time “pushing on a pull door”. They would most likely never love you back. I have it reinforced right now, that I have to try to pay attention and take care of mine. God has placed everyone in a context. If you are fortunate to have people that love and genuinely care for you, do not neglect them. If it seems that you don’t have any, evaluate yourself for starters and then follow up with a prayer about this perhaps. Do not let the heart become slow to respond due to years of bias or unforgiven details between you and those who genuinely care for you. Try to forgive those who have always been there for you and with you, and take care of them with all that is within reason. Mudi, pay attention. Not to sound preachy (I am more like speaking to myself here), but please pay attention and do not let that good woman or man get bent until she or he cracks and altogether breaks down, whatever the relationship be – married couples, simple friends or lovers. People are not metal. They do not live forever. When the times are “a-changing” it is my sentiment that we all would need some sense of stability: God and faith (absolute), family and true friends (relative). So care, when you have the chance. You won’t always have it. I say this to myself, for my parents, siblings by blood and by situation, and true family and friends. I thank God for them, and hope 2014 sees me doing more in this direction.

My birthday this year was different from the more recent ones I’ve had. My dad remarked on the phone when he called saying something to the effect of: “you’re pretty much a man now. Do you feel old?” I replied: “Oddly enough, I feel younger than I felt at my last birthday.” It seems at my last birthday I felt like an old boy, whereas now I feel like a young man. I hope that did not elicit a round of eye-rolling – but I really felt and feel like there had been some sort of transition; like a different phase of life was beginning: one that I was yet young to. I guess I could say that in 2013, I began to think in terms of the beginnings of things that would reflect what I eventually want to be remembered as and for. It was the year to begin partnerships I have a really good feeling about. I get the growing sense that life for me would change in the near future. Maybe I won’t be so carefree with little to think of besides just going to new places and chasing new adventures. Maybe I would actually have to be in a position where others actually expect me to provide some inspiration of a more direct kind. I guess when I write again in December 2014, we would find out about that.

Love, love, love. Did I fall in love? Yes: I discovered this capacity was still there. It even “appeared” to happen more than once in succession. I’m not sure I understand the dynamics of that. Did it, or could it possibly produce anything? I honestly don’t even know. The important thing is that I’m relieved that I did not become some cynical dude who carries over all the baggage of previous not-so-nice experiences to color and taint every new person he comes across. I just want to be happy, and to spread that happiness. I will say no more, and will entertain no questions -___-.

There is one curious, trivial thing I discovered about myself. It seems for some obscure reason, I have the knack for dancing to Latin American music: salsa, bachata, merengue etcetera. Now you need to understand that this boy does not usually dance. Well, we all dance, but I guess the question is whether we dance well or not. I usually dance only to make people laugh. It doesn’t matter how serious I am or how hard I try. It comes off as sort of awkward and the effect is people laughing. At least that was one plus. I stopped being embarrassed and I just go ahead to entertain when I feel like it with my funny waist wigglings from side to side. Well, in Latin America, I discovered that for some reason, I seem to dance to the local stuff pretty good. It’s that notable, believe me please. Notable enough to command a paragraph in a length restricted essay about my 2013. La Pasión things people!!!!!! ( Manos Arriba!!! \(^_^)// (“Hands up in the air!”). They say I have it in my blood. But I am a Warri boy. I’m pretty certain none of my ancestors went beyond the hinterlands and creeks of the Niger Delta. So well, it appears that I have one more hobby, in addition to my love for “all things flying”.

Wrapping this up then, I can say in general things got better. I have a pretty good and constantly rising profile career wise; I’ve gotten a bit healthier, travelled yet more, had successes in dealing with difficult situations and personalities, and I lost no friends while gaining some pretty good ones. I however feel like I have lost my way spiritually – not that I have lost faith or hope, but I just need to find my way back there. The one thing about this aspect though is that I have little tolerance now for pretend religion and hypocritical sanctimoniousness – the very things that have eaten through all the religious expression that fills Nigeria – rendering all our dressing up and churchgoing useless and ineffective in doing anything to make things actually better. Looking back now I realize that I have been like that in some ways. The hope for the future is to be indeed true. Faith has to be true. How is it faith if it isn’t?

I hope 2014 brings me more internal unity, more purpose, more reaching out to those that matter, and more in terms of being a source of healing and inspiration to others, not just in word, but also in deed. I am truly thankful for all that I am and have today, and look forward to step changes in 2014. I also send out a prayer for all who are in pain. A prayer for healing. We are just flesh and blood and weak and frail, but we are made more than we are by love – the Love of God for us, and the love we give to one another.

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I love my brother Mudi. He wrote that poem and I feel this review is so close to my heart state that I can claim it as my favorite. Much love bro. Stand firm on the Rock.

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