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To Grow Till I Die
I have a very boring life. Sometimes, I get out of myself and try to spice it up with some fun idea. One of my fun ideas is to write a note to ‘future me’. I keep these notes and re-read them after a period of time. The last time I wrote one of those was in early January 2013. I was alone in my very cold room without the usual exuberance of family experienced during festive seasons. Truth be told, I re-evaluated this forever alone behaviour and chose not to write another.
But, I kept that one. And I read it recently. Reading it made me burn it with even more anger. Anger at how little I could tell of my future. Anger at how I am at a place in my life I could swear I would never be six months ago.
I got a new job. I moved from being a very entrepreneurial private sector person to working in the public sector. Or, as I like to say to my friends: “I’m merely a civil servant who tries to be on seat as often as he can”. I am learning to live in a time zone I didn’t know people lived in. I speak spatters of a language I didn’t know existed a few months ago. Oh! And there is the satisfaction of being upgraded from ‘immigrant’ status to ‘expatriate’ status.
All this is happening so fast, I sometimes feel dizzy from the speed when I try to wrap my head around the events.
Mid last year, I chose to live out of a suitcase for a year. I chose to let my mind roam. I chose to forget the worries of the world. I got a good excuse (a postgraduate degree) and started living out of my life. This experience opened me to interesting lessons. I trusted myself enough to take that step and it led me to a greater level of trust.
Trust today, because I realise there is very little I can predict about the future. It is one of the many benefits of being a Christian. That peace of mind one gets from believing a supernatural being will take care of you. One just gets to show up and do your bit and forget other things. I especially enjoy the courage that allows me scream the iconic word ‘WHERESOEVER’ from the hymn Oh the Future Lies Before Me.
For a very long time I thought of Kenya as Wheresoever. It is the country you go to when you don’t want to leave the Nigerian madness but don’t want to stay in the Nigerian madness. I got to experience Kenya a little more this year and realised my Kenyan friends exaggerate when they complain about the levels of incompetence in that country. I got to fly Kenyan Airways a couple of times and I was amazed at how punctual and efficient the service is, even when they fly from the famous Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos. For Kenyan Airways, departure time actually means the plane is leaving that country’s airspace at that time. I still can’t understand why a flight I was on departed 30minutes before schedule. All of these made me think a lot about how much we can learn from the “bad eggs” of society.
I have an uncle who believes things are either bad or good. There can’t be midpoints. He insists nothing good can come from my friends, especially because they don’t speak in tongues at every turn and they hold very ‘unbiblical’ ideas. I want to write him a note to tell him how flying Kenyan Airways has taught me how to be a little bit more punctual. I have learnt enough to not lose breath flying through departure checks trying to see if I can bribe God with gifts if She makes me not miss this ‘last’ one. I want to remind him of the cousin we lost this year. She was not very religious but was one of the most wonderful people I ever met. Sometimes, I try to think of reasons why she is not chilling in ‘the heavens’ and I can’t find any. Yet, she was not so religious.
And, thoughts like these make me wonder. Are we somehow doing religion wrong? Is religion about asking some supernatural being for money and success? It seems to me that the more serious humans are with religious activity; the farther they are from humane behaviour. Perhaps, we need a little less religion. Perhaps, one could participate in less religious activity and be more cautious about humanist ideals. I could even start a society of Christian Existentialist Humanists and a community such as Alain de Botton’s School of Life.
Anyone who knows me well knows I fell in love anew with Alain de Botton this year. He helped rekindle my initial love for Philosophy, only in much simpler terms and expressions. You see, my undergraduate degree was in philosophy and the hardest part was explaining to everyone why I chose to study philosophy. Most of my family members agreed I either had a perpetual poverty wish or I had serious mental health issues. Thankfully, my mum somehow convinced herself I knew what I was doing and never took me for any kind of check-up. She would only sigh and nod anytime she asked me what career options exists for a philosophy graduate and I replied with something like: “You see, it is not always about the money, it is about the big picture”. To which she always replied with something like: “I have kuku told you my own. Big picture cannot buy you a house and pay you children’s school fees”. Sometimes, I would test her patience a bit and ask her why she assumes I want a house and children in the first place.
Rediscovering practical everyday philosophy made me learn to ask myself why the small pictures were necessary, what filters to apply to them and how all of these fit into the big picture. I have learnt to ask this of even the smallest details, like this blogpost.
I have learnt from these asking that neither ‘Demola, nor Kanye, nor Sway has the answers. We may never have the answers, even. We only just need to keep searching. To end each day or month or year a better person than we started.
To grow till we die.
I resonate with this piece for some reason. Whether it’s the philosophy, or the Gospel faith, or the fact I went to Kenya this year I don’t know. Demola here is no longer such a total stranger. Thank you brother.