FINDING NORTH

The first day of January is mother’s birthday. It’s the one time in the year when I’d rather be home most. I buy her a present and hide it in my weekend bag, then I travel home to Obudu or Calabar to surprise her and watch her laugh. I watch her eyes light up, I watch her make a show of unwrapping the gift, and no matter how small or insignificant it may be, she cradles it with both hands, the way one might hold a warm mug of coffee when it’s cold outside, and she prays for me.

This year, I had to work and I couldn’t make it home. The big, empty city felt a little lonely, and the loneliness brought a few melancholy thoughts along. I thought of life, and death, and all of my ambitions and big dreams. I thought of mistakes and lost friendships. I thought of pain. I thought of a lot of things.

In 2014, I thought I knew where I was going, what I was doing with my life. I thought so because I had found a way to snooze the hard questions. The truth is, I was lost.

I went to church on New Year’s Eve; I went to church to pray but ended up sleeping or tweeting through half the service. All my life, I’d been told how much promise I possessed, how great I could become. I’d been told I’d shake hands with kings.

All that promise brings expectations. All that pressure hangs on your neck, and after a while, it leads you to that place where you begin to measure your successes by the successes of others.

So that night, January 1 as I sat there in a church I didn’t want to be in, I realized I was drowning in a sea of expectations that weren’t mine, and decided I wanted to live a little, I wanted to breathe.

I have dwelled so much on January because in some way, it set a tone for most of what happened for the rest of the year. I began to make changes and few were easy.

I moved into a new apartment, a tiny little place which my landlord will paint in a sunny primary school yellow, after I asked him to paint it in cream. He’s a Mountain of Fire pastor so I’m certain my village people are having a hard time stopping by.

I lost a few friendships, became a stranger in a few places that used to feel like home. This was hard for me. It’s hard to live in a city like Lagos and not really have friends. I mean, you have people you’re cool with, but the true test of friendship for me is how I’d react if they came by at 2 am unannounced.

But I gained new friends in Yellow Mitsubishi (hey guys), and they have become like my family since. I met a few great people on Twitter who have become friends, business partners even. You get what you want out of Twitter.

I fell in love. Then I stood up. And fell in love again. And never really told her. She lived in Abuja, and the distance was overwhelming, and eventually I stopped calling. Then I fell in love again. And she lived in Abuja. We drifted apart, as people in love sometimes do when love happened like a whirlwind, but communication breaks down before the friendship has matured enough to bridge the gap. Abuja maybe isn’t my city, and love is a stock market graph.

But, guys, I found this girl…

My relationship with God this year was funny. In a sense, I was completely aware of the fact that I could go to him always, that I had access, but I wasn’t really going to him. My spiritual life was reduced to David Crowder songs and the struggle to read my devotional. There was an open door policy but I was sitting there struggling to send God emails.

I came to realize that I loved God, but I didn’t love his church. Like weddings, I found many of the people in attendance to be painfully ostentatious or possessing ulterior motives. But I am slowly finding my way back to God. Sometimes it feels like an estranged father and son trying for rediscovery.

My finances…hahahaha haha ha…

No matter, it’s been a good year. I have learned to count my blessings, to bask in the small mercies, to live fully and attempt to die empty.

The other day, we lost our CFO on his way back to the office on a short trip to Ibadan. He was the only person who died. I am not ashamed that I cried. Everybody who knew him cried. You should have read the eulogies. I saved a copy of his funeral program to remind myself to be that guy who leaves a jagged, gaping hole in the world when he dies.

I have learned that shit really does happen and one must, as a preemptive move, buy tissue paper. I opened my first investment account at an ARM Investment Center. One day my kids will thank me.

This year, I learned that small beginnings actually count for a lot. This year, a friend and I started Small Big Chops and held our first event: the Twitter Grub Mingle. It’s a grand dream with the smallest of beginnings and it is fun to watch it sprout, to see how far it will go.

I learned to accept that I won’t always win, and that it’s alright. Joshua Radin’s No Envy, No Fear was my unofficial anthem for the year and that is how I have tried to live; without covetousness and without fear.

And as for being lost, and finding direction and myself, that Thursday morning in January, when I called mother to wish her happy birthday, I remembered the Bible verse she made me memorize many years ago, the first time I was leaving home. I remember she read from the book of Jeremiah, chapter three and verse four. She read from her small worn New King James bible with the gilded edges:


Will you not from this time cry unto me, ‘My father, you are the guide of my youth’?

 

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This post touched me to tears. I don’t know whether it’s your mother’s prayers, or this very passage or how it looks like me on so many levels. I really do hope you have booked your flights for the 1st of January. There’s flights to Calabar and Obudu even now. Please. Tell your mother we all love her. Thank you for sharing.

Ashiwel

CX Consultant. Lover of books. Co-founder at Small Big Chops. Maverick. A slow jazz song with no words.

15 Comments

  • Red says:

    Thank you for sharing some parts of your world. I was touched, and I learned a few things. I wish you well in 2016.

  • Lizzieebunoluwa says:

    I like your story(Its all too relatable) and I’m thankful for you.
    Cheers to an even more enriching 2016!

  • Omotayo says:

    Everything about this story!!! I love the way you write. May you continue to find yourself in the coming year… Through your fears and in His arms.

  • Tochukwu says:

    I can relate to this post very well. The part of falling in and out of love is me,personified.
    Loving God and not loving the church, made me cry,because that’s my battle right now,changed church 3 times these year,and they all sound empty to me. For 4 sunday mornings running,I just tweet .

    • Sharon says:

      Hey. This was me and my family during my formative years. We went to every church you can think of, searching for ‘home’. It got to a point we stopped attending church and would sit at home listening to different pastors on TV. It helped. Just give it time. Even when we finally found our church, I didn’t care much. Just started appreciating what my church is to me this year. I even just joined the work force even though we’ve been attending church for 10/11 years. I could give you messages or invite you, if you want. I promise we’re cool 🙂

  • Mercy says:

    HMMMM!! SIGH!!!!
    ‘Small beginnings actually count for a lot’…TRUE
    The ‘not loving the church’ part is so me….seriously considering a change of church from January;
    accept my condolence on the passing away of your CFO, may his soul rest!
    Happy Birthday to your wonderful mum in advance too.
    Cheers to 2016.

  • Clarion says:

    Everything about this post was relatable. Been there, done that, still finding my way. We go dey alright, last last.

  • Humzz says:

    This was poetry.
    The ease in which you seemingly strung your words, the mesh of pain and purpose in which you formed it in.

    It was nothing short of perfect.
    Just like the journey you’re on.

    Perfect.

  • Sharon says:

    I’ll say the same thing I say to everybody. Give it time. The worst thing that can happen is for them to think they have arrived. I’ve come to just give everything over to God. When I feel good, bad, angry, like doing something really bad. Everything. He’s got you, and you’ll be just fine 🙂

  • Ashiwel says:

    Thank you for the kind words everyone, and amen Tk all your prayers.

    – raises glass to a better 2016 –

  • Dekemi says:

    Wow! I love your story. I have imagined your Mum and her Bible, God bless her.
    May you fall in sustainable love. LOL.
    May you find good friends.
    May your children thank you.
    May you be the guy who leaves a gaping hole in the world.
    Keep going…without envy or fear!

  • Tunrayo says:

    🙂

  • eloxie says:

    Thank you for sharing, your story was relatable on many levels. From your love for your mum and the scripture she left you with to the way you felt at your CFO’s passing. The story broke me as well and made me want to be better, to leave a gaping hole in the hearts of everyone that knows me when I leave. Thanks for taking us all on your journey. I’ve been there and slowly and steadily, I found my way back, spirit first, heart and then body followed. Give it time and you’ll be alright. Stay on that path of rediscovery. It’s a much better place than indifference.

    Loved the little steps you made as well, Small Big Chops and the Twitter Grub Mingle. That was amazing and there’s more to do. Well done on your investment account. I thank you on behalf of the children you carry in your loins.

    Happy birthday in advance to your lovely mum and may January open for you with a bang.
    Here’s wishing you a lovely 2016.

  • Haze says:

    The first paragraph is everything to me. Thank you for sharing.

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