The End of a Year is not a Destination.
A new year is not a destination; it is not a landing place to hang your hopes and dreams. It is a path, a part of your journey. A new year is simply the road you travel, a contribution to the time in your life — it is donative to what makes your time on this planet what it is. Treating a new year as your journey’s end is a mistake – one we all make, one I used to make.
I don’t make new year plans, I don’t create a calendar, I simply live consciously — contributing to the future I want. But what is the future? Here and now, every day is the future. Recognising that here and now is the future was cataclysmic for me. Everything we know is a lie and there is no day after tomorrow. Nothing is promised, every day you spend on this part of the earth is the future.
Sometime this year, I watched a video. I mean, I saw my own insides on video. It was red, and the audio was not as dreadful as I imagined. It featured my intestines, a 6-kilogram tumour, its friends and the repeated caterwauling of the Surgeon asking his assistant to clamp my arteries. This was inside my belly, they were clamping the arteries in my stomach, so I wouldn’t bleed out. It was a fun video to watch and I didn’t think much of it. I am tumour free now and no longer loco with pain. I can walk now, I am tumour free now.
I was in Enugu on a solo trip, talking and starting conversations with strangers, and eating my way through Nigeria. One night, I couldn’t sleep. I sobbed and choked as the video replayed in my head. That was me fighting, those were my arteries getting clamped, the blob of red was my intestines. As soon as the panic attack was over, the realization hit me that my insides are as gorgeous as my outsides. I know, I put the self in self-love.
This year I felt pain, the kind I never knew existed. As soon as the anaesthetic wore off, I fell apart like a poorly played game of Jenga. The most interesting thing I learnt about pain is that writhing, and weeping may not ease your pain, but they acknowledge it. The acknowledgment of pain is the cradle of healing. When you’re able to acknowledge, and react to pain, your body believes in you, it responds to you and you become receptive to healing. I felt pain that even I could not acknowledge. Writhing was luxury and weeping had to be done in slow, shallow sobs.
Surgery is fucked up and sneezing can become a luxury.
It was the year of 30 and the universe came through with the joy.
In 2018, my world changed. I reluctantly departed from measuring my strength as an individual by how effectively I denied my emotions and rejected vulnerability. In August, I was faced with pure joy, unadulterated, nonsexual, organic joy, and I panicked. Everyone was amazing, and the energy was pure, but I was fixated on the low days that follow these kinds of times. I was worried that if I let go and become happy, the lows would be too low. I didn’t want to let myself enjoy the moment because the concept of happiness as great as it feels, is weak. It is short lived. I prefer to live on a spectrum where I am content but never subjected to the euphoria of joy, of satisfaction.
Hip openers are great for anxiety, I have learned. I let all anxiety go and permitted myself to dive into James town smiling and loving, living and connecting. I felt truly happy and it was worth it. Fuck the lows.
I was standing at a road side bar his body pressed against mine as I exhaled into his mouth. Some days are exciting I thought but you don’t build a home where you must assemble a tent, so I went home alone. Being an intuitive person is hard. You carefully examine every decision, even the ones you are to make with your clunge.
I have a thriving career in advocacy mostly because I cannot mind my own business. I carry around so much weight that isn’t mine and some therapy sessions are spent discussing problems that aren’t mine. I count myself lucky – I not only get to make a decent living from my passion, I get to groom my soul. I remain given to convictions of mindfulness even though the world has forgotten how to care. I was asked to give a TEDx talk on “Reframing Nigeria through the recognition of history, social consciousness and citizens participation.” I obliged without a thought. This is one of the highlights of the year.
This year, I tried and failed, I tried and won. You win some and lose some, right? I am learning that I am the loud waves of the ocean both soothing and sweeping, I am the clapping of the thunder with the ability to announce impending rain or be used to strike and smite.
2018 was the year of 30 and the universe came through with self-awareness, I took it a step further and tried self-acceptance. I am learning that I do not have to live on a spectrum avoiding happiness. I am learning that situations do not stay the same and my ability to be both fire and water will take me far but not as far as fluency in French will.
I deepened my work around sexual violence and how it affects women while consciously side-stepping pseudo feminist conversations on social media. People are wilfully ignorant, and I have lost the patience for futile conversations. While I continue the vigorous use of my block button on social media, I will keep running, working until our world humanizes women and other minority groups.
I didn’t read as much literature as I would have loved but I read some physics and it was refreshing knowledge. Apart from the fact that the laws of Thermodynamics are fucking great, studying and understanding physics re-engineered how I interact with learning and birthed an idea that will endure.
Was it a good or a bad year for me? There is no verdict. Remember, the end of a year is not a destination; it is not a landing place to hang your hopes and dreams. It is a path, a part of your journey. The end of a year is simply another junction on the road you’re traveling, a contribution to the time in your life. It is donative to what makes your time on this planet what it is.
Treating the end of a year as your journey’s end is a mistake. One we all make, one I used to make.
Dear Lara, I know what you mean by pain and how it can become a present member in your every waking thought. I’m happy you went through that and came through, healthier and stronger. Much love on your journey to your destination marked by milestones of success and discovery.