Seasons

‘To every thing there is a season’

Last year, at the end of March, the company I had worked with for 2 and half years packed up and left – so to speak. If I’m being totally honest, I’d say it was a bittersweet experience. My optimistic side was excited for the break it brought – the quick guilt-free holiday of having no work waiting, heck, I was ecstatic. However, my rational side – which is my true self, by the way – had this crazy ticking sense of urgency like; ‘you have things to do, a life to build, a world to take over, you don’t need no break’…

I had seen it coming, so, I had put my things in order. Cash in hand, check. Cash in bank, check. Unreachable cash so I don’t become poor just in case, check. Next job to slide into, not quite check.

I felt like this break was an opportunity to actually figure out what I wanted and go for it. It was a much needed break to think about me in context of my short and long term goals before executing. I’d always felt like every time I saw a post or a tweet about “Doing what you love and never having to work a day in your life”, it was life trying to tell me I was on the wrong job and for the life of me, I wanted to out of that nagging feeling… so this was a good thing, yes? Yes.

Here’s the part optimism usually shuts out; we’re all WIPs figuring stuff out as we go along and pausing for an indefinite amount of time to “figure it out” is like digging deeper into the hole of our unknown. I can only say this in hindsight.

I spent my first month trying to get the one job I wanted and flunking it, then trying to learn of myself and what I really wanted by spending a lot of alone time while reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren – great book by the way. I wasn’t keeping up with reading a chapter a day as expected because I was sleeping a lot – all the sleep I had lost in those years of working – so it was only by the end of the second month that I fully realized that I had come to fit perfectly into the statistics of unemployed youths in Nigeria. My realization came when I finished writing about it but couldn’t bring myself to publish it because it made me feel vulnerable and I wasn’t willing to share that vulnerability with anyone outside of my family.

seasons

The months came and went, one after another, and I was counting them in days. I remember where I was on Day 100 and how I sat out there like; ‘wait, what happened to my life? How did I “hit rock bottom”?’

But, this is life. Or it was life, and “rock-bottom” was where I found the strength to start over, my seemingly silent resilience, peace and most importantly, myself. It was in that place I started to see me as the person that I was outside of the things I had or had acquired. I understood that everyday is really a good day to start over and learned all over again to introduce myself as me – Konko, not what I did or what I was proficient in. I recognized the value of having a support system and the ability to put my own problems aside and be there for people in the same crazy situation. Heck, I even realized that not every one comes up with a ground breaking idea or becomes an entrepreneur when they are unemployed!

I’d seen this post while scrolling through Instagram today, and the extent to which I could relate made me write all of this. I had an epiphany that perhaps if I had know this last year, I would have approached my life at the time differently? Or maybe it was all part of the process?

Nonetheless, I’m grateful for seasons that come with growth, because in those 6 long months of pruning; I learned patience, discernment, trust and humility. I learned – again – that we are on different journeys, creating our individual stories, therefore, our lives are not measures for anyone else’s and their lives will never be measures for ours.

Parable of the Talents – Retold

This isn’t clear-cut “retold” like Maleficient or Cinderella, it’s how I picture the scenario every time I walk by…

I use the overhead bridge in CMS at least 3 times a week, on my way to work. I’ll walk you through the journey.

I’m walking from Marina road to the other side of the road where CMS bus stop is.

From the moment a passerby hits the path that leads to the stairs up the bridge, you’re faced with 5 to 6 or even more small children. They’d swarm around you like little ants to sugar, arms stretched upwards begging for alms.

If you’re able to walk pass without budging, there’s more ahead.

On the filthy bridge, filled with unexplainable liquid sipping downwards by the side and wrappers of all sorts of junk eaten by pedastrians, there are no less than seven adult beggars. Their disabilities are mostly “unspottable”, blind and one; obviously crippled. The kind of crippled that has limbs smaller than arms and has his butt permanently on the ground as his fixed position. He’s the servant with ten talents.

He sits on the bridge with a broom in hand and a yellow plastic bowl somewhere close. He sweeps the bridge to make it comfortable for us to pass and for him to sit. He moves with his hand on the floor to move his body and he sweeps the dirt off the bridge to the end of the stairs. He feeds himself off the proceeds that come from his yellow plastic bowl.

The first time I saw him, my heart thud with something I can’t explain. I walked past and kept turning back to look at him. No, he’s not sitting there to beg to survive, he’s working for it. I see people file up the bridge with something in their hands already, waiting to drop it in the yellow bowl. There are at least 6 others on that bridge, none of them look as sorry and helpless as he does. And none of them do anything extra to make a difference.

Call me sentimental, but seeing him makes all the difference for me. I said good morning to him today and he responded with the brightest smile and added “have a good day”.

He spoke clean english 🙂

Read the Parable of the Talents here… I’m suddenly not sure there’s a connection x_x

Of Tyres and Death

The funniest thing happened to me this morning.

Let’s take two steps back.

Few weeks ago, I was at Obalende, en route home. There was a little fiasco afar off, people gathered, chanting different things. Some were stuck on “Ole” (that’s thief in yoruba) others on “Kill him” and some others again begging silently for mercy. I asked some passerby what he stole, he said gala. You know gala? That hard supposed sausage roll we consume in traffic that goes for fifty bucks. Yeah that. That dude was about to be sent to his grave for it.

I’ll move on.

I took a bus to work this morning. I was in front next to the driver. See ehn, I live at the end of Lagos and I work on the Island, so I leave my house in the middle of the night – 5 a.m. – to beat traffic and get to work in good time. It’s the life of a hustler, I know.

I’ll move on, again.

I spend the commute sleeping, as expected, so this morning, I was asleep. Unusually sound asleep too. Suddenly the driver taps me and hands me money, I hold it and sleep back. He taps me again and hands me more! It was at this point I realized passengers were passing their fares to him from behind and he was handing them to me so he could concentrate on driving. After everyone had paid, he said to count the money, the expected sum was 5,500, I had 5,400.

He shouted “Who never pay o!, the money never complete” I drifted off again.

I woke up when I realized the bus had stopped moving.

I woke up to angry shouting passengers.

You see, from the 5,400 accumulated, two passengers were gonna collect change summing up to 900 bucks!

ONE WHOLE THOUSAND NAIRA WAS MISSING!

Oh, the bus was filled with angry people, I say.

We spent the next twenty minutes tryna find four people who hadn’t paid. Everyone swore they had. The driver said he wouldn’t move an inch till he got his complete sum. They all continually screamed in frustration.

I sat still, blank eyed, wondering why I woke up in the first place.

Someone suggested we help the situation and contribute 50 bucks each for the guy. I dipped my hand in the side zip of my bag – where I put my change – to contribute my quota.

I found a stray 1,000 naira note.

You know the rest of the story.

It’s not you, it’s me.

This is the part where you call me in.
This is the part where we sit, an air of discomfort swirling around us
This is the part where you look me in the eyes and say with a broken voice “What went wrong?”
This is the part when I look in your eyes with uncertainty and attempt to proceed

***

“It’s not you, it’s me
I’m bored. I’m jaded. I just can’t go on.
I’m in dire need of some new kinda activity. Something different. Something new.
I didn’t grow out of you. I just…”

My voice trails off when I see your look

***

“Don’t patronize me!” you scream
WHAT. WENT. WRONG?!

***

I look at you, rise from my chair and walk towards the door.
I take one more look at you
“Nothing went wrong.” I say
“It really isn’t you, it’s me.”

***

This is the part where I walk away
This is the part when I hope you call me back
This is the part when I hope we would have another conversation when you’ve cooled off
This is the part when I hold on to that hope.