“True to who you are, you saw my heart and made something out of nothing”
I’m a sucker for long texts and emails and anything that has to do with typing. (If you need one, you can holla, one beautiful day, you will get the most random, absolutely long message from me…with these words at the beginning “I never do this”)
The most recent long mail I sent was to a guy I met last year. He is not an amazing guy, so, I won’t come here to patronize him. In this life that I’ve lived, I’ve met jerks and I’ve met him. His ‘jerkiness’ is on an entirely different level. He was one of those people who would appear in your life like ‘willie willie’(a famous witch in 90’s Nollywood) and disappear like ‘domitila’ (a famous prostitute in 90’s Nollywood). He now somehow expects you to sit around Festac Town bustop waiting for him to come back and continue from where you people stopped. Anyways, there was a point I liked him. I knew he was a jerk but I would still say “I missed you” whenever he appears from ‘the whatever ‘paradise’ he ran to (one day, after telling him I missed him, my conscience screamed “Liar liar, pants on fire” I really had to ask myself what exactly I missed. His disappearing acts skills or the Nigerian movies he reminded me of? I didn’t get it. I didn’t get me. I just didn’t get everything.)
So, one beautiful morning after he pulled his appearing act with a smile that can make you think Boko Haram and kidnapping do not exist in Nigeria, I pulled out my ‘golden pen from my basket’ and sent the longest mail he has probably gotten in his entire life. Nothing struck me more than the fact that I didn’t say “I never do this” (because I always do) and the part I said “You know how everyone say stuff like you deserve better? Well, I was wondering when the better would come…I’ve seen the need to do better for myself…I’ve realized that how far I allow people disrespect me is my responsibility…I deserve better than what you have to offer…” Years ago, the girl that typed those words would never have done that. She would have gotten chicken feet and prayed to God instead. Point, is I knew what I deserved and I wasn’t afraid of demanding it- and that was a major leap for me.
News flash: God will not come down from heaven waving a cane around, warning people not to disrespect you. People will disrespect yeah? And throw your love to the dogs. But, what happens afterwards depends on you. Will it build you or break you?
Perhaps it was my ‘assumed’ lack of love that led to my craving for something deeper. I had the idea that if I could just get those who didn’t love me to love me a bit, I’ll feel a little bit happy. I got on my knees one day and told God that there had to be something deeper than all the shallowness around. And it was there I learnt that I had to learn to love myself first. I had to learn to love God. I had to learn to love those who loved me in return. I had to learn to love people for nothing in return; not even love. I learnt Love is not a commodity. It ought not to be a medium of trade by barter. It is Love when nothing is expected in return. But I had to learn to love myself-flaws and strengths. Only then would love find me because love dwells in the heart: it is not the wind. It a tree that grows from a seed-a tree with branches that bears fruits expecting nothing in return than to be plucked. It was there I learnt true love had respect by his side.
‘Owe no man nothing but to love him…’
It sounded hard.
How could I learn to love my flaws not to mention people’s flaws? People can be bad o.
How could I learn to forgive myself for not loving me not to mention those who threw my love to the dogs?
God was asking for too much; but, I needed to know that ‘something deeper’ so, I said ‘I could try. If it doesn’t go well, I’ll continue my chase.”
So, I began with me. I would take time to analyze the very things I thought were flaws like the birth mark under my left nostril that looks like an oversize God mark (which I’ve come to love by the way) and the veins at the side of head that pops when I laugh. I never noticed how much wonder the ocean fills my heart with. I never appreciated the way my eyes got brighter when I smelt a new book or the effect a new pen or tea cup had on me. I never knew how my brows arched when I tried to lie or when I got angry or the way I played with the hair on my left temple while reading or watching a movie. I never noticed how stubborn I could get. I didn’t know me. I thought I did. But, till the day I accepted me, I didn’t understand what love was. I had learnt to love every tiny bit of me and now, I’m learning to marvel at what others consider their flaws.
I began to learn boundaries and when to let things go. I learnt that when you feel something for someone, you have to take a step back to analyze. You have to make a decision that won’t be based on emotions-the type that won’t make you regret the next day (and if you do regret your decision, it’s your duty to move on like the river). I learnt that loving yourself is the gateway to loving people. I learnt how to put myself in people’s shoes, understanding that they, as humans, are not perfect. I learnt that when you love yourself, you will recognize the difference between slavery and love, ‘toasting’ and wooing, disrespect and ‘a man just being a man’, a potential lover and one who would enroll you in the army of his concubines. I learnt to love the ones who loved me when I didn’t notice: Mfon, family, friends. I Iearnt that I had to be grateful for their love and I had to love people as they loved me even when I was unaware. I learnt emotional ties, though difficult to break are not and should not be a do or die affair. Most of all, I learnt to love God because he is the ultimate gateway to Love. I learnt to bring down my walls slowly, let the light in, clean up the cobwebs. I learnt to pray for those who never love back. I learnt to move on and love still-without holding on. I learnt I deserve the best if I could be open hearted and honest in love.
I learnt a lot before autumn and when the season came, I found myself shedding habits and bitterness and anger. I found myself having loose hands, pushing hard enough without holding on too tightly. I found myself with family, eating Cheese Cake with Tonic and Lime with friends while cracking up over ridiculous stories of past exes. I found myself being free. I could breathe. I found myself writing for hours while listening to the kind of songs I would unabashedly sing in public. I found myself breathing…not as a perfect being but as one who has set her heart free.
I patiently await Winter: the days of my rest. The days when all my decisions will come knocking at my door.
I have no idea what I would look like then but I do see me living by the Ocean; sitting by the water with my favorite tea cup-perhaps my current favorite tea cup or a new one; filled with strawberry flavored tea or a properly brewed cup of Cappuccino, a pen or probably a quill and lots of inks and lots of paper, a simple gadget that will be playing my ‘kind of songs’. I would be able to breathe and laugh and scream and just be happy. I might be in love with a simple man or not.
In Winter, I would bear new fruits and open my arms to veneration while I still explore the love that outlasts the end of days…the love that goes deeper and wider than the ocean.
When I’m asked today what I want to be remembered for after I’m gone, I’m not thinking Forbes list or Newspapers headlines, I’m thinking of being pursued by happiness. That I got to live a life that was filled with too much love the world could not contain. That people’s lives got better because I was in it for one minute. That I made them smile when they came in touch with my works. That I was an epitome of peace…one who never got swallowed up in the futile pursuit of love and happiness. That I never judged a man for being imperfect but rather made jokes of our mistakes and then, prayed for him and her and me in my closet for the grace to find our mistakes funny, learn from them and grow from them. That I died at the right time; laughing heartily, surrounded by my favorite people smiling back at me because my life was a daily carnival.
Its Winter soon…and I want to live everyday preparing for it. But, first, in Autumn, let me learn to love myself more and not pursue love where it cannot be found.
I’m not in pursuit of happiness.
I won’t even write poems or song in a bid to entice it.
I wont look upon a human who is probably trying to find it to help me find it..or make it for me or make me be it.
But, I will take life one step at a time..one leap after another.
Enjoying the songs of the nightingale.
Paying attention to the secret the wind whispers.
Responding to the stories the oceans tells..
Dancing in the rain till I get cold.
I will pretend to be happy till happiness pursues me out of curiosity.
It will wish for me.
It will pray for me night and day till it finds me to give itself a definition.
I’m not in pursuit if happiness.
Its in pursuit of me.
The first man I loved never loved me back; but this child has learnt to love even without a reason and I pray for your heart today, that you’ll find love in your heart enough for you, for God , for family, for friends and those who never love back.:)