Saturday, 20 August 2016

Fighting Fires



I have been suffering from Writer’s Block for a little over a month now. I used to like to think of Writer’s Block as a convenient condition where a writer is consistently not able to come up with any type of content, mostly because he can afford not to. Although, no matter how much I try to dismiss the idea, Writer’s Block is a real psychological condition where the writer simply loses his ability to come up with new work and its duration could vary diversely from a few days to years, and that is usually the problem, isn’t it? the idea that this might be it, the fear that your writing days may actually be well and truly over. As a writer, it is a horrendous situation to be in.
I finished a novel called My Sister’s Keeper on the 4th of August, it is written by Jodie Picoult. One of the characters, Brian Fitzgerald, who is the main character’s father, is a fireman and, well, a part time stargazer. His first statements in the book: for every nineteen degrees hotter a fire burns, it doubles in size... Then: It is the biggest mistake rookies make: the assumption that fighting a fire means rushing in with a stream of water. Sometimes, that makes it worse... Then: A fire can't burn forever.
Fires, as I intend to look at it in this post, could be several things.
The first fire is feelings. I have been talking about feelings on the blog for the last three or so posts because I think that our feelings are not things that we ought to hide from. Feelings, just like fires, are subject to a lot of assumptions. Just the way Brian Fitzgerald opines in My Sister’s Keeper that rookies have the wrong assumptions about fighting fires where to them it only involves rushing towards the fire with a stream of water, people also have very inaccurate assumptions about feelings: that Person A feels this or that way about them, that Person B would react in such and such a way when confronted with such and such a comment or such and such a threat; that Person C would get angry when they say this to him or Person D would love them when they do this for her. This is probably why people act the way they act towards other people and it defines even more important characteristics such as goodness, friendliness, kindness. These characteristics are interesting because they are subject to what different people consider them to mean i.e., they are also relative. However, a good person is probably not going to intentionally attempt to act in a way that would make Person B react unhappily or cause chaos in Person C’s countenance.
The next fire is pain and it is very different from feelings. John Green said in a vlogpost titled On Pain, ‘language is always inadequate in the face of pain.’ I have known a bit of pain and so I know that John Green cannot be any more correct about it. Words just do not cut it, there just aren’t words invented (this is assuming that words are actually invented) yet that even comes close to describing pain. This indescribable thing could be either emotional pain, the kind you feel when you lose a loved one to death or to over-inflated ego, or corporal pain, the kind that makes you writhe. However, just the way Brian Fitzgerald says it, a fire can’t burn forever, Pain can’t hurt forever. There comes a period, either due to passage of time or an effective medication, when pain just ceases, it just stops. A second thing about pain is its irreverence. Pain, no matter how used to it you get, is never, ever your friend. And this reminds me of a beautiful novel I read once called Life of Pi written by Yann Martel, where a young man named Piscine Molitor (Pi) Patel, after a shipwreck, sails on a life boat for 227 days in the Pacific with nothing for company but an adult Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. For 227 days, Pi and the Tiger sail together, they get used to each other more than anything else so that by the time they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker, so extremely unceremoniously deserts Pi, the only living creature with whom he has spent the last 227 days. He wandered off into the forest. Richard Parker was never Pi’s friend, He was a Tiger, Pi was a man. This is how Pi describes it, I wept like a child. It was not because I was overcome at having survived my ordeal, though I was. Nor was it the presence of my brothers and sisters (fellow humans), though that too was very moving. I was weeping because Richard Parker had left me so unceremoniously. It is the same with pain. Pain is not your friend.
And the final fire, perhaps inevitably, is fear. Fear, just like feelings is very relative. Therefore, the fact that Person A has a fear for such and such does not mean that Person B would have that fear even if Person A and B are twins. This means that it is unlikely that fighting fear can be a group thing. Even if A and B have the same fears, the steps that A would take may not be the same as those that B would take. The absolute thing about fear is that it is a side effect of thought. You can only feel fear for something that you think about, and in this way, fear can be seen as a sort of clairvoyance, with your fear, even though it is mostly seen as negative, you are predicting what the future can be. Say Person A is terrified of snakes, and she finds a snake in her wardrobe, she becomes afraid because she is predicting that the snake she is so terrified of may harm her, this allows her to take some steps to avoid being harmed, it could be running away, getting people to help her get rid of it, etc. Brian Fitzgerald said for every nineteen degrees a fire burns, it doubles in size. The size of our fear becomes based on how long we let it burn. If Person A does not act quickly about the snake she has found in her wardrobe, her fear grows and grows until a point where her prediction becomes true. Fear is a rather complicated subject. Is fear a fire that we should extinguish, like the flames from a burning house? Or is fear a fire that invigorates and inspires and motivates us, like the flames of love? I will end with a quote I found by W. Clement Stone, Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

On Feelings


There is now a generalized consciousness among most people, I think, that life is short and so it is better to live it up as high as you can, to regret nothing as much as you can help it and, most importantly, as far as this blog post goes, to rid yourself of the things or people around you that do not bring you happiness in consistency and quality.
I hate to lose friends. The thought of losing friends scares me. It is hard to imagine how one could have had so much memory with someone and then, for reasons that are flimsy on most occasions but sometimes cogent, you and that someone just stop correspondence. It often does not matter, or matters very little how profound or beautiful the time you have spent together is, ego just takes over and the relationship ends abruptly.
But the thing I have not failed to notice is that it is absolutely necessary sometimes, for no other reason but for your continued peace of mind. I agree that I could be egocentric on occasions: not in terms of loving myself too much, but in my opinion of myself, quite simply, I think too highly of myself sometimes. It is a problem I know I have, therefore it is something I am actively trying to find a solution to. I think that a lot of us have this problem as well.  We want to feel that we do not need to be a certain way or do a certain thing because it seems too low. But perceiving a certain thing as ‘too low’ is strongly dependent on the person perceiving. Low is different for different people. What is low to you may not be low to me, vice versa. The point is I understand how our ego can take the place of common sense. How we could feel that there is no reason to be the person who fights for the survival of a relationship. It is easy to feel that way. It is also easy to feel that you have gained nothing but heartbreak and chaos from continuous friendship with certain people, a good example is friendship with someone you have feelings for. You could try but if the feeling is truly there, it is nothing but punishment to yourself, the way I see it.
It is not as easy, however, to cut off from someone, but sometimes it is the most rational thing to do. It becomes more important if your peace of mind and heart is at stake. Life is too short to hang on to shards of broken glass and hope that they would be kind enough not to tear your hands. Feelings are not as openly discussed as I think they ought to be. Feelings are essential and they are not just composed of love but of friendship, almost as equally. In the same way, heartbreak is dependent on so many factors and not just on the love of your life breaking up with you. There are so many components to heartbreak that breaking up with someone seems one of the most flimsy of all. Unrequited love, just like unrequited friendship, is such a sad and painful thing. And as such, I can only conclude that it is a sin against oneself to remain in harm’s way. 
I wanted to make this post as simple as possible but it is hard to not include a philosophical angle to it. Angles such as Eric Berne’s, a psychiatrist, who states “Some say that one-sided love is better than none, but like half a loaf of bread, it is likely to grow hard and moldy sooner.” It is a mirror of the classic example with which we like to describe anger, a hot coal, the longer you hold on to it, the more it burns deeper and deeper into your palm.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Little Drops of Miracle



It is interesting how we are able to rationalize our emotions and to determine the responses that make the most sense at any given time.
We are lucky to be here even at this moment when it seems as though we can hardly go a full day without hearing of a bombing in Baghdad that killed 250 people or a mass shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people or Donald Trump. There is a difference, I think, between an individual being upset about the bad things happening around or being pained because it is hard to understand how a person would gladly lose his own life and kill two hundred and fifty other people in the process, there is a difference between that and being depressed because ‘the world is an unhappy place.’ Things are really not as bad as they used to be, say, fifty years ago. For example, at least it is now illegal to discriminate against someone because his skin colour is black, women are no longer considered the way they were in the past, a little girl can get all the education she wants today and she can become everything she wants to become; the barriers in front of her are not as huge as they used to be. Technology and the internet have made things too easy. Kids do not just die uselessly as they used to because these days the childhood killer diseases (Tuberculosis, Polio, Measles, Diphtheria, Pertussis) have vaccines which when taken by the child, completely immunizes him or her of that disease. We have found cures for dreadful illnesses and we will find more. World Crude Death Rate has consistently declined since 1950 at 19.1 to 2015 at 8.1.
The world is not an unhappy place. We underrate happiness. We underrate happiness because we have this idea that there is nothing else to be seen therefore the littler things which ought to fascinate us become insignificant. Beauty is an important ingredient for happiness, as such, it should be referenced at every given opportunity. And beauty is not just expressed in humans; in fact, relatively, it is as good as negligible in humans. Albus Dumbledore said: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the lights.”
The lights are perpetually turned off. We turn them off because we imagine that they serve only to distract us, we turn them off because the things that make up most of the news are the many wrongdoings and wickedness. Nobody reports random acts of kindness.
The moon comes out every morning and goes to sleep every night. We are capable of meeting people each day, different kinds of people, fascinating and crooked in ways only them can be. In our world, you are you and only you just the way the next person can be nobody else but himself or herself. We are capable of making music: sweet sounds that nourish our existence, putting words together and finding sounds to go with them. We are capable of falling in love; of finding someone and deciding that that someone would mean everything to us for the rest of our lives. We are capable of laughing: finding something funny and just laughing; we are capable of making jokes and making fun of each other’s quirkiness and idiosyncrasies. We are capable of poetry and fiction and art and science; of discovering fascinating new things in the world that we are living in; of making up fantastic stories that make us cry and then laugh and feel content and feel anguish and anxiousness and every single feeling possible including those that have not been named.
We are capable of feeling: isn’t the most important thing? Being able to rationalize something in our head and determine what the appropriate emotional reaction or response to that thing should be. Because we have been blessed with this gift of feeling, we are capable of having the right responses to situations.
These things are little drops of miracle that we underrate so much to a point where their beauties and importance have become doubtful to us. Yet these drops of miracle are the ingredients that ought to make our lives and existence here on earth as pleasurable as possibly.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

The Flower at fall



Be the butterfly that beautifies the blackness,

Be the sunshine that shimmers,

Be iridescent,

Shine,

Be the colour of sunset,

Be the lavender sky,

Be the clover that brightens the blackened bough,

Be strong as the ship that shelters from stormy seas,

Be the light,

Be the time of timeless tunes,

Be music to the mind,

Be the sound of sweetness,

Be sweet,

Be the help in helplessness,

Be the friend in the foe’s face,

Be the flower at fall.

Be you!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Men Who Love Dragons too Much



It is mostly society’s fault that our ideas and definitions of beauty are not independent as I would argue that they should be. But how do you blame society without blaming the individuals, the men and the women who make up society? I would explain what society means, at least to me, and how I think it is capable of influencing everything about personhood with a real life example. When I was an undergraduate, my first semester in the university was a time I kept mostly to myself because I was new and I did not know anybody. I only related with my brother whom I lived with and my few friends with whom I got admitted. I usually would not speak to any other person including my neighbours and even in church so much that some church members thought that I was mute. It was not bad, I realize now that I have never really loved the company of others, I don’t hate it, sometimes, I prefer the company of others to the company of myself, but I don’t love it. That first semester, I did okay academically. And then, as time went by, and as people kept on complaining that I was way too into my shell and I needed to come out and have some fun, I began to open up and to let others in and to enjoy the company of neighbours and to enjoy going to church not because of God but because of the people I would see when the service is over. I let society in and society began to influence my decision to stay home and laugh at my neighbours’ jokes even when I knew that I had lectures in an hour and I needed to get prepared, or to stay outside and criticize the government or argue about how a scientist is smarter than a lawyer and other thing that I would not do if I was still inside my beloved shell. It told on me academically because my result at the end of that semester was the worst throughout my years in school. So yes, that is what society can mean and can do to you. I can’t blame my neighbours and church members because it really had nothing to do with them, I wanted to get out more and have some fun. Society sits down and waits for you then, through others, it dissolves your own ideas and puts its own instead. That is why the most beautiful lady most men can imagine is probably extremely light in complexion. We automatically tend to become softer when confronted with a very light skinned lady because we have been subconsciously programmed to prefer the light skin, this softness is almost inexistent when we are dealing with a dark skinned lady, because in our brains, there is really nothing special about her; she’s just another lady. It is hard if you look at this from the perspective of the dark skinned lady, it is hard to notice these walls that have been built around you because you are a certain way and decide to do nothing about it; which is why I now feel that I cannot blame anyone who decides to change her complexion to a lighter one with the use of skin lightening creams. It is only a side-effect of society’s preference for one colour of skin over the other. There’s the first dragon for you, the light skin.
I read on Bella Naija last night that the University don who sexually harassed a young lady in the university of Ilorin some days ago had said that he was ‘set up’ by his colleagues, who had been jealous of his ‘stardom’. That is funny because there was evidence in form of an audio clip where he was saying things to the unfortunate girl who was complaining, nearly crying, pleading with him, ‘stop it… I don’t want it… I am on…’ and things like that. The man said, ‘it is sexual harassment and not rape,’ in defence of himself. I feel it is funny that he could even make a statement in the first place and then I feel he is stupid for saying it is not rape but harassment, they are both forms of sexual assault and he should be ashamed of himself because without things like sexual harassment, there would be no such thing as rape.  I am a graduate student of that university and so I feel like I have a right to say this, I don’t just think he should be relieved of his job as a lecturer, I think he should be stopped from lecturing anybody anywhere for the rest of his life. And a wall should be built around him so that he has no access to any other young lady to harass. I feel very strongly about sexual assault because it is also a dragon in society, the rate of underreporting of sexual assaults is the highest among crimes because of the way society perceives it, almost always, the response to a rape victim is ‘you should not have dressed like that… you secretly wanted it… you probably enjoyed it… it is your fault.’ My thesis is on this dragon called sexual assault and so for the next year or so I would be doing some research on it. With people like this one who boastfully say things like, ‘it’s just harassment not rape,’ I guess I have got my work cut out for me.

*This title, Men who love Dragons too much, is the title of a book at the Hogwarts library which Harry consulted as he was about to go up against a dragon at the Triwizard Tournament, it was unhelpful. Here, it depicts how we have these things that are unhelpful to us but continue to exist because society wants it to.
Till next time,, Keep dreaming!!