Saturday, 21 January 2017

My Experiment with Commitment

I have had a problem with commitment all my life. In nursery school, one of the teachers, Aunt Bamisaye, liked to ask what our favourite colours were: mine was blue and then it was orange and then it was green and then it was black and then it was blue again. And even now, sometimes it is pink, sometimes it is brown, sometimes it is grey. In Secondary School I was average, even though I could be much better. I did not want to commit to spending some extra-time where I ought to spend them. In relationships, my first lasted about three weeks. The first week, I called her at least twice each day. The next week, I called her twice. My last, which only just ended, began November 23rd. It lasted 53 days, relatively, that’s a long time. You know how on WhatsApp you have these very long conversations in one day that you just keep scrolling and scrolling and that day never seem to end? It was like that with her at first. It is like that with me all the time, the conversations get shorter and shorter until they cease to exist. And many times, even though I know I owe them an explanation for leaving, I do not explain because I cannot explain.
In 2017, two of the things I hope to be more are consistent and committed. And so I carried out this experiment.
There is a popular experiment called the Beach Blanket, developed by Tom Moriarty: When a person left their beach blanket unattended and an item was stolen, only 1 in 5 people intervened. However, when the blanket owner made people commit by asking them to look out for their belongings while they were gone, people intervened 95% of the time.
I aligned my experiment along Moriarty’s. I picked out fifteen people. Five of them, I had not spoken to at all this year. Five of them, I said happy New Year to on New Year’s Day, and Five of them, I had spoken with at least twice, or seen, this year. I asked each of them how they were doing and then I told each of them that I was embarking on a journey to Benin City the next day, which I was (journey coincided nicely with experiment).  I did not say what my purpose for the journey was even though all but one asked.
I wanted to measure if my problem was like my fiction: just a figment of my imagination; if people readily committed to others better than I did.
They do.
All the five people who I had not spoken with during the year called me after the journey. Two of them called me twice during the journey. One called three times during the journey and twice after: one time to ask how I was finding Benin City and the second time to ask if I was suitably rested and do I like ‘their’ food? She is from here, so maybe there was a bias?
For those who I had only said happy New Year to on New Year’s Day, four of them called after the journey. Three called during the journey and one woke me up at five am and said, ‘have you brushed your teeth? Hope you know the buses leave here at six?' (here is Ilorin). When I asked what she was doing awake at five in the morning, she said she asked two of her roommates to wake her up but they did not need to because she was already awake a little bit before five o clock.(Humans are lovely!)
For those who I had spoken to a lot or seen this year, four of them called during the journey, three after the journey and one just called again (I am typing the first draft of this at 21:29 pm on Thursday by my hotel room window in Benin City) and asked if I had found any ‘cute Benin Chicks yet.’
These results have shown me that yes, I have a problem, but no, my problem does not mean that other people who are friends of mine are affected by it in such a way that would make them not concerned about me as I am sometimes not concerned about them.
There is a quote I saw once, ‘you always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.’
My fear has dwarfed my commitment for too long. It is time to make a change.
(Thanks to everybody who (unknowingly) participated in my experiment).

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happiness, Joy and Love

When I was asked to prospectively name my year, 2017, with three words, I decided: Happiness, Joy and Love.
There is a difference between happiness and joy, to quote the author of The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger, “The fact is always obvious much too late, but the most singular difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is a solid and joy a liquid.”
I wish that 2017 would be the best year we have ever had. That we would find happiness, that we would find happiness in such a profound way, we would literally bask by it day after day after day; we would take it everywhere we go, we would speak of it minute after minute after minute because it a thing that is tangible, that is obvious, that is solid; that our happiness would bring contentment, contentment that does not just mean we are fine with what we have but that we are in absolute love with what we have and we can hardly imagine anything else but.
That we would find joy; that we would find the kind of joy that a child finds on the day he sees a colourful kite flying past for the first time – that this joy we find would intoxicate us, free us up, unbox us, unshackle us. The way the little boy chasing this kite laughs and follows and follows and laughs and is absolutely, irreverently beautiful chasing what is joy. I want to be the child chasing the kite. I want joy like the badly produced nollywood movies where the guy has been suffering all his life and finally gets a good job and 30 seconds later new clothes and 30 seconds later a car and 30 seconds later a mansion and 30 seconds later the girl of his dreams, the sultan of his heart sauntering by like a Christmas chicken on Christmas eve, still very unaware of tomorrow’s fate.
I wish we find love. Not love like Jane Austen novels, the love that matters. The one that makes us feel, makes us understand, makes us. Love that would help us empathize with people in bad places. I wish for the kind of love that trumps hate at every single competition, over and over and over. That type that would make us see that other people, even though ideologically different, feel things too, just like us. The love that would make us understand that our differences are but mere patterns that beautify our paths.
Happy New Year!!!