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2020, Slider 1,

How do you know to quit?

I’ve never learnt how or when to stop, I just keep going. ‘Where am I going?’ you may ask. I will attempt to explain. 

I start the day looking over my To-Do list from the previous day and filling the new day’s list with items that didn’t get checked off. With each meeting, with each conversation, the list grows and it is never done by the end of each day. 

I have tried multiple techniques with the list; I space the items out to reflect close-out urgency and priority, I unbundle the items so one item on the list doesn’t in reality represent 20 things, but things always overlap and it feels like a never-ending cycle. 

I keep following the cycle, I keep going everyday till I lose the battle with my eyelids and they shut on their own. 

What eventually happens is my body starts to shutdown by itself because it wasn’t built to work in this manner. It goes into hibernation, demands rest and does not take ‘no’ for an answer. 

I ask myself why I always have to get to this point before I listen to my body’s needs. I ask if I have the right approach to work and why I am willing to kill my body over my to-do list. 

I don’t have any answers. All I know is my eyelids are heavy again and are about to win our constant battle. 

2020, 27, Her Version of Events, letters, life lessons, Reflections,

8th June 2020

Hello Grandpa, 

I didn’t cry today. I didn’t get sad when I talked about you with mummy or uncle Niyi and, to be honest, I almost forgot the anniversary all together. I remembered after my morning ritual of scrolling through Instagram. 

Let me explain Instagram to you really quickly because it became a thing after you left: it is an application where you can share photos with captions, kind of like how you posted photos on Facebook but this is more addictive. You can be rest assured I would have opened an account for you. 

As I scrolled, I noticed the date in the caption of one of my photos and it hit me that you have been gone 8 years today. I dwelled so much on the passing of time this year that it crippled me and prevented me from moving forward, but you helped me snap out it. 

I remembered a line from your journals. It was an entry for your 50th birthday, the year you retired as a lecturer. You wrote that you would rather spend your days doing the things that brought you joy and in that moment of remembering you, remembering your words, it was easy to realise what I needed to do to keep living, to fill my life with love and happiness and that the passage of time is really out of my control and what matters is what I do with the time I have left. 

For the first time since you left, I believe I have made peace with your leaving. I no longer have the wrenching pain in the pit of my stomach when I celebrate my accomplishments or special occasions. I have come to accept that you are a part of who I am and because I am present in all my moments, you are present too. 

Coming into this place of acceptance doesn’t mean I will stop having conversations with you,  sending you updates in letters or dreaming you up in a crowd but, I believe it is one of the many inevitable things about grief: it starts out all consuming and, for a while, it is the only sound you hear, the only thing you feel at the core of your being but gradually you start to recover, the consuming sound becomes a hum, something you can live with that doesn’t cause you to break down. 

You have become a part of me in this manner. I see you in the things I do everyday, I remember you in the mannerisms of people around me, in my approach to a particular problem and this brings so much light into my life. 

I am glad I didn’t cry today. I am glad I think of you now with a smile on my face. Missing you forever.

Love. 

AraOre.  

2020, 27, Her Version of Events, Reflections,

What Happens Next

I fear that we won’t change after this, that the clear flaws in the ways we choose to live, in how we think about others, that became pronounced in the last few weeks will become lost to our eyes when this ends.

Or will it end?

The earth is resting, it is in a state of non-movement, a state it hasn’t experienced in the last 50 years. It is finding ways to repair and recenter itself. The earth is on leave if you will, maybe a sabbatical at this point, because it hasn’t, in recent history, gone on a pause like it is on at this moment. 

What if this doesn’t end?

Then all our beautiful constructs will die, like the stock markets, the paper monies we carefully keep away in banks, our precious portfolios: from rainy day funds, to school funds to company reserves. Our beautiful terms of liquidity. Insolvency will never be looked at the same way. 

Will we construct differently?

Our track record doesn’t show a people that grow. What it points to is a people that place self above all. We are self-preserving; constantly placing our individual needs above others to the detriment of the earth and its other occupants. 

In the end 

My biggest fear is we will keep moving like nothing changed, we will go back to living just the same. We can’t even band together in this time of crisis. We are stealing resources from one another, we are still building wealth, we are still looking for how this misery favours our individual agendas. 

Will there ever be an alignment? 

My hope is in love, in the utmost display of it that I have seen in the health workers unwavering at the front lines of this, the children who go out of their way to put a smile on their neighbours faces, the adults that are giving their time and energy to preparing meals, making deliveries and providing us with the essentials for life and living.

We may never become a better people, we may never grow and see that a lot of things are more important than our carefully constructed product timelines and sales seasons. We may never see our employees as individuals, just numbers on a sheet. 

But my hope rests still in love, in the acts of kindness that we show to ourselves and that some day, love will find a way to win. 

2020, 27, Her Version of Events,

Books and Books

I happen to have two overachieving younger siblings so by the time I was 6 years old and my brother was 5, he had taught himself to read while I couldn’t read fluently. It then became my mum’s life mission to teach me to read and every evening, by candlelight, she would make me read to her from the King James Version of the Bible. Needless to say, this didn’t end well.

My mum’s sessions with me didn’t end well because I would read with my finger tracing individual lines on the pages of the Bible while she felt I should be reading without the help of my fingers, following the lines with my eyes. Thankfully, my father saved me and employed an independent party to teach me to read.

By the time I turned 7 and my brother 6, he had read through the Bible and after reading the book of Revelations, he was convinced that the beasts were coming for him at night. He would wake in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and find his way to my parent’s room.

He resorted to reading the Bible because he had finished reading all the books we had at home. This marked the beginning of monthly family trips to Books and Books, a bookshop that had endless shelves whose aisles I would get lost in. At first, I stuck to picture books because they had fewer words in them and I would be done reading faster. Gradually, I lost myself in the sea of Enid Blyton books and soon started having tea parties with my younger sister.

When I turned 11 years old and my brother 10, I went away to boarding school and he stayed at home for his last year of primary school. I started having headaches during classes and I got sent to the Sick Bay where the doctor recommended an eye test. I was excited to get a free pass to go home for the weekend to see my brother and sister. I didn’t give a lot of thought to the eye test.

I remember my mum and I sitting in the reception of the eye clinic. She held my hand in hers while she looked straight ahead and whispered “sorry” to me under her breath. The eye doctor said I had Astigmatism and, apparently from the test results, I’d had it a long time. It explained why I had needed my fingers to guide me when I read. I got my first pair of glasses a week later and they helped me read faster, because everything was clearer and I didn’t need my fingers anymore. When I was 15 and my brother 14, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows was released. My father pre-ordered a copy for both of us. I remember the book was available for pickup at a bookstore called Booksville. On the day of the its global release, he closed early from work to make it in time to the bookstore and deliver the book to us that night. My brother had the first go with the book, stayed awake all night reading and by morning he was finished. I spent the rest of the day in bed with the book and by nightfall, I was finished as well. We discussed the genius that is J.K Rowling and mourned the deaths of our beloved characters. I remember the look on my parents’ faces, they were happy we were happy, with my sister chiming in the background that we were too in love with witchcraft.

My brother moved away for A-Levels and further away for University, but when he was 22 and I was 23, he came home after his degree. I had searched high and low for a particular book. You see, I never quite caught the bug of digital books. I still loved holding my books in my hands and suffering from the occasional paper cut. He suggested we visit Books and Books to find what I was looking for and my mum drove us there that afternoon. When we arrived at the location she was sure the bookstore was at, it was no longer there, and in its place was a large supermarket. My mum asked the staff a few questions to confirm we had come to the right place and indeed we had, we were told it became a supermarket a few years earlier.

It felt like I had dreamed up Books and Books, like the endless aisles of bookshelves that were my home as a child were a figment of my imagination. It was a season where everything was changing and I couldn’t trust the memory of my childhood. I would have loved more than anything to have something, anything, to hold on to from that period of my life.

2020, Dare to Dream, Her Version of Events, life lessons,

Ore’s Reasons To Stay Alive

I recently read ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’ by Matt Haig and it got me thinking about all the reasons I have to stay alive and I decided to write them all down. Please be gentle with me and do leave a reason or two of yours in the comments. 

Things I Want To Keep Experiencing 

  1. Live worship sessions: From singing off-key during my private worship sessions, to singing with my friends and gathering to singing at church events, I always love and look forward to every worship experience.  
  2. Time with my family: Listening to my brother and sister’s endless banter on who is finer, my dad constantly reminding me I am the shortest child and my mum laughing in the background echoing that all her children are beautifully made. I live for these moments, the reassurance of love I feel in them and the knowing that I have a tribe of people looking out for me. 
  3. Conversations with my Uncle: Here is the weird thing, my almost 60-year-old uncle is one of my best friends. I appreciate our safe space, where we can talk about everything from work to self-created boy drama. He listens, gives his opinion and I always walk away with a course of action. 
  4. Written Word: From novels, poetry and essays to hand written letters P.S. I don’t receive enough hand written letters. Please feel free to send me one.
  5. Dairy-Free Ice Cream/Products: I love ice cream but it always upsets my stomach. Dairy-free ice cream provides me the opportunity to indulge with reckless abandon. 
  6. Sun rise and sun set: I know it is cliché but I love how beautiful the sky looks and the routine of the sun’s rising and setting, two constants regardless of whatever is going right or wrong. 
  7. Walking: I love walking and listening to loud music or having a conversation with anyone that I have successfully dragged on a walk with me. 
  8. Conversations with my friends: I am grateful for the important connections I have made over the course of my life and the safe spaces created from these connections; spaces where I can be myself, share my dark humour and sometimes, find answers to my questions about life. 
  9. Total Woman Conference: My friend and I run a ministry for women. We have a yearly conference and, year on year, it is always the most beautiful experience with the Lord and the ladies who attend. Definitely one of my highest points every year. 

Things I am Yet to Experience 

  1. Falling in love: I know, I should have experienced this by now but, it is what it is. That said, I don’t believe I have ever taken the plunge and let myself go in the knowing of another person and getting known by them in return. 
  2. Traveling: I have this dream that I will wake up one day and buy myself a round trip ticket, hop on a plane and experience food from diverse cultures all over the globe 
  3. Read my bible cover to cover. 
  4. My first book signing event. 
  5. TamTam, Kunte, Kiite, Forekems’ (my cousins) graduation from university and just the opportunity of watching them grow and find their place in life. 
  6. Graduate from a PhD program. 
  7. Share my faith; talk to someone about why I believe in God, His love and truth in bible. 

This list is really important to me because I spent most of my 20s feeling very hopeless; questioning why I was here in the first place. Many, many months were dark and it has been a journey of walking through scriptures and filling my life with a lot of love. 

It feels really good to be able to dream again, to have hope and even have a list of reasons I need to be here and things I’m looking forward to to share.

My biggest take away is that there is always light, some of us just have to search a little harder for it.