I should have written or I have written this – in my ‘head’ – somewhere around the first Friday of September 2014, but I have been busy living out my life passions: teaching, writing, dreaming (including daydreaming) and thinking – sometimes as in worrying, but mostly as in the reflecting or introspecting or musing or something-of-these-sorts or something-between-these-sorts sense of it. This thing they called Thinking.
And oh, I have also been busy being grateful for these life and other good gifts…
The goodness of a good number of these gifts is not necessarily explicit, ready and overt. If not for anything at all, this is because nature, just as it is said to abhor a vacuum, has no place whatsoever for waste – again, inherently, and in the grand scheme of things. Just look around.
Again, if what they say about no (wo)man being an island is true, it goes without saying that fellow humans are the agents of another good number of these (inherently goodly) gifts: The experiences. The sweet. The indifferences. The unsavoury. The differences. The sour. The words. The silences. The deeds. The stale. The inactions. The tasteless. All the passions. The plain. And yes, the pains.
I like to tell myself that I cannot be surprised by anything that any human becomes and or does (to me). For I have seen and experienced things, which despite the gravity of their immediate and long-term impact on me, they would have been more tolerable if they had not come from some of the people who should have been the last people or should have never even been the very people through whom such soul-botching things should have come, should have happened. To me.
For one thing, there must be a good reason why the proverbial bird called afi in Ga is said to have said that the matter of the one who dealt it the death blow does not pain it as much as the case of the one who plucked its feather does. Why? The hunter could have as well killed afi from afar. With a gun. And the hunter is no family and never will be (expected to be family) to afi: the one who plucked afi’s feather is, could have been and or once upon a time, was family. Or something like it. Family.
Again, it must be about the same reason why another bird called ɔkɔkɔsɛkyi in Akan is said to have told itself not grow too familiar and sooner, get swooned by the deliciousness and potent character of the home-cooked soup. For alas, the barrel of a gun – the hunter’s – will forever remain narrow and dark – narrow and dark in more ways than one. So before, and while ɔkɔkɔsɛkyi goes pecking at the sweet soup in the twice harmless bowl in man’s homestead, it will set its eyes and ears more than just opened ajar. For the danger lies not so much in the soup as it is lies in the proximity of the hunter, and the possibility of his having a gun…
Both afi and ɔkɔkɔsɛkyi teach us to be wary of not the one who has explicitly made it known in both deed and word that there also exists such a person who is or can be called Foe or Enemy. Both afi and ɔkɔkɔsɛkyi teach us to be wary of the one who has explicitly made it known in both deed and word that there is such a person who is can be called Friend. And Family. And sometimes, even Lover. Both afi and ɔkɔkɔsɛkyi teach us to be wary because the sheer closeness and familiarity of the latter (set) is both an advantage for the day they do us and or do us in. And oh it is because of this same relationship we have with the latter set that makes the pain of the doing their doing graver, deeper…
This is not paranoia: this is the wisdom that life teaches all those who take care upon caution to learn, and to live by. This may not look like courage, but it definitely cannot be called cowardice, too. If you like, ask another kind of bird, the dɔkɔdɔkɔ, the duck, who says, ‘It is not that I cannot keep up in the race, but it is because I know of the gaping holes that the smooth surface of the waters belie.’
Through all these, I have grown better, not bitter; I have become wiser (including worldly-wise), not withered and I have waxed stronger and more matured and more in ways I can only be grateful to God for.
Through all these, I have come to learn the hard way that blame is not only cheap and pathetic, but also, is lame and grossly irresponsible. I have come to find that no-thing, and no-one can wield any influence – whether productive, effective or otherwise – without my allowing, giving and or even contributing to that ‘power’, in the first place.
Closely related to these life lessons is the firsthand insight – practical and profound, at once – into what it means to say that to forgive others is almost – if not entirely – a selfish act on the part of the forgiver.
All this is not at all to say that I am necessarily, always the recipient of the gift: I make no claim of having wronged no one. Not now. Not ever. Never. I have had to forgive and I will have to forgive as much as I can expect to have forgiven and to be forgiven.
All this is not at all to say that I am necessarily perfect myself. I can explain the necessarily bit.
“No one is perfect,” we have all heard it said once and too many a time and again. This is one gospel I question.
I question its sibling gospel, the gospel making the rounds about the superiority and super-ness of the human mind over matter and happenstance. This other gospel about the invincibility of the determined human spirit would rather have (wo)man glory in the boundless, brightness of his/her potential, than for him/her to take a hard look at his/her weakness and, to work hard on and at them.
Per this gospel, the weaknesses and the mistakes are not touched by the invincibility and super-ness. The mistakes and the imperfections are merely obstacles to be shoved out of the way, on the way to unending glories. The imperfections are no diamonds-in-the-rough waiting to be polished and probably, to add to the said blindingly bright glories. The imperfections. They are not even rocks or stone or pebbles or grit of any value. No. The imperfections are merely nameless, useless clumps of pure dirt.
And the invincibility neither implies any amount of control over the content and weight of these ‘rather valueless’ obstacles of imperfections, nor does it promise to give any form of attention to them. Hence, even though this imperfection thing is essentially non-existent and of no consequence, as far as (wo)man’s super-ness is concerned, (wo)man is reduced to a poor victim of the same imperfection , and (wo)man is all too glad and quick to call on this already-made, ever-ready “No one is perfect” of an excuse…
Another way of looking at this is by asking if “No one is perfect” necessarily means or translates into its opposite, “Everyone is imperfect”.
Again, what difference is there in the number and arrangement of letters in the word ‘Imperfect’ and the clause, “I’m perfect”?
Even better, what is the essence of life on this side of eternity, if it is not to build character; if it is not for each one of us to outgrow our own baser selves; if it is not to become nobler versions of our selves, with the breaking of every dawn? Whoever said change is the only constant there is (in this life) must have either forgotten or have never known what growth is and means. Change consists of growth – or at least, change implies and or promises it. Good old Growth, that is. Change is not that constant, after all.
So yes, just as one would be careful in calling oneself perfect, one should not be too quick to call oneself imperfect. Yes, not being perfect (yet) should never be an excuse for not willing to, and actually journeying towards that perfection. That this journey called life is fraught with many a fall and rise et al is as expected as it is true. In fact, that is why it is (called) a journey in the first place.
Giving up on the journey is therefore, not merely in the convenience of playing the blame game nor of being quick to quit. The giving up is in the unwillingness or indifference to taste of what growth – personal, rooted growth – means, in all the glories of its big-picture and of course, in its sometimes gory details and messy beginnings.
Giving up very much means cheating one’s own self out a life that is overly generous with the potential – the same unending glories, remember? – to be one’s best self.
Giving up on the journey means shortchanging one’s own self of the possibility of becoming and or being one’s fullest. (Now those are two different things. Obviously.)
Enough said of gifts and forgiveness, wariness and wisdom, and of (im)perfection and invincibility…
It should never be a fault to trust and truly care and be loyal to another – all these for a reason that is close to nothing. No reason, actually. True, real love need not be begotten from another; it is its own cause and source. It is not its own reward and condition. It is a decision, a commitment, a real hands-on hard work, sometimes to its own hurt. Love. It is its own self-sufficient reason.
Nor should it be a fault for one to retreat, to recoil when it is obvious that one’s company – may be friendship or relationship of any kind, which is blessed with goodwill – is neither wanted nor expected. Or neither wanted and expected.
Sometimes, just sometimes, people need air, space to be, a little more room to operate and to live, a small time to get that needed retreat, that needed refreshing. After all.
This need not be a fault, but if someone really, badly needs to take offence at this, well…
I long learnt somewhere that for every bad deed anyone does to one, whether with or without cause, it is either one of two things:
a) One is only reaping from seeds one had previously sown. The person who does one the wrong deed is therefore, only an agent through whom one’s reaping should come. This person MAY never have to reap the wrong deed done, since s/he is just a medium…
b) If one can rest assured that the bad deed experienced is not as a result of any seed (s/he has) sown some time in the past, the wrong doer can only expect to reap this new seed of a bad deed, some other time, in the future.
So when the Bible says that one only reaps what one has first sown, it is not to be taken as a watered-down curse nor as the unleash of doom – which need not have a cause.
It should be taken as a matter of fact.
It should be taken as a truism, a statement of the one law which is at once, supreme and boil-down of every contention or pact between every force and anti-force in, of and transcending the universe…
To merely think of doing evil to another is not good. To calculate and scheme and plan how this evil is meted out is worse than not-good.
To think of roping others in in this busy-ness ought to be bad enough. To deliberately gang up with others to plot and execute wickedness against another is more than a shade up worse.
To do this wickedness against someone, who has been good in any way and in any capacity to one, is just evil – dire and dirty.
To carry out this evil to the very end, knowing full well the desperate, irrevocable consequences on the ‘victim’ is evil – gross and grave.
And to keep up one grande pretence of smiles and chit-chats and doubly feigned ignorance of even the mere existence of such backstabbing wickedness is evil – hideous and horrendous.
In as much as it all could have been worse, it still remains that it all need not have started. Not at all.
Yes, soot and sh*t do happen in life, but not necessarily, always, out of nothing…
So again, it is not called curse. The Buddhists. They call it karma. I have severally heard it get described as a b*tch. This karma thing – or law?
A few times too, I have heard it said that one does not have to worry about getting the b*tch treatment from karma, if and only if one has not gone a-b*tch-ing, to begin with.
Karma. Its b*tch-y part. Just like the words of afi, ɔkɔkɔsɛkyi, and dɔkɔdɔkɔ, there must be a good reason for…the name – description-cum-label and all.
Life. And Love.
To one and all…
Joy. And Peace.