Learning to breathe

Archive for the tag “life”

The Resistance

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.                          – CS Lewis (from ‘The Weight of Glory’)

 

    So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. –James 4:7

Jesus was the ultimate iconoclast; he was rude to religious leaders and treated whores with respect. He was born like most people. He was ordinary and unmajestic in human flesh, wasn’t wealthy by any standards, had no names to drop, no elbows to rub. He was Mary’s boy and James’ brother, a carpenter, a teacher, a friend. He had no car, bike and travelled everywhere on foot. Jesus’ ministry lasted 3 years and when he died in his early thirties, he had no army to champion his cause except for the simple fishermen, commoners and outcasts he spent his time with. Yet his message  grew outlasting empires, dynasties, wars, revolutions, nations. Today Jesus is known all over the world. 3 years. Today on my way back from work, I found myself wondering about my countrymen and why Nigerians are called some of the “happiest” people in the world.

Are we really happy or are we just desensitized?

There is so much life to be lived and we are content with our own cube of earth. We’re fine as long as we’re “convenient”. We’re okay as long as it’s not our relative that gets hacked to death by extremists. Everything is dandy as long as we have our clothes, nice jobs, girlfriends/boyfriends and other pretty things. The corruption, terrorism, fraud is none of our business as long as it doesn’t affect us. I say “us” because I am just as guilty as everyone else. As long as I get to wear my favorite pair of jeans everyday and sing “Halleluyah! God is good” on Sundays I’m fine.

But am I really?

The Jesus that I serve turned the Middle East upside down in 3 years and even after his death, people were (and are) still messed up by the message he brought. I cannot begin to think of where I would be if Jesus had been content with his carpenter pay and being Mary’s boy. What Nigeria needs is a revolution, not religion. We need hearts that can still break not desensitization. We need people who will stand up for something other than themselves, people who will stand up for something greater; our country. We need people to be tired of Nigeria being one of the largest exporters of “convicted felons” to the US. We need to stop inviting the devil to dinner and start resisting him like James 4:7 implores.

Since June this year, a number of people have joined in to pray for Nigeria on the 15th of every month for 10 minutes. And everyday since that first day in June, they have chosen to be the resistance, the rebels, the insurgents fighting  against desensitization, fighting to wake up inside. Will you join us to fight for a truly happy Nigeria? Join  the virtual community, Nehemiah Prayermobs, on Twitter and Facebook.

The resistance is growing.

nehemiah project prayermobs

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On Giving Twitter Up

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When I shut my Twitter account down on Tuesday, I remember thinking to myself: “My life is over”

And it was for me. Sometimes it still feels like it is. It’s been five days now and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more disconnected from the rest of the world than I do now. However, guilt for spending hours just poring through my timeline no longer plagues me and feelings of irrelevance and inadequacy no longer torture me when I don’t get new mentions, retweets or favorites. Maybe it’s just the way I’m wired but I think if Twitterverse does not revolve around me then it should not exist…at least not to me. Now that right there is the thought train that sets me up for disappointment.

Not many people know that my Twitter was shut down and those that do don’t see the sense in it. Heck, sometimes I don’t see the sense in it. I think a lot of things set the stage for this deactivating and shutting down business. First, the guilt for spending so much time online, then this post I read on Kelly Minter’s blog, then this post I read on Living Proof Ministries’ blog, then finally this post on The Verge. By the time you’ve read all those posts you’ll probably want to shut your Twitter down too, spend less time on it or like Paul Miller leave the internet. I’m not in any way saying that Twitter is a bad “place”. I’m saying that Twitter is pretty much a reflection of real life. Sometimes it’s distorted and sometimes it’s accurate. I’m saying that there are some people I have met in real life through Twitter that I wish I had never met and there are those that I wouldn’t trade meeting them for anything in this world. Or the next. I’m saying that Twitter gives people the chance to be what they never got to be in real life: popular, witty, “loved”, and adequate and gives them an illusion of security or a pedestal to showcase their insecurity. Twitter allows you to judge a book by its cover or by its bio. Twitter gives you shrinks, doctors, relationship experts, buddies for what looks like free. All you really have to do is give up your real life for it. Twitter says “Have entertainment and a fun virtual life in exchange for entertainment and fun real life”

Maybe I have a serious case of lack of self-control here and I just don’t know how to balance real life with virtual life. Maybe I have more problems being present to the things that are happening around me in real life and I’m more alive to the things happening in my phone or my computer. I never want to miss a thing in Twitterville so that when I get with my real life friends we can talk about Twitter and ignore the things that are wrong with us in real life. More than half my conversations are punctuated with “Were you online when…” or “Did you see what Blah retweeted?” or “Why did you tweet this?” and I begin to address people by their Twitter handles instead of their first names. And my level of respect for you is directly proportional to the number of followers you have on Twitter or how many times your depth (or lack of it) gets retweeted into my timeline. And I’d rather have you mention me than have you call me or I’d rather mention you than call you. Looking at it objectively, most of my existence for the last, what, 6 months has been poured into knowing the latest Twitter gist instead of knowing what’s going on with my friends, tweeting to complete strangers about my father instead of calling him up and asking how life is with him, looking out for interesting or witty stuff just so I can tweet about it. It makes me wonder if any of it is really worth it.

At this moment, I don’t know for sure that I want to delete my Twitter permanently…mostly because I’m scared that I will no longer be relevant than because I don’t want my followers to think that I’m dead. For now, I want to explore real life. I want to find a new coping mechanism, a new stress reliever, a new hobby. I like to try new stuff and maybe this is just a phase for me like Facebook was. But I want to bake cakes with my Aunt Tolu and know what’s going on in her life, I want Kiki to sniff my nail polish, like me and not bark at me so much, I want to have my mind in the room when my dad is talking to me, I want to be actively involved in conversations I have with Peju, Seun, Tobi, Seyi, Dunni, Femi and Dare, I want to experience the good stuff for myself no longer so I can tweet about it. Maybe some moments are meant to be treasured for me and me alone. And maybe some pictures are meant to be taken by me and for me alone not for some three hundred people that will never really know more about me than the fact that I talk too much, like red lipsticks and short boyish hair. Again I’m not saying that Twitter is a bad place and you should pack up, shut your Twitter down and follow me to the Promised Land. I’m saying: live-really live– your real life. Sammy says I might lose friends and contact with people that really care about me so if you’re one of them you can mail me zoe_akin@live.com. I’m not turning into a hermit. I still post journal entries twice a week, I still laugh till I start to cry and my tummy hurts, I’m still in coffee rehab, I still post stories, poems and random stuff here on Learning to Breathe, I still read people’s blog posts, I still work at Aphroden, I still meet up with a bunch of guys Thursday evenings for Bible study, I still swim and I still like Rihanna’s hair. Oh and sadly, I still use a Blackberry.

Unfortunately, no one is paying me to stay off Twitter and blog about my new experiment (I would have liked that). I just want to explore this side of life so that if I ever decide to come back to Twitter, I can use it and not have it use me. In Jon Foreman’s words, I’m somewhere between who I am and who I could be, between how it is and how it should be.

Photo credit: http://www.arts.vcu.edu

Thoughts, thoughts, ramblings, musings

What do I know apart from what I know?

Nothing.

I met someone new and he taught me new things. He taught me things I can’t be sure I know because what a heart knows by heart is what a heart really knows.

What if I know by mind? Or soul? Does that count for nothing?

He taught me new fragrances and  he taught me art. He taught me to feel and he taught me honesty.

He taught me to sing and he taught me to sound breathy.

But I had no intention of staying under his tutelage for long and I disposed of that type of education with the coming of full moon

Till a certain full moon came that I did not stay outside to watch, to admire, to love, to  soak in.

Instead, in slumber I was watched, admired and stolen from.

Rudely awoken at an even number and informed that I wasn’t the only one watched, admired or stolen from while humans slept

You have to hang loosely to things that can easily be forced out of your hand because it was never yours. I learned that under his tutelage, under the full moon.

Another teacher stays a die hard fan

He teaches me but he hardly speaks. Talking is too much. Talking is unnecessary; he  lives like a blackboard and chalk.

A walking illustration, he is

I stay here to muse and wonder about the teachers I learned from this past week and my mind recoils, not wanting to process any of it fully. Doesn’t want to have to process anything.

Some things are best left the way they were given you

Other things are gifts you have to check thoroughly in the mouth

Do you understand any of this? Does your mind keep you up at night?

Will you lose yourself in the forest that is your mind?

Or will you build a safe house somewhere at the edge?

Either way, you’re not really safe in the thing that is your mind

There is always something unsafe about safe so choose which direction of unsafe you will fall.

Before you are pushed over the edge

Tchink and Eden (Chapter 4)

Just before dawn, I sneak out of my room through my little window. The only window in my room actually and fall silently on lush carpet of grass. I walk alone down the narrow path; my only companion is the sound of my feet. Even the early birds haven’t sung this morning. Fog hangs thickly around me and all I can see clearly is the space ahead of me.  I inhale the morning air, feeling cleansed instantly. I close my eyes for a minute and just…feel.

I stop at the lake of decon to drink; I woke up thirstier than parched land. I am careful not to lean forward too much as I bend to take a sip of the refreshing liquid. When I have my fill, I look just a little above the surface of the lake and see a beautiful stag directly opposite me. Its gaze becomes very disturbing after a few minutes and I splash some decon its way, in the hope that it would run back into the bushes. But this stag does not move an inch or bat an eye. Curious, I splash some more. The animal still does not move. Audacity shines in its eyes. I refuse to lose a staring contest to an animal so I sit on the grass, by the lake, and stare right back.

After what seems like eternity, the animal slowly turns back into the bushes and I let out the air I hadn’t realised I was been holding.  I start down the path again towards the meadow to meet Yovec and Tcheb but I only took a few steps when I feel a piercing gaze boring into my wings. My heart pushes against its cage and I will my feet to continue moving against their wish. I don’t know what it is I feel right now. Fear? It cannot be, it shouldn’t be…it’s just a stag. Stags can do nothing to me. Yet, I can hear my heart louder than the sound of my feet.

Before I think of dispelling the thought from my mind, I break into a run. Not in the direction of the meadow so Tcheb and Yovec won’t think a foul spirit has got me. I don’t know where I’m running. All the trees look the same at this speed and not once do I stop running until I come into an opening that looks something like the meadow where Tcheb, Yovec and I meet but this one is smaller. I can spread my wings to fly now if I sense the stag or another like it is in this area.

The sun is out in its full glory in this meadow and I start to wonder if I ran for so long.

It can’t be.

I see a lake just ahead of me and I gingerly approach the lake, thirsty.

My jaw drops open as I find that the liquid in the lake is nothing like decon. It is…is..colorless and I can see my likeness in it. I take small steps backward and away from the water with my heart pushing strongly against my chest. I turn around slowly only to find the stag a few staggered breaths away from me. The stag is the colour of fresh decon and its eyes bore into me, past my skin and bones. My feet are moving backward.

Backward

Backward

And I find myself falling into the lake of unknown liquid.

There isn’t any time to panic. I try to compose a scream but bubbles emerge from my mouth.

It feels like time has stopped and I’m not going to drown. I know this with a shocking certainty; I will not drown. I fall deeper and deeper into the lake and let its warmth envelop me completely. Just before I shut my eyes, I see a hand reaching down into the liquid towards me. The further I sink down into the liquid, the hand reaches further down…

I reach for the hand just to be sure I am not dead yet. In an instant, I am out of the lake and find that the hand is not attached to a lome but a being with eyes the colour of the sky…

Tchink and Eden (Chapter 2)

It’s a little before dawn and I’m out with Yovec and Tcheb sitting on a large rock close to the edge of the village. This is where we spend our early hours before we unwillingly return to the village to do chores. The sun is one of the most beautiful things Tchink Village owns.

Yovec is number one of course.

“Tchink, do you think there is another village like ours somewhere?” Yovec turns to ask me.

I stare into her dark, wide eyes for a second before I say “Of course not, Yovec, we are the only lomes in the world.”

“But have you ever stopped to wonder maybe…”

“Papa Tchlan says that the lomes that have tried to explore the rest of the world never came back. He says that they were killed by wild animals. We are the only lomes there are, Yovec.”

Tcheb throws a rock into the lake of decon and three of us turn to watch the ripples in silence.

Dawn is almost here…

Tcheb stands up and starts walking towards the narrow path to the village. Yovec follows but I linger for a moment to stare at the ripples of decon before I jog towards my friends.

“RACE YOU TO THE VILLAGE!” Tcheb shrieks as he whizzes past Yovec. Yovec and I break into a run, laughing as our wings spread and we soar over the trees and towards Tchink Village. When I’m flying I wish I can keep my wings forever but they’ll disappear completely by the time I become a full grown lome. I twirl twice in the air as I close in on Tcheb.

“Eh! I dinna ever see a cheat like you, Tchink!” He yells.

“Yovec knows I dinna cheat haha!”

We both await Yovec’s witty response but all we hear is the sound of our wings flapping.

My heart stops inside me as I turn around to find that Yovec is nowhere in sight.

“Yovec!” I call

Tcheb hovers towards me. I can feel the fear he brings with him and the unspeakable thought in his head echoes in mine:

Did Yovec fly into a tree?

We descend into the forest and thankfully find Yovec not too far from the spot we landed.

“What happened, Yovec?”

She’s out of breath and her dark eyes seem wider than ever.

She saw something.

“What did you see, Yovec?” Tcheb asks her, checking her left wing. She has a few scratches.

“Tell us, Yovec” I kneel in front of her and gaze into the depths of her eyes.

“I saw…” there’s a thin sheath of sweat on her face and her cheeks are a bright, excited shade of pink.

“What did you see, Yovec?” Tcheb shakes her shoulders gently, turning her towards him. His lower lip trembles a little. He is thinking what I’m thinking.

Yovec finally voices our thought “I saw a…a…thing.”

“What thing?!” I am getting impatient. The sun is shining in all of its glory now and Mama and Papa will be awake and about soon.

“A lome but not really a lome. It dinna look anything like us, Tcheb! And it’s not an animal either!”

“Are you sure of what you saw, Yovec?” I turn her face towards me now and I see the truth in her eyes.

“Let’s go home,” Tcheb helps Yovec to her feet “and don’t tell anybody what you saw, Yovec. We aren’t supposed to be here in the first place…”

“You dinna see anything, Yovec.” I say this to convince myself more than I say it to convince my friends.

There are creatures out there that we are not aware of.

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