Learning to breathe

Archive for the tag “people”

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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Red

goth-haircut

On this side of the world, your clothes stick to your body in an uncomfortable embrace and the sun is not familiar with mercy. The nights are no different as the moon and sun are in an eternal conversation; they hardly ever disagree and hardly ever give us respite from the heat. The clouds on the other hand are quite sympathetic…empathic to unfriendly degrees. The clouds shed tears because the Sun and Moon are not merciful to us. Somehow, their tears become unmerciful to us; taking houses away, children too I heard in the news last night and grandparents. What use are tears if they aren’t shed in moderation? They just cause more pain and heartache.

It is unusual how I woke up this morning thinking about the elements.

Maybe it was because I could not get more than two hours of sleep just a little before dawn. If it were possible to shed even my skin so I could have gotten proper sleep, I would have without thinking twice.

My name is Teniola Red. I’m half Nigerian and the other half of me is British and French. I have fair skin and hair that is strawberry red. Both my parents are dead and I have lived most of my life in France but a few months ago I moved to Nigeria with the hope that I will find myself here. I have tried modelling, acting, singing even dancing and failed terribly so now I’m trying my hands at writing. The publishing firm wants the first draft of my book in a month and I don’t even have a plot yet.

“Ugh.” I fling the pen out my flat window and light a cigarette while finding myself a spot beside the window. My neighbor’s husband all but drops his briefcase when he sees me barely clad in underwear and a cigarette. He rearranges his face before his wife sees him gawking.

“Good morning, Mrs Akinyemi!” I call from my window with mischief shining brightly in my eyes.

“Good mo-“, her greeting catches in her throat as she raises her eyes from her phone to look in my direction…ultimately at my body.

I see shock, jealousy, anger and malice flash in her eyes in quick succession before she hisses and says: “Dapo je ka ma lo. Ki lo n ranju mo?! Wonu moto fun mi, my friend!

I wink at Mr Akinyemi shamelessly and continue puffing my cigarette as husband and wife hastily enter their car and drive off.

“Hahahahaha! That was a good one. Totally worth it.”

My laughter is hollow and it echoes through my house reminding me that I’m the one who is alone and not Mrs Akinyemi.   I trudge towards the refrigerator and pour myself some vodka, letting it burn a trail down my throat and allowing it make a fireplace in my stomach.

What is wrong with me?

I rummage through the untidy pile of clothes on my bed for something comfortable to wear in this heat. I finally settle for a tank top and a pair of shorts. I reach for my wallet on top of my wardrobe, feeling around for the leather possession. My hand finds a nylon bag.

Nike’s coke

A smile claims my lips as I grasp the nylon bag in my hand, walking towards the living room table.

I may not have to go out after all.

I remember Nike left her coke here before she traveled to Abuja. I watched her snort some of the stuff before she collapsed on my sofa swearing softly.

“What is it with you and this stuff?” I asked her as I offered her a glass of juice.

She was looking at me but she wasn’t really seeing me. Her eyes were hazy and she had a new moustache of white.

“You can’t understand till you’ve tried it”

“Pshht! Not my thing.”

I eyed her as she lay on the sofa with her head thrown back. She looked content.

I arrange the powdery substance into three lines as I saw her do that day. Only the lines are thicker and a little shorter.

Was this how she did it?

I can’t be precise in these things. I am not familiar with them.  I close my eyes and count to three preparing myself for the euphoria.

One…

Two…

Three…

Oh my God…

Is this euphoria?

 

My head feels light. Very light…

Did Nike snort all three lines at once?

Did the room spin?

Were her fingers tingling?

Was her skin cold?

Did her heart threaten to burst out of her ribcage?

Realizing that I still have control of my legs, I hurry to the kitchen and run water over my head, hoping it will return me to normal condition. But now the kitchen is spinning and the water won’t stop running.

Am I turning the tap the right way?

I hold on to the kitchen sink for dear life before the water, the flood, pulls me under.

Why is it so dark?

Am I dying?! Oh my God! Am I dying?!!

Oh my God! Oh my God!

The darkness is suffocating. The darkness is thick. The darkness is palpable. The darkness is an entity.

Somebody help me!

The darkness is coming for me! It’s coming inside me!

Can anybody hear me?!

Silence…

There is a…bright light.

A very bright light

 Photo credit: http://www.creativefan.com

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

Learning to Breathe Better

learning-to-breathe-pic

It hasn’t exactly been a year since I started learning to breathe. I started learning to breathe on the 12th of January, 2011 and I’ve been sharing m breathing techniques on my WordPress since then. I believe that you can never stop learning to breathe, you can only get better at it. So yes, I’m still learning. 2012 has been a pretty eventful year for me…somethings I’d like to forget quickly, somethings I’ll cherish all the days of my life. I met new friends and I lost some. I’ve been the insecure girl at work and I’ve been the picture of security. I’ve had emotional roller-coaster rides that have been anything but enjoyable. Been tossed here and there by emotional tides. Now that I look back on all of it, I can smile. I can smile because I tasted a wealth of emotions this year.

Spiritually, I’ve become wiser, maybe even stronger. And I find it amazing how God calls my kind to be “the light of the world” and “a city on a hill” when all I want to do is crawl back into the pit that He picked me from. The pit is comfortable. The pit is all I’ve known. The pit is was home. Time and time again, He comes for me, picks me up again and sets me on a hill for all to see. I’m not sure I love the attention all the time, I would rather go back down to the pit sometimes and feel sorry for myself. Often He tells me that my flaws, imperfections, insecurities, brokenness is exactly what He needs. If I was flawless, perfect, secure, sturdy…I’m afraid He would have no need of me. And I would have no need for Him. If there’s nothing I know about myself, I know that I am needy and I love to feel needed. I think of that and I get out of my pit willingly.

At home, I won’t say that everything has been dandy. That would be a lie. If there is a perfect home in this world, it definitely isn’t mine. I love my father with every fibre of my being. I know that he has made mistakes, I acknowledge the fact that he has many flaws and has made decisions he will regret all his life. I just want to make regretting easier for him. It’s the least that I could do. My siblings and I share a name and a home but I can’t say that we live for each other. We are so used to giving each other left over loving, I’m not sure what it would feel like to give them the main dish. What if they don’t even want the main dish? My stepmother on the other hand is an enigma to me. Sometimes, I think it’s possible for me to love her and other times, I wake up to the cold reality that it will be difficult and it will take flesh out of me. I’m pretty selfish. I don’t want anything taken out of me. I want it dropped in my lap. I lie to myself that I don’t have much of me to give to anybody and I know deep inside that there’s so much to give, so much to pour out and I’m afraid that is what keeps me up at night. I don’t know how to give and through 2012, I wasn’t ready to learn. I just wanted to breathe.

As for school, I’ve had moments when I just sit down and cry. I ask myself more often than I really want to: “What are you doing here?”

What are you doing here?!

I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m doing handling violins, pianos and a lazy soprano voice. I don’t know what I’m doing writing MUSON theory exams. I don’t know what I’m doing reading sheet music. I don’t know if I want to go to Royal College of Music when I finish university. So I’ll just focus on breathing for now. I’ll breathe deeply when the music notes become blurry and the tears threaten to spill, I’ll breathe confidently when my mouth opens and timid soprano pours. I’ll breathe, surely, when I bow my violin in front of an unfriendly looking panel. I’ll breathe.

As for relationships, I’ll take a break. I can’t make wise decisions when I keep hopping from one relationship to the other. I’ll  lose my breath and some of my sanity, some of myself. I’ll lose. I lose because I don’t know what to give and I don’t know what to keep. That way, I end up giving what I should keep and keeping what I should give. So I’ll just stop and breathe.

Breathe.

This is my last post on this blog. Still unsure if I should delete it or just leave it dormant. Don’t ask why, I don’t have the answer. I can tell you confidently though, that breathing is the best thing that could happen to us humans. Just breathe. Breathe deeply, thoughtfully, reverently. Breathe as you are.

And let your heart find rest in Him…

Tchink and Eden (Chapter 5)

“What are you?”

She smiles as she hauls me out of the liquid “I was expecting a ‘who”?

“What?” I am puzzled.

“Who are you?’  Not ‘what are you?”

What difference does it make? I say to myself.

I see the stag on the other side of the foreign lake, resting. My heart is no longer beating hard and I take this to mean that I am no longer afraid. I must have left my wits at the bottom of this lake because if I had them about me I would spread my wings and fly far far away from these…things. Yet, there is something about the way this being is fashioned that compels me to stay and study her. I know it’s a ‘her’ because she sounds feminine. Aside from that there isn’t anything feminine about her in the lome sense of the word; she looks nothing like Yovec or Mama Tchaek. Something like a lot of gold colored yarn is sprouting from her head the way grass sprouts from the ground.

Does she water her head, then?

Her skin is not pale or even translucent but it glows and is the color of a baby lome’s nose when he is crying. Her eyes are endless depth of blue and they are half the size of my endless depths of black. Amazingly, it does not diminish their beauty; I could stare into her eyes for the rest of my life now that I have lost my wits. She is robed in white like a fresh born lome too.

Why does she have robes on? Does she have something to hide? Or is she just a large, deformed baby lome?

Suddenly, I feel naked and a shade of pink creeps into my cheeks when she turns and catches me staring at her.

“I’m surprised you do not ask questions.” She says as she bends once again, reaching into the strange lake with her left hand.

“My mother gives me firm knocks on me head when I ask visitors and strangers questions. She says I don’t mind me business”

She laughs. Her laughter is deep and throaty…bubbling up from her insides.

“Maybe you do ask a lot of questions then but I can handle your questions. Go on, ask.”

She still has her left hand beneath the surface and she is still bent uncomfortably, facing the other direction, facing the stag.

“Who are you? What is your name? Where are you from?”

“My name is Lysa. You needn’t know where I am from; you wouldn’t understand.”

“I dinna want to think that you think me to be simple.”

“No, you’re not simple, Tchink. If you were simple, you wouldn’t be standing here right now.”

My heart slammed against my chest.

“How do you know my name?”

“There are a lot of things that I know, Tchink. For example, I know that you should be meeting your friends at the meadow right now and I also know that you would love some fish.”

She finally brings her hand out of the liquid and along with her hand, a big wriggly thing. It looks like an over fed slug with big eyes and mouth. She calls it fish and she says that I would like to have some of it but all I want to do is run to the meadow.

“I would love to get back to my friends now.”

She smiles again then nods her approval.

“We have so much to talk about Tchink but you can go meet your friends now.”

My heart swells with relief and sadness at the same time but I manage to spread my wings and fly.

I will come back for my wits at a more opportune time.

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