I grew up in a close-knit family, a middle child, disciplined and socialized within the same context as my siblings. Our mannerisms were similar and we shared friends the way we shared hand-me-downs. However, if you had asked us, “What do you think about . . . ?” our views would have differed.
So after I approached nine guys to write this series, my fear that I would end up with a monologue—each writer parroting the other, was perfectionist-phobia. They were to distil their opinions (in 300 words or less without preaching), about a phrase, think like a man, end up without one. The phrase might be a tongue-in-cheek response to Steve Harvey’s book on what men really think about love, relationships, intimacy, and commitment.
When I told one writer that his submission was controversial and would draw ire, he said in essence, “What do you want readers to do—smile, turn over on their sides, and fall asleep or frown, stay awake, and ponder what they read?” He reminded me of something I had heard, that those who are least like us, have the most to teach us about ourselves.
Maria Popova says that a great story is not about providing information, though it can certainly inform—a great story invites an expansion of understanding, a self-transcendence. More than that, the story plants the seed and makes it impossible to do anything but grow a new understanding—of the world, of our place in it, of ourselves, of some subtle or monumental aspect of existence.
Because I read with an open mind, I embraced each writer’s invitation to stack his opinion against my experience and preference. My beliefs about why I’m here and what follows death as well as my present cultural reality shaped the points of consonance and dissonance I found. The comments showed me mathematics makes sense: 3+6 and 4+5 and 1+8 and 2+7 all equal nine, but not when it comes to the heart. Tomi captures it best: Perhaps love is our different similarity. We love differently, but we love all the same.
The first time I liked a boy whom I thought liked me back, I told a friend. She had acquired a worldly veneer from eavesdropping on the conversations of her many older siblings. Thus her advice, play hard to get, went unchallenged by me. I must have looked like a toy atop the Eiffel Tower because, with no ladder in sight, the boy’s hands hung limp and he left. I suppose the moral of the story is life is art, more fluid than formulaic, and a variable presents an opportunity or a looming threat. As Tola reminds us, embedded in every story are endless possibilities.
It seems everyone wants love and yet, in the words of C.S. Lewis, to love at all is to be vulnerable[;] love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. What to do then? Dela wants the predictability of drama. Ife sighs at the two hunters in the jungle. Samuel unveils a game of thieves; Ifeanyi makes it about egos. Tonwa advocates for less brain and more heart and Seun stresses, a human brain, please! Brian hints at the delicate balance of pursuit and protection: We want to be loved for who we are, but we fear the risk that comes with disrobing to be known.
Love slays what we have been that we may be what we were not. – St. Augustine
Relationships are oxygen. The post views, likes, comments, and shares, do not lie. If I had any sense I would start a series (written by women), dance like Cinderella, end up with the Prince!
What about you, what do you think?
©Timi Yeseibo 2015
p.s. Thank you Tomi, Ifeanyi, Ife, Dela, Tola, Samuel, Tonwa, Seun, and Brian!
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