Sustaining Momentum

enthusiasm

It seems fitting that I write about enthusiasm at this mid-way-into-the-year point, because I have nearly lost mine on several occasions and maybe I’m not alone. I tell you, listlessness caught me by surprise. Me, who began the year wishing all Happy New Momentum, why would I not want to show up in my life?

I read interviews of smiling photoshopped people, who say because they are doing what they love and are paid for it, they bounce like springs and chuckle like old couples in love. Meaning that if a square peg found a square hole, he would have discovered the centre that defies gravity. Hmmm, I want to ask them, what happens on days when they wake up but do not want to get up? Or are they from Mars?

When I meet people who have arrived at the place where I am going, my question will not be, how did you get here?  It will be, now that you are here, how do you intend to stay here?

I’ve been digging in my childhood memories for a time when I did not feel like going to school or playing. Here is one—my mother would wake me up at an ungodly hour to get ready for school and I would pull my wrapa over my head, pretending to pray. But ten annoying minutes between sleep and wakefulness was just a blip on my bright day. Of course, memories lie. Nevertheless, they are proof that I can craft stories from sketches of the lacklustre days I have endured this year.

Still, I wish that three-year old who leaps out of bed and heads for his toys, putting one Lego brick on top another, could articulate the reason for his energy. Has he learnt to expect pleasures scheduled into his day by his parents? There was that awful year in which I looked backwards for so long I turned into a pillar of salt. To the degree that salt has value, I was a valuable monument but I did not think I had anything to look forward to, rooted as I was to one spot.

Was it not the other day that an eight-year old came up to me and declared, “I’m bored,” as if I am a boredom-reliever? My first instinct was to suggest things she could do. But I caught myself.

“What can you do about it?”

“I don’t know.”

I continued reading while she shuffled her feet and then kicked at nothing.

“I’m bored,” she said, tugging my sleeve.

“What can you do about it?” I asked, softening my voice.

She began to list the things she could do, like play with her brother. She calculated the constraints she faced; he didn’t want to play. Then she examined her other options. I thought, good girl! It’s never too early to learn to take responsibility for your own enthusiasm.

If you think starting is hard, try finishing. Vision leaks and passion wanes due to disappointments and even successes. I am responsible for my enthusiasm—finding it, understanding it, jumpstarting it, feeding it, and protecting it. It’s really up to me.

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

Has your enthusiasm taken a dip? How did you recover it?
Share a quote that fires you up if you have one. Here’s one that makes me laugh and then move…

If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.
– Vince Lombardi

 

 

Photo Credit:  Wokandapix/ https://pixabay.com/en/run-running-sport-fitness-healthy-750466/

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Social Critics and the Human Face of Activism

Dennis Brutus poetry

This isn’t about Reuben Abati; it’s about you and me. He is just the ham in the sandwich, the one whose treachery, his becoming a mouthpiece for a government he once challenged, the spotlight’s beam has caught.

What makes a man leak from both sides of his mouth? I pondered this question and found it difficult to throw stones. Pebbles maybe, for I don’t want to excuse actions, but understand them.

So, I imagine that I am a writer with strong opinions who has nailed the art of persuading others with my words. My words are pregnant with love for my country, a sense of justice, and concern for the plight of the ordinary man. When published they give birth to a stream of followers whose voice I become.

This voice makes me a fly perching on the government’s egusi soup, small yet irritating. Knowing that spraying Shelltox is an overkill, the government places another bowl of soup on the table. Enter seduction: moving pleas from emissaries in babarigas and boubous, a call to arms for my country, not with an AK47, but with my words.

This seduction, more pleasurable than a woman’s fingers kneading coconut oil in my loins, causes my heart to race as visions of power, affluence, and a platform for greater influence fill my mind. Thoughts of Babangida’s offer to Tai Solarin surface. Does it matter? I know I will make a difference. I will no longer merely itemise our problems with lengthy editorials.

And so, I resume my new job in Aso Rock. The first thing that slaps me is the ineptitude of those I work with. The second is the indifference of those to whom I am accountable. All my lofty ideas, received with fist pumps, translated into memos that have been circulating in a hierarchical system that bemuses me, have reached the ceiling and died there.

In six months, only cosmetic changes like the framing and hanging of our work ethics in every office are visible. Money is changing hands, but mine are clean so far. I am preoccupied with change and our meeting minutes reflect this even if those that attend, now openly yawn.

Soon, I must sell a policy that smells like dead fish to the people whose voice I am or was; I am not sure for I am losing who I am or was. By this time, my children are in the best private school in Abuja, my wife has a thriving import business patronised by senator’s wives, and I have laid the foundation for my house in the village. My convictions have clashed with duty before, but this time, the stakes are higher.

I do what I must and then I read the outcry on social media. Haba! This longing for heroism, this cry for a saviour, did I put it in people’s heart? This search for credibility, is it because their lives are so untrue? At least, I answered the call. What about them? Useless people firing tweets in between replying emails in some god-forsaken cubicle!

I scratch my belly and the ten kilos I have gained causes it to wobble. I roll my tongue over canines that once drew blood, now blunt from lack of use. Look, I cannot sit on a pile of human praise anyway, such fickle things to base affirmation upon. Hands that tweeted me to the top show no mercy. I am a high-rise set to detonate. Before them, I crumble to the dust.

As elections draw near, I angle myself right. My loyalty may fetch a ministerial appointment. If not, I will offer media houses an exposé with names and lists. In the middle of the Twitter wars and Facebook debates, I will metamorphose into my old skin, a social crusader, a voice for all who forgive and forget.

The government needs human capital to build the Nigeria we dream of. When you are called, how will you serve?

 

I saw Reuben Abati once at a writing workshop where he was a keynote speaker. He must have delivered a good speech, I don’t recall. I remember that he was dark, average height, ordinary like you and me, yes, like you and me.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

The poem by the South African activist, Dennis Brutus, addresses the conflict between love for one’s country and love for a woman. In it, I see also the conflict between heroism and self-preservation. African Soulja reviewed the poem here

Reuben Abati: Journalist and Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Goodluck Jonathan (2011 –  ).

Egusi soup: Popular soup made with melon seeds.

Shelltox: Brand of insecticide.

Babarigas and boubous: Traditional clothing. Used here to denote a custom where elders cajole one’s hesitant feet into a course of action.

Ibrahim Babangida: Military dictator (1985 – 1993).

Tai Solarin: Deceased. Social critic and secular humanitarian. Served as chairman of the Babangida Administration’s People’s Bank, but later resigned in protest of corruption within the bank.

Aso Rock: The residence and office of the Nigerian President.

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Fire. Passion. Desire.

Fire Passion Desire

“It’s midnight.”

“I know.”

“I thought you said you were tired.”

“I am.”

“Come to bed.”

“Not yet. I have to finish this.”

When I finally stagger into bed at 4 a.m., I have a new definition for passion: the thing that keeps you awake while others sleep.

Is this passion?

I used to go to bed at midnight and then wake up at 3 a.m., to watch The Australian Open, while everyone else slept. I love loved tennis. I kept abreast of rankings; I rearranged players’ bios in my head. I tracked live scores on my iPhone during sermons on Sundays.

I put my definition to the test. I ask friends, “Does this mean I was passionate about tennis?”

“Nah, you are were passionate about Rafa Nadal’s biceps!”

Never mind my friends they are goofy like that.

 

I attended a meeting, where the speaker’s call rang true: we should be passionate about life. He didn’t tell us where to find passion, but I have a thought or two, and maybe you do too.

Passion- Origin

Middle English: from Old French, from late Latin passio(n-) (chiefly a term in Christian theology), from Latin pati ‘suffer’1.

Pati, to suffer. How true in the sense that we willingly suffer pain to gain the thing we love. But the word has evolved.

passion

Is passion duty?

I think of the nights in secondary school, when I read a small book called Calculations in Modern Chemistry—the bane of my fourteen-year-old existence. I couldn’t tell an atom from a molecule, those minuscule things unseen by the naked eye. Forged on I did, cramming formulas, until I decided I’d make my parents proud some other way.

“You want to drop chemistry from your electives? You won’t be able to study aeronautical engineering?” my teacher queried.

“Mmmm,” I replied, grateful that I would never speak of covalent bonds again.

Can Passion die?

“What happened to you?”

“I gave birth to the most beautiful boy in the world.”

“But . . . I don’t understand. You were going to go to LSE, you wanted to work for the World Bank—”

“When I cradled him in my arms; I can’t explain the feeling . . .”

“And now that you don’t anymore?”

“I don’t know, I mean, I have no desire . . .”

“Your degree?”

“Yeah, so what?”

Where does passion come from? Is it innate?

I stumbled on my love for writing, drawing, and music before I was eight. I experimented, my parents indulged. Books, art lessons, cassettes, and karaoke, kept me indoors and out of trouble, but I learnt they were not the path to wealth and security. So I chose another path, an acceptable one.

I remember watching planes land and take-off at the airport and the exhilaration that filled my young heart. Giant birds, what makes them fly, I wondered. Watching planes gives me a rush to this day. I know a little about lift and the law of motion. I know also that this thrill is not passion to study engineering. It is desire to fly and be free.

Passion is not the romantic word I once imagined it was. For me, it is natural ability honed by attention, repetition, focus, discipline, excellence, tenacity, and commitment. It grows, it dies, it resurrects, and it changes, as I evolve.

The desire to be a good mother, a loyal friend, a mentor, coach, teacher, the desire to tell stories, to influence lives, and to blaze trails have stayed. The how changes and control of the when slips from my hands when I clench my fist, but these desires, they are like liquid fire in my bones.

 

P.S. Aha! You thought this was some witty post about sex romance, so you kept reading waiting for the twist—gotcha! Maybe I like Rafa Nadal’s biceps, but that is a part-time obsession passion. What keeps you awake when the world sleeps?

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

1. Definition of passion at Oxford Dictionaries.com.  http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/passion