Did We Do Any Learning? [5]

learning & living

The human story does not always unfold like a mathematical calculation on the principle that two and two make four. Sometimes in life they make five or minus three; and sometimes the blackboard topples down in the middle of the sum and leaves the class in disorder and the pedagogue with a black eye.  
– Winston Churchill –

 

I Tried to be a Writer

2014 is the year I tried to be a writer and most of the things that happened to me—both good and bad—are centred on this.

Failure or rejection can teach lessons that take a lifetime of success to imbibe. When I was younger, my Dad often said, “Iya o je o, o wipe o gbon; tani tisa re?” (You claim to possess wisdom without enrolling in the school of suffering. Who is your teacher?).  I scoffed at the statement’s cynicism, but now I know better.

So, the correct answer to “How are you?” is not “fine”. It is a long rambling confession to the people we love and trust, opening our hearts and hoping they’ll listen, even if they don’t have answers. There is strength in vulnerability and weakness in machismo. I became versed in the manual on being broke and having to depend on people, not only for money, but also for encouragement and advice.

2014 is the year I left safe behind. I look at the wonderful people I met and the little I’ve achieved. It would have been impossible if I had not tried to be a writer.

Ifemmanuel @ IfeOluwa’s Rambles

 

Wandering Purposefully

I have created an oxymoron: to wander purposefully. In many intervals of my life, I have often felt lost and out of place like a chicken in a lion’s pride. This year however, I made a non-committal resolution (not a fan of New Year resolutions), to take charge of my life. I thought changing academic paths would bring me peace, but life is a pot of burnt beans.

Compounding my default setting of feeling lost was the feeling that I was losing myself. I started to experience small bouts of anger and bitterness that seldom translated to fisting the wall of my bathroom and ranting expletives in my thoughts. I did however have some great winning moments this year. In those winning moments, I learnt that many people are wandering too, behind a desk job, a pulpit, a graduation gown, etc, and that it was okay to wander.

For the first time in a while, I feel as though I am on the, or perhaps, a right track. Maybe I am not lost after all; maybe I am just wandering, wandering purposefully. This is what I have learnt this year, that I can wander without losing stride or sight.

Not all those who wander are lost. –  J.R.R Tolkien

Tomi Olugbemi @ I Write to Escape

 

Savouring Memories

If I had to distil my year into one sentence, it would be that seminal Dickens’ opening in A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

Of my ups and downs, losing H was the lowest of the lows. Looking back, the surprise was not that it happened but that it happened so fast, once the downturn kicked in and things began to unravel. The one lingering regret from that summer of grief remains the tenseness that characterised the final few months.

Being alike meant we were always a few sharp words away from spontaneous combustion, something we managed to avoid for the greater part. The pressure began to tell when she began to sense that the sand in her hourglass was running out, and fast. We had our biggest flare up in a long time.

We made up eventually, thankfully—that would have been far too great a burden to carry for the rest of my life—but the thought that we could have made more memories to savour, is one I haven’t quite shaken off.

Life’s lessons are neither bleeding obvious nor palatable. All we possess for sure are the moments that we share with our friends and loved ones. The challenge is to enjoy and maximise the moments, not putting off the kind word, the lingering touch, or the act of kindness we know they deserve.

AJ @ A Geek’s Life

 

 

 

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Picture Your Story

picture your story

Ever noticed how newspapers use photographs of public figures? If Obama scores a big one, we get smiling Obama, maybe with a fist pump. When the roof caves in, we get tight-lipped, greying, worry lines Obama. All underneath screaming headlines. If the paper has integrity, we are not disappointed with the text that follows, our minds having been conditioned for it. They say we see with our eyes and we see with our minds.

And yet after I left primary school, my books, whether novels or textbooks, were devoid of images except for academic (boring), charts, graphs, drawings, and photos illustrating the concept being taught, as if to say, now that you’ve mastered comprehension, you don’t need visual aids or we want you to concentrate, no mucking around!

The web changed everything. Of course, it had to since everyone became a (potential) content provider. The downside of information overload is digital ADD. Mixing text with pictures and videos means we might win the scramble for eight seconds of surfing attention. However, beyond this, I integrate photos with text because it breaks monotony and can say what words cannot, helping to build emotional connections. Moreover, we decipher meaning from images, adding to the reading experience.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it might not tell the whole story. Perhaps that’s why on the web, text continues to dominate information exchange and videos, which combine visuals and words, are on the rise.

Visual art and writing don’t exist on an aesthetic hierarchy that positions one above the other, because each is capable of things the other can’t do at all. Sometimes one picture is equal to 30 pages of discourse, just as there are things images are completely incapable of communicating. – William S. Burroughs –

After writing an article, I hunt for images that complement it. During my search, I encounter photos that have nothing to do with the text, which haunt me and inspire me to manufacture a story, like this one.

Boy by Greyerbaby

The right story hasn’t come along for this image yet, but I can’t wait any longer. Let’s find the story together. You don’t need to be a writer, just human. Tell what the photo evokes in you. There is no right or wrong, because we see the sun at different times. Day for me may be night for you. You can write your headline (title) in sentence caps and/or a few lines of the story. Indulge me, please? I’ll start.

 

The Boy Who Stole Tomorrow

Truth did not have consequences when we were young, so we exchanged it freely as though playing Ping-Pong. Some days you won. Other days I won. We did not keep score but maintained equilibrium until she came. Then, you made me lose more than I should have.

————–

P.s. Like seriously? Of course there’s no prize, I’m not Oprah! Alright then, just comment on how multimedia content enhances online interaction. See? Told ya! The story option is easier 😉

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Photo credit: Photo credit: ©Lisa Runnels/www.pixabay.com (used with permission)

http://pixabay.com/en/boy-walking-teddy-bear-child-walk-447701/

 

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.

Blogging, a Lot Like Running

blogging like running

 

My running journey provides metaphors for life. At that time of day when my neighbours court sleep and win an hour or two, the wind serves crisp air as I begin jogging. I contemplate my life’s compass until I land on lighter matters like the kinds of personal bloggers I’ve come across and how they resemble the runners who share the four-kilometre boulevard with me.

Hit and Runn-ers

These bloggers resemble that runner whose gear I like but couldn’t find at the mall. I wonder if Nike customised it for her, but swallow my Maggi-size envy before it burgeons. I swear that in a previous life, she was a rare gazelle. Hit and run bloggers excel at their craft, but they only tease us with their brilliance once in a long while, lighting our skies with their fireworks. Where will their gift take them? Some roads don’t take you anywhere and maybe, that’s okay because nowhere is a place where you can start again.

Aveng-ers

Their blogs exist to avenge their enemies. They remind me of the runner whose painful breathing heralds his presence. Punishing his thighs for a crime they did not commit, he nods and grunts as he overtakes me. One kilometre later, I find him sitting on a bench shouting, “Sh*t this, sh*t that, sh*t, sh*t, sh*t!” while tying his shoelaces. Determination and ugly are not synonyms. Avenger bloggers name names, places, times, and events, as they roast people on their spit over and over. They blog as frequently as they are offended.

Observ-ers

An about page and maybe one post make up the contents of their blogs. They hop from blog to blog reading, liking, and commenting. They are like the fishmongers who yell, “Kom op! Hup hup hup!” as I turn the bend, spent, and ready to head home. These perpetual encouragers put a smile on my face and help me gain a second wind. Observer bloggers cheer other bloggers all the way to the finish line.

 

bloggers I admire

 

Reblogg–ers

They are first cousins of Observ-er. An about page and maybe one blog post they actually wrote is the extent of their originality. They have found their niche just like that blond woman in her fifties who walks her three dogs every morning. She waves to every jogger and has the same kind word for those of us slow enough to hear, “Goede morgen! Succes!” Rummaging for content on blogosphere is a reblogg-er’s high. Redistributing wealth they do not possess is an elixir. Their blogs are exotic mosaics of content from essays on Marilyn Monroe to breaking news on CNN. Rebloggers would flatter other bloggers if only not every post on their blogs was a reblog.

Promis-ers

Promis-ers begin the year with the New Year resolution, I swear to blog consistently this year, so help me God! They bring to mind the fast and furious joggers who make the word high-speed redundant. In January, they published eighteen posts, serving essays, satires, how-tos, poems, and short stories. By February, they joined Mr fast and furious on the park bench gulping air and thinking, na who send me work? When Promis-ers woo us next New Year, we will embrace them, yet no one is deceived. Why work so hard to lose credibility?

Slow and Steady-ers

They are neither cheetahs nor tortoises, but pace themselves for longevity. They run like joggers whose even breathing ensure they complete six kilometres in just over an hour. Slow and steady-ers write posts that are boring, exciting, poor, average, or excellent, but their publishing schedule is predictable. They may not win the race, but they will live to run it another day because they understand their clock and resist the pressure to reset.

 

Because we’re doing life together, these patterns transcend blogging. So, you don’t have to tell me which category you fall in, tell me about other categories I missed.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Photo credit: Francois Peeters / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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.

Returning, Blogorophobia, and the Gourd of Friendship

timi tattoo ink

July. The month rolls in gently. I trace my footprints from last July until now. Small, hesitant, and then larger and bolder. Yours criss-cross with mine. I smile and laugh. I cry, but not for long. I cannot tell my story without telling yours too. This is what blogging has meant to me. So, what next? I narrow my choices, but refuse to sign the dotted line. Fear? Maybe. Hope? Maybe. Fluid like water, I look at the sky. In the meaning of the shape of the clouds, my answers are there. Tell me, how have you been?

My first weekend away from blogging, I was attacked by intense “blogorophobia”— the fear that you’ll lose your readers because you’re not blogging. While others slept, I stared at my monitor. Insecurity and desperation have only produced compromise in my life.

***

Rewind plot to earlier in the week, to that conversation with a friend.

“When will you start blogging again, so I can read your blog?”

“Oh, in about three weeks, but I’m reblogging stuff I like, you should read those.”

“The reason I drop by your blog is to read your stuff.”

“Really?”

“Whatever, don’t stay away too long. You know how fickle internet relationships are.”

 

Did I know?

Two more people shared similar sentiments that same week and I felt like the mother who on dropping her child at day care for the first time, experiences severe separation anxiety.

***

I went to bed without writing. Anything of value, that is. I remembered that when I left my son at day care for the first time, his cries followed me all the way to work. That as I immersed myself in reports and meetings, his voice could not compete. And when I returned to get him, his tiny arms clung to me and mine to him, as if our being apart had taught us to spell together differently. Thereafter, our parting became easier as we learnt to trust.

My stats did not nosedive. You visited and left comments. I visited you and sometimes I left comments. Internet relationships can be fickle, but you, yes you, you’ve hung around longer than most. It seems fitting then that I leave you with a poem by Richard Ntiru1.

 

The Gourd of Friendship

Where is the curiosity we’ve lost in discovery?

Where is the discovery we’ve lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we’ve lost in communication?

Where is the communication we’ve lost in mass media?

Where is the message we’ve lost in the medium?

And where is the community we’ve lost in all these?

It is easy to go to the moon:

There, there are no people.

It is easier to count the stars:

They will not complain.

 

But the road to your neighbour’s heart –

Who has surveyed it?

The formula to your brother’s head –

Who has devised it?

The gourd that doesn’t spill friendship-

In whose garden has it ever grown?

You never know despair

Until you’ve lost hope;

You never know your aspiration

Until you’ve seen others’ disillusionment.

Peace resides in the hearts of men

Not in conference tables and delegates’ signatures

True friendship never dies-

It grows stronger the more it is tested.

 

See you Sunday?

timi

 

 

 

 

Take lemons, make life, and then jump for joy!

 

 

©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. Ntiru, Richard, The Gourd of Friendship, Poems of Black Africa, ed. Soyinka Wole (London: Heinemann/AWS, 1975), 169.

Image credit: tattoo ink painting by Mina van Berkum

Marinochka by Samuel Okopi

marinochka1

Lace

Faded pink

Rose-embossed writing paper

The scent of Old Spice

Handwritten love-letters before email & Google

Postcards and postage stamps

That’s what Samuel Okopi’s story reminds me of. And he’s clever too with personification, making me wonder if “Shostakovich” is a chair or a person. From Russia with love, what say you?

 

I am sad these days, Luke. Shostakovich doesn’t smile anymore. His hands are always cold. On the harsh nights when I snuggle into his embrace, warmth does not find me. Only a matching cold. Maybe it is because the night winds blowing from Nicolayevskaya into my little apartment here in Krasnoyarsk have become colder. The large familiar shadows cast by our samovar set have now shrunk to that of the wooden figure of St. Stolobensky, standing on the dining table. Maybe I feel sad because he was Zoya’s favourite saint. But the orange flames that float on the candles at night are as bright as they have always been. Maybe they want Shostakovich and me to be happy? Like forget the memory of the weird laughter of Zoya that scared us and amused us at the same time? I am sorry Luke for the silence. Really sorry. Continue here . . .

 

Image Credits:

Antique Jewel Box Victorian Pearls Lace Old Silver by JamesDeMers

http://pixabay.com/en/antique-jewel-box-victorian-pearls-72414/

WordPress 107: How I Write My Blog Posts

creative process

I can scribble on the bus, at a party, or in the kitchen, but when it is time to pull my thoughts together, a chair and table lend seriousness to what I do. Although writing brings me satisfaction and can be fun, I do not write for fun. Familiar sound is unwelcome. I cannot let anything or anyone I know compete with the voices in my head. But the strangers at the café? Their conversation is a tunnel guiding me to the place where thoughts reside.

I don’t understand creativity, the neuroscience of it. To write my blog posts, I need an idea or two, or three. Don’t believe me? Just ask Neil Gaiman.

 

Happy now? So, here’s how ideas and words cross-pollinate and become blog posts on Livelytwist.

 

Inspiration

creativity dream

Words are the last thing I want to see for I have just spent four hours editing a manuscript. I drag myself to bed at 2 a.m. Ants crawl in the space above my eyes and Paracetamol has had little effect. I hear the words, “Six is just a number,” and understand the meaning, but I close my eyes and snuggle deeper under the covers. I hear the first line, the second, and then the third. I grab my laptop. The words are coming faster than I can type, a deluge. Like one possessed, I write until 2:30 a.m., 900 words of dialogue, and then I reread. I laugh, yawn, and sleep. Later, I email a friend.

“Naughty, naughty, naughty. This will get you in all kinds of trouble,” he replies.

I wish everything I wrote came to me by inspiration. I also wish I played the lottery yesterday and won a million Dollars. Instead, I get dressed, go to work, and collect my pay cheque at the end of the month.

 

Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous. – Bill Moyers1

 

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

creativity mechanically

Saturday, one day before publication. Nothing, nothing at all. Experience tempers panic so its waves do not break on my shore and retreat, making everything wet. I pound away at my keyboard like a blacksmith hammering metal sheets into shape—delete, cut, copy, paste. I surf the internet. I read other blogs. I watch TV. I pray. I flip through my T.B.D.L. notebook. I leaf through my experiences and run through my imagination. I write, one sentence at a time, like a child learning to walk. I visit the thesaurus. I employ literary devices. I pull words from the well in me. I push until I reach 500 words. Eureka!

Sunday, I upload and publish. I hold my breath until I see the first like or comment. Then slowly, I exhale. The best writing advice I’ve ever received? Just start and inspiration will find you.

 

The trick to creativity, if there is a single useful thing to say about it, is to identify your own peculiar talent and then to settle down to work with it for a good long time. – Denise Shekerjian, Uncommon Genius: How Great Ideas Are Born2

 

The Force of Belief

creativity belief

Something I hear, see, read, or experience captures my attention and moves me deeply. It stews in my mind for days, weeks, months even, and I read what others have to say. I examine my life for inconsistencies as conviction takes root. I determine to do better because what I write will change me. When the thoughts crystallise, a title is not far off.

I write with what I hope is restraint, in a measured tone. I know it will stir readers for it is the force of conviction on paper. It alienates or binds. Only in my response to comments, do I try toe the middle ground, to be gracious. I wrote, I am not What I wear and Other Lies we Tell Ourselves, this way. In a world of muddled grey, black or white can bring pain or gain.

 

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. – Steve Jobs, I, Steve: Steve Jobs in His Own Words3

 

All this is theory as all three elements are at play when I write, sometimes, one is more dominant than the other two and vice-versa. Some days it is hard. Some days it comes easy. Always, it is rewarding, like chocolate cake after lean meat and vegetables.

So, how do you write, or draw, or make music, or do what you do?

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Image credit: cartoon figures from Microsoft

The Creative Process, adapted from Julia Quinn’s photo: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151963920732054&set=a.59952827053.71263.42811462053&type=1&theater

  1. http://explore.noodle.org/post/53323730990/bill-moyers-pair-with-this-vintage-guide-to
  2. http://www.amazon.com/Uncommon-Genius-Great-Ideas-Born/dp/0140109862/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403991437&sr=1-1
  3. http://www.amazon.com/Steve-Jobs-His-Words-Their/dp/1932841660/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403993785&sr=1-1&keywords=I%2C+Steve%3A+Steve+Jobs+In+His+Own+Words+%28

 

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.

 

 

Finding and Becoming You

You

You start to write this post and your fingers hesitate over the keyboard. One part of your brain wonders when you bought a franchise for Oprah’s Life Class. You wonder about sounding like a preacher, roll your eyes like a teacher, and resume typing with a sigh. Authenticity on a personal blog is sometimes writing what matters to you with your style and in your voice.

The first time you realised you had a distinct writing voice was when you rewrote the foreword of a friend’s manuscript because she asked you to. You’d found it stuffy like a chemistry class about atoms without pictures. You thought that an inspirational book should make readers feel as though they were drinking coffee with the author and talking about life. You transcribed this photo, infecting your words with warmth that spreads from intimate conversation.

Your approach couldn’t have been more wrong for your friend read it, shook her head, and demanded, “Why didn’t you write like you write at work? That’s why I came to you in the first place!”

You stammered, “But that is my job. This is my heart.”

 

who am i

 

To write from your heart, you must first know your heart. What made your heart go va-va-voom at eighteen is not the same thing that makes your heart race at forty. The heart is always circulating blood throughout the body. You are a constant work in progress. Neutrality is for the dead, the ideas you encounter daily, shift you one way or the other. Oxygen-depleted blood enters the right side of the heart and exits through the left full of oxygen. Yet, the heart sits fixed in the chest cavity between your two lungs. Who you are at your core and the ideas which circulate in your mind will seep from your pen, whether black, blue, red, or green.

 

 

loving you

 

To become you, you must find you. Remember when you isolated your baby’s cry in a room full of crying infants or picked out a friend’s laughter in a noisy coffee bar? This is the magic of bonding, of spending hours with someone you love, you! You hear your cry and understand your pain. Healthy self-preoccupation may mean that you are the last to hear office gossip because your internal dialogue is louder and juicier. You are an active participant in the internal narrative of your life, listening, taking notes, sharing feedback, and steering the conversation.

Experimenting within boundaries may cushion failure on the way to discovery. I wrote poetry and gave drama a stint, before I settled on prose. Second chances are about reinventing yourself. You can gift yourself one anytime. If self-acceptance comes before change perhaps change has a better chance of stamping itself on you because your need is raw like desire.

 

fall and rise

 

It takes courage to be yourself for when you finally meet yourself, you may not like who you are. When children unwrap gifts at Christmas, they look past their gift to ask others, “What did you get?” The value of the gift received grows or diminishes in comparison to what others received or how others perceive what they received. You also play this game. It is hard not to compare, after all, there is no tall without short. But you can learn to “uncompare,” that is, measure your good against your better, and aim for the best.

The high price of being you is the risk of being misunderstood or rejected. But even in that, there is value to be harnessed. The world isn’t tolerant of plastic bottles that don’t fit in the general assembly plant. Did you know it costs time and effort to create special assembly plants? You put in the time. You put in the effort. Give yourself the gift of you before you offer the world the gift of you. Then, whatever happens, the ground upon which you place your feet will hold you up.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

Image credit: stick figures from Microsoft

 

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.