The Trouble with “X”
A favorite, written by C.S. Lewis.
When we see how all our plans shipwreck on the characters of the people we have to deal with, we are in one way seeing what it must be like for God. But only in one way. There are two respects in which God’s view must be very different from ours. In the first place, He sees (like you) how all the people in your home or in your job are in various degrees awkward or difficult; but when He looks into that home or factory or office, He sees one more person of the same kind – the one you never do see. I mean, of course, yourself. That is the next great step in wisdom – to realize that you are also that sort of person. You also have a fatal flaw in your character. All the hopes and plans of others have again shipwrecked on your character, just as your hopes and plans have shipwrecked on theirs.
It is no good passing this over with some vague, general admission such as, “Of course, I know I have my faults.” It is important to realize that there is some really fatal flaw in you: something which gives the others just that same feeling of despair which their flaws give you. And it is almost certainly something you don’t know about – like what the advertisements call “halitosis,” which everyone notices except the person who has it. But why, you ask, don’t the others tell me? Believe me, they have tried to tell you over and over again, and you just couldn’t take it. Perhaps a good deal of what you call “nagging” or “bad temper” or “queerness” is just their attempts to make you see the truth. And even the faults you do know, you don’t know fully. You say, “I admit I lost my temper last night”; but the others know that you’re always doing it, that you are a bad-tempered person. You say, “I admit I drank too much last Saturday”; but everyone else knows that you are a habitual drunkard…
We don’t like rationing which is imposed upon us, but I suggest one form of rationing which we ought to impose on ourselves. Abstain from all thinking about other people’s faults, unless your duties as a teacher or parent make it necessary to think about them. Whenever the thoughts come unnecessarily into one’s mind, why not simply shove them away? And think of one’s own faults instead? For there, with God’s help, one can do something. Of all the awkward people in your house or job, there is only one whom you can improve very much. That is the practical end at which to begin. And really, we’d be better. The job has to be tackled someday: and every day we put it off will make it harder to begin.
When You Call My Name
When you call my name
And I answer,
Know that you have called upon
A hundred thousand stars
You have spoken deity
With your lips
And you have drawn
The attention of
An entire universe.
I hope you think of
All these things
That I am
As you begin to speak to me
Because when I call your name,
I will be thinking of you
Today is new and fresh
Like my tea is hot
Today may look a lot like yesterday,
but it is not.
The buried bean seed of yesterday
has begun to sprout
and your hair has grown half an inch
Regardless of your doubt.
If you do not see the newness of the day
you lose out on its gifts:
New histories, second chances
New ways to solve old problems.
And there’s one more thing in today
That I see
A new step towards the one
That I already am,
And must be.
The answer to the question of
what art is right or not right
lies in how it makes
A plane just roared in the far skies above me
And all I can think to it is
How it sounds like my cry to God
In moments of tired faith.
Heart in head, I yell
About the limitations of my humanness
Clear as water,
And the humanness of others
Obvious as the morning
And then, about God’s timing,
Right as the rain.
Then suddenly, the skies are quiet again
Like the roar was never there
My faith returns in whole
Stand still and know, I hear
The burden was never mine
Like The White Mountain Hare
Let pain make things clear
Let it make the unwanted disappear.
Let it show you the way you could not see
When comfort was a fog to your clarity.
Let no one make you feel sorry
Let no one make you feel sorrow
Because the pain which filled you today
Will clear a path for you tomorrow.
Give thanks, because
Your mind will ever be a teacher
And your heart, a dutiful reminder
Of sounds and safe spaces,
Words, and the right places
To go when the all too familiar thinks to show.
Just like the white mountain hare
Camouflaged, fur blending with the snow,
You will be hidden, ready
And this time, no tears will flow.
A Nostalgic Feeling
Sometime in June 2017, on a warm Saturday afternoon, I switched on my laptop, and visited YouTube. I had recently listened to Robbie Williams’ hit, “Angels” after a long time, and could not get it out of my head. So, I visited YouTube to see the video again. And from there, I went down the Youtube hole of nostalgia.
I kept watching and listening, video after video, song after song, to artistes I loved, growing up. Tears for Fears, Lauryn Hill, Dido, Bill Withers, Des’ree, Angélique Kidjo, and many more. Songs from both the ’80s and ’90s. I also listened to music by Mike Okri, Christy Essien-Igbokwe, Fela, Evi Edna Okoli, and a couple more from Nigeria.
I spent the entire afternoon on YouTube. It was time well spent: I enjoyed the music, and marveled at the variety and evolution of instrumentation, sounds, and techniques in music the world over. For sure, good music lives on.
So there and then, I thought to celebrate a select number of songs, by covering them in a live video series I call Nostalgia Sessions.
Recording each song, along with my friends Buki, Wede, Ugovinna, and Tejiri, and my brother IBK, was so much fun, and very memorable.
Nostalgia Sessions will be shared in September 2017, on YouTube, and here on the website (videos).
I look forward to sharing them with you!
A favorite, written by C.S. Lewis.
Affection… is the humblest love. It gives itself no airs. People can be proud of being “in love” or friendship. Affection is modest – even furtive and shamefaced. Once when I had remarked on the affection quite often found between cat and dog, my friend replied, “Yes. But I bet no dog would ever confess it to the other dogs.” That is at least a good caricature of much human Affection. “Let homely faces stay at home,” says Comus. Now Affection has a very homely face. So have many of those for whom we feel it. It is no proof of our refinement or perceptiveness that we love them; nor that they love us…
It usually needs absence or bereavement to set us praising those to whom only Affection binds us. We take them for granted: and this taking for granted, which is an outrage in erotic love, is here right and proper up to a point. It fits the comfortable, quiet nature of the feeling. Affection would not be affection if it was loudly and frequently expressed; to produce it in public is like getting your household furniture out for a move. It did very well in its place, but it looks shabby or tawdry or grotesque in the sunshine. Affection almost slinks or seeps through our lives. It lives with humble, undress, private things; soft slippers, old clothes, old jokes, the thump of a sleepy dog’s tail on the kitchen floor, the sound of a sewing machine, a gollywog left on the lawn.
But I must correct myself. I am talking of Affection as it is when it exists apart from the other loves. It often does so exist; often not. As gin is not only a drink in itself but also a base for many mixed drinks, so Affection, besides being a love itself, can enter into the other loves and color them all through and become the medium in which from day to day they operate. They would not perhaps wear well without it.
To make a friend is not the same as to become affectionate. But when your friend has become an old friend, all those things about him which had originally nothing to do with the friendship become familiar and dear with familiarity. As for erotic love, I can imagine nothing more disagreeable than to experience it for more than a very short time without this homespun clothing of Affection.
Love Is Peace, But It Is War
An excerpt from a poem I wrote five years ago (2014).
Darling, I have been where you are
And this is what I learned from that scar-
For love, you need to come prepared.
Come with your essence, your whole being
And leave nothing that should be seen unseen.
Do not fear, have a pure heart, because it knows what it means to fight.
And don’t forget the rhythm of your drum,
Your individuality will keep your love strong.
Give, less inclined to receive, for with this,
You can save each other when the sea rages.
Surely this is not pretense, but a reminder of how we should come to love
Because sometimes, life makes us forget.
So, once you see love’s bright red lights,
You become responsible, you determine your plight.
For love will bring you peace, but it is war, a gentle kind of fight.