– JEREMY BETHAM
If you’ve seen enough TV commercials you would start to believe some awfully strange things. You’d believe that you don’t need sponge to bathe, that only certain products can make you smile, that only people in big and busy city can have white teeth, that all rural dwellers are peasant farmers, labourers or drunkards, that you are not good enough except you get some enhancement, to mention a few. One can only imagine the frail and sometimes unreasonable desire these commercials can breed. You see, as a child I was a hopeless believer. Every so often I swallowed everything that was told to me. I sincerely believed all the tales by moonlight, the ridiculous Undertaker’s episodes in wrestlemania, that leke leke (cattle egret) will give me waterfinger and that the devil will hinders the regrowth of my tooth if I fail to throw it onto top the roof. I was to learn years later that no matter how long or hard we want to believe, some things are not as you simply see – they are usually more or less or not there.
Maurinus (not real name) is my age mate. For some reason that neither of knew about, I was a class ahead of him. He was a gifted soul and did fairly in class. He could beautifully draw, effortlessly hunt for birds and was very handy as he taught himself most things save for the classroom theatrics which I often help with. I on the other hand would, well read books, write poems, often find myself in the good graces of school girls and almost become useless in other works of life. For a long time, I secretly envied his gifts and how easy the ‘street cred’ of boyhood came to him. I sincerely wish I could lay claim to beautiful drawings, hunt and bring home many games just so people will call me a man. Until one day, Maurinus came over to my place so I could help him with his math ‘home work’ as usual. As we progressed, he said he wished he could, like me solve trigonometry and come first in class. And that changed me. It instantly occurred to me how I have ignored all my gifts and developed ‘longthroat’ for the blessedness of another. This simple callousness almost robbed me of the pure joy of the mischievousness and colours of boyhood.
It’s quite easy to overlook your own and wish and pray for the good fortune of brother John Doe who we think has it all together. We believe that since it is our own, it must be worth nothing. The truth is even though our paths might cross, they are different, and thus the experience, struggles, gifts, skin needed must but differ. It might not be what you wish, but it’s all you’ve got. Make sure everything you pursue and want to have is relevant to your path and not inspired by longthroat.
Don’t just go about chasing what everyone else is got just so you can look like them. Longthroat is a thief of fulfillment. The big question is when you eventually get what you want, will you still want it? You know, it is quite easy and almost second nature for human being to no longer desire what they could have killed for just moments before. It’s an age old habit take what you have for granted and relentlessly strive for what you want and sometimes don’t need. We no longer want what our own but our neighbours’ lives, family, qualifications, gifts, abilities, spouse, love lives, complexion, height and anything for that matter.
So suddenly, you are not fair enough, not good enough or your family is not dope enough. You are now ashamed to update mum’s photo on instagram or even tag your friends on your dad’s picture on Facebook. You wish your family members would comport themselves more in public. You would have preferred your parents if they were educated, rich or not too old. You sometimes wish they were not your parents. You wish you could switch siblings with Ronken at the mansion on the next street. You can’t be caught dead with your sister, Iyore because every trouser in the town knows their way between her legs. You are ashamed of your friends, your alma mater, everything, you just wish thing were different. So to make up for what you think you lack, you brag, exaggerate or even lie.
Here’s a poem, Bridget by @poetolu;
Please tell ‘big girl’ Bridget
that her father awaits
at the edge of the hostel car park
beside the lady that sells
roasted corn and oranges.
her father waits
but he did not come in Cherokee Jeep
nor with chieftaincy beads
and an entourage of seventeen.
There’s no need to lie about, exaggerate or be ashamed of what you don’t have. You should think on Reinhold Neibuhr’s prayer, “Lord grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. Maybe you should know that no matter what you see or think, nobody’s life is perfect and noone has it all together – they all try. The ones you envy made their own enviable. What will you do? I’m convinced that we will succeed because of our many experiences and not in spite of it. It is important to accept and love you for your the struggles, shame, glitz, secrets, family, weaknesses, everything! Stop wishing for a better anything and just get to work to improve on the deficient areas you can and love the rest. At the end, you’d get to understand that you are all you’ve got.
Photo Credit: Atholpady | Dreamstime.com