Today, my cousin, Ellie said that the year of our Lord, Two thousand and twenty has so far felt like seven years compressed into one, and with its wealth of content and the experiences we have had, I most definitely agree.
Today included my typical sleep- wake- eat- read- netflix routine, which I won’t bore you with. But that wasn’t all. I am currently watching Kal Ho Naa Ho, I’m guessing you know what that means… I wrote another condolence letter today, from my office, the council, to the student body. Another young promising person left the world too early.
It has felt like too many people have gone this year, that is, beyond the fair number of deaths a year should have. But then, in years to come, death will still be a part of life. And maybe there is something to learn from all these losses hitting left and right this year. After receiving all the bad news, I decided to watch Kal Ho Naa Ho because I get to laugh at the comedy, giggle and blush at the lovey dovey parts. I ended up crying at the end, when Aman (Shah Rukh Khan) died. The theme song translates as, “live every moment to the fullest…for tomorrow may never come”.
We never really want to think about death. We want to be assured that we will wake up tomorrow and go to sleep everyday, peacefully, till we’re very old. But if truly, you get tomorrow, what assures you that your neighbour gets tomorrow too?
The uncertainty of this year has helped me accept that we really do not know who is and isn’t going to be here tomorrow. So why not do what’s possible today? Why wait? And I am learning to apply this in my relationship with people. My biggest regret this year is not insisting to my parents on traveling to visit my aunt and attend the naming ceremony of my newest cousin. We just assumed, as we usually do, there’ll be another day to visit, and my aunt passed on ten days after the naming ceremony. That’s it! I’m never seeing her again.
So, if I can visit that friend today, why wait? If their dress is lovely today, why not give that compliment? Why not crack that joke and make them laugh? Why not buy that present for no reason? Why not pay their cab fare? It’s these little things we’ll remember and hold on to tomorrow. When they’re gone, I’ll be happy I once made their day. Or when I’m gone, they’ll be glad I touched them.
Let me talk a little about this morning. We were eating breakfast and my Uncle Sunny just decided it would be a nice time to put us on hot seats, asking about our career choices and what informed these choices. It felt odd at first, being that adults would usually assume we’d practice what we’re studying. To get out of the discussion, I considered either fainting or choking on my yam, but I’m not a great actress, so I just answered the question instead. And oh, the breath of fresh air that went through my lungs when he didn’t seem disappointed that I had not yet decided. He talked about the state of the world right now and how we must bear it all in mind to understand what kind of value we actually need to offer the world.
Before now, I have already observed that brands are no longer marketing commodities and services, but instead market feelings, like joy and self confidence. Marketing strategies rely heavily on how you feel when you use the products. And today it made more sense. There’s so much negativity and everyone is just finding means to escape reality to the extent that everything that will appeal to you in these times must feel like an escape route. But it’s all just ephemeral. The world needs value. And whatever it is I end up choosing, of the various career options I’m considering, I have learnt today that positive change must be made and real value must be added. And even at a time like this in our country, with the #EndSARS movement, humanitarian concerns and human rights consciousness, most young adults in this country have taken up the challenge for greatness and I’m happy to see. And this sense of consciousness is going with me into whatever career path. I’ve learnt that there’s too much to be fixed and to be done.
Before the Netflix part of my routine today, I read an article online and the whole point of the article took me back to Starr’s (Amandla Steinberg) words on The Hate U Give, where she said “if you don’t see my black, you don’t see me”. The writer of the article, a black American woman, was simply talking about how being “colour blind” is not exactly how to learn to accept people or how to end racism. And that’s a lesson I find very useful in these times, particularly here in Nigeria. The events of the past month have got us talking about putting an end to profiling. And now, more conversations are coming up due to the truckload of issues we actually have around here, bordering around something like getting rid of “state of origin” from forms to help foster a sense of unity, and also to erase favoritism to an extent. While this can help, I can’t help but wonder if I really want a part of my identity ignored for me to be accepted or loved. Does that lady with the tattoos necessarily want you to pretend like you can’t see them? Does that young man want you to ignore his place of origin so you don’t mistake him for a terrorist rather than the victim he is? A lot of things shape who we are, among which are identity, experiences and choices. And we do not necessarily have to be blind to any one of these for a person to be more acceptable in our sight, or for a person to not be unduly favoured.
As a Christian and as a person who cares about my interpersonal relationships, I wonder if it is really love if I can’t let myself see a person fully, for who they really are to be able to accept them. And so, I’m challenging myself to learn to love and be fully accepting without the partial blindness approach.
Well, I guess I can say today has been my day of lessons in the year of our Lord, Two thousand and twenty. Till tomorrow, Diary.