I don’t talk about my father much.
There’s no particular reason – we don’t get along much. We never did, even though my mum and siblings were fond of reminding me that I am the one most like him. I guess everyone has daddy issues; I have mine just like everyone else. More than anything however; I owe a lot of who I am to him.
He taught me to love music, film and books. My father is the most widely-read man I know; and I do not say that lightly. His book collection (depleted for the most part now) was enough to make any book collector green with envy. I read Lord Of The Rings (the complete, ) at fourteen – not because I wanted to but because I got in trouble with my father, and that was my punishment.
I’ll tell you later.
Among many other things, my father taught me the value of time.
I was still in primary school when he would wake my sister and I up at five in the morning. We would join him in the basement, work with him for an hour then go get ready for school. We were out of the house by seven.
In the evenings when he got home, he would sit us down in front of his 8-track reel-to-reel record player, play a Bob Marley record or Fela or Jim Reeves or Dolly Parton or Abba or any of his thousands of records and ask us to listen. After listening to a song, he would turn it off and ask if we understood what said song was about.
I’m sure today’s ‘enlightened’ world would see waking up a child at four/five am to work for an hour as abuse. I didn’t – and I still don’t. Those times instilled in me an appreciation for time, for moments and how important they are, the value of hard-work and how something is worth nothing if it isn’t worth your all.
One of the greatest challenges I’ve had to overcome as a creator is procrastination.
There’s this ‘short attention span’ ‘I-can-always-do-it-later’ bone that seems to grow in the heads and heart of creative people. They/we spaz out at every opportunity; zone in and out of conversations, can hardly sit still through a romantic movie. If it’s not thrilling, exciting, exploding, funny – count us the hell out.
Well. For the most part.
It’s almost counter-intuitive. Creative people have some of the most ‘boring’ jobs – sit behind a desk and stare at a computer screen for hours and you’re the one doing what you’re looking at on the screen. Before long, restlessness sets in and we’re looking for some stimulation, some excitement. We binge watch Luke Cage, drink Alomo and Red Bull and download porn like it’s going out of cyberspace.
Well. For the most part.
There’s that habit of constantly standing up in the middle of work, taking a stroll, a smoke – whatever keeps us continuously motivated. I mean, can you imagine how much progress a writer would make if he sat at his desk and did nothing but type for six hours straight?
But how many of us can do that? There’s always something interrupting. Phones ringing. Facebook buzzing. Messenger pinging. WhatsApp vibrating. Twitter mentioning.
And time crawls away from us inexorably.
Discipline is of the utmost importance. Discipline is key to almost anything – anything can be done or had with discipline. And that is probably the most important thing my father taught me; discipline.
I can go on and on – but the thing is this; it’s the only way to get anything done. Set reasonable goals. Make realistic targets. Buckle down – and get to cracking.
Either you will or you won’t.
There are no guarantees. No certainties – well; except that none of us is getting out of here alive. You know this. I know this. We all know this.
So what the fuck are we standing around waiting for permission for?
all images courtesy Google. Images remain the rights of the copyright holders which; in this case is not me. Be advised.
About twenty minutes ago, my work was interrupted by frantic knocking at my door. I turned up the volume to the Edvard Grieg I was listening to and hoped the evil spirit would just go away. As though the person knew what I was doing, the knocks increased in frequency and volume.
Angrily I ripped my headphones off and stomped to the door. “Yes?!” I barked.
“Seun, it’s Nancy.”
I got angrier. What the *&%# could she want?!
Ripping open the door I began, “Look, not all of us have a f*&^%$g trust fund – “ and my voice disappeared.
Have I told you about Nancy’s legs?
You know those beaches they show you in films like – those films sha; those beaches where the water is so clean and so blue you can’t help but wonder if such beaches are on the same planet as you?
Nancy’s legs are like that. Does that make any sense?
She knows she has great legs tho, so she shows them off at every opportunity. This morning she was wearing short shorts and a blouse that made blouses feel overdressed. My anger evaporated like fuel spilled on tarmac on a hot afternoon.
I don’t know where I conjured the smile from; I sha did. “Well, hello there,” I said. “What’s the occasion?”
“Are you going to Eko Hotel this evening?” she asked.
“Are you going there?” I asked, looking pointedly at her midriff.
She frowned – and then her brow cleared as she saw the direction of my stare. “Be serious jo,” she said and pushed at my chest.
“Okay,” I said and cleared my throat. “Now, what’s happening at Eko Hotel?”
“Mark Zuckerberg is going to be there!”
“Who?” I asked, forming curious and ignorant.
She pushed my chest again, somewhat harder. “Seun, be serious na.”
“I’m being serious. Who’s that…Mark what-did-you-say?”
She stuck out her lower lip and it looked like a kitchen cabinet drawer left open. The image struck me as funny and I doubled over in laughter. About three seconds in it occurred to me I was probably annoying her so I stopped.
“Sorry,” I said weakly, still trying to bottle up my mirth.
“Are you serious – you don’t know who Zuckerberg is?! That guy is the poster boy for entrepreneurs! Hello, who built Facebook – “
“Oh that guy! Well, ask him if he knows me.”
She frowned even deeper. “What do you mean? He built Facebook! What have you done?”
I took her face in my hands and leaned in close, looking into her vivid, subtly wicked – have I told you about Nancy’s eyes?
In short, everything about her; at least physically, is perfection.
“My point exactly. How will I be able to do anything when you keep interrupting me to tell me about someone who has done something so great?” I kissed her gently. “I love you, but I must go so you can say one day ‘Seun Odukoya once kissed me’ and when the person says ‘Seun who?’ you’ll be offended – more offended than you are now.”
Her smile was something to see.
She said “Okay,” softly and walked away, cute behind bouncing and dipping ever so gently. I do not believe in ‘inspiration’ or ‘muses’, but if those concepts ever take on physical form, they would be Nancy.
Beautiful Nancy, my neighbor.
Sometimes; I’m stuck in a rut.
I have so many things to do and have no idea where to start. Deadlines. Promises to keep. Appointments. Dates. Hang-outs. The lists go on.
Sometimes I feel as though I have a 24-hour day and I’m awake through it. It’s almost as though I get home, manage to remove my shoes and slump in bed; and twenty minutes later (on a good night) I’m up again, repeating the cycle.
A man has to eat, right?
But is that my motivation for doing what I do? Strain myself almost to breaking point just because I want to stuff my gut with some proteins and mineral and nutrients?
There has to be more to life. But a man must eat.
There’s this bumper sticker I remember seeing in my youth; it goes something like ‘I owe, I owe, so off to work I go’.
Bad enough that I don’t sleep as much as I need to, I also damage and impair my health with the amazing dosage of caffeine-infused stuff I drink, all in the name of working. I’m a high-strung hyperactive always-busy individual – running around trying to make something of himself.
Boy. I do sound like an entrepreneur, don’t I?
I go for days on end without speaking more than three sentences to another human being; and that’s when I go to the store to refill my caffeine-drink stash or when I go to the filling station to arrange fuel for the generator. I eat a lot of to-go food simply because I cannot take the time necessary to cook. Sometimes when I close my eyes for a nap, I wonder which one of us is hotter; my laptop or me.
I know this isn’t healthy; I know for a fact that I can do better than that.
But my song goes; ‘I owe, I owe, so off to work I go’.
It’s almost as though hard work is more valued than actual results. I mean; I’m working hard – very hard, and as far as I’m concerned that’s enough. Do I have goals? Are there things I’m trying to achieve with all the stuff I put my rapidly-aging body through?
Apart from eating a hearty meal? Not much.
But here I am; working myself to an early grave and thinking, ‘that’s the way to go; that’s the only way to be a man where I come from’.
There was a time when it was popular to answer the ‘when are you getting married’ question with ‘I’m married to my work’, right? Well, I am actually married to my work and I’m cheating on her with a mistress named ‘stress’.
You read that right.
I am busy being unfaithful; and my wife is just checking the clock for when it’ll be over; when the fat lady will sing.
No o, I am not trying to be funny. Reality is this is the life that confronts almost every young and employed person in this country. Rush, work and work and work, it does not really matter if you’re achieving anything; it doesn’t even matter if you’re happy where you are. Just work and keep working. Leave your house in the morning wearing a suit, come back late at night with the jacket over your shoulders and the shirt stained with sweat.
“How was work today?” you’re asked. “Thank God,” you must answer; even though you spend every moment wondering what exactly it is you’re working for; why you must work so hard and earn so little – you think about your university days and how you couldn’t wait to get out and experience life.
“Is this what it all comes down to?” you ask yourself.
I was raised on the saying ‘you can’t eat your cake and have it’. And for most of my younger years I believed it. But since I knew the difference between cake and buns I have been contemplating the implication of that sentence. Why can I not eat my cake and have it; not literally of course? Why can I not be happy doing what I do for a living? Why must I; like most everyone else be unhappy at my job?
Now the first thing that occurs to people reading an article like this is; I’m asking them to quit their day jobs. No. Definitely not; because if you quit your day job I won’t be the one to feed you.
You’re on your own.
What I am saying however is; you can be happy at your day job; whatever that is. In fact you should be happy at your day job; whatever it is. If you’re not, then something is the matter. Time should be devoted to understanding the source of the unhappiness and seeking solutions. For example, as crazy as Lagos traffic is there are ways around it. You do not have to stay stuck in it; swearing at bus drivers and okada riders and sweating like Christmas chicken.
Though sometimes being stuck is inevitable, you can avoid the worst of it. All it requires is a lot of planning, awareness and discipline.
Why are you unhappy at your job; and what can be done to fix it?
Bottom line is; be less of a ‘such is life’ person and be more of a ‘life is what you make it’ person. Live intentionally.
As I write this, I am signing divorce papers. And I have handed my mistress her walking permit too. I’m going to marry life – and the only way to do that is to live it.
Fucking stress. I’m done.
I like to think I have some sort of relevance in the grand scheme of things.
I like to imagine that with the little I write/say/think/do, I’m making some sort of meaning – no matter how insignificant – in a world like we have today.
I like to think that; after everything said and done, I contributed my quota to the time and space continuum – that I contributed one – my – grain of spiritual sand to this life.
It’s a long road that has no turning. But I walk it.
And I keep walking. Alone but not lonely.
Fall in love with summer in the spring;
Fall for a girl who has everything
See; I did that just for the sake of a rhyme
Ain’t too much sense to be found in my lines
Winter is nothing but wind in December after all
Find a girl who has what you want; have a ball
Life is really short dear friends; no dey dull
Ain’t too much sense in my lines; I concur
Conformed to the error of fixed lives I murmur –
Kicking against walls in a term-bound structure
Reality tears holes in my fabric; have to find suture
Ain’t too much sense in my lines; don’t venture
Too far in – I’m swinging swayed; IMAGINE!
Faring well indeed – but it’s reality I’m fearing
Wayfaring – searching for the next adventure…
Ain’t too much sense in my lines – told ya.