CHAPTER 1: TO WHOM I MAY CONCERN (A PRAYER FOR YOU)
Hi, I’m ‘Fikayo.
To whom I may concern or to whomever is reading this…
When the time comes for introspection, when the time comes for you to look intimately into the intricacies called your life, I hope the questions you find don’t scare the hell out of you, and if they do, I hope the answers you find don’t make you doubt yourself. I hope when the questions begin to sound like a murder interrogation, you have a perfect alibi and your answers are sure, not shaky. I hope you find faith in yourself and answer these questions sincerely, and I pray these answers will help clear a path for the intricacies called your life, a path clear of muddied waters and Nigerian policemen.
When the year started, (By year, I mean 25 and not necessarily 2020 but potato potAHto) I had huge writing plans. I was practically pregnant with ideas, and the only thing I had to do was wait for those ideas to mature so I could go through the labour of birthing these ideas to life. In my mind, I was ready for a new stage in the journey, I was ready to stretch my abilities and become adventurous.
When I released ‘Of Plastic, Concrete & Metal’ early in February of 2020, I didn’t realise that that would be the last article I would publish in a little over eight(8) months.
What happened, you might want to ask. Introspection into this intricacy called my life, that’s what happened.
There comes a time in a creative’s journey where everything just doesn’t work. A time when you feel like your creativity is literally been sucked out of your bones. I’m not talking about the the ever popular writers block, this is something much more deeper, much more dangerous. I would say it was like getting beaten by the devil himself, you’d agree that would be far worse than getting a beat down by one of his demons, right?
I questioned myself, I questioned my creativity, I questioned my art.
“Why do you write?”
“You think your creativity matters?”
“Do you really believe your work is impacting a life somewhere?”
“Do you think your stories are important?”
“Don’t you think these stories are not yours to tell?”
“Don’t you think that there are a tonne of better writers than you?”
“Do you think you’re meant to be writing at all?”
These and a billion other questions flooded my mind, (no thanks to Covid-19’s lockdown periods) and for some reason, I couldn’t let go of these questions. In their own weird way, they made a lot of sense.Finding answers to these questions was absolutely important because if I didn’t, I dreaded I would have kissed my dear old friend, writing, goodbye.
Did I find all the correct answers? Short answer… No, I did not. But I found something. Something I wrote in the ‘… And’ Series
Chapter 2: Let Doubt Dance around the Corners of your Heart.
Once, I asked a girl out. I thought I had everything under control. I thought I had every possible outcome covered. There’s this confidence that comes with knowing there is a connection, knowing there are many reasons why the other individual would be interested in what you’re offering on your well garnished plate. It’s that confidence I rode on with little or no protective gear to talk about. One thing I wasn’t prepared to hear was that stinging “No!”. And then came the crash, hard and rough. There was absolutely nothing to soften the blow, no shin pads or helmets, just pure unadulterated pain.
Here’s the thing about rejection and disappointment, they could teach you so much if you can be patient enough to set the pain aside so it doesn’t cloud your already confused mind, so it (the pain) doesn’t distract you from the truth you ought to see. The truth is what made me write ‘…AND (20)’
“… and remember, do not give yourself entirely to hope. Let doubt dance around the corner of your heart…
… that way you can stay safe and save yourself from unnecessary disappointment!”
When I wrote these words, I didn’t think that they would be the words to save me, save me from a world without my art. Isn’t it ironic that a creative’s art was dying a slow death because of a seeming loss of self confidence and a tonne of doubt and it is a poem he’s forgotten he wrote that encourages doubt that saves his sinking ship, mending the broken parts and helping him to find something that looks like his art again?
For a long time, I was self assured in my work. Assured that my creativity would always be enough. Assured that I had everything under control every possible outcome had been thought of and nothing could change my course. I had given myself entirely to hope, banishing doubt to the wild. When hope engulfs you, she isn’t subtle about it. She makes her intentions well known, painting pretty pictures on empty canvases. She’s a master of the art of seduction, giving you only a slight taste of what might be just so you forget the taste of what is. Only a few men can turn down her advances, trust me, I know. I embraced hope, I rode on her fast bike with little or no protective gear to talk about. On Hope’s motorcycle, there’s space for only two, so I dropped doubt by the wayside, he was only slowing me down, I calmly convinced myself.
Steven Furtick said, “Doubt means you have something to have faith in”.
When the time for introspection came, when the time came for me to look into this intricacy called my art, the questions scared me. When the questions began to look like a murder investigation, I didn’t have an alibi, my answers were shaky at best.
I had no doubt. See? I had no faith in myself. Naturally, I was scared shitless when my faith in myself was questioned.
Who wouldn’t be scared?
Who wouldn’t? Tell me.
Chapter 3: Words Are Dangerous Things
Words are simple things. Simple in ways too many of us understand. Words are easy things, just say them. See them spill off your fingers or tongue with the ease with which a drunk drinks his first carton of beer on a Monday morning.
Words are small things, inconsequential at best. Words are small things, small in ways too many of us understand. You hear it in every, “Well, that’s not what I meant” or “I just couldn’t find a better way to explain what I felt” or “Really? You think I knew what I was saying after I had a carton of beer on a Monday morning?” Words are small like little children, with the expert ability to shrink themselves like they aren’t there. Words are like little children, this moment they are shrinking in the corner of the room playing oblivious, and at other times, they are children, loud and all over the place, uncontrollable. Words are never small things, however they can pretend to be.
Words are not Small things. Do not let the fancy writers tell you lies. Words are not Small things, ask the little child whose primary school teacher tells, “You are a dullard. Don’t waste your parents money. Go learn a trade or handwork.” Words are not small things, ask the man whose wife screams at in the presence of their face-me-I-face-you apartment neighbours, “Are you a man? You call yourself a man? Ordinary two minutes, you cannot do, ehn? How will a man that cannot even do two minutes provide for his family? YOU’RE NOT A MAN!” Ask him why he’s called ‘2 minutes’ now. Words are never small things.
Words are difficult things. Ask the young doctor who has to tell the young couple their little boy would not make it and they can only make him comfortable now, so the end isn’t so painful. Words are difficult things.
Words are dangerous things. Dangerous in ways too many of us understand, but we write them anyway. Maybe, just maybe we can change a thing or two before these words kill one or two.
For a writer, words are all these things; simple, small, difficult and dangerous and that’s exactly what we love about our art. In a way, these words have faith in us to write them and we love to believe that we have faith in the words we write. We love the simplicity of it’s dangers and the dangers of it’s simplicity. Our words can open wounds long healed and can mend broken hearts if we really put our words to work.
So, when I picked a pen and the words attacked me, asked me where I left my faith in them, shouting me down, calling me a faithless goat. I understood then. I understood that words are a lot of things, I understood then that words are living things, living through the pages of our journals and our mouth. I understood then how much I needed that faith in my own words. I understood then what I had thrown by the wayside riding on hope’s motorbike. I found a path.
Chapter 4: CREATE ANYWAY…
“What you create, others can destroy. Create anyway.”
In the past year, I’ve come to the realisation that ‘Others’ in that quote could be anybody. It could be that old friend who when you started writing kept proclaiming that your words were shallow even though he had no idea how to make them deeper. It could be that individual who asked how you would make money from writing. It could be that man who scoffed in the way he thought you would not notice when you said you were a writer. It could be you when you had no faith in yourself.
In the last year, I destroyed what I created, albeit not intentionally, I destroyed it nonetheless.
So, to whom I may concern or to whomever is reading this.
Here’s what I promise.Even if others (including myself) destroy what I create, I’d create anyway.
Even if finding love is way too stressful today, I’d try anyway.
Even if being myself is weird to the world, I’d be me anyway.
Even if dying looks like a great idea, I’d live anyway.
“…because in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you or anyone else anyway.”
Here’s to 26!
Here’s to creating
Here’s to life.
Till I write you again, stay jiggy, stay alive.
Oyekunle ‘Fikayo Oyediran.