Rock, Paper, Scissors

Scissors cut paper, paper covers rock and rock breaks scissors. Such meaningful simplicity. The kind you search for many times (several times on Mondays) but never really fully come to again. I miss the ease that was childhood. Although I do recall several times, I believe it was a fearlessly selfish era laced with just enough doses of cute and cuddly to blissfully be self-seeking, unforgiving and indispensable all at once. Oh, the bliss and the tyranny of the free era. With the years comes a weight of thought that is hard to escape from at best. Life is clearly not a walk in the park. Yes, all those lyrics lured us into bubbles that cannot hold in the gravity we live in now.

This lane is not so bad though. The greatest irony I am coming to terms with is that there is no such thing as running from. Only postponing the time it will take to come to full circle. In retrospect, I recall my running phases with a lot of amusement. I am not much of a runner. The few times I have tried to pull off any such exercise have led to devastating effects. Not kidding – I have fractured my foot once, massively sprained it twice and get this –  almost got run over a  couple of minutes after leaving the gym. I kid you not. I should have taken the hint – I am not meant for running. But yet I still do. I particularly remember this one phase where I just kept running from the obligations of religion and all that I perceived to come with it.

See, I grew up in the nineties when ‘revivals’ were in plenty. Though I still do not fully understand what that truly meant (or why just that one word? Why not a declarative sentence right after it? What was a revival anyway?), I knew enough to know it supercharged atmospheres. Caused many a parent to leave their children behind (or worse, go with) to an unmentionable number of church services. If your folks were really into it, your friend list would be reviewed and cut down to the chosen few that were ‘aligned in spirit.’ Revival things. I am not sure I understood much at the time, but it was planted in me right about then that religion was necessary. So important that it had the single unarguable pass to shatter one’s axis and claim one’s attention so much that children grew up unattended or on their own much like weeds would and life continued even in the bursts of one’s absence. So I feared it increasingly until I did what I know not to do, run. And in that time I still thought a lot of what I did not want to become – detached. But as all troubled souls are prone to do, one thing is replaced by another and work was what I poured myself into. The circle was still coming to. I just did not see it coming. I did not see that in running, I was becoming exactly what I did not want to be. I left myself unattended and life, as always, moved on.

From my childhood’s eyes, religion was the problem – but it really wasn’t. I have memories of babysitting myself and watching a massive amount of Oprah. I remember reading through too many books and copies of the readers digests and collecting recipes (Also running up the electric bill with all that experimental baking). I remember being alone a lot but somehow, I do not remember being lonely. I have been ‘diagnosed’ with a dwarfed social IQ by some and a massive by others, so I think it is safe to say it all turned out alright, revival and all. I am now trotting across many lines trying to make a life I can live in, and yes, I do wish I had had more time to spend with my family. Not at revivals, but at home. Learning who they are and just being a child – attended to. Not alone. But I am slow to cast blame because no one wakes up every morning wanting to make the worst out of their days or anyone’s’ at that. One does what one knows to be best at the time.

I am learning that life happens and I can only try to unravel the foundations that underlie mine in the hope that I will understand myself better, and be a better version of me because of it. That is all we have strength to do at the end of the day, no? Rock, paper, scissors – today I got paper, so I cover the rocks and wait for tomorrow. What it will bring, I will use. I will not run; the universe apparently frowns upon it. Do the best you can to learn, to forgive and to keep afloat. It may be hard as hell. Or it may just be as simple as a game of rock, paper, scissors.

You Will Be Enough

You may not believe this, but I have never had many friends. I am friendly with many but friends whose connection last? Those I have always had a habit of having a few at a time.

When I was younger, I was a pretty intense child. Though no longer a child, I think I still am. I always had a lot of what I wanted at a particular point figured out by or for me. Somehow, I still do. I know that may sound strange, but then I have always been a thinker and a bit (okay a lot) of a worrier, and so yes, I kind of always did. I also have always taken life a little bit, well a lot, too seriously; mostly because I heard at a very early age that you only get one shot at it and for someone who always wanted to get it right, I guess many forms of paranoia set in. And because perfection was demanded of me and I successfully delivered albeit most times. But friends and friendship? Those are concepts I came to really understand and appreciate much later in life Nnwa.

In retrospect, I think I lost the idea of these words when as a 4th grader or thereabout, my then teacher asked everyone in my class to write about their best friend – which I did. Only to find out much later, when everyone had to read a bit of his or her essay aloud, that I had written about someone who had written about someone else. I was a bit confused, of course, and now that I think about it, later hurt not because I claimed sole exclusivity of any sort over this human but because the sniggering that followed told me something I had not known before. I was a friendly child that had no actual friends – at least not in the 4th grade understanding of the word.

You see, I was almost always surrounded by people that found me aloof in some way. Perhaps it was even because I always had a brother or two around watching over me and that, I suppose, scared the little humans. Maybe it was because I was almost always buried in a book or too much television and sometimes thought or spoke as though I belonged to other realms or maybe I was just not as good at making friends as I thought. It could have been any of these things or none. I don’t know. I remember wanting to fit in and wanting to be the one with the best friend.

It may be different in your time, but in mine, that was a 4th Grade necessity I thought. I wanted to morph into someone more acceptable. Someone more relatable. Someone they would find worthy. (See? Intense child right there) Maybe then, I thought, I would be that kid. I also remember your grandmother saying to me, often after my rants, that I was enough. Overdrive imagination, stubborn personality et al. That being liked is not something a child needed. All I needed was to know that I was enough she said. To young ears, she sounded like she lacked empathy at the time but I am glad she did not cuddle me to believing otherwise. Because I was just a child becoming many things and to have felt at that age that I needed to sate this natural craving to be liked by everyone saved me from myself. She believed many things, but she did not find that likeable was something I should have strived to be and so I did not. I was kind when shown kindness, smart because I was my parents’ child, tough because I learnt too soon that there are really no teams – I was on my own, and that was okay too.

Much later I began to understand what friendship meant, and I made a few. It was at this time I also learnt that I was doing it wrong in many ways before. I understood that it was not about having someone to write about in an essay, someone or someone to queue on the lunch lines with. I learnt friends were not people that stood by you because they felt, somehow, that they had to but because they chose to. My 4th-grade self-did not know it was a choice. She pretty much figured it was a right that came with the school package I guess. As I grew older Nnwa, I understood myself, understood others, and I have met some rather interesting humans. Some have come and gone, and that’s okay. Their season came and bloomed, and I am forever thankful for that. Some came and stayed. Those ones you will meet. Your aunts and uncles they will be.

I wrote this for you because I will want to give you so much that in doing so I will forget to give you even much more. You will be your mother’s daughter. Perhaps your own will be a more carefree spirit free of thoughts and fears of what lurks in the places we cannot see. Maybe you will be spared the curse of the overactive mind. But then again, you will be your mother’s daughter. So I tell you this: likeable is not something you need to strive to be. Be kind. Be patient. Be honest. Be loving. Have empathy. Those are things to strive for. Be you – you are enough.  The friends will come and go. Sometimes in different proportion. You will have some for seasons and some for a day. So just be, some things you will learn along the way. And one of them is that a lot of stuff top being likeable. And one of them is choosing to be you. Every day.