Friday, July 22, 2011

The deception of unusual

I’m not going to say that this blog post was inspired by some philosophical musings brought on by the loss of my phone yesterday, only that it was long overdue that I wrote something new.

I was thinking about some things just now, specifically about some of the stuff I wanted to do, and how little progress I felt I had made. Then it hit me: I didn’t want to pay the price for extraordinary. I looked at what I believe I’d accomplished, looked at what I thought I wanted to accomplish, looked at what I thought myself capable of as at now, and wanted to quit, because I felt I wasn’t where I wanted to be, and that the immediate next thing seemed so ordinary.

Please mark that emphasized phrase. Really think about it. Don’t think you appreciate the enormity of that little phrase just because your eyes read it and your brain processed it. Permit me to ask you to drink it in.

Ordinary. That’s a despised word in the English language today. Ordinary doesn’t seem glamorous. It’s not heroic. It’s not mind-numbingly, breathtakingly beautiful. It’s not something any of us intends to aspire to. And yet, for all of us – including the heroes – ordinary will form the meat and potatoes – the main portion – of our lives.

Why is ordinary so despised? I think this partially has to do with our means of taking history. I’ll start with a tweet I saw last night that initially threatened to depress me. Someone tweeted about a certain 21-year-old who sold her startup for $10m. Immediately I had the sickening feeling in my gut of someone who’s a lot closer to 30 than 20 and doesn’t apparently have a great deal to show for it, especially when compared with such a success story.

We humans are time-bound creatures. We can’t exactly wait to live the entire story of your life with you, so we take snapshots. We trim out “fat”. We are masters of compression – the highest compression algorithms on the planet have nothing on us. The issue, really, is that our compression algorithm is less of PNG and more of JPEG – it’s incredibly lossy. One person’s 55-year-long journey may take us up to a week to go through. That means we covered their life story almost 3000 times at the regular rate. Thing is, bub, you walk in the park that fast, you might miss something. That’s probably why people who notice things in videos in all these movies often ask for the video to be slowed down, not sped up.

So we do our editing. We speed things up, and we cut out the “cruft”, and – tada! – our life story is ready for high-speed consumption. But we missed something. Somethings, in fact. Lots of things. Stuff we thought didn’t matter. Guess what gets cut out the most? The most ordinary stuff. But that’s the meat and potatoes of life. Ordinary stuff. And let’s face it, we humans generally suck at determining the value of any one moment, which is why we have babies who never grew out of not having cake when they were five, and people who forget that one special thing someone said that spurred them on when they were about to give up. Sometimes, we get lucky. But most times, we don’t really value our moments like we should. We tend to over- and under-value our moments.

As an example, I’ll never forget meeting the person who’s now my girlfriend. Ordinary day. Nothing special. Good-looking young lady. Obviously smart. Bit of a drama queen. Friendly. Easy to tease, especially with evil laughter. Snap, snap, snap. I don’t think I got her phone number until about 3-4 months later, after a somewhat embarrassing outcome to repeated teasing (no, I am not telling what happened that day, only that I let things get a little out of, or rather, into, hand). I actually gave her an impossible condition on what would make me go out with her (it was a joke on something). Over a year later, she’s a great source of joy and support to me. But it didn’t look like it when we first met.

Our first meeting was ordinary. Our getting close was ordinary. I don’t think I really noticed it until someone commented, “you tell her everything”. There were no flashing lights or alarms. It didn’t fit within the boundaries set by romance novels. The sight of her wasn’t making my heart race – I wasn’t even seeing her.

I said all that to say this: ordinary happens. To every one of us. And sometimes ordinary can give birth to the profound. But we need to allow it be ordinary. And not watch it too much, worry about it too much, or it might abort and not produce. Dream about the unusual, the far out, the spectacular. It’s absolutely necessary if you will ever produce anything great. So plug it daily. You may not notice your small improvements, but those are what will make you – and keep you – a rock star.

“The kingdom of God is like this,” He said. “A man scatters seed on the ground; he sleeps and rises — night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows — he doesn’t know how. The soil produces a crop by itself — first the blade, then the head, and then the ripe grain on the head. But as soon as the crop is ready, he sends for the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
– The Bible, Mark 4:26-29

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A day babysitting

Governor B.R. Fashola declared the 11th of July as a public holiday in Lagos state to help Lagos residents recover from the flooding caused by the heavy rain on the 10th of July. I didn’t go to work that day, and neither did Leke go to crèche. Guess who ended up babysitting? Here are some memories from that day.


PDP! In my house!








Most politicians move to PDP in Nigeria. This brave young man is daring to leave PDP.


Finally left the PDP for…abeg na! Which party uses a bucket?11072011015

Omo, this one na serious work o!



You just stand there dey snap photo? Will you come and help me move this bucket upstairs? Hurry before I drool all over you and slap you!


The laziness wey hook this guy get can’t fit haff part 2. Abeg, make I tidy my own package, bo!


“It’s not an easy road…”


Em, you know, Jesus said, “Which of you wanting to build a tower will not first sit down and count the cost…”. Well, I am counting the cost here! Don’t rush me!


I’m so good, I can do this with my head covered.



See? I told you I could do it! Yes I can!


Help! I have been slipper (flip-flop)-napped!



Yup, I’m badass. Do NOT, EVER, ever, try me.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Why I’ve been a lousy Christian

It’s been too long since I last wrote. I really should have never taken a hiatus. Life, on the other hand, doesn’t always give advance notice of stuff that’s going to affect yours. Stuff’s been going on, and for that reason, my little piece of internet real estate has gone untended. That, and the fact that I threw a grand-scale pity party for myself. But as a quote I read today by Henry Van Dyke goes:

Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang but the best.

For a little while now, I’ve been listening to Andrew Wommack and Keith Moore (I resumed listening because God used a friend to ask for Brother Keith’s messages), and their individual ministries have been a great blessing. I was talking with my girlfriend about some things they said in some of their messages a little while back, and it dawned on me that I hadn’t been that excited in a while about anything.

In particular, I was listening to Brother Andrew’s series titled Discover the Keys to Staying Full of God (free MP3 downloads here) yesterday, and he began talking about esteeming, or valuing God. I realized that despite all my posturing and talking, I didn’t really value God.

When you value a person, that person’s opinion matters. What they think, what they feel, their company and total person — all of that weighs a lot when things are thrown into a mix, for instance, when a decision has to be made. Now that I’m thinking about it, “weight” is an excellent word to describe how much value a person (or thing) has (to someone). As an example, once when my girlfriend and I had a disagreement, I really felt bad. She was ticked off at something insensitive I’d done, and it was looking to ruin my day. In other words, my girlfriend’s opinion of my actions weighed a great deal when added into the mix of the (decidedly unconscious) decision of what attitude to maintain (don’t look at me like that; it is/was a decision. You may like it or not, but that’s the way it is) on that particular day.

How I knew I didn’t value God when I analyzed my life? Glad you asked (I know you didn’t, but work with me here, ok?):

  • I didn’t want to spend time with Him (this is a relative thing: I did my church routine, regular as clockwork, always on time and all that, but He — God, the Person — took a back seat to church — the system). Basically, I didn’t value His Person.
  • I didn’t value His words. One of the things I do deliberately is tell my girlfriend I love her at least once every single day. Sometimes, I don’t feel like it. I’m learning to (I haven’t arrived, but I’ve left, to steal Brother Andrew’s words Winking smile) go over things we’ve talked about, read her text messages over again — giving her  (and specifically, her words) “mind time” (as Brother Keith calls it). I realized I didn’t consciously give God – or His words – mind time.
    Also, I valued other people’s words over His (this, again, is a matter or relativity: When words are frapped in your mind as though in a blender – food processor for readers with a US bent – whose words tend to color and flavour the resulting mix – this is also known as your decision – the most?): Here where I live, intellectual property piracy (and flagrant disregard of copyright law) is pretty much a normal thing. Ephesians 4:28 (King James 2000 version) says: Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needs.
    That verse has itched in my head for a while now. I’ve suppressed it several times, talking about the relatively high cost of legal copies of intellectual property (for software, monetary cost, for other kinds like books, music, movies, that, and sometimes simply the trouble of getting it at all; if you’ve ever tried buying stuff over the internet in Nigeria, you’ll understand my point – I once got a catalog via mail from a company that claimed they didn’t ship their free ebooks to Nigeria! Why ship when you can provide a download?), talking it over with people, trying to rationalize what God was saying away. And that’s just one example.
  • I didn’t value His actions. One of the most touching things my girlfriend did before we starting our relationship as it is (sorry, but I really dislike the word ‘dating’) was call me when I was suffering from a cold. It doesn’t seem important until you realize she was a student in another country at the time. I still treasure the thought. She said it was to hear what I sounded like with a cold, but (goofy smile moment coming right up) I know better. She cared about me, and it made me feel loved and very special.
    God’s given me so much, and I’m pretty much never grateful in return, relatively speaking. I’ve complained about my job, my boss, my family, my leaders, my friends, humanity in general – it’s a wonder He still loves me.

So, what’s happened since? I’m working on it. I haven’t arrived, but I can say I’ve left. I’m deliberately giving more weight to God (meaning right now I’ve to stop blogging and get to work – see Colossians 3:22-23). What about you? What will you do with God?