Waiting for life to 'happen'

Monday, October 14, 2019

I have a confession to make.

Do you remember that world-defying Raptors game? The one that all of Canada and her many well-wishers stood still for, and went into days-long frenzy of celebration when won?

That game that signalled the first win NBA by a Canadian basketball team?

That game that offices closed early for, and pubs threw their doors wide open, as strangers huddled together and held hands, while screaming every time we made a basket???

I missed it.

I... who ADORES basketball, and wanted nothing more than to support my home team. I missed that we-will-tell-our-children-where-we-were-when-it-happened once in a lifetime game.


Because, I was waiting for life to happen. *rolls eyes*

Let me back-track.

Earlier this year, I moved to an entirely new city, for work. In the preceding year, I had been too pre-occupied with writing a gazillion exams, to deal with the realities of recently uprooting myself from my personal community of close friends and chosen family developed over the years, in the city I hitherto worked, in a different continent.

When I was not writing exams, I had immediate family around to distract me, and was too concentrated on re-igniting my career, post licensing exams.

So in my usual adventurous style, I accepted an offer in a city I had never visited (but it has grown on me now!), with zero friends, family or other support structure. I made my second move in two years.

After the initial excitement of new beginnings wore off, I began to wonder: what next?

What did people here do? How were nights after work spent? Where did people go to? Were people in my profession who looked and talked like me hiding??

The isolation hit me; hard. I was finally confronted with the reality I had not dealt with for close to two years, when I moved back to Canada.

I missed the smell of suya. I missed meshai indomie, with burnt eggs. I missed Salsa nights, and cruising on the streets of the capital city after my Saturday dance workouts.

I missed struggling with colleagues at work over a cob of corn, or an oversized mango, and who should take the biggest share. I missed my former boss yelling my name, the moment the smell of isi-ewu wafted through the kitchenette’s microwave.

I missed Abuja literary nights, Night of the Spoken Word, Jazz Nights. (Did I say already, that I missed Salsa nights?)

More importantly, I missed the friends who had grown to become my family. I missed the ease of friendship, the relaxed conversations, the (not so) mundane arguments about who was the better writer between Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka.

(Fyi: Team Chinua here)

And I missed the LOML. *insert bawling face*

So I moped. And moped. And moped.

And moped.

(I was a walking mop-stick)

I had made just one new acquaintance in my new city, whom a mutual friend introduced me to. The only semblance of life I had was whenever she reached out for some event or the other. After which, I returned to my mopeful existence.

I filled a huge Gee-Pee drum with self-pity, climbed in, and shut the lid tight; embracing and holding fast to my mopeful despair, even as life passed me by. I kept waiting for life to happen to me again, as it once did. My only constant companion was Netflix, and which each bingeful series completed, I felt a little of my mind and existence slide into nothingness.

I was alive. But I was not living; no I wasn’t.

It was in this state I was that news of the NBA finals began circulating, and dominated every lunchtime conversation. People made plans to watch it together in living rooms, some planned to watch it at a restaurant or pub.

So I reached out to my acquaintance, and asked that she call me when she wanted to watch the match, so I could find my way to her location.

Then I went home, and slept.

I slept right till the early hours of the morning, and woke up to screams from all over the city, fanned by the Raptors’ win. It was everywhere.

I had slept through the match, and missed it.

I saw snippets on social media. I saw the baskets made. One drop rolled down my eye. Then the next. Then a bucketful.

I cried with joy that we won. And cried in pain, that I missed it.

And that, my dear friends, was when it all changed for yours truly. That was the turning point.

I had been so busy moping and bemoaning my ‘fate’, that I had forgotten how to live life on my terms. I forgot that I had hitherto been responsible for creating my own joy, and setting the pace for my life.

Who was I waiting for to spice up my life for me? What did I expect… that some super-man would drop from the sky, and suddenly, my life would be as eventful and joyful as it had always been??

Did I not create my joy before?

Amidst the continued shouts of joy in support of the Raptors, I sat up on my bed, flipped my writing pad open, and took my pen. I began to make a list of the things that genuinely brought joy to my life.

Top of the list was books. I had left my books behind, to avoid paying for extra luggage. First thing I noted that was to buy a long-a** bookshelf, and slowly fill it up with my first love.

Books. (Reading always soothed my soul)

Next: I searched for Salsa and Kizomba classes around town. I took numbers down from online, made calls in the morning. By the end of the week, I had begun to attend classes and socials.

I noted the need for more work-out gear. The gym had been my paddy in the not too distant past. It was time to take our relationship more seriously again.

(With renewed dedication and a strictly respected schedule, I lost 20 pounds in four months)

I made enquiries regarding my favourite professional association, and was dismayed to discover that there was no thriving branch in my city. So I reached to HQ for blessings.
With amazing contacts I was connected to, we had something up and running in a couple months.

Finally, I found a church I LOVED. I plugged into the love shared freely, with all of my heart. I joined a sisterhood connect group, and became part of a BEAUTIFUL community of strong women, who met bi-weekly to uplift each other.

In the midst of all this, I began taking strolls to discover my beautiful neighbourhood. (I lived in a really beautiful neighbourhood, and never realised) I found a cute coffee-house/bookstore just down my street, where books were always on sale for $2, and there were monthly Latin nights hosted.

I fixed weekly movie nights with myself, even as I ignored the guilt whenever I walked rights past the gym next door to the cinema, to load up on aspartame from coke-zeros. I looked forward to these movie nights, and discovered the joy in popping handfuls of popcorn, surrounded by total strangers, while screaming at the big screen in unrehearsed unison.

I found a park where I’d just sprawl in the grass when summer rolled in, with my bottles of Malta, and my book for the week/month.

I smelt the roses all around, literally. As I daily skipped to work.

In almost no time, I did not have ‘idle’ time anymore. I laughed whenever I remembered my not so distant mopeful existence. I had now re-discovered my joy; I was living.

Life was is good.

Does it mean that I have stopped missing what I consider till date as my ‘tribe’, the people I had uprooted myself from, when I moved across continents?

Absolutely not. In fact, I have come to terms with the fact that I may never regain the depths of the bonds I had built with my old community, some going as far back as childhood.

But I now understand that there is always room for new relationships, new bonds, and other things that fill my life with joy and meaning; giving me not just a reason to exist, but to actually LIVE.

I am not sure if there is a lesson in all of this for someone, or whether this is just an excuse for me to unabashedly brag (rather smugly) about how I seized back my life’s reins.

If there is a lesson though, it is that there is no lady or knight in shining armour, coming to save you. There is no cape-wearing, fist-in-the-air-flying superhero, whose primary mission on earth is to help you smell the roses.

You are YOUR own superhero. Your army. Your back-up plan. Your cheerleader. Everyone else you come across is a bonus gift from God, or the Universe (depending on which you believe in)

So if you're busy sitting on your beautiful behind (irony, right?) and waiting for life to just ease up, and "things to get better", and the living to begin, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but…

Not happening.

Life will only be as amazing as you make it out to be. Stop waiting on someone else to colour it up for you. You're all the sunshine you need... and much more.

So if you need to go see that movie, by all means, buy the ticket. Get the sugar and popcorn, and have a blast by yourself.

Miss the beach? Wear your swimsuit. Take you novels/or Netflix, and literally go chill on the sand, under a shade somewhere, with a cool glass of Pina Colada.

Want to see the Eiffel Tower?? Hop on that plane already!

Who will take the pictures of you? Hey... what else are strangers made for?? (Lol)

The point is, it is no use waiting on life to just happen, when you can chart your own highs by yourself. Take the good and the bad in each’s own stride. Keep it moving, and be thankful for the gifts of love life gives.

But remember always, you are in the driver's seat of your own life. Life doesn't just "happen".

It becomes what you make of it.



P.s: Later in the year, I FINALLY began my French classes.

I know… I absolutely rock.  😊🙌

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  1. This is a timely wake up call for me... And yes, you rock!

  2. I can totally relate to this...Glad you created your own happiness.

  3. Somehow I am here wishing I had your life right now

  4. "Life will only be as amazing as you make it out to be"