Thursday, 28 March 2013

On Mortality And The Frailty Of Human Existence 2

This was originally published on Facebook a while back. I've contemplated publishing it on my blog since then but never felt the time was right. Chinua's death made me read this again and I think the message is still very poignant.

I was on Facebook this fateful day when the ‘people you may know’ tab caught my attention. I clicked on it and began to browse through the faces of tons of people who I honestly didn’t know. Then I saw a surname that reminded me of a very close friend of mine in secondary school; we lost touch after our graduation and I haven’t heard from her since.  I clicked on the profile picture, Maybe it’s her sister I hoped.
The lady was in a wedding dress.

Aw… she’s so pretty I thought.
I kept staring, loving her skin tone, the barely there make up, her shy smile, the quiet happiness she exuded; then I looked down the page to read the comments:
Rest in peace angel…
We’ll miss you…
I’ll never forget you…
Say what?
I broke out in goose bumps.
I sat there and just stared at the picture, completely dumbfounded.
The discovery upset me; it upset me really bad.
‘She can’t be dead. She shouldn’t be. I mean, look at her…’
I wanted to know what could possibly have happened, when it happened, who she was. I mean, she was wearing a wedding dress…

I found out her sister had used her picture as her own profile pix, so it was her sister’s profile I had looked up, the wedding wasn’t that long ago, she had a baby, and she had died a few months ago.
I watched some videos friends made of her, looked through pictures, comments, threads…
And I just broke down. I buried my head in my hands and cried like she was my twin. I felt pain I can’t really describe to anyone.

That night I lay on my bed and ranted at the guy upstairs.
You know I really don’t understand you, I don’t understand why you do the things you do the way you do them sometimes. What’s your point?  Did she have to die like that, I mean really… She just got married and had a baby…Since you’re all seeing, all knowing, you could’ve spared her husband and kid the agony. Haba!

You may call it transferred aggression but I know what growing up without a mum is like; it’s an experience I wouldn’t wish for anyone. I took it personal that God didn’t deem it fit to spare her child that pain.

So why do we even bother. Why do we hustle and strive for career advancement and gender equality and all those bogus stuff if death is just a breath away? We should all just eat and be merry and wait for our turn…
I was feeling disillusioned, too many young people dying all around me, cut in their prime; Just like that! Leaving behind pregnant wives, broken husbands, suckling kids and devastated loved ones. Emptiness.

And why does this upset you so, Naomi? The question seemed to be floating in the air.
And then it hit me: Because it could’ve been me! Yup.
Think about it. Why are you alive and the other guy dead? Is there any known criteria the grim one uses to pick his victims?

We all want to believe we are key parts of ‘The Big Picture’; in a way we are. We believe our purpose on earth is to change the world, be a major part of some global effort to fight aliens, go to the moon, and invent something big. We see ourselves living to be grannies and grandpas, telling bedtime stories by the fireplace.  It’s not bad to think that way, not at all. But are we all going to?

In trying to understand purpose, this picture came to my head:
Imagine that ‘The Big Picture’ is to build a hotel. To get that done, we’ll need a surveyor, an architect, a brick layer, an electrician, an interior designer, a painter, a mason, casual workers, a tiler etc. in no particular order. No one is more important than the other. The absence of any makes the picture incomplete. All these people mentioned will be part of the project in cycles. An interior designer comes in handy only after the building is completed. Once the tiling is done, the tiler is no longer needed.

So it is with our lives. Life is a project. We all are specialists who contribute our own quota to make the project work. Your effectiveness has nothing to do with how long you spend on the project. If the tiler decides to hang around after tiling, he becomes a nuisance. So as much as we love the tiler’s company, the supervisor will let him go once his job is done.

As painful as this realization is, it’s helped me become more conscious of time. Every night I get home, away from the bustle around me, I take stock: Is there anything I should’ve done today that I didn’t? How close am I to doing that which I sense I’m here for? If I do not wake up tomorrow, what legacy would I have left behind?

Maybe it’s too much introspection for someone as young as I am, maybe I’m being too analytical, but I’ve realized doing this gives me a strong sense of urgency and direction and helps me keep sight of the things and people that are important to me.

And as I close I pray for two things; for you and for me:
Lord teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
May we not die wishing our loved ones knew how much we loved them.

As you go through life, see every day as an opportunity to show love, be loved, make a difference, and cause someone to smile. Find time to play. Be happy. Forgive.  Give; of your time, of your resources. Travel, see places. Spend time with your loved ones; be there for those you can. Search within for your purpose, and when you eventually find it, give it all you’ve got.

And most of all, live, like you’re running out of time.

P.s- Picture used with the kind permission of Miss Oloyede. Bless your heart dearie.

©Naomi Lucas.

No comments: