O wandering heart of mine, I trace your tracks up this hill but I do not see where you go. Day and night you wander, paying little heed to burnout. Across all entrances and exits you dash simultaneously, drifting unreservedly. I trace your movements but only find traces of questions you leave behind. I cannot understand your tracks, they are unimaginably complex. I cannot number your steers, they are infinite in number. You disperse in prideful splendour to flounder in collective shatter. Your pride-filled ways mislead, moving but going nowhere precise. Your words are multi-minded, yet you push to enforce your will. You wail with outbursts of desire, yet, en route your solo dash, you desire nothing ultimately meaningful.
To turn my hurt to life. I sit and contemplate. Could it be, a reason for every hurt, every mixed conflict, moment of pain, sorrow and disillusionment, is eternal glory? Eternal glory that outweighs hurt and transforms to life? I pause and contemplate. I try to fix my eyes on what is eternal but struggle. Lord, be a banner over me and take me to the place you want me. Like a leaf that falls and dillydallies mid-air, I too dream to land on gentle waters, that purify the soul and unravel a renewed horizon of hope onto a new day.
Why did this happen? This happens, that happened. I don't understand why that happened. I would be fooling myself, speaking out of utter arrogance if I claimed to understand why it did. If my choice was mildly out of place, I would be in a different place now. A different place may produce a different outcome, a different outcome may produce a different life. What if I made a different choice? In my pursuit of truth, I stumble upon a realisation of human finitude. I don't get to make all choices so I don't get to see all things. I don't get to see all things so I don't get to know all things. I feel humbled as I return where I started. I'll no longer ask why it happened, I'll simply acknowledge that it did.
I wonder what it is about desire that swivels within layers of layers. I unfold and unfold but I find more layers. I contemplate upon these layers but I find unfolding questions. Were I to put into words what I see, I would remain stuck in a standstill. Yet desire ravages on the inside, yearning to be expressed. I lay me down in silence and stillness of thought. I hold onto what I do not see. I say to myself, I will wait for you.
I am pleased to have been featured on the Black Future Dr Podcast, where I discussed my research experience and African/black identity. See the link below to listen:
Identity is a key interest of mine, and unsurprisingly, a theme I like to discuss with people. In this interview, I discuss with Olaoluwa, who shares her personal experience of growing up in the UK. We also discuss issues of belonging in everyday life and more. Click on the link below to watch our discussion.
Though most days feel like a blur presently, it does not feel so long ago since I started my PhD study. For readers who may not know, my PhD research is on Nigerian Student Experience, and I currently explore themes of identity, belonging and performance among Nigerian students.
Now, back to my short post!
2020 was a difficult year for me, because I lost track of my work-rhythm and had to fight to find a new rhythm of productivity. I had difficulties reading, writing and understanding; I struggled to find any kind of mental clarity to process my thoughts succinctly.
In that season of struggle, I learned it was important to turn up consistently and try to push my research forward with every ounce of energy I did not have, despite the challenges I faced. I ‘did not have’ any energy because I felt incredibly drained in the process, but I made progress, with continuous effort. I have to thank my amazing family, supervisors, pastor and friends for their support, because their time, counsel and love made (and continue to make) a huge difference to my wellbeing, stability and productivity.
I am currently in my third year of study, and I wish to express how incredibly thankful I am, for the privilege I have to do what I do. I am thankful to have ideas and abilities worthy of use, and I am thankful to research on a subject I enjoy so much!
I am learning, still, to persevere and turn up persistently; I am learning to live by faith and not fear; I am learning to remain grateful and give thanks to God in all situations.
It is nice to write my sixth letter to you on your birthday. It is such an interesting experience to read your thoughts and observe patterns and changes as time goes by.
I wish to congratulate you on reaching your third year of PhD study. 2020 has not been the most straightforward of years, but you have tried consistently to move forward in life.
As I read your last letter, I noticed how focused you were on keeping its content ‘professional’, by focusing primarily on your PhD and film. Though they are great feats, I would like to highlight this time around that, your thoughts have been dominated recently with the fight back in Nigeria against evil and injustice. You have been concerned about how you can make a contribution to this fight.
While you may not have all answers right now, and may feel sometimes that you are making no real contribution, you are learning to remain present in the moment, and not let it catch you idle.
Because of events you have witnessed this year, it has grown more apparent to you, that the future is always uncertain. Nevertheless, you have learned as well that uncertainty is no reason for fear. I have no idea what I would write you next year, but it is okay too that I do not know.
God be with you always and happy 26th.
Emmanuel joins Neel, Femi and Dawan of The Frame Podcast to discuss art, authenticity, education and more. See the link below to listen and join in the conversation.