You sound a little sad tonight my angel
Oh how I wish I could pluck a star out of the sky and give it to you
Hand all the things you crave on a platter
Satisfy every need- spoken or silent
But hold on my dear flame lily
It is going to be a beautiful ride
When the morning breaks and you can see it all
Every single answered prayer the darkness hid away
You sound a little sad tonight my angel
Your country is yours,
I do not belong here.
Thank you for the daily reminders,
That I should be grateful for the morsels off your table top.
And the occasional warning
That home is one border and a lifetime away.
I don’t know where the idea of usefulness as a measure of personal value came from. Maybe it’s constantly hearing, seeing, or reading all these random statements people make on social media platforms or in the music we listen to and the videos we watch. A constant reminder to “stay in your financial lane” and how that is implicitly applied to how we socialise, date or develope our identities as we go along. I bring this up because it just hit me as I was doing some yard work that I don’t feel deserving of love if I’m not being useful. And that awareness snowballed into a childhood introspection of how I never observed my parents idle. My dad was always doing something. Either at church, or the school where he was a headmaster, or out in his garden at home. He was always somewhere on the weekend. We’re an SDA family, so we’d spend all of Saturday, the Sabbath, at church. In the evening afterwards, we’d often go visit some of our older relatives, others, or pass through and spend time with either of my two uncles. But Friday evenings were an exception of sorts, as welcoming the Sabbath at sunset required a bit of stationary calm. Those nights there’d be acapella gospel music playing in the house. In winter there’d be a fire too and we’d sit around that and just be. Sundays were garden time for him, or he’d be doing something for the coming school week. I don’t remember much about his school holiday routine coz I’d spend almost all of those in Botswana with my mother. Her weekends were much the same as his, Sabbath rest and church when she wasn’t working, and then a lot of time spent in her garden. I think that’s where their hearts met, in their gardens; where else could they, since they spent so much of their time apart. In my whole life I never saw either of my parents unemployed or unoccupied otherwise. We didn’t go on holidays as a family much when I was older, but I’ve seen some pictures when I was a baby and a toddler with my siblings and we’d be places I don’t remember ever being. Fast forward two decades later and sitting idle doesn’t feel comfortable. And I find myself constantly doing things, sometimes unnecessarily, because this feels like my contribution to being useful and worthy of any love or attention that comes my way. I have to be good for something otherwise what’s the point? And so I do, as much as I can, constantly. At work, at home, always doing. Unfortunately awareness doesn’t always override the power of patterns. I hope to one day soon, be comfortable with just being, and not worry about whatever imagined manliness quota I need to hit to feel okay with moments of inactivity and capitalist unproductivity.
Every year for the past few years I have written a post on my birthday. Sometimes in reflection of the last 12 months, other times in anticipation of the future ones. This year I hit a number I had grown up thinking was some sort of defining point in one’s life. I would hear all this statements made about where you should be when you turn 30. Some of it was said in jest directed at certain relatives, and some of these expectations were explicitly stated here and there in conversations. Some of my friends turned 30 before me and we’ve spoken at length about what that felt like for them and how they were going along with their lives. These were people I’ve known for a long time and it was easy to find points of resonance because our backgrounds were so similar.
Everyone is dealing with something, so this post will not be a deep dive into the things affecting me. This is just an admission, to myself mostly, that I was afraid to turn 30 because I would then have to face those expectations I had come to believe would be placed upon me. Among them a certain level of financial success, also personal and physical development that I didn’t think I’d reach in time. While these are things I think about at the back of my mind, the current theme of my life is “survive”. I’m taking each day as it comes with its challenges and demands and trying to get through just that. It’s such an anxious time for me, and a lot of my energy is put into getting by as best as I can. I’m learning as I go along that time might be just another social construct. I’m trying to relieve myself of the burden of expectation placed upon me within the context of society and family. It’s just too heavy right now. Regardless I am extremely grateful for what I do have, particularly my family in my partner, and the ability to pursue some sort of purpose in my work; there is, however, so much more that I visualize for myself. I hope by the time I approach the next way marker profound changes have manifested in my life and I can again breathe, hope, and aspire to things in my life. But for now I must muster the courage to stay the course, to get by – to survive the storm in my mind. And so, a few months late, I say “Here’s to 30, may the year be kind to me”.
The one thing keeping me here is my obligation to stay alive for love
To hope that clouds carry more rain than pain, & storms bring growth
To believe that the black ink of night & the darkness of fear gives way to dawn
To trust that if I hold on one more day, tomorrow bears a gift
That will make everything so far, all worthwhile
When the dawning sun floods my room with light, I awake a few steps off the edge. I then proceed to walk along that brink of despair throughout my day. Not only in the processes of its mundane activities, but also in the meaningful actions of my medical work. It is often the reminiscence of “better days” that makes my eyes glisten. A recollection of the presence of companions, many who feel far too preoccupied with their own realities to peak into parallel universes to observe how things are unfolding here. I thought keeping the inner circle small meant that you wouldn’t lose anyone to the passage of time and the weight of life. But I was wrong. And some song said I’d lose friends and find peace but I’m not. I have merely located a new anguish. My eyes water ever so easily now. Half crying every half hour. Stuck in a stop-start mourning of things that were and that we hoped would be. And in the anger stage of it burning all the bridges I thought would outlast me and link my progeny to the ancestry I chose for them. There is heaviness everywhere tonight.
Your tongue unfurled
Planted it’s seeds
Retreated behind your silent lips
Then they took root
Bigger than the fleeting moment that bore them
On and on into the night of doubt
And in the morning a harvest
Frightful to behold
All this fruit of disconsolation,
From so a few words?
The darkness is always close,
Like a shadow persisting in the light.
I don’t know how to shake it,
It clings to my skin like filth,
And no matter how much I scratch and claw,
Oh what a hold it has.
I pray for grace to make it,
To days when there is nothing but ease:
Of mind, of spirit, of love.
I am a flower, in a world of cacti
Nothing quite like what you’ve known
A passing resemblence of the fauna you’re comfortable with
But still just as beautiful,
Just as worthy.
Love me still
For the beauty I am