Thursday, 27 December 2012

The gift called FRIENDSHIP

Season Greetings friends!!

Over the week, I had the awesome privilege of meeting for the very first time, a fellow blogger. This guy is someone I have tremendous respect for. His depth of insight inspires me more than words can express. He is a man of purpose and fundamental decency. Although our meeting was brief, but the moment was rich as we shared our experiences on life and people. For me, the moment was all about connection- not for what I can get from him, but what we can share together. Connecting with people is the most essential part of life. So, I try as much as I can to make new friends while maintaining old ones.

 Friendship is a sacred commodity. This is a relationship that is to be cherished, nourished and revered for a life time.

In my journey so far, I have had friends whose presence in my life made me a better person. I have had friends who stood by me, encouraging me during the darkest moments of my life. I have had friends who gave to me without expecting anything in return. I have had friend who believed in me even when I almost gave up on myself.  I have had friends whose tender and heartfelt words still reside and echo in the very depth of my soul. I believe friendship is a gift from God, and as long we live, we should embrace this gift called friendship.

In a world where we have many people communicating but very few connecting, it has become increasingly challenging building friendships upon the foundation of trust and understanding. I mean, people find it difficult understanding themselves, which is one major reason they grow apart over little misunderstanding. They focus more on what divides them rather than on what binds them together. A simple friend thinks the friendship is over when you have a little argument. A real friend knows that it’s not friendship until after you’ve had a fight.

Maybe I should say here that we need people in our lives that we can be transparent with and reveal who we really are. Don’t be afraid to express your need for friendship with another.  Everyone needs to share his secrets. Find a friend who is loyal, transparent, and trustworthy to share yours. This doesn’t happen overnight. It may take months, sometimes even years for us to trust people with secrets that’s we are scared of telling even ourselves.

Herein lies the challenge confronting us as individuals: How then do I transcend from the “ME” mindset to the “WE” mindset? How do I put aside my personal interest and reach out for that of another? How do I see the beauty camouflaged in the flaws of another?  Maybe, becoming interested in other people could be the solution to this problem. I must know who they are, understand where they have been, accept who they have become, share with them in their struggles, and still invite them to grow. That’s what makes me a friend.

As I conclude this piece, I must be careful to say that without close friendships, people lose perspective on what is simply part of being human at various ages and stages of their lives. However how busy your daily schedule may be, you must be careful not to let your job take the place of authentic friendships--- money, positions, or power can’t sustain your soul.  Your journey becomes interesting and fulfilling when you find a friend or friends you can travel with. I therefore implore you to embrace the gift called friendship.

And for those of you who have impacted my life greatly with your generosity, time, and love, I say a big thank you. Thanks for being part of my 2102. Let’s do it again in 2013.

I Love y'all 


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Emotional incubator: Insulated but Isolated

Today in our society, kidnapping people has become a norm. Such nefarious act carried out by ruthless men has put many under the canopy of fear. Just a few days back, the mother of Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonj iweala, was kidnapped by a 10-man gang, and a ransom of N1bn (One Billion Naira) was demanded for her release. As I write this article, she is still being held in captivity. Sad!

Kidnapping has become a lucrative criminal enterprise worth millions of dollars a year and these ‘business men” are nowhere near “stop,” as they strategize on a daily basis on how to grow their kidnapping business.

Now, let me paint a picture on a canvas so you can understand and see clearly what people who are kidnapped suffer.

They bind these victims, tie their eyes with a black cloth, and sometimes house them in a dark room, with little or no ventilation. They live in total isolation, far away from the reach of their loved ones, and sometimes they go days without food or water. They are forced to excrete and urinate in the rooms they are captured into. Although innocent, they are treated as slaves and denied their rights to freedom. With their heads throbbing, some die in the process, while others live to endure the pain. With no idea of whether or not they are going set free, they bury their hopes, dreams and aspirations and consider themselves prisoners of the future. They give up their future because of their present.

For a moment, let me address those who are kidnapped or have been kidnapped not by a criminal gang but by “self.”  Yes! People do become kidnappers of ‘self.”

Isn’t it funny how people become kidnapers of “self” each passing day?  They isolate themselves from the world, and at the same time, ask for ransom from other people for their release. They expect some guy or lady to pay the price for their freedom. The last time I checked, the dictionary meaning of the word “Ransom,” means “the release of a prisoner in exchange for something.”  They live in pains but are unwillingly to reveal where they are hurting. I believe God can heal what we reveal. They live with the odor of their past, but they fear stepping out of the cave they’ve built for themselves. They are trapped into living someone else’s dream because they have no faith in theirs.

We know where our greatest conflict lies. We who blunder and stumble in our humanity, we who stagger through our frail existence – we continually wrestle with the knowledge that God has put so much in so little. I believe the very best of us camouflage the very worst in us.

While many of us maybe living in pain, I must be careful to say that we can’t spend the rest of our lives trying to protect ourselves from the struggles of life. They are unavoidable. All men face struggle and the seasons of life, irregardless of their economical, spiritual, or sociological persuasion!

If you become intimidated by that fact, it will cause you to live your life in an emotional incubator, INSULATED but ISOLATED.

Having declared that, we must no longer focus on what can be protected. It is not what we go through that must be closely monitored. It is the pain that we are adamantly resisting- it is the loss of passion.

Look at the birthing table of the expectant mother. It is designed to hold her in the birth position in spite of the pain. Can you maintain your position even when it means that you will be exposed to a harsh level of pain?

Kidnappers don’t see the value in the persons they kidnap. And because no value is placed on these victims, they are treated just anyhow.  What more can you expect from people who are kidnapped by “self”? They are handicapped and blinded to their potentials.  They allow people define who they are, and therefore, their identity is formed by other people’s opinion. Never let people define you.  If you don’t know who you are people will tell you who you are and sometimes who they say you are may not be who you are. No one can celebrate you more than yourself.

I wonder how many people are fighting for freedom. They want to be free from this self imposed prison. Kidnapped by self, they live just another day without living for the very purpose for which they were created. They watch their dreams and aspirations fade away while they Run after mere shadow.

 The truth of the matter is the only way you can be free is to find your way to your creator. Self can’t free self, only God can free self. I encourage you to come out from that solitary confinement and live your best life, the reason for which you were created. Free your mind and fly above limitations.


Huntly Anabs

Thursday, 6 December 2012

NYSC: The Unforgettable EXPERIENCE

"...Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
---------Marianne Williamson

How do I start penning down my thoughts? I must admit, I’m so inspired that if I am to pen in totality, the feast going on in my head, I might end up writing a book on my experience in NYSC orientation camp Sokoto.  

 I can’t help but acknowledge the fact that we all have what it takes to face the darkest moments of our lives and come out better people. Camp for me was truly a life changing experience. It’s an experience I would love to go through over and over, and over again. There are some life lessons we may never be able to learn by being in our comfort zones except we are exposed to the harsh realities of life.

I crave your indulgence to join me as I express myself in writing once again, with the hope that I might be able pass across a message to people who are ever hungry and thirsty for not just knowledge, but truth.

It was not until after I arrived at the NYSC orientation camp in Sokoto that I realized I had forgotten my call up letter (the most important document), in a friend’s photocopy machine back in Yola. “How could I have been so stupid to forget such an important document?” I asked myself in silence. I was never going to get cleared by NYSC officials until I provided an original copy of my call up letter along with other vital documents as proof of eligibility for service to my dear nation, Nigeria. Two days was all I had to get my papers ready for clearance, else, I would be asked to go back home and come back next year.  It wasn’t such a good way to start out this adventure.

This was a great challenge for me, and I needed to act fast. Quickly, I called my friend back in Yola, and asked that he help send the document on the next available flight to Abuja en route Sokoto. Kind as he has always been, he rushed out of a meeting to his room to pick up the document, and dashed to Yola airport. My call up letter boarded the plane, and was on its way to Sokoto. Lol.  Just like magic, it was in Sokoto without any delay. I rushed to the airport, picked it up, and rushed back to camp to proceed with my registration. Thankfully, I submitted all my documents, and was cleared. I was done with that phase, and was welcomed into the lion’s den. 

Now, the terror for me began when the soldiers screamed out loud: “White fowl better carry that travelling bag on top your head and double up... Bag of rotten tomatoes and onions.. Abi you dey craze?”  You needed to have seen these military men in action. It was as though they were out to use us as sacrifice.

How was I to carry a travelling bag that weighed close to 50kg on my head and still double up (run) to my hostel? Well, out of fear, the genius in me came alive, and I could feel my bag on my head with both hands serving as support, as I raced down to my hostel without looking back. Then I realized just as he has stated that our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure 

I got to my hostel, and to my greatest surprise, the halls, where NYSC had provided for us to live in, were without doors or windows, meaning we were exposed to reptiles, scorpions, and all sorts of danger. It was a terrible place to live in, and for the first time in my life, I was exposed to the real “jungle life.” But the good thing was, I had made up my mind to go through the process come what may. I was set for the experience. I guess this determination alongside the help of God is what kept me going. Sometimes, all it takes is for you to make up your mind and say to yourself: “I have what it takes to overcome any challenge… I am a survivor, and I am more than a conqueror” 

With no idea I was going to be up as early as 3:30am in the morning, I mumbled to myself a quick goodnight at about 2:15am. I hadn’t gone far into my sleep when suddenly I heard wailings and violent roars: “Run outside!!! If you are sleeping you are wrong.” These military men were at work. Being the novice that I was, I immediately ran out with no clothes on, just boxers, thinking that Boko Haram had invaded our territory. I wasn’t alone in this show of ignorance anyway, because when I looked around, I saw one dude with his luggage ready to run for his dear life. Lmao!! It was such an amazing and unforgettable experience. The truth is out of ignorance and fear, many of us run aimlessly in life, with no direction or definite purpose.

The alarm was to wake us up, and make us run down to the parade ground fully kitted for the early morning meditation, man-o-war exercises and the mandatory parade. For many of us that were used to waking up late in our houses, it was very challenging to wake up that early every day. This ritual went on and on and gradually, waking up that early became normal. I feel part of what makes you a champion is your ability to adapt under any given circumstance.

Taking my bath and posting letters outside became a normal thing. In camp, you just have to strip yourself of the social mask you wear and be real. Be yourself. Nobody cares about your title or who you are. You just have to adapt and endure whatever situation you find yourself in.  

We were warned to stay away from anything wrapped in black nylon as the content may change your life forever.  “Put on your thinking cap”

Now, the most cherished moments for me were with the people I met in camp. Camp is where you get to meet the craziest and most amazing set of people on the planet. You see people with different characters and personalities. Some you can stand, and some you just can’t imagine how in the world they became humans. They are not perfect, but if you are really honest with yourself, neither are you.

You meet people with past that you can’t even imagine. Now here is the challenge; how do you connect the weaknesses in you to the weaknesses in another? How do you go about joining your past to that of another? How do you accommodate the secrets that will reveal themselves as you undress your souls before one another?

It is easier to wiggle out of the tightest clothes than to remove the layers of history that drape your souls. You have hidden beneath them for so long, and to stand naked is to stand vulnerable. But you must unveil your scars and reveal your pasts. You must show each other where you are hurting, or else it will fester between you like an undetected cancer and eat away at your potential future. In camp, I learnt how to be transparent and have open conversations; not with everyone, but with those who are worth my time and who share similar experiences with me. I realized it is imperative we recognize the brokenness in us, and courageously strip off the tough exterior we use to hide our pain. “Three weeks is such a short time to bond with people” I hear someone say. Well, maybe true, but I have a question for you: how long is LONG?

It is important to help the weak become strong. I would like to address the so-called “real people” who have had secret experiences, molestation, traumas, abuses, and early promiscuities. It is to them that I direct this message, for they will need constant care in order to rebuild what life has torn away from them. The majority of people are scarred and damaged. They struggle to make the ideal work within the limitation of their realities and our silence towards them has left them adrift in a sea of broken hearts. Well, I say it is time to throw them a life line. It is time to break the silence and be real.

Life is very much like a puzzle, and we are the pieces that have fallen to the floor. Some of the pieces have been stepped on; some have been lost for a while, carelessly kicked under the couch. But amid these oddly shaped fragments, there are people that fit one another. They do not fit because they are perfect. They fit because they are perfect for one another. They fit because the odd shape of one nests perfectly in the curvature of the other 

You must be transparent; expose yourself to people you trust and let honesty define your union. Be accepting of his/her uniqueness and honor your differences. As you let your light shine, you unconsciously give others the permission to do the same 

Just when people begin to get acquainted, they realize that they would have to say good bye, maybe not forever, but for a brief moment. There is nothing more painful than saying goodbye to friends you’ve come to love and cherish. And because of the fear of saying goodbye, some people never open up and accept others into their lives; instead, they live their lives in total isolation, far away from the reach of people. How tragic.

As I conclude this article, may I inform those of you who are yet to serve our great nation, Nigeria that NYSC orientation camp isn’t an experience you should miss. Have an open mind, for it is in camp you learn life lessons that will forever change your life and alter your perception about certain things.

This is my experience; yours might be different and even better.

There’s a whole lot more to write about, but I will have to stop here.