Sunday, 12 October 2014

Striving Towards X...

What exactly is satisfaction? And from what well does it spring? Is true satisfaction really attainable. Or is it like happiness, that elusive high you chase and gain, only to lose and chase again? What is true satisfaction? Can it like a retirement, be planned towards? Or is this an onion-like philosophical question which leads towards a path of multiple question complexity?
Is it being happy with what you have? If so, at what point do we distinguish satisfaction from complacency? And really, what is complacency and why is it given such a negative tint. If complacency is going with the flow and accepting things as they are, then with what justification do we accuse someone who refuses to strive? Who is "satisfied” with things as they are? I ask honestly.
Is it doing what you love? The “starving artist” personae is perhaps the most clich├ęd description that dangles as a question in my head. Is a hungry artist satisfied? Why do governments keep losing social workers to the more commercially fulfilling private sectors? Or am I asking too simplistic a question? Can I be satisfied with what I do yet unsatisfied with what I get? Or satisfied with what I get yet unsatisfied in what I do? Does a balance exist?

Is a part of it found in financial security? If so, how then  does our chase for this arm of satisfaction famously imprison us? Why then do we become murderers-in-waiting at the slight sense of another who we sense may threaten our position? And if some form of satisfaction may be gained from financial security, at what point can we say we are truly secure? Is there a numerical value to it?

It seems that our push for people to be more, aim for more, aspire to more, sings out -  strive, strive, strive! I ask, “to what end?” And I ask this with the utmost honesty, as I really do not know. Perhaps, this will sail down to join the long list of questions whose answers will never be known. Perhaps I will stumble upon the answer as the numbers tumble upon my age.

The Buddhist philosophy tries explain a source of satisfaction as rejecting the lure of ownership. Realizing nothing as truly yours. While on one hand, I think they have this locked down, on the other hand, I think about Tibet's relentless strive towards independence and wonder. And so, while I like its theory, I question its practicality. Is satisfaction truly attainable? Or are we doomed to keep striving? Striving towards x.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Why Are The Elderly Lagos Cab Drivers (I’ve Encountered) So Angry?

Disclaimer: This piece is totally my observed and lived experience. I do not aim to generalize, so when I say “they”, I’m simply referring to the majority of the ones I’ve encountered.  I have driven with the mid-aged and the elderly and the difference in attitude is blindingly clear. Please feel free to share your conflicting or similar experiences.

Img:   4th May '14

In the past 4 months, I ridden in Lagos cabs enough times to recognize that perceived safety and security considerations aside, I would much rather enter a cab driven by a young or middle aged man, than I would, that of an elderly man.

Why? You may ask? It's simple. A large majority of the elderly ones I’ve encountered just seem so angry! And I really hope someone could tell me why. This anger I'm talking about is not just a mere scowl on the face. No. I'm talking about passive-aggressive anger, active-aggressive anger (if there's anything as such) condescending anger, angry at nature anger, angry at other people anger, angry at clients anger. Perhaps, submerged in this murky, slimy, rancid well of anger, there lies somewhere, an angry-at-self anger. Perhaps.

Mostly, I attempt to understand it. Sometimes, I rationalize to understand it. Other times, I ask to understand it. Eventually, I find myself abandoning my quest to understand it. Yet I remain curious. If you're still in doubt, let me describe to you, this anger that I am talking about:

Case 1: They seem mad at you

The initial contact, what ought to be an exchange of pleasantries, is anything but pleasant. An “ekaaro sir”, is immediately met with a grunt or a ‘kaaro’ with a scowl on the face. Fare bargaining is a whole ‘nother ball game. A difficult process on its own is made even more difficult with an attitude that seems to say ‘how dare you this girl challenge the price that I’m calling for you? Take it or leave it’ Then, there are times when mid-way into the bargaining, they just go silent and act as though they can’t hear you. How frigging rude!

Now you get in and the car radio is turned up so loud, you can’t hear yourself think. If a call comes in and you dare to take excuse to turn the music down a bit, you are sure to be shot a ‘dirty look’ loool. And you can bet that as soon as that call is over, you will definitely be re-assaulted with the same radio turned up to the same volume or even louder. (humming, ray-dee-o lagosi, tiwa n tiwa ni-tee-tee!)

If you happened to have made a prior arrangement with them, to be picked up at a particular time and they are late in arriving, (to be fair though, those occasions have been rare) you are certain to be greeted with an excuse, NEVER an apology. Perhaps there is the notion that apologies must only flow one direction – from juniors to seniors.

Case 2: They seem mad at other road users

To the female car driver who has the misfortune of being young and driving a fairly nice car, you’ll do well to steer clear. Please don’t cross their path or drive as aggressively as they do lest you run the risk of being labeled an oniranu, omo buruku, ashewo. Then, there are the personal drivers who cruise in their ‘big’ cars and dare to challenge these dear taxi drivers. They are not exempt from this anger. Try to battle it out with them on the road and you are bound to have words, angrily spat to the effect of “I pity you. With your oga’s car that you are using to shakara all about. Driver lasan laasan. Scratch my car and I will use your eyes to see mabo”. For people who they consider to be married women, they can tolerate their perceived silliness after all “it is your husband who put car seat under your bum bum that I blame” Even commercial bus drivers are not exempt. There is this air of superiority that can be felt when they hurl obscenities at the bus drivers as though to say “after all, I am a step up from your level”.

This anger runs deep. This anger is vicious. This anger is real.

Case 3: They seem mad at life.

The only thing I’m going to say about this is, Pray, tell me who wishes to spend an hour long journey listening to complaints and frustration at whatever news of the day that’s blaring from the car radio? Day to day living is frantic enough. The least one can expect is some silence and sanity on the journey to the next hustle. Polite conversation is one thing. However when a journey is turned into a laborious half lamentation, half therapy session, well, that is something entirely different.

So, I threw this question open to my friends and got some really interesting responses. A big majority of them felt the question was hilarious and lol-ed through it all. To all my fellow lol-ers, I lol and smh together back at you. One major theme stood out though, from the answers of those who responded. Many seemed to think this anger springs from the fact that many years ago, a number of them did not think they would be driving cabs in their old age.

To this, my response is: fair point, well made. My question though, is, should we automatically be accepting of whatever comes our way when someone who has a disappointment or regrets acts it out on one? Understanding, yes. But accepting on a consistent basis? I don’t know, really. And this is not just with regards to cranky cab drivers, but speaking generally. I believe each and every single one of us has our disappointment and regrets. What many do, is suck it up and move on. Does the coming of age equate a growth of bitterness? Or it is when the finality of life dawns? Basic two-way respect is the least gesture that should be offered and expected of any relationship be it work, family or personal. I speak honestly when I say that it is not in any way, my intention to trivialize the pains, trials or tribulations of any person. Pain is real. Disappointment is real. Ultimately though, attitude is always a choice.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

If We Begin This Journey...

An ode to a beautiful new start.

If We Begin This Journey...

If we begin this journey,
On the road to destination x
And commit to ourselves to commit
Aching to give our best

If we begin this journey,
Saying we'll stand the test
And despite the tides and turnings
Stay on course nonetheless

If we begin this journey,
With our fears and toils and tears
Who knows where we'll be turning
We'll see what happens next

If we begin this journey,
Knowing it's up or out
And like champions, we come in
With no inkling of doubt

If we begin this journey,
And watch the ranks grow thin
And see responsibilities a-piling
Yet surmount them for the win,

Then we'll look upon this journey,
And with a smile so broad
We'll take stock of wins and losses
And move on to journeys yet untrod