I am super super excited about this piece from Lucas. He is a dear friend and a beautiful soul. Hear his words...
I was in lagos for a workshop last year when a friend invited me for a TEDx event. I arrived a bit late and had missed the first few speakers. As I was ushered to my seat, I heard guitar tunes from the stage. I have always been a huge fan of TED. It helps my eccentricity to listen to some select speakers like Ken Robinson. On stage was Nneka giving a rendition. The Nigerian songstress rounded off the song and introduced another. I didn’t quite catch the title as I was being handed an event pack when she announced it. As she began strumming the strings of the guitar and applied the lyrics, the only line that got to me in the entire rendition was “A living dead to function in your reality”.
Let me stop at this point and introduce you to my mind. It is a place best described as a dump stead – everything dey there – from porn to deep revelations of the Bible. My mind is best described as a checkered board where I paint over each box as soon as I have a thought product from thought process. Simply put, if I conclude a nagging thought (and I have quite a number of those) I paint that area of my mind black to signify conclusion and subsequently archive it. The white boxes represent thoughts in process – active or passive. It is one of these passive thoughts that Nneka ignited and immediately concluded in my mind that day when I heard this phrase from her song which I have since come to know as “God knows all”. Other interesting speakers took the stage afterwards but my mind had gone into overdrive dissecting the meaning of what I’d just heard. Argument and counter-argument began among the many “tenants” in my head (you may want to read my piece titled “Multiple Personality Order” ~ www.facebook.com/sparkchange) – what did she mean? How did she mean it? Is it even possible? etc. She’s brilliant. No she’s weird. How did she come about such realization? etc. These were some of the questions I battle myself with.
Afterwards during the cocktail I ran into Nneka. Okay, scratch that, I did not run into her, I sought her out. The kamikaze was so bad I just went straight to the point, “Hi. Nice rendition. What did you mean by “A living dead in another’s reality?” Having been swamped by admirers all evening I excused her look of positive incredulity. “This is different”, she must have thought. “Uh, hi. It means whatever you want it to mean.” “Okay, so are you saying we are zombies who have conformed to the reality created for us by others and we are numb to that effect?” In retrospect I can imagine what onlookers must have been thinking – “kolo guy”. And she must have thought – “weird guy. Who picks a single line from an entire song and gets so engrossed?” But instead, her eyes lit up at my conception and she said “hmm, that’s some attention to detail. That pretty much sums up the idea too.” We went on to liken it to the situation of our dear Nigeria where people live in the pseudo-reality created by the government and how more often than not we live our entire lives in conformity to the said norm instead of a life of innovation. At this point I'd gotten my quote and as I made to shake her hand and bid her well she said she’d have loved to give me the CD she was holding(her album) but she’d promised someone else earlier and apologized to that effect. Obviously she’s not used to such confrontational people and guess I had made some kind of effect. But all these were the least of my thoughts because she only redirected my thought process. We said our farewells and I promised to buy her work from the store or online.
This chance meeting with Nneka and that phrase did not leave my mind and has never left because it became evident thenceforth that everywhere I turned there was a victim of that paradigm – me inclusive. We all go about our day as though we were in control when truly we are soldiers/zombies in another man’s army. Most of us are zombies at work performing mundane tasks because it is whence from our bills get paid and our artificial societal induced lifestyle is maintained. While deep within we would rather be doing something else that’d ironically bring more joy and fulfillment though less money sometimes. My friend you will remain a zombie in another’s reality till you break free. I know the unemployment situation and understand why some remain zombies but let your mind realize that you are in a pseudo-reality and start working on an exit plan.
A girl hits the gym and suffers through a diet she detests just so she can conform to that beauty magazine or that superficial boyfriend who makes her feel less human because of her weight. Girl you will lose the weight today and gain it tomorrow once the situation is right. You are a zombie in another’s reality if your reasons for getting in shape are not self motivated or health motivated.
Parents today have stopped flogging kids when they stray. If this decision is not part of a bigger plan and it is only induced by the excess exposure to Hollywood realities my dear folks you are zombies in that pseudo-reality. Teenage girls have become their mothers’ best friends to the point where the bitter truth is coated with so much sugar that the essence is lost. Young men are lost in careers they detest because they fear to fail a successful father. Tyler Perry's "Good Deeds" epitomizes this concept perfectly. After living the better part of his life in his parents’ reality, it took a "nobody" for realization to set in. But the best part for me was that neither his status nor his age held him back. Not even the intended marriage. He realized. He made a decision. He created his own reality. He followed his path. As parents our reasons should be well thought out and not informed by some shallow trend that will soon pass. I strongly believe that each child should be raised as your faith dictates and environment/health allows. That is a reality that is self defined.
We find this same phenomenon in our churches too where parishioners are living up to the Pastor's standard instead of God's. They have become a zombie in the Pastor's reality that's why they are irreparably heartbroken when the Pastor falls. Let the Pastor lead you but seek for yourself what the truth is. That's your personal reality; it is where you should live.
My wife recently advised me to stop spoiling discussion moods with our guests with my reality puncturing questions. She said I should allow people live in their realities when we have them around instead of constantly being the paradigm shifter. "People are comfortable with norm and don’t want a new picture of what is real or not", she said."They just want to pass time, pay bills and die when the time comes."
Needless to say I strongly disagreed with her and still do. I refuse to be a living dead in anybody’s reality. I define my terms and conditions and do not impose them on any adult. You should do same. No one should live in another's reality. It threatens our natural abilities. It truncates our propensity for innovation. It erases our individuality.
SPARK! Let’s change it.