While this is a story about Valentine, it’s quite different from the popular one you know. And although the fourteenth has come and gone; if you stay with me, you’ll see that it fits this simple note of mine.
First, I didn’t have an all-that-great valentine. From the days leading up to the fourteenth, to the actual day itself; and it all started from social media – as everything else that happens these days.
I had stumbled on a comparison post about Lagos and Abuja earlier in the week. Someone had called out Lagos on its mega-city status, and expressed total disapproval for how its residents go through hardship in the name of hustle. Now because I do not know this guy, one would expect that I’d just scroll past without being bothered. And I did scroll past; but a few hours later, I realized the post had struck a nerve. Wonder why? Well, I happen to be a perfect representation of the people living this “not-so-dream” Lagos life that this person succinctly described. I didn’t know this person; but I already knew I that don’t like him/her based on my perception of the writer of the tweet (don’t judge me).
That Tuesday morning, I left home as usual and arrived at the bus stop where I would usually stand for a few minutes before I found a cab that would take me halfway to work. It’s usually an easy process, but that day was different. Asides being irritated by that tweet from the previous day, I also felt a bit off as a result of an episode I had with my neighbor just before leaving home – something about water and the pumping machine. #LagosDrama
Hard as I tried, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that, the situation that led to my little squabble with Sophie could have been avoided; how she didn’t see it, or how she preferred to fight over something that neither of us could fix at that particular time.
“Breathe, Presley…. Breathe…”
I took a deep breath, retraced my thoughts and reminded myself that none of us is perfect; and in our respective imperfections, we are required to love one another anyway. Besides, it’s the season of love.
I was doing fine until two minutes into the trip, a visibly angry man joins the cab. Great! Another “angry” Lagosian who believes that taking up more space than he needs, is a means to regain his power – the power which Lagos had taken from him.
My mind drifts for a bit and I adjust myself to act, but I’m held back…
Is this what the scriptures mean when it says we might live in this world, but we are not and should not act like we are of the world? Cos this guy ehn, it’s doing me like I should just slap his leg in place o.
I brave the ride to work, all the while muttering under my breath – “I won’t let you steal my peace, you and I are different.” I get to work and drown myself in all the things I have to do. The hours pass slowly and after what seems like an eternity, the clock strikes 5:30 pm and it’s time to go home. On my way home, I couldn’t help but notice the many display of red and white in anticipation of the celebrations on Valentine’s Day. I still wasn’t thrilled until I got to the overhead bridge right at the junction to the house. That’s when I saw a young girl, she couldn’t be more than fifteen years old; she had a small bag in her hand. Probably returning from an errand. I watched how she innocently bent and placed some money in the old beggar’s plastic plate. It was by far the most beautiful thing I had seen all day.
And that’s when it hit me!
In that moment, I realized that all day I had blamed every other thing around me for why I felt dull and melancholic. It dawned on me that it wasn’t the angry people, annoying neighbours or the Lagos roads; it was all me. I had made the decision to see only the negative things; and from doing that, I was indirectly projecting what my environment had shared with me to align with the negativity. I got home and made up my mind to change it all. Tomorrow, next week and every other day has to be better. It will be, and the journey starts now.
Even though its twelve months from now before valentine comes again, I’m practicing my love expression from now. Hopefully, I’ll have a better report for next Valentine’s day; but before I give you the updated report – I have to mend my relationship with Sophie. Maybe invite her to dinner or the movies. I’ll show a little more patience and kindness for the next angry man I meet at the bus stop or in a cab. Maybe if I’m extra nice to him, he’ll realize his mistake and treat other people better. And if he doesn’t change, well, I wasn’t doing it for him anyway.
This week, I plan to stop by the store close to the office and purchase a pack of chocolates and sweets for my colleagues at the office. Something to ease the stress of transportation which just recently got worse due to the #Okadaban; something to make the work flow easier.
Afterall, I am light, meant to be on a hilltop showing the world the way. I do everything differently because I have a kingdom-mindset. I am better than my environment, simply because I am not from here. But while I live here, I choose to LOVE & LIGHT UP my world.
With Love from A. A. Presley