The Language of Silence
Clarity is one of the most dangerous things that keep us up.
It’s 3:44 a.m. and it’s slightly cold and my room is deadly dark except for the red light from the extension socket beaming a reflection of my white charger. My small green fan wheezes and dogs snicker behind my room. Before now, the dogs were barking as though a strange being was behind the fence. I have heard that dogs don’t just bark. They must have seen or felt an occurrence of something, something strange and out of the ordinary. I am not concerned about their barks.
I should be sleeping, but clarity is one of the most dangerous things that keep us up. In the afternoon, the left side of my head was heavy and hot because a question kept ringing in my head: What is your purpose? What do you want? I read somewhere that you do not seek help if you don’t know what you want. And most times, I wish to seek help because I don’t know what I want. I’ve been living well for the past few months, but there’s a certain feeling that comes with December. It’s not a foreign feeling because it recurs every year, but it’s a strange feeling because it arrives into your body uninvited. Probably because as the year tunes down, we open the tab to calculate how the year has been or because we prepare to shift the tab for the coming year. In the chain of our existence, break is an illusion - just as clarity. We are never going to get a time and space to pause.
Some do pause anyway. But while pausing, they also prepare to return to where they had stopped. It’s a no-ending break; you take a minute to pause, pick the next minute to prepare and the following minute to continue. I am not writing this because there’s an urge to burst - because I write when I’m not lifted or floating. But I’ve tried to manage it and drive myself out of that reaction. My feelings are often triggered by a note or message or picture. An appearance. Anything that signifies an action for my mood to swing. So I didn’t write in the afternoon. And I didn’t plan to write now but there’s a tinkling I’m getting from the wheeze from my fan. It’s like a disruption or obstruction.
One of the things I say to myself often is to keep calm because there is time for everything. But I am also always conflicted because I do not know when to identify being calm and lagging. It takes a lot of space to be calm in the thick of a storm. You see others flying and you’re there, still buckling your parachute. You never know, maybe you need time to buckle well before flying. But we’re humans and we are impatient bastards.
Last month, I attempted to analyse my year and it all seemed blurry. Blurry because I have my own definition of success. Despite getting lots of random messages from strangers on how much they admire my work and writing, I read their messages and give thanks but not with absolute satisfaction. I had to redefine my definition of success because I forgot that I am on a different path now. And I am no longer who I used to be. I had to teach myself that it is okay to shift and move. There’s always space for everything.
The most consistent word in this short essay is space. It came out of my constant convo with my charming friend, Ife, whom I’ve renamed Ola Derrida because he admires Derrida a lot and his philosophical takes are always brilliant. So what is space? Space can mean anything we deem it to mean. Space is time. Space is a moment. Space is space. Space is matter - a thing that allows things to happen or a thing that things happen in it. There's space to heal. There's space to bond. There's space to break out of anything toxic or nonresponsive to our time and effort. We have space for everything, only if we give space the freedom to space us close to what we desire or space us out of what burdens us.
I spent the past few days in Ibadan because my plan with my friends to spend the holiday in another country failed due to an uncontrollable situation that happened. (I am using this space to wish my friend some space to heal. I know what it means to lose a loved one.) While in Ibadan, I kept thinking about what my future would look like. What next year has to offer. But I flung out that feeling because at that point, that moment, the space was not for me to worry. It was for me to sit and relax and laugh at jokes.
Today leads to the last day of the year and there is still a lot of reflection and preparation to be done. If you ask me how the year has been, I’d say it’s been chaotically splendid. I wrote a lot, work-wise. I read a little but tangibly. I fell out of love. And I fell in another which has been glorious and by far the best form of love I have ever experienced. I spoke at different events. I judged essay competitions. I became more conscious of myself. I listened more and talked less. I learnt that nobody will be there forever and it is okay to care for someone even if it is nonreciprocal. It is not healthy but you have space to choose whatever you intend to hold onto. I also learnt that people leave, and it’s okay. Everyone has a centre. And that centre is termed centre because it rotates. It's not constant. And as we move on with life, we rotate people and things around people and things.
Before the year finally closes out, all I want is the sharp silence that fills the atmosphere when power regulators take electricity. So I will go back to bed now, and sleep my way out of reality.
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