I once contemplated suicide. I was confused. I felt alone, misunderstood. I (thought I) had nobody to talk to really. I mean, really talk to. I caved inward, became more reserved. Faked it to the hilt. Damn being authentic. Outwardly, I was smiling, brave, nonchalant. Inside, I was dying. Slowly, atom by atom. Until I came across a book. Full of quotes. And it literally saved my life (no pun intended).
These words have weighed heavy on me for weeks now. First I ignored them. And then I was holding them back, waiting for the “right moment”. To start the project before divulging the details. But the words have birthed themselves, and if I don’t let them out, they’re gonna run a gamut in my chest. I’m trembling as I write this. Tearing up, the levees can’t really hold. Perhaps all this is too soon, too raw, too…vulnerable? Maybe I’m going a little nuts. But hey, aren’t we all already? Maybe I’ll be the laughing stock, I won’t say I don’t care. Maybe I’ll stop all of this before it’s even begun. Chais pas. Point is, I need to tell the truth. And right now, in this moment, this is what it is.
Do you ever wonder what would happen if someone – a colleague, acquaintance, friend, family – were to ask “How are you?” and you respond “I feel like shit”, with the truth, how you really feel, instead of “I’m fine, and you?” How preposterous would that be?!
Some people say that humanity has lost its way. That we no longer have values, principles. That we’re just going along with the crowd, with the hype. Neglecting what is yearning for our attention; that which we need to really live. Many of the people who say so tend to be of generations past, the “elderly”. So pray tell me why I’m beginning to feel the same?
There’s something seriously wrong with this world. With our psyche. Of how things are, should be, could be. We focus too much on the external, on the appearances, do all but pay attention to the core. We run around in circles, searching. And once we think we have found, we run around in circles some more, chasing the ever elusive.
Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s in our genome. The essence of who we are. Maybe like the ever-expanding universe we have a non-satiable appetite for “more” – experience, love, success, joy, faith, hope.
I really don’t know.
But what I can say though is that often times, I need to talk it through. With myself, with a friend, with Allah. And sometimes I do. But many times, it’s like the avenue to do so isn’t really there. We are constantly being – happy, sad, angry, jealous, loved, busy, hungry, excited. But how often do we just “be”. Sit in the moment, take it all in, hover over this genius machine of a body and just observe? Or do we just get lost in our titles, roles, jobs, families, even dreams, all in the pretext of having found?
This is all coming out jumbled, messy. Let me try to clarify.
I want to talk about real stuff, life stuff. Things that matter, that endure, that transcend any and all of the boxes and boundaries and concepts our human minds have conjured. To go behind the scenes. To go behind the Seens. I want to tell the truth – as I see it, as I experience it, as I observe it – and to encourage others to tell their truths as well.
To address some of the things we all probably deal with, think, say, but would rarely admit to ourselves, much more to another. Like envy, jealousy, insufficiency, selfishness, faking it, doubt, poverty. The deliciousness of desire, of passion, of rewards well-earned, of feeling accepted, of discovering, dignity. The contradictions. All of it.
We lie to ourselves every day in so many ways. No wonder we’re never really “free”. We get so caught up in being “politically correct” that we leave out the nuances of life, of humanity, of us. Even in our attempts at standing out, we ultimately fall in line.
And then there’s the silence. The pretense. That we got it all together, when we really don’t. The folly of that? We extend the lie. To others. That if you do it this way, exactly this way – mind you, you’ll get it that way. What a comedy show. To think one/a few instruction manuals will work for everyone when the circumstances, fibers of each single being is different.
I’d like to keep this raw. As much as possible I’m gonna ignore my inclination to tone things down, to edit, to review. Consider it free writing. I’m tempted to even say that these words coming out aren’t and won’t be mine. But that’s a cop out. It’s mine yes, but it’s not borne from me. It’s coming from out there. Somewhere. I don’t know.
I’ve been feeling very matrix. Like I’m switching between two interfaces – how things seem, how they really are. Maybe I’ve been reading too much sci-fi. But really, what’s real? What it is, or what they (don’t ask who) tell us it is? There are no right questions, less so ‘right answers’. But does that mean we shouldn’t converse? I’d like to. Actually, need to.
That which endures. It’s messy. But it’s life. Behind the scenes.
“Let’s tell the truth to people. When people ask, ‘How are you’? have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully. You must know, however, that people will start avoiding you because, they, too, have knees that pain them and heads that hurt and they don’t want to know about yours. But think of it this way: If people avoid you, you will have more time to meditate and do fine research on a cure for whatever truly afflicts you.” – Dr. Maya Angelou
Photo Credit: Black Bamboo Studios
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.