Last week I was in a strategy session at work over a number of days. Then, I left town to facilitate another session for a client. Now, the thing about me and sessions is that afterward I’m physically & emotionally drained; kinda like “virtue has come out of me”. And, I enter into this very lonely state, where I crave comfort sex and quiet conversation. I think that after flying high on deep intellectual activity for hours, it’s almost an anticlimax when it’s over and I return to the “real world”.
A while ago, I determined that out of the loneliness must come something productive – a blog perhaps, hence I write. In the past, my quick fixes were a soppy romantic novel or comedy – something where dreams came true. Sadly, intelligent romantic novels or movies have become increasingly harder to find and I’ve exhausted everything Nicholas Sparks has penned. So, writing this blog will have to suffice for now. For this write-up, I decided to speak about the things that matter most to me – a kind of Top 5 List of the most crucial things in my life. So here they are…
1. Words: Whether it’s the Word of God, philosophy or physics – words affect me like nothing else. Everything I am today is a result of the words I’ve heard or read. Over the years, I’ve turned into a serial collector of authors. I find an author that moves me and then proceed to buy everything they’ve ever written. (I do that with music too). Nowadays, when I look at my bookshelf and imagine the library I’m going to build someday, I have a sense of true joy. In my bookshelf are some of the words that transformed my life.
Anyone who knows me understands that I communicate best with the written word – I’m a serial texter, chatter and writer. And the closeness of my friendships is directly proportional to the number of words exchanged. It is not uncommon for my phone bill to spike when I make a new friend.
2. Relationships & friendships: Friendship is one of life’s most precious gifts to me. Equally precious are the relationships I’ve had with mentors, family and even random people who have impacted me. I have been shaped by the thoughts and actions of the people I’ve met. And I’ve met a wide variety of people.
From my Pakistani friend to my friends who are members of the Armed Forces and SSS, I’ve learnt that people will befriend you when they know you’re not judgmental or have loose lips. Discretion, trustworthiness and character will win you many friends. I’ve also discovered that I seem to have an uncanny ability to turn online friends into long term friends. Perhaps because I’m a words person, I can have entire weeks of conversation via chat or sms and develop enduring friendships from them. When I eventually meet my close online friends, it’s not to establish the friendships; it’s simply to continue them. And I will do incredible things for friends. I once travelled to Singapore to see a friend I’d never met, and thought nothing of it. I’ve also had dinners in new countries with online friends I was meeting for the first time. I’ve often joked that none of my online friends ever turned out to be serial murderers or rapists. Indeed, it would give me great joy to have a friend in every major city of the world.
Historically my friends have been mostly guys. I really do not know why, it just is. So, I approach the whole male-female friendship thing a bit differently. I’ve never thought it odd to invite a male friend out to dinner. It’s always been a straightforward proposition to pick up the phone to say:”Hi, I miss you or I need conversation, can we meet up for drinks?” [Thank you Tolu Ogunlesi, Seun Odukoya, Deji Alabi, Femi Omoluabi and Obieze Ekejiuba for never making a big deal out of it. You have saved me many times from the inner workings of my overactive mind].
And yes, it’s no biggie for me to travel halfway around the world with a male friend for a holiday or to go see a male friend and stay with him. I’ve often wondered why doing so would put my reputation at risk [Anyway, it’s too late now. Quite a few holidays have been spent already]. And when I call a friend up at 1 am to share an idea that has gripped me, it never occurs to me that it may be considered as a booty call.
Lately, I’ve met some really cool gals who are the closest thing I’ve had to female friendship in recent memory. [Big ups to Nwabundo Onyeabo for eliciting multiple LOLs & ROTFLMAOs in our BB exchanges; Hauwa Magoro for listening and Adaku for your inspirational work ethic and words of encouragement. And of course, my biological and adopted sisters – Bukky Plumptre, Yemisi Plumptre and Taiwo Omole who have time and again saved me from the mental trauma of shopping, amongst other things].
3. Purpose: Number 3 on my list would be purpose. I find that it consumes me and is centred on Nigeria and human potential. Three things command so much of my attention and dedication because they inadvertently help me to advance my purpose – Alder Consulting, Nigeria Leadership Initiative and Money – the latter because there can be no sustainable political change without money. At every point in time, except when am sleeping and sometimes even then, I’m thinking about one of these things. And because I tend to multitask, chances are I’m thinking about them simultaneously.
4. Human potential: I’m obsessed with creating systems and structures that enable people to fulfil their potential. That’s why Education is a subject that grips me. I’ve seen lives change because of words that were uttered or exposure to a different environment. I want to bring that to as many people as I can. I understand the limitations. I know that unless people make a conscious decision to be different and overcome their fears, you can’t do much for them. This preceding fact has been a source of great sadness for me in the past – to witness a life that could be so much more remain the way it is because of fear or laziness or both.
You’ll notice I didn’t create a distinct category for family. As much as I love my family and consistently worry about how they’re doing, I can comfortably go entire weeks without seeing them. Perhaps I’m not very family oriented. Perhaps that explains why I’ve never felt a compelling desire to have kids. When I think of marriage, I think of it in terms of friendship. In truth, it’s the highest form of friendship I can think of. It’s also a strategic alliance towards the achievement of purpose. [Someone somewhere is rolling their eyes. LOL]
I strongly believe that one of the reasons I was created was to help some guy out there fulfill his purpose. Taken together, the gifts, talents, experiences & exposure that I have been blessed with could not have been given for my use alone. On a normal day [and I’ve done the math], I can do most of the things I do at 50% capacity. I feel I should give my nation, my husband and the people God brings my way the rest of me. I have no overarching ambition to change the world. Quite frankly I couldn’t care less what the Tamil Tigers are going through or what’s happening in Haiti or Darfur. My focus is firmly fixed on Nigeria. This is where I plan to spend the rest of my life. This is the geographic space I hope to impact – God willing.
As much as I live on music, it doesn’t quite make my short list. A long time ago, when i was 17, I was offered a music deal. I knew then as I know now that I wasn’t meant to be a recording artiste. It’s simply not my path. Yes, I can write songs and sing (i have 2 recorded singles and have even picked up an award or two) but I’d rather be the one buying music than supplying it. As much as music refreshes me, it is the words set to music that moves me. I can’t listen to music whose words do not uplift me. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been a huge collector of instrumental music – I need the words. But, I have one great album in me – there are words I need to communicate through song before I die.
There are two major goals I desire to accomplish before I die:
1. Build the “friendship of a lifetime”: I would like to create an oasis of peace around the part of my life that craves a man, so I can focus on other things of import. Quite frankly, people who think a lot are “cursed” with a sex drive to match. As I don’t subscribe to sleeping around, sex within the confines of marriage would be the healthier and more moral option for me. I also feel marriage will be a great platform to impact many lives.
2. Found an obscenely wealthy charitable foundation: The foundation will be focused on nation building and the fulfilment of human potential. I find that people who are self-starters, driven and exposed fail to realise that information and the tools for success aren’t readily available in Nigeria. I would like to create systems and an enabling environment to help people be the best they can be – from providing grants for intelligent music videos & movies to providing fast internet access for entrepreneurs and helping entrepreneurs make money from international markets. These are the kinds of things I wake up thinking about. That’s why I’m going to make a living will. Like Warren Buffet, I would like the money in my foundation to be spent within 10 years of my death to help people. Let somebody else pick up the baton after that.
So folks, these are the things that are important to me. If you see me lost in thought, working like a crazy person or complaining like a bitch, it usually has to do with one of these things. They are things I would go to bat for, empty out my heart & soul for and give my life for.