My Aliveness

Me practicing smiles for a going away dinner on the day I found out I wasn’t going to be moving to Nigeria. Me failing miserably.

Of course, I keep trying to wrap my head

around Nigeria’s crisis like many of us who are aware and/or care.

In stark, and I feel shamefully insensitive, contrast, it made me think how the Universe conspires to protect us and give us the desires of our heart.  It’s a tough job.  Sometimes when it looks right yet feels wrong we wanna go with it anyway, name it “fear” (which I’m convinced we misname, thus shaming people out of following their very real and very viable intuition). Mantra-driven-you-are-not-good-enough thinly veiled consumerism–pscht!  But that’s another talk for another day.

Today, my attention is on Nigeria.  And the Universe’s conspiracy to see me to this time and place. I’m not wholly sure, guess I don’t need to know really why.  Lucille Clifton writes that it’s worthy of celebration that,

something has tried to kill me

and has failed.”

When I acknowledge my own aliveness in the face of such carnage and loss, I acknowledge a wisdom of the Universe that is soul-settling.  I’m rattled and weepy and need that much.

I think of all the things that, in retrospect, felt like and probably were impending doom.  I know I didn’t survive on my own merit or smarts.

I lost my job to begin the Hard Years because I was planning a move to Nigeria.  It was an academic contract, and there are details that precluded my reneging at the last minute.  But they all answered to my gut.

Today I read, “Three states, Adamawa, Yobe and Borno, have been under emergency rule since May last year.”  Adamawa, where I would have lived.

This doesn’t mean that the Universe ignored Two. Thousand. others because I’m inclined to hope, perhaps again, a need for my own soul-settling, that there is a plan for all of us that is as much about us, the individual, as our collective presence and role.

I was “supposed” to be at Virginia Tech during the 2007 massacre.  I  turned down that offer.  Whatever the details; ultimately the only one that mattered was my gut.  In the next two years, I would realize that at least one of my classes, a creative writing driven composition course would have likely found me teaching the shooter, a creative writer.

These times are heavy ones.  And the lifting will require discernment and grace.  And a reminder: aliveness needs to count for something.  Think on it.

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