Of Titles and Taglines

definition

I first heard the word Quotidian used in every day parlance in 2010 by one of my favourite authors, the British-Nigerian Poet and Novelist, Chris Abani in his TED 2008 talk On Humanity.

The context within which he uses the word is the retelling of a story from his childhood, growing up as a young Ibo boy in Nigeria, having to kill a goat, but finding himself too sensitive to do so. In the end, Emmanuel an older boy who has been a boy soldier in the Biafran (Nigerian Civil) war comes to his rescue, putting his hands over the goat’s mouth and covering its eyes so he doesn’t have to see them whilst he kills the goat. In the story, Chris is moved by the duty of care the older, hardened ex-soldier exercises over him concerning the simple matter of killing a goat, given that he has been involved in fighting a war widely recognised as having led to the deaths of over a million people. That deeply emotive context seems to have left an indelible mark on me, and driven me to associate a double meaning with the word. Whilst normal, everyday things are quotidian, context often colours them in shades and nuances far more complicated than they seem or should be – hence the title of my blog Quotidian Things.

For a tag line, I have gone for The Ramblings of a Lost Son. Ramblings, because if the past few years are anything to go by, my coherence levels reduce significantly as the days go by, and Lost Son for the increasing distance I feel – both physical and metaphorical – from my home land of Nigeria. Both Ramblings and Lost Son speak loosely to a sense of being quarantined – being substantially different from both my home and adopted countries, not quite fitting in either anymore and struggling to deal with the conflict inherent in reaching a new normal.

So that’s the inspiration for this, and my insistence that if I had my way, this blog would be about the simple, everyday things that happen in my world, hopefully with an attempt to understand what deeper meaning they may hold.

NaPoWriMo Day 21 – For Justice

IJM_Erasure

For Prompt #21 at NaPoWriMo – Erasure, and an inexplicably unsettling Ted Talk by the International Justice Mission’s Gary Haugen, even though this probably doesn’t count as an erasure poem. 


I’m not much of a crier-
In Rwanda tears just aren’t much help
Compassion – cum passio – mean(s) to suffer with
Up close to human suffering.

Your first introduction
Might have been We Are The World.
A mom from Zambia, three kids,
Widow, coals on the cooking fire
Completely cold, watch
Peter suffer, grow cold.

Where were you when
They were marching
Our Japanese-American neighbours
To internment camps, beating
Our African-American neighbours
Because they tried to vote?

I hope we can say we had compassion
Raised our voice, moved to make the violence stop.

Barry Schwartz on ‘Practical Wisdom’…

One big idea to revolutionise the year in my opinion – ‘Practical Wisdom’. Rules are great but they often lead to performance based metrics which meet the letter of the law, but fail to address the real root causes…. Two excellent TED talks from Barry Schwartz that I’ve been listening to a lot today.. Bring on the new year…

The real crisis? We stopped being wise..

Using our practical wisdom

On the subject of lifelong learning.

Ben Dulap, President of Wofford College speaking at TED2007  on the subject of a Passionate Life quotes Mahatma Gandhi

Live each day as if it were your last, learn as if you were to live forever.

Lifelong learning – continuously aiming to understand the rules of engagement in every sphere of life that intersects us – is the key to succeeding; it would seem.

That is another life long lesson I am adding to my burgeoning list.