WHEN THE PATH FEELS WRONG, YOU SEARCH HARDER

You might sometimes find yourself, for long periods of your earthlife, striving after the wrong things; even worse, striving via the wrong principles and means; unaware of how you got there, sometimes unaware perhaps even of whatever it was you once really wanted, and not knowing how to change back onto the right track.

This is a trick that life plays on every Seeker – to force you to light up the inner Lantern within your consciousness; for the aim of the cocoon is to turn the caterpillar into a butterfly. So too does life make you blind in order to awaken your Insight – and then, nothing can blind you anymore apart from you yourself. Sometimes the wrong path is the right path, as long as you keep on honestly and tirelessly seeking. You will find yourself.

 – Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE SEVEN BROTHERS FROM SOKOTO

THERE WERE once seven brothers from Sokoto who were in everything contrary. They were of contrary mentality and of contrary belief. And, returning from worship on a Sunday morning to find their family home raided and burned yet again in another stab of religious violence, they finally yielded to the plea of their dying father to leave him there in their ancestral land and move south to a place where they could build safe lives for themselves.

Being contrary as they were, the brothers decided that this was the best opportunity to actualise a dream they had always borne deep within their hearts. They decided to find the sea. This was a monumental decision, for the desire to get to the sea had long been the professed desire of many a soul from their corner of the country, for all kinds of different reasons. Now they decided to find it and get to understand this mysterious pull. They knelt down solemnly before the dying Namah, their father, he blessed them with the sign of the cross; and then after one last tearful embrace with Awabe, their gracefully ageing mother, the seven brothers from Sokoto left the large rocky hills and wide arid plains of their homeland behind them as they set off southwards to find the sea.

KERMA, OR THE FIRST BROTHER

They journeyed for a long time. They passed towns and villages and towns again, then came one evening to a village which at first seemed to be empty. Curiously they made their way towards the village square where they found the entire community sitting around a storyteller. The storyteller was an old man who in his youth had travlled far and wide, seen many wonders, survived many adventures and accumulated many memories in his soul. Having arrived, in his travels, the twilight of his life, he parted generously with these memories, cloaked as stories, sharing them with grateful listeners who repaid him with money, clothes, food and, most precious of all, smiles. His old age thus became too a beautiful experience of which he would one day tell, cloaked as a new story, in a new life when he came back to the earth.

The seven brothers from Sokoto were welcomed into the audience and listened to what the storyteller had to say today. Was it providence? For upon this special evening, the old storyteller was telling the village folk about the sea, the immeasurably great sea at the other end of this large country. Magnificent was the sea, he said, and powerful, surging like the roaring of angry giants.

The diminutive, bald-headed chronicler sighed, looked far into the distance of his memory, and added in his surprisingly strong voice that the sea was close to indescribable. It needed to be seen in order to be understood, believed. It was vast, vaster then minds could grasp, and at its outermost boundary, far beyond reach, shone the line of God’s light.

Nor was the sea empty. It was bordered by strange hollow stones called sea-shells and populated with creatures of all types and sizes – he tried to describe fish ten times as large as human beings, and multiple-limbed creatures, and beastial hunters more ferocious than lions. The pictures he painted were gripping. In colourful language he tried and tried to describe the character of the sea, in perpetual motion, never still, water coming and going forever, rocking back and forth.

The listeners were mesmerized. What kind of water was this?

But that was not all, said the wizened old storyteller; there was more, much more to be said about the sea, but it was getting late… he would continue the story the next day. With great effort he stood up, his folded skin, stubborn like old brown leather, reluctantly stretching into its imitation of an upright form. The people were disappointed, they groaned, yet nobody complained. They all loved the storyteller and followed him at his pace.

The seven brothers prepared to travel on before the sun set completely. But Kerma, the first of the seven, was suddenly seized by a contrary ambition. He was a student, a learner, by nature, and had been gripped the deepest by the words of the storyteller. Solemnly Kerma announced to his brothers that he was going to stay here with these villagers and listen to this glorious storyteller who unveiled the sea to him. He could not understand why the others were travelling on. Did they not know that here they would realise their longing of finding the sea?

Nothing that any of the others told him could make him change his mind. Bluntly Kerma blocked his ears to their words and maintained his stand: Here he had found the sea! –

BANDI, OR THE SECOND BROTHER

So his six brothers turned their eyes to the road and sojourned on, hungry for the sea, their appetite whetted by the storyteller’s tales. Further south they travelled, seeking the sea. They crossed boundaries and hills and then one day they came upon a mighty river, the grand River Niger!

How were they going to cross it? They thought and searched, but saw neither boat nor bridge. They then set off down the banks of the river until finally they saw some of the inhabitants of a rustic little village. To them they revealed their mission, explained their present predicament – they did not know how to cross the river.

There were indeed a few bridges across the river, answered the very curious villagers, but they were few and far between. The next one was further yet down the river. Together they all walked along until they got there. As they were then about to cross the bridge, taking their departure from the helpful villagers, whom they had however also paid for their services, one of the villagers mentioned in passing that this river actually eventually flowed into the sea.

Into the sea?, cried Bandi, the second of the seven brothers.

Yes, the villagers said.

Bandi was a true adventurer by nature. Having understood that this river flowed into the sea, he made the decision to buy a boat and navigate the flowing river to its end, the sea. This he revealed to his brothers.

They reflected upon his words individually. His ambition made sense. And yet…! – they had set off to find the sea, and by walking south they would arrive at the sea. This here was a river, not the sea; nor were they trained mariners.

They bade their restless brother farewell and continued towards the sea. Let Bandi be content in his belief that in the river lay his possibility of finding the sea. Every man has his free will, let each man be free. –

AZEKA, OR THE THIRD BROTHER

The remaining five brothers journeyed on. On their path they met many a city, each full of attractions new and interesting. Unable to resist the temptation to explore, they lingered a little in each new place before they moved on. It was not long before they, upon entering a certain city, found themselves in a marketplace of arts and craft. There they came across a group of people admiring a giant-sized painting… a painting of the sea!

The five brothers halted in wonder and gazed at this beautiful painting of such extraordinary beauty. This was their first time of ever seeing the sea, albeit a painting of it. The sight stunned them! It seemed as if they were standing at a mighty window, gazing out into eternity. And as they stared at it in awe and wonder, the third of the seven made his own decision.

Azeka was a quiet person, he did not talk much. Opening his wallet, he extracted the exact amount of money demanded and bought the masterpiece. When his brothers asked him what he was doing, he told them that with this painting his ambition had been fulfilled. How glorious… could they not see it?

They could not. Silently shaking his head to himself, Azeka walked away from them to build a quiet house for himself away from crowds, and hung his painting on the wall where he could see it everyday. Now he would forever have the sea with him. For the quiet, introspective Azeka, the painting was the sea. –

DIRI, OR THE FOURTH BROTHER

Four brothers were left. They progressed on, further south. The vegetation, climate, landscape changed as they plunged deeper into the tropics.

Eventually they got into the city that was the gateway to the last western stretch of the south, leading to the sea. Soon they came upon a place they learned to be something called a club. The name plastered upon it was what arrested their attention – “Big Sea!”

They stopped, their eyes thoughtful, and looked in. It was a recreational establishment with a very large swimming pool in which many children and adults swam and made a lot of noise. The most impressive thing about this water was that, for some strange reason, it was actually in motion, rocking back and forth the whole time, like the storyteller had once described. How was that possible? Was this the sea?

For the first time, all four brothers were confused. Then the fourth, Diri, a somewhat physically fragile, but fun-loving and sociable character, wearied from the long march across the land, suddenly made his decision. Yes, this was the sea!

Buying a pair of swim trunks, Diri happily jumped in and joined the people playing in the pool. –

SENCHI, OR THE FIFTH BROTHER

The last three brothers, however, remained doubtful that this was the sea, however much like the sea it looked, and silently they journeyed on… until they arrived at a land of which they soon learned that it bordered the sea, and which called itself a land of aquatic spleandour.

It was not long and they began to intermittently happen upon strange hollow stones which they were told were sea shells. Lots and lots of them. And laughing triumphantly, Senchi, the fifth of the seven, a brilliant-minded man full of scientific curiousity, picked up the shells and began to study them, declaring:

“Look! I have found the sea.”

Without saying any further word to his brothers, he walked away, picking shells.

Had Senchi gone mad? –

CHONOKO, OR THE SIXTH BROTHER

His brothers could not wait to find out… the sea was too close. They left him and hurried ahead.

Now there were only two left. They walked and walked, walked and walked, tirelessly. Finally they got to the edge of the mainland and gazed across the lagoon at the island. Or rather, the seventh gazed across the lagoon. The sixth only gazed at the lagoon itself..

Chonoko’s senses swirled. Joy erupted within him like a volcano. He could smell the ocean very strongly… he saw shells everywhere… he felt the soft sand… marveled at the sight of the lagoon, water everywhere… and he began to weep with deep emotion. Were these not the promised signs and wonders?

After all these months of traveling, of seeking and persevering in faithfulness, at last he had found the sea. Gratitude welled up in him, gratitude to God. Chonoko, a deeply religious fellow, sank down to his knees and in a trembling whisper uttered words and songs of praise to his faithful God. Then, full of a mixture of trepidation and excitement, he dived into the lagoon and happily began to splash about. –

PENI, OR THE SEVENTH BROTHER

But the seventh… he looked at his brother for a long time and he looked at the lagoon. Everything seemed so right. Then his eyes arose and he gazed in quiet curiousity at the little bridge that stretched over the lagoon, from the mainland to the island…

What if?…

And quietly Peni began to climb the bridge, and he walked across the lagoon and stepped upon the island.

Gradually he progressed.

As Peni moved forward, his thoughts travelled backwards in time, back to his arid northern homeland of few trees and fewer rivers, the thick bushes that crowded around his father’s household well. He remembered the mixed emotions with which the seven brothers impressed upon their memory for the last time the old faces of Namah and Awabe, their father and mother, as they took their leave. He remembered their determination to find the sea, the cameraderie which had united them as they set forth upon their way. And he remembered his six brothers who were now no longer with him:

The first, the knowledge-hungry Kerma, who joined the listeners of a story…; the second, the wild and adventurous Bandi, who began to sail a river…; the third, the dreamy introspective Azeka, who bought a man-made painting…; the fourth, the fun-loving Diri, who joined sunny pool-swimmers…; the fifth, the brilliant man of science Senchi, who started picking shells…; the sixth, the gratefully believing and religious Chonoko, who dived into a lagoon… –

And he the seventh, Peni, he knew there was, there must be, something more. So he kept on walking. He stopped not, looked neither left nor right, just kept on walking… walking… walking…

On and on.

First he heard the roar… and then, rounding a corner as he emerged from inner streets… suddenly… he saw the Sea.

For a long time Peni stood still, breathless, and looked at it. The sea was glorious, more magnificent in real life than any story or painting could depict, grander than any river or pool.

He breathed out and at once the shock of the attainment of his goal, of the encountering of the sheer size of it, fell away. He inhaled the rough sea wind sharply and let it out again as a cry of joy that pierced crudely the loud shout of the ocean. A silent, wordless prayer of gratitude fortified his heart.

And then Peni put his quivering little boat upon the sea and set sail towards the Horizon.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.
From my book, available on all Amazon stores: THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING MORE.
amazon cover copy there is always something more 2015

EYES ON THE BALL

Up the road a few trees beckon
A moment of shade on a hot sunny day
If I stop and seek here refuge
I’ll miss my appointment at the end of my way
For my path is not my goal.

No thing of beauty will hold me down
No period of quiet will slow me down
No place of peace will hold me back
No woman, no wine, no work, no glory will change my story
For the path is not the goal, no matter what they say.

– che chidi chukwumerije.

SEX IS NOT THE ONLY FORM OF INTIMATE CONVERSATION

Sex is not the only form of conversation, connection, exchange and sharing, in the course of Intimacy between people. There are other options that may fulfil the need for temporary or permanent oneness more effectively than sexual intercourse, depending on the chemistry between, the story around and the needs of and nature within the people involved.

1. THE NATURE OF CONVERSATIONS
The nature of verbal conversations between people can sometimes be a more powerful form of intimacy than sex, giving room for an inner release of pressures that not even sex can achieve. This often happens between people who feel comfortable enough with each other, or find the courage, to share information about their vulnerabilities with one another, and have found a language in which to do so. Some friendships bear this Quality intrinsically within.

2. SHARED SILENCE
There are some people whose most intimate exchange happens in deeply felt moments of shared Silence. This silence is like a continuum in which their thoughts and intuitive perceptions merge and shape one another. The people involved always emerge from such moments with enriched souls. These are people who of one another often say: we like to be silent together. Silence is their bond.

3. HONEST QUARRELS
A good quarrel – extreme, hard, honest, totally baring – is sometimes the best form of conversation and the most intimate way to exchange the most revealing information between two people or a set of people. I became acquainted with some of my closest friends after a quarrel. I met my wife through a quarrel. It was the quarrel that paved the way for the love. Quarrels are often missed opportunities when the people involved, while quarrelling, are – for lack of trust – not honest with themselves and with the other person. And yet sometimes the fundamental or temporary chemistry between two people is such that only an honest and brave painful quarrel will fulfil the function of the intimate conversation they need in order to take their understanding of one another to the next level.

4. HOMELINESS AND HOME
There are some people with whom we share the most open exchanges and most intimate conversations because the context of our chemistry and the base of our bond is a certain sense of home or homeliness, the type in which the real us feels ‘at home’ when together with these people. Some share this connection from birth, some acquire this in the course of a relationship or a friendship that makes them feel at home with each other. And this sense of home does not require of them to do or say anything extra or particular, or require another form of intimacy. The sense of being at home while together is in itself already their intimate conversation.

5. DISTANCE
There is a curious intimacy in distance that sometimes comes into play between certain people. It is delicate and fine, but also very intense, very strong and very revelatory. Invasion without invasiveness. Penetration without intrusion. An all-encompassing knowing, full of the most sensitive respect. The power of distance as a mediator and form of intimacy is often underrated. And yet there are some people with whom we can only enjoy a feeling and a sense of an intimate conversation when we find and keep the right distance between ourselves. Sometimes such people know us more intimately than the ones closest to us and may sometimes enjoy our rarest trust. It is also not by chance that people sometimes reveal themselves to and connect with less restriction and more satisfaction with Strangers than with those they know – exactly because of the fact that they are, and will remain,… strangers.

6. SEX AS A DEPTH OF COMMUNICATION
Voluntary sex is different things to different people – a power-game, a playful act; or for some it’s deeper, a level of release. There are people however who, apart from or in addition to this, experience sex as a form of conversation. An intimate way of sharing self-knowledge and exchanging sensitive wordless information about what we are in the primitive depths of our fundamental personalities. Just as sex can be used to tell lies, project a falsehood and hide secrets, it can also be used – by people whose bond trigger that chemistry – to communicate. People who experience sex solely in this way have a satisfying sense of communication, or frustrating non-communication, in connection with every moment of sexual intimacy.

7. A SHARED GOAL
There may be truth to the saying that there is nothing that binds people together as primordially and intuitively as a deeply-felt and shared Goal. The stronger and deeper the love and loyalty they have for the cause, the more this condition possesses the ability to break all barriers between them and link inner parts of their hidden selves with one another on levels which are never activated in their dealings with other people. That is to say: when people love the same thing and work passionately towards the same purpose, it wavelengths them into a place where only they can go together. The entire context of their relationship with each other becomes determined by that for which they share their truest love and most quiet loyalty, to which they have pledged the very essence their life, and it becomes the underlining hearth of their bond, their quiet intimate conversation.

The individual natures of each person and the chemistry between people, as well as the nature of intimacy possible, mutually desired or needed between them, is what determines the form of interchange between them which permits the realisation of this intimacy.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE WANDERING GROUP

When you feel the thing
Most sought
The thing most loved
The thing most needed
The thing most sensed, most uncomprehended
The thing most yours
Approaching you…

Do not walk faster
Do not let over-excitement hurry you
Do not abandon your rhythmic pace
As you reach out to grab it
But just keep on moving
Steadily back Home.

We wander, we wander, we wander…
Everywhere we wander –
Never hurrying
Never worrying
Never tarrying
Ever merrying.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

LONELY, BROTHER

I have a lonely brother, born of a single mother and father, lonely and alone, trudging patiently home through the land of snow-mountains and smoke-forests and sandy deserts, not to forget the bottomless sea. He has few friends, for few comprehend him, even though he treasures the goal also all so alone. I want to help him, but I do not know how to, nor does he always accept help. I know only that, in the end, a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. Are you lonely, brother? Nobody is ever alone. An angel, a beast or a solitary star – one of these is always there with you and me. If I am not my brother’s keeper, who is? And whose keeper then am I? I guess I keep again our second goal.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.