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Tag Archives: Past

 Dear Jil, in my last mail I forgot to tell you about their marriage. I mean the marriage of the couple I spoke to you about. Their home is relentlessly filled with happiness. There’s a lightness and airiness to that home. It’s as a home should be.

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My dear Jil, there are things you ought to forget in life, things you shouldn’t try to remember. You shouldn’t be regurgitating past relationship trauma, especially if partial amnesia has set in. That’s healing going on.

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My dear Jil, please stop crying. Let me see if I can break it down for you, so you’ll see what the issues are. This man can’t marry you. He wants to marry you but he can’t. The problem is inside him, it really has nothing to do with you.

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My dear Jil, I keep telling you to leave this past alone, to get away from it as fast and as much as you can. If you don’t leave the pain of the past where it belongs, you’ll damage your marriage and your future. You won’t be able to relate well with your husband, and you’ll punish him for the sins of your father. Lots of marriages have broken up not because of present tense but of past participle. And you’re in a losing position here. The man that conditioned your worldview is long gone! You’re fighting a dead man. How can you win? Continue reading

Dear Jil, the late Arch Bishop Benson Idahosa was a most interesting man. He had all these anecdotes, some so hilarious; but they were nuggets of wisdom. He famously illustrated a piece of wisdom with the story of two Volkswagen Beetles. You have a flat tyre, you drive a Beetle. Your neighbor has an extra tyre, he drives a Beetle. Why pray for tyre, he asked! The lessons are myriad, the simplest being the unnecessary spiritualization of commonsensical situations. And the unnecessary complication of otherwise linear decisions. Now, what I’m going to say to you is going to rub some religious folks the wrong way, but that’s okay.

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My dear Jack, everybody has a past. Our periods of reckoning may differ but everyone has a past. A past we don’t consider a past is still a past. And the past stretches all the way back – farther than we ever want to acknowledge, or imagine. It stretches all the way back into our family history. At least that’s what society calls a past. Society insists you’re an agent of your family history.

The reason we never see the horizon of our past is not because it stretches so far out. It’s because of the nature of memories. Memories can be sanctimonious, hypocritical and self righteous, which is an irony considering memories are treacherous. Another thing about memories is that they’re prejudiced, jaundiced and discriminatory. Memories are discriminatory against full truths. They embrace half truths. We can even say memories are racist. They maintain prejudice against truths of certain colouration. And they choose what they want to remember and discard all else into life’s recycle bin. So be careful about pointing fingers at someone’s past. Your memory might just be playing a trick on you about yours.

Now, here’s what I don’t get. You wanted to know about your fiancée’s past… You weren’t requesting for benign details – the type of stuff that will populate a bio. No. By past you meant her sexual history – how many men she’s slept with and all that tasteless details of her life. Truth is, you wanted to voyeur on her coition history – obtain sexual titillation from privileged access to buried puerility. Such privileged data you believed will make you closer. You’re sharing secrets in secret after all. Just two of you.

Because you persisted and insisted, and wanting to be honest and sincere she told you the whole truth. And now you can’t handle it. You can’t handle the truth you ordered. If she didn’t tell you the truth and at some point you discover an undisclosed fact, you’ll accuse her of concealment. And knowing the way we think as men you’ll infer all sorts of things, doubting other truths she’s told you. You’ll project and contend you can’t trust her again. You’ll be afraid of being cuckolded. Every time she walks out of the room to answer a call your mind will wonder. Whereas she walked out not to disturb you. Sometimes we ask for what we can’t handle. If you can’t handle the truth don’t place an order for it. If you must insist on being Mungo Park or Christopher Columbus, making a voyage of discovery into the past, be sure to have the stomach for exploration. There’s something called mal de mer – sea sickness. Yes, in her past she’s slept with more men than you’d wanted to accommodate. In fact, you’ll prefer her to be a virgin. But she’s not. You can’t erase that fact. Can’t do time travel to alter her past. If you erase the past you won’t have the present. That’s the paradox of life. We’re products of history.

At some point you’ll have to decide if virginity is what you want, or a beautiful marriage. The woman you’re judging is not the woman you fell in love with. By your account she’s a wonderful woman. Yes, she was sexually effervescent growing up but you can’t have her without accepting her past. I’m not trying to excuse her past. That’s a misnomer. There’s nothing to excuse. It’s just what it is. You’re either going to keep judging Mary Magdalene on account of her past, or you’re going to accept her for the godly and wonderful woman she became. It’s up to you.

Now, if you decide not to go ahead with the wedding, that’s okay. It’s your appanage and prerogative. And no one can judge you on that. What you can’t handle, you can’t handle. But I’ve seen life, and I can tell you a lot about life. When you meet that woman, you just know she’s the one. She’ll pass effortlessly all your secret tests. She’ll hurdle your clandestine exams without being aware. Your values will sync, your character inclinations too even if personalities differ. There’ll be this peace inside you. And that peace will keep returning however you subject your decision to doubt. You will know that you know that you know that this woman loves you. You’ll know she genuinely cares about you. She’ll be identified with you, so naturally. No contrivances, no manipulation, no wanting to become. She just is. You’ll look at her and wonder what manner of being she is, and why you’re so blessed. The things that concern you are her concern. She’ll want to be with you, give up things for you. You’ll feel at home with her. You’ll just be yourself with her. She’ll be a comfort to you – your sea of forgetfulness – a mellifluous drowning of the harsh realities of life. When you meet your woman you will know. And nothing else will matter.

If this woman gives you the above listed consolations I’d say be careful about losing her. Your virginity test may well be a technical disqualification of certain happiness. Everyone has a past. I’ll say go away – take two days or three days off to examine things, to arrive at a conclusion. It’s important you’re convinced about your matrimonial decision. Without that conviction life will send her minions after you – Fear and Doubt. They’ll always lurk outside your door. Without that conviction, if there’s a delay in conception you’ll blame it on her past, rightly or wrongly. If your decision is adverse, without conviction you will have regrets in the future about not marrying her. You’ll always wonder what could have been. Life has ways of recasting probabilities in dark shades of regret.

If you do decide to go on with the wedding however, then set your face like a flint and love her for who you know. There’s more to life than the past.

Your mentor, LA.

© Leke Alder 2014

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My dear Jil,
Today I want to talk about time travel. I know… Sci-fi right? But Physics is such a titillation for me. You should study it. The notion of time travel however presents a paradox – the Grandfather Paradox: Can one go back in time and kill one’s own grandfather before one’s father was conceived? This is the great paradox and scientists are grappling with it as with so many other bizarre realities of life. 
Do you know there’s a theoretical framework in Physics that says you can arrive from a journey before taking off? There’s so much we don’t know about life, so much to discover. Time travel of course raises questions about the nature of time itself. Is time linear like an arrow, or is it a constellation of spheres of existence, like planets as some suggest? 
There’s also the theoretical possibility of parallel universes. Does a “you” exist in another universe? What is Physics without exciting crazy possibilities! I wish it were properly taught in schools! Through Physics we peer into the brilliant mind of God! Theoretically, there’s nothing limiting time travel, either to the past or future. Reality is another thing entirely though. But suppose we can indeed do time travel. How wonderful that would be!
Imagine if we can actually go into the past, to correct our paths in order to avoid the mistakes we have made. Or go into the past to amend our track so as to escape the trauma visited upon us. If Molly can go into the past, she could make herself one minute late to Joke’s party – just one minute! Then she’d have avoided meeting Emeka the Barbarian, and all the trauma and drama. What if Justina could make herself go to the other party? She would then have avoided being raped by Sam. If Kenny can adjust the course of history, she would avoid meeting John in the present. He drained her account. And Labake can also adjust her timeline not to sleep with Tunde. Then she wouldn’t have been pregnant. Suppose, what if, perhaps, if… All these are suppositions and hypotheticals.
Scientists are battling with time travel not knowing we already do time travel. We undertake journeys into our past with suppositions and hypotheticals. I know Clara does time travel. She told me her aborted fetus would have been three years old now! She keeps punishing herself with that thought. We can be so harsh on ourselves, flagellating our souls in search of penance for restitution. We beat up ourselves so much for mistakes of the past we become too weak to make the journey into our future. As if doing injury to the fleshly stock of our soul would edit the past. The past is the past. No amount of recrimination we visit on ourselves will change the past. What has happened has happened. The problem most times is that we’re unwilling to forgive ourselves. That unforgiveness can be worse than not forgiving others. Both are terrible variants of one another. We all make mistakes. We’ve all made mistakes. Except hypocrites of course. Their pasts are perfect.
Amazing how God can graciously spare a man what he can’t handle and he imagines himself a superman; begins to judge others! Sometimes we feel we’ve done such terrible things and God won’t forgive us. Means you don’t know God! He’ll forgive anything. He’s not a man. God forgives! And he keeps forgiving! Men of course won’t forgive. It’s why they say terrible things about you, such horrible things! Yet their opinion is irrelevant. The only opinion that counts is God’s and he’s NOT judging you! Forgive yourself! 
Let me quote an excerpt from David Jesse’s Book of Poetry & Wonderments: “God makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet… God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him. He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud. God’s love… is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, making everything right for them and their children as they follow his Covenant ways…” Psalm 103:6-18 MSG. This coming from a man who slept with another man’s wife, impregnated her and tried to obscure paternity. He didn’t stop there: he arranged the gentleman’s murder; then he married his wife. If a murderer can script the foregoing, surely YOU can forgive yourself for being raped. (And how is that your fault?!)
Forgive yourself for making wrong choices in life, for stupidities of youth, for willfulness, foolishness… Stop travelling into the past. Stop visiting the mistakes of your past in the vehicle of “If only…” The island of mistakes in your past is not a good tourist destination. God loves you because of your past, not despite your past. 
Your mentor, LA. 
NB: This is my last but one letter to you this year. I’m looking forward to vacation.
©Leke Alder 2013

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Dear Jil,

Let me pretend this morning to understand where you’re at…that I know your pain. I pretend because no one can ever feel what you feel. No one can know the hurt. Such pain is individualised. Too many people theorise prescriptions about getting over hurt and pain. They’ve never been hurt in a relationship. I do understand how holding on to the pain can seem so natural. The pain actually keeps coming back at you, on its own.

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My dear Jil,

You’ve got to find a way to scale your past.

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