Claude McKay once wrote a poem entitled ‘if we must die.’ In it, he shared that may our death not be like hogs who are hunted and penned down, while dogs, mad and hungry bark around, mocking us even for dying like pigs. We are better than pigs. Much more glorious. And so if death is to be ours, if all of us have to live through a last sunrise or a last sunset, then he noted that may it come nobly, so that even our living is not in vain. Yet so many people live in vain. Death will always be victorious, however you live. I know that. But try to be better than pigs even if we must die. Even Jane Goodall noted that death can be the last great adventure, the idea of what lies beyond it. Know it and you know life. All of this got me thinking of life. That and seeing a full moon tonite. So I literally penned a response to McKay and called it, “If we must live.”

If we must live, if we must do it our way, may we do it like the moon, unafraid to glow, unafraid to be brilliant. May we also live with people unafraid to dream, people unafraid to pass through uncharted territories, rugged landscapes or rough terrains because they are so drunk in their dreams. If we must live, may we be uninhibited by our dreams, drunk in them too and be with people who dream drunk. For what use is life without dreams even if the dreams are hazy and complex. All dreams are. What use is life without imagining the impossible, like reaching for the moon, touching it, knowing it’s there always, longing for it, seeing it and then somehow surpassing it. If we must live, may our dreams take us past the moon, take us to new heights that defy words. May we do so dreaming of life too beyond reaching for the moon. May we surround ourselves too with dreamers and together, may our dreams help us surpass all our hopes for life, even the audacity of surpassing the moon. For to live beyond the moon, is to be bold, audacious, and any other word that personifies daring. If we must live may we dare to dream. May we dare to be like the moon. Dare to be with people and places that take us to the moon and beyond, and keep us forever glowing in an ethereal radiance that can only come for life lived beyond the moon. So if we must live, may whatever lies ahead of us, be as brilliant as the moon and still surpass the moon’s brilliance. Imagine that, a life whose brilliance, whose glow surpasses the moon. What a life that would be, this life beyond the moon, beyond your wildest dreams. If we must live, may we do so beyond dreams that came before us, dreams that take us high through paths unknown, for whatever adventures that lie ahead. If we must live, may we go wherever our dreams take us. And may dreams light the path, however dark it may seem, for however long it maybe. And even if we must pass our last breath, pressed against death’s firm grip, may we whisper ever so softly, how we lived, because we dared to dream.

Tonite’s moon.

This dream, I dream, of life beyond the moon, is as breathtaking as a baby’s kiss, my baby’s kiss. I gave him the moon. Well at least a small glimpse of it. He kissed me right after, as if to say thank you. If we must live, may life’s many breath be the moon, be beyond the moon, and be as gentle as a baby’s kiss. I am dreaming in love. I am dreaming of my baby’s kiss. And life, is so worth living, because we, my baby and I, dared to dream.

Love is the closest thing to heaven on earth. It’s the closet thing to what we all deserve, what we all dream to have. To love, be loved, and die loved. It’s the light we all need when surrounded by so much darkness. To light, be lit, and die with light. To let our light flow as we want it before we become dust to dust, ashes to ashes, keeps me focused on love. And this love will break all we know. Our hope, our beliefs, even our faith that tomorrow will be so much better than today. Love knows all things. Surpasses all things too. But love, breaks all things. It hard to write too because to love and be loved is like a willingness to break and be broken. I am thinking particularly of my children. I know they say there will be tough days but the past two months of caring for them fully have broken me down. Tears have rolled down my eyes and I too have asked myself whatever possessed me to have so many of them. Love remains the answer. Dreaming too.

Then there is work. My fourth love that seeks to be first. It constantly breaks my heart with every twists and turns, every attempts from others to dim my light for fear it may outshine theirs. In these moments I’m realizing that even love with work is only as great as the dreams that can be realized. The more beautiful the dreams, the greater the love. We focus too much on work as defined by others that we forget to dream. Rather than waste time with those who choose to dim the dreams, dim your light, it’s best to surround yourself with those who prefer to help you realize them, help you dream. We need more dreamers at work. For what we value for work, can only flourish and shine when it’s built on love, when it’s built on dreams.

I have been dreaming lately of a new kind of work, dreaming of raising the possibilities of work built on love. Not just one that reflects what I currently do, but one willing and committed to transforming work beyond what I do, even if it breaks me down. I have also surrounded myself with dreamers, a rare group of people willing to transform all we know about the work we do. We are in love, this group and I. I expect one day that our love too will break us. Yet we choose to dream. For that is the hallmark of what it takes to love, be loved and die loved. Also what it takes to light, be lit and die lighting our paths, our own way. We choose to dream so our love, our destiny can unfold. For we know that even with this work, even with the willingness to be broken, there are fragments of paradise, fragments of light pushing through that refuse to be hidden. We are pushing through these dreams knowing we are loved. Knowing too that we maybe broken. Yet we keep dreaming. Keep dreaming with those who choose love.

P.s this keep was inspired by Ben Okri’s A Time for New Dreams, my muse these dreaming days.

Dreams show us what we can be.

Unending dreams based on stories untold.

Music unheard.

Art unseen.

Words unspoken.

Visions untapped.

Ideas unimaginable.

Strength unknown.

Intensity unrelenting.

Wisdom understated.

Prayers unceasing.

Truth unapologetic.

Love unstoppable.

Failure untiring.

Revolution unexpected.

Territories uncharted.

Possibilities unseen.

Stars undenied.

Fire unquenched.

These fires in my head. Transformed into visions beyond words is unspeakable.

Dreams help you say it in your own way, unconcerned about the underlying consequences of your dreams knowing it is destined to be undenied. Structures of your thoughts become unbreakable with dreams undefeated. Dreams created for change unintended until they started to manifest unassuming. Impossible places turn into possibilities unwavering. These dreams that take us to new places of clarity undeterred.

I’ll rather dream these days unhindered by anything or anyone. I’ll rather hold on to my dreams unfiltered by the norms of today. I’ll rather soar to new places far and wide, uncharted places too that only dreams may allow undaunted by anything or anyone. I’ll rather go to spaces that value a wandering spirit that dreams unrestrained. I’ll rather be with people that dream unfazed by yesterday, but prepared to light a torch for a tomorrow full of dreams unknown.

Dreams show us what we can be. An undeterred dreamer, a writer, a mother, me, however long I choose to keep dreaming unhindered by your unwillingness to dream. Keep dreaming unending dreams.

Everything ceases the moment you discover Langston Hughes. Jacqueline Woodson shared this in her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming. I have been dreaming and Langston Hughes is my keeper. He helps you become intentional with words. To him they matter and can be fire within, setting a world ablaze when used with precision. He was skillful at this, hence why I keep dreaming, of words, of joy, of timeless things I can do, because I dared to dream. ‘Hold on to your dream,’ he once wrote, ‘for if they die, life becomes like a broken-winged bird, unable to fly.’ I am holding on to them and because of Mr Hughes, I am prepared to fly. See my take on his powerful poem ‘Dreams.’

Let your dreams be like the glowing moon. Impossible to reach, but still, hold on to your dreams.

Let your journey be as golden like sunsets at dawn. Impossible to describe, your journey full of gold.

Let your joy be like countless circles of light. Impossible to count, your circles full of joy.

Let your questions be as endless like rivers without end. Impossible to debate, your questions that flow.

Let your voice be loud for justice and peace. Impossible to silence, your voice so loud.

Let your soul be full of grace. Impossible to break, a graceful soul like you.

I keep dreaming of Dahlias again. Yellow and magenta ones too, with their forever whorls. I dream of their florets. Tiny ones too opening up with endless swirl. Every single sighting is full of grace. How long will this grace last?They are the perfect flowers. Teasing my soul, daring us. Every sighting isn’t confused. They help to remember her smile, her voice, the back of her hands, the depth of her plans. Our hearts are still bruised. Grace, brought us this far. Grace will see us through. Keep the sights of graceful Dahlias.

Dahlias sighting.

‘Bear in mind, that death is a drum,’ notes Langston Hughes in his poetry entitled ‘Drum.’ To him, it beats forever, until we answer it’s call. The call is not for the dead, but those living. Death is a drum calling those living to come. I can hear it’s pulsating beat. It thuds louder on days like today. Emotions are high. Hearts are broken. Everything seems surreal. As the drum keeps beating. She lies in state. We look in a daze. This is truly not a dream. And the drum keeps beating. Mama is crying. No mother should bear this loss. Still the drum keeps beating. We feel helpless. Hopeless too. For a life gone so soon. Yet the drum keeps beating. Death is truly a drum. Calling those living to come. Come as you are. For life itself is nothing, nowhere. Cancer too, may have won this round. As the drum keeps beating. We look for signals. There is none. So we watch. As they start to lower her down. The drum beats louder now. We watch till the last call. The last sands fall. As we all heed the call. Of a drum that keeps beating. We are breathless. Speechless too. There is no air. All seems lost, even time, and a day. Still, the drum keeps beating. We beat Angie’s drum, louder today, keeping Langston in mind. Beating this drum forever. As we too now bear in mind, that death is indeed a drum.

The outpouring of love for a live gone too soon is love. To bask in the thoughts and prayers of so many is love. To bid our Angel farewell, for a life gone to soon, but lived full, is love. To see tears streaming from eyes hungry for you, is love. To hear whispers of songs, sang in one accord, till we meet again, is love. To share in your life story, your dreams of yesterday and hopes for tomorrow is love. We are been engulfed in a bitter sorrow, for your life, for the sun set too soon, but now, our spirits are full of love. You lived your best race. Marching your love, like fire over our hearts. We are basking in your warm embrace. Though, now we say goodbye, truly we pray you sleep well till we meet again.

There was a 90 year old woman, I came across, unafraid to die. She had lived life on her terms. She wanted no heroic measures. Only to go meet her maker in peace. She even had a green folder full of information in preparation for whenever she became unable to make decisions on her own. Listening to this story made me stunned. To live to be 90 is a stellar feat. To prepare to die, your own way, is equally sterling. I paused to reflect on my own life upon hearing her story. The mystery of life is that our tomorrows are never our own. Today too is a privilege. What then would it take to prepare, not at 90, but everyday? And while preparing, how am I living?

We begin this weekend entering a very solemn week in my family. Prepared to send our dearest Angie home in a befitting ceremony. I started to pack things up as customary for every trip to Nigeria and I found myself crying, because for once I would not be leaving any package for her. Instead, the package was for her daughter. Almost immediately, I heard a voice say, it is fine. The voice was distinctively hers. I heard her say Osodieme. You didn’t have to. I felt a warm embrace almost immediately. Her spirit is everywhere, even now as I write this. The outpouring of love has been enormous. Some have booked Catholic mass in her name. Others have planted trees. Many she never met. Yet, I am sure she knows she is loved. We weren’t prepared for her death. It still feels surreal to see us preparing for her burial. She was just here, we spoke too, and she assured us that she was getting better. Not hearing her voice is painful. Knowing she is never coming back is equally painful. I imagine we all have to leave one day. I know that we may not all leave like the 90 year old lady. But when we do, may we have some form of preparation, and if lucky, filled in our own green folders.

We never got that with Angie. The closet we came to preparations was the week before she died. The fast thinking from my Zobam and I to send mama home, still keeps me speechless. We acted as if we had one day. I prayed Angie would last for one day so to at least see her mother. We got a week. The week before Angie died was all we had to bid her farewell, was all we had to truly prepare. I wish we spent the last month with her preparing for her death and not wishing we could change the course of events. But then again, the 90 year old could say all she needed to say, including the need for no heroic measures because she has access to health care.

In places like Nigeria, cancer, even those as easy to prevent or treat like cervical cancer remains a death sentence. We may not have prepared for her death, but we are prepared to build a legacy in her name, where no woman would have to go through what we went through. I have no idea how we would do this, Angie, wherever you are. But I know even your death is not in vain. For you, Zz we will keep fighting, beyond this week, to get to the bottom of cervical cancer. We may not have prepared for your death, but we are prepared for your legacy. It truly matters now more than ever.

A tree planted in Angie name. A step towards building her legacy.

When you find your team, cherish them. Embrace them too with love. Not on days when things make sense, but on tough days when tensions are high and tempers are flaring.

I have found my team and I love every single way they thread my needle. I love how the pieces fit so neatly with my team, like a hem sewn together neatly. I have always wonder what it takes to use large yarns to knit a blanket or a sweater, so seamlessly that not a single fiber is out of place. That what happens when you find your team. Not a single moment with them is out of place.

We are working together on something so phenomenal, that you really have to wait to see it. These are also not days when things make sense. In fact nothing what we are working on together makes no complete sense, but we are a team. We trust each other and lord knows that the end will be totally worth it. That’s what happens when you are with your team, your people.

Radha Agrawal in her book ‘Belong’ stated that once you find your people, when together you create a community that matters to you, you will live a more connected life. In fact she dedicated her book to courageous and generous souls who wake up every day to create and serve their communities, souls that actually enjoy the process and not only the destination. I am journey with such people in my team right now. She calls it belonging or a feeling of deep relatedness and acceptance, a feeling of “I would rather be here than anywhere else.” That’s what I feel after our teams meetings all the time.

Together, no dream is too small, no vision out of limit. In fact the bigger the dream the better. The world needs dreamers, people bold enough to take on the world and we are as bold as they come. Fierce and fearless to with our legacy building work that makes no sense right now and that’s okay. We are a team and together our seams all fit nicely together.

Find yourself a team and when you do, cherish them fully. I love all of you on team light, team leaders igniting generational healing and transformation. All of you are transformational and I thank you for coming along on this light journey. Together we are a keep worth fighting for. Keep a team you cherish.

What happens when you become antiracists. I woke up early today and wrote a series of what I call what happens. Derrick Bell was to blame. I wanted to use them to teach my daughter about symbols, about failure, about questions, about life in general, but most of all what happens when she becomes anti-racist. I finally got to the end of Derrick Bells ‘Faces at the Bottom of the Well’ and I couldn’t help but now become a true believer in the permanence of racism.

Derrick Bell

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, this idea that justice for faces at the bottom of the well can’t actually be won in the United States. I bought this book last year at the height of all the racial reckoning and kept keeping it at a distance, not ready to confront the reality I knew was nestled within the pages of this book. Until this weekend. This weekend, I confronted the bitter truth of racism in America with the finest legal scholar that ever lived. I can see why people laughed it off when he once shared his opinion. Few people are prepared to confront this harsh reality about life in this country. ‘If racism is permanent, what is the point of the struggle’ as Michelle Alexander points out in her foreword. Granted accepting the permanence of racism does not mean accepting racism itself. Bell himself suggested this as well. His book has so many truths lurking for today, especially whether the battle can ever be won. And so for those who choose to become antiracists, know these truths about racism stated so eloquently by Derrick Bell:

That the cause is greater for those who choose hope rather than despair.

Those who recognize the futility of action and the conviction that something must still be done.

Those who know racism is permanent, not fleeting.

Those who see it in their real lives, not in sentimental minds.

Those who choose survival, rather than being silent.

Those who choose light rather than darkness.

Those who choose freedom rather than bondage.

Those who know there is no giving up, even as history continues to unfold.

Those who choose to be counted as antiracists for as long as racism exists.

For them, there is still hope, still meaning, even in this struggle to become antiracists.