In killing rage, bell hooks talked about the need to heal our wounds. Not to be misconstrued with moments where we survive with grace, elegance, or beauty, but rather the wounds that are often hidden or fundamentally traumatic. Living and coping with the ongoing pandemic is fundamentally traumatic and we are all not okay. I have always known this. Tried to move past it too. There is so much as stake and stopping to hold myself longer was never really an option when so many people are relying on you to be strong. Relying on you to be okay. But yesterday, in the middle of watching snow fall and learning about how trees withstand freezing rain, I realized that I have been holding on to a collective wound for too long.

It may seem trivial, but there was a time, I was always on the go, traveling from one country to another in the name of Global Health Research. Research for me was never to be done in the US. So I travelled whereever and whenever work called. I have not travelled for work in 2 years. The last time I did was to South Africa in January 2020. I call myself a global health researcher. I describe myself too as one who learns about global health in person, connecting and weaving stories about our field with people themselves whose stories I am privileged to tell. Such an approach focuses more on the dynamics of the story listener, which is as equally important as, if not more important, that those who tell the stories. I have not listened to stories in person in 2 years. I have not seen people as I normally would, to listen and learn from them in 2 years.

I have also stayed in the shadows with the pandemic. Not spoken eloquently like others or even written eloquently in academic papers about it. Honestly, I am exhausted with the way research is framed in academia. I am tired too with who gets to tell the story for others and who doesn’t. I am also longing for new ways to listen to stories and tell the stories I hear in ways that do not silence or ignore people. It wouldn’t and shouldn’t be based on impact factors within journals. It should be people factors, everything that allows us to connect first as humans and not experts or others. I want to be counted among the people that break this cycle for good.

So many things have inspired this insight within. Becoming a mother during the pandemic, while mothering 3 others, and being there for a frontline spouse may have played a role. Telling diverse stories matters, that doesn’t silence but names the woundedness within our field is so powerful too. But honestly, as we all start gearing for a post-pandemic phase, the one thing I long for is knowledge production uplift with my work. Similar to what bell hooks described as racial uplift. If I wasn’t listening and telling stories pre-pandemic, in ways that make sense to the people I work with, now and post this pandemic, I intend to retain the ideals of the people I serve.

I want my work to focus more on how we see ourselves. To enter spaces and create stories that break so many diligences. To also reclaim spaces where our lives and our stories are heard as loud as we want is also an urgent desire. One where we cannot resort to collective failure anymore. If academia has ushered in learned helplessness as with the way we write, or for whom we write, then the time for change is now, if we really want to attend to the needs of the people we serve. I don’t know what this may look like, but I am working on it and in due time, I look forward to sharing ways that I plan to heal from the trauma inflicted upon all of us that would rather listen and be in the service of others and not institutions or programs shaped by white supremacy. I know that when we all start to address our collective suffering, we fill find ways to health and recover that can be sustained long after this pandemic end. It’s now my life’s work, openly healing wounds from this pandemic.

Imagine taking seven days to frame the entire world. The kind of patience it would take to ensure that the stars and the moon are in the right place. All sorts of fishes or sea monsters swim the oceans. Mountains and hills are perfectly framed with volcanoes ready to erupt as they please. Having such a patience with fine details would be sterling. Something that only the universe can accomplish on their own without any interruptions. Well I’m no universe and it’s taken me nine years to finally make sense of this dance I have been dancing with words. One that only fully came to reality in 1.5 years. So for close to 7-8 years, this dream that I had to simply write, was dormant. In fact, dead. Of course I wrote. But for others, not myself. Of course I will always write. But again for others, not myself. The dance with the mind, the communion between the writer and the reader is one that we must all guard at all cost. When I noted earlier that I was writing, truth is I was writing in the way others told me to write. I wrote in a manner that was pleasing for the scientific community. A style that required us to have sections that we called introductions or methods or results or discussions. Master this style and you have a career. I have made a career out of this style.

This year, I’m am 2 papers away in this style with earning my 100th paper. I discovered that just the other day as I finalized my performance review for last year. Many scholars would be thrilled to say that have 100 scientific papers, yet I felt truly sad for myself. Not that none of the work isn’t important but more so, because i have been dancing this scientific dance to the detriment of the minds I would rather serve. What I mean by this is that, in science, in science writing in particular, there is no communion with the average community. Of course, we dance with other researchers, many who themselves are prepared to dance like you. But honestly, I would rather that anything I write be in service of you. Anyone and not just researchers in the scientific community. I would rather that I dance with words for people who would never think to download any scientific paper but are curious about ways to stay healthy. It has taken a pandemic for me to get here. But now, I want my writing to be in service of humanity. I want to use words to change the world. It sounds like a dream and well, I am prepared to dream and work to make it come true.

When writers and readers manage to touch another’s mind through reading, the intimate, sustained surrender that is felt, without fear or interference, this dance of an open mind, fosters a particular kind of peace that requires vigilance. Securing that peace, the peace of a dancing mind, is our work. ‘There isn’t anybody else’ said Ms Toni Morrison in her little book ‘The Dancing Mind.’ I totally agree. She may be gone, but her words, are my source of inspiration. I hope to use this blog to help you experience your own mind dancing with my own. Securing this peace, the peace of the dancing mind, is now my life’s work. Rest In Peace Ms. Morrison. The dance continues…

I imagine when we meet. When our hearts and minds connect our steps will move to the rhythm of the beat. Our minds may wander. Your beauty is like thunder. The sound of cars beeping will bring us back to the reason for our meeting. If I must confess, you make me dream. You make me soar to high points through words that allow me to dream. Clouds maybe grey. Sunrise distant. But your brilliance, your ability to outshine grey clouds, is the reason life doesn’t frighten me at all. The reason I want to keep dancing with you. For these are unpredictable times and only our furious dancing will do.

I presented at the 2021 AORTIC Cancer research in Africa. There was a pre-conference the past two days and I was asked to lead this morning with a discussion on why implementation science research for cancer in Africa. What many people do not know was that the invitation which came July 12, came exactly one month before my sister in law passed August 12. I took it as her parting gift. She knows I love to talk. She also knows that I do research, implementation science research in Africa. But I have never done Cancer work. Never even felt it was my place to do so until her cervical cancer came knocking at our door steps. The preparation for the presentation has been one giant healing process for me. I literally wrote poetry, yea or maybe verses on ways to disseminate cervical cancer research using her experience as an entry point. I was so tempted to do so at the presentation that I opted out last minute. Not because I don’t think they were great and I will publish them here one day, but more because ours is still a very conservative field and the idea of decolonizing how we present research or even saying anything anti racism scares people, though I am working on verses for research. But I digress. For now, here is the standard presentation I gave and yes, I gave it in her memory as stories still, to help guide those who want to fight like hell so we don’t have to tell anymore stories like Angie’s.

I know we have heard a lot about implementation science the past couple of days, with a lot of talks about what it is and how to do, but let me paint another picture if I may of why this matter for the region.

So I am an implementation researcher, interested in how you sustain evidence-based interventions in resource-limited settings.

I am also a storyteller.

I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, with a show called Tales by moonlight which is similar to what griots do in many other African settings, and so stories are all I know, and it was refreshing to hear Dr, Eche tell his implementation story these past few days. I think we heard yesterday for example, that policymakers respond to data, I agree.

As someone who used to work in the UN, I would also add that policymakers respond to stories, especially stories about data, stories about what works or doesn’t work, even stories about the constituents they serve. So let me tell you a story If I may of why implementation science matters for cancer research in Africa

And I want to begin from with the story of Angie. Angie, a 53-year-old woman, as is typical in most African countries, presented in the clinic with stage 4 cervical cancer.

There were no warning signs, or least when she saw some, she didn’t take it seriously. She never had pap smear in her life until she presented. She didn’t even have any access to universal health care insurance.

Only reason she presented actually, was because she couldn’t eat anymore, and felt something was obstructing her ability to eat, and was seeing blood in her stool. Angie’s story is typical in many African settings, and in particular for understanding why context matters for implementation science cancer research in the sub-Saharan Africa.

And to illustrate that a bit, I allow me to use some analogies. In our settings, analogies are like proverbs, they are like miniature tales, building blocks if you like in simple form of ways that the field can proceed.

This recent paper by Haines in implementation science describes context as a fabric. A blue fabric in this case, and just as embroiderers must first understand the fabric they are working with, researchers and practitioners of implementation science must obtain an understanding of the context in which they work in before selecting or adapting an intervention or any implementation strategy.

The red needle in this case represents the implementation strategies and thread is the intervention you may have in mind, and all of that have to be in harmony with the context in which you find yourself in.

I really like this paper, but let me address context in another way. Enter Yucca which many of us in Africa, may know as Cassava.

But if you traveled to South America, it is called yucca and it is used to make empanada, yucca fritters or yucca chips. Now this same tuber, if you come to my home country of Nigeria, can be found in local dishes such as Abacha, or what the Igbos’s call African salad, or eba and soup, eba being a typical Yoruba dish, or quite simply garri and groundnut, something we all eat in Nigeria as a favorite meal.

I use Yucca and Cassava here to illustrate again context matters. It the same tuber, but if you went to South America, its used differently, if you come to Nigeria, even within one country, it is also used differently. Context, like all the stories we will tell with implementation science it matters.

Another reason why context matters is that, the past couple of days was spent on ideas of what works with implementations, the how to do it literature of implementation science, and to all of that I want to add one thing that was missing and is this idea of starting with Why. And So for implementation science in the region, always start with why.

And if we stayed with cervical cancer, Remember to start with why for something so preventable and treatable, Remember to start with why for something where one in four women will die, unless they have access to life saving evidence-based therapies that exisit. Remember to start with why with resolutions that exist, the historic 90-70-90 resolution last year for example which calls the 194 member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) to achieve specific targets by 2030. Resolutions like this are actually fertile grounds and justification for implementation science in the region.And when you start with Why, you will find out that implementation science is an open and inclusive field that basically means workings not only within the context you find yourself in, but also broadening your collaborators, to include working with multiple experts and non-experts that you can work with to expand the field.

And as you do, as you pick out which outcomes, or frameworks or strategies you will use, be prepared to optimize them for your context. Many of them will not fit ERIC, storytelling isn’t in ERIC as an implementation strategy and that’s ok.

I say go for what works for you, let all that was shared these past few days be a guide, so long as you remember your why and that your context matters. This is the time to begin to galvanize efforts to decolonize even all we know with implementation science and just because it has been done in the West doesn’t meant it has to be in your setting.

In addition, and if we stay with decolonizing the field, also maintain what you know works in your setting, in your context.

You live there, so you know it better than any expert that may come to your setting. So harness that knowledge, it is just as vital as whatever knowledge you will bring from IS to your context.

And finally, be prepared to evolve. Change is evitable, CoVID 19 being a great example Of the need for example to embrace disruptions. Embrace whatever struggles you come across as you evolve. That and be open to other ideas, like the idea of health or implementation science occurring beyond a Western Paradigm.

Professor Collins Airhihenbuwa, my mentor, over 30 years ago, developed a framework called the PEN-3 cultural model, which helps to situate some of the work many of us do in the region, and it asks that we begin always by interrogating what is positive about our context, what is existential or unique about where we find ourselves, and then ultimately what are the hurdles, or challenges to be mindful of along the way, and for me the past few days of listening in, has allowed me to see first-hand, that the leadership within Aortic, in fact all they have done with setting up this conference, is the right start for tackling cancer research in the region.

I wholeheartedly believe that AORTIC is going to be a great resource and leader for anyone in the region try to navigate the rugged complexity landscapes of doing implementation science research in the Africa. And the stories we will tell, for example with the Aortic implementation science special interest group will be the escort that propels the field forward in the region. It’s your story that will convey all our gains, all our failures, and all we hold dear, or should condemn or de-implement for example with implementation science in the region.

So finally as you think through context, one thing I want to emphasize is that we all get into the habit of doing is rapid cycles of what will work or not work in our setting. Some of the speakers, Donna Shelley for example, talked about rapid cycle evaluations. The response to the COVID pandemic has been one massive rapid cycle evaluation, that I believe everyone trying to do work in the region should seize upon because the tools for cancer, whether with prevention or treatment exists and have been in existence for decades yet they continue to remain out of reach to the people who need it the most.

This idea of making a plan, then doing, then studying, then acting, or making another plan will do the field well and help save lives now. If you choose to move in this direction, let me stay in the issue of just planning and tie it squarely to the issue of sustainability. I believe that it is unethical for people to implement interventions in regions with limited resources without even a simple plan on how you last.

Most of the research you will come across implemented in the region, are never sustained. This paper for example by Johnson et al on NIH R01 grants in general with an implementation science focus found that none had plans to last.

We found the same thing in a systematic review I led, about 5 years ago about the sustainability of research in the region. We also noted that if you are going to come do any implementation science work in the region, the least you can do is plan to last.

It should not be done in the end, not even in the begin, but throughout the lifecycle of whatever interventions you have in mind. Having a plan, can be as simple as gathering the right stakeholders to work with, learning from them, be willing to change or adapt along the way, while nurturing what truly matters in within the context in which you find yourself.

And so in recap, I loudly and enthusiastically appeal to the group to come do implementation science work in the region particularly with cancer, and as you do, with whatever frameworks or strategies you use, plan, plan, plan to last.

Thank you to the organizers of this conference for allowing me to speak, Drs. Odedina, Alaro, Bello, I thank you for the invitation. Your invitation came at a time when my family was dealing with the stage 4 cervical cancer burden of Angie my Sister in-law. We lost her to cervical cancer this past August 12th. But I give this presentation in her memory for the many other Angies we all have to fight like hell for, so they live, in a region where context matters. Implementation science needs more storytellers and I hope that AORTIC works to cultivate the next generation of storytellers truly making a difference in word and deed for cancer research in the region.

‘Currently the scientific process is doing a major disservice to patients and society.’ That was the conclusion of a paper that popped on my Twitter field today. It’s like the entire universe is conspiring to say something to all of us in this field and I am so here for it. The authors led by Calster et al. (2021) basically stated that ours is an enterprise where the quality of the work we do remains poor. The criticisms remain longstanding. Business as usual is the backbone of the enterprise where most initiatives to address this issue are top-down. I guess I am not alone is all I can say. That and we all need to do better. COVID19 made it painfully clear. According to Calster and colleagues (2021) ‘the focus remains more on the destination (research claims and metrics) than on the journey. And so the problem of poor research persists. The problem is deteriorating further.’

Notwithstanding, research should serve society more than the reputation of those involved. Science should not be a game in which we collect credits to reach the next level of our career.Which made me decided to keep this today. With research, even with the publications you write, keep being in service to people.

Be in service to people as you study disease prevention, disease management and disease treatment. Be in service to people without focusing on disease too. Be in service to people as you reduce poor quality research, reduce poor design, reduce poor research conduct, or reduce poor reporting. Be in service to people to simply reduce ‘research waste’. Be in service to people with research that has value for patients, research that has value to society. Be in service with research that is simply of value and not harmful.

But of all this, know that research waste remains a persistent problem. Research waste is structural injustice. Research waste is costly and truly harmful to society. Research waste is a function of all of us in academia. We are the problem with research waste. We can also be the solution. And I want to be counted in the number of those working towards a solution.

I know I have been dark and gloomy these past few days. My field has been dark for a long time. The crisis we find ourselves in isn’t new. We just lack the willpower to truly lead hence this darkness I feel for us. But today, I want to change course. Today, I actually want to use my platform to introduce light. We can act, we truly can do so as long as we gather as leaders to ignite and transform our field. That’s my hope anyways, that we will become the next generation truly taking action in word and deed, not in service only for our resumes but really for the public we serve. It will not be easy. They status quo will always prevail and rightfully so. They have over 120 years gap ahead of us so I don’t even expect to be in competition with them. This isn’t a race. But there is a sense of urgency that has been brewing for a long time and I want to be counted as those in generation public for the public’s health. I want to be counted as those in generation light for the public’s health.

I was inspired by the work of Paul Cornely, the first black President of the American Public Health Association. He was the first with so many other things too that I am so sad we don’t have a lot in his honor. This is my attempt to change that. I was inspired by an essay he wrote back in the 70’s about an ardor for change. It’s has taken over 50 years, but your enthusiasm for the field has been caught by a few of us and together we will work to bring light to the public’s health. Know too that all you suggested then about our society being sick, even the malady of racism is just as relevant as you are for today’s generation of light bringers for the public’s health. We all remain aware of the marked deterioration taken place in our society. We also know the irresponsibility and immorality of ignoring social issues too, social justice even or the right to health for all. And when we still evaluate all the field has done, it’s all remains little, 50 years later since your remark. And this pandemic has revealed openly the stark injustices that permeates our field to. The institutional racism you harped on 50 years ago, even among so called associations and experts, myself included, in service really to our curriculum vitae’s and not the public we purport to serve. So who remains in the business of the public’s health. No one, even in 2021 or in 2022. If I have been dark, it’s because our field has been left behind for so long that we could not even be called upon during the greatest and once in a lifetime pandemic that has killed over 850, 000 Americans and still counting. There are no great leaders in public health and not medicine, public health, leading the public at a time when the public desperately needs attention and care.

Dr. Paul Cornely

But now in moving this notion of light forward, in propelling light for public health, I penned the following verse inspired by Job (yea Bible Job). Our field can learn a thing or two about someone who lived through darkness. I hope you like it.

What if we sent light to places dark as death? What if we taught light to people that lacked insight? What if we gave light to those that wander confused and lost? What if we allowed light to flow to those who fall? What if we let light be the voice of the forgotten? What if we used light to direct the lives of all Gods’s creatures?

Then we might all become light. So long as we send light to the dark, teach light for insight, give light to the lost, allow light to flow, let light speak, and use light to direct lives and places as dark as even the forgotten public’s health.

In 1968, Dr. Morris Schaefer, a Professor and Head of Department of Public Health at UNC, Chapel Hill wrote a striking paper about the current issues in delivering better health services. He presented it at the 95th annual meeting of the American Public Health Association and many of what he shared then resonates with the state of public health today. In it he shared ‘how our incapacity to appreciate the character of the problems we face, may render us helpless when we encounter future challenges. Our field is not only confronted by new challenges, but also an increased urgency attached to old problems, new responsibilities, new functions, all at an increasingly rapid rates. Also with each
new challenge, comes the need to respond to continuing changes, all while maintaining the stability necessary for effective Public Health Service.’

If only our field heeded his advice in 1968. That and the idea that Public Health for better or worse is deeply enmeshed in political activity, despite the fact than antipolitical ideology persists. The handling of the pandemic is a glaring example of this. One section though that I choose to keep today is his focus on how ‘the past is still present.’ He was so thorough with the significance of the past and why we all need to have a reorientation in our attitudes about public health that it only makes sense to render it in verse for the present.

Without no further ado, read my keep below inspired totally by Dr. Schaefer entitled the ‘keep knowing that the past is present in public health:’

Public health faces a new day. While a hangover still remains.

Unsolved longstanding problems remain. Unfamiliar areas of services too.

Shortage of personnel remain. Solutions for the future too.

Conditions of uncertainty remain. Clamor for demands too.

Varied programs and goals remain. Complicated disciplines too.

Target populations remain unknown. The public we serve too.

Useful but limited textbooks remain. Old, standard associations too.

Struggles between agencies remain. Tensions across disciplines too.

Uneasy frontiers for public health remain. Uneasy boundaries between agencies and governments too.

Delusions of a old and well-propagated myth of the non-political character of public health remains. The persistence of the non politics myth too.

Lost opportunities remain. Lack of clarity of vision too.

Unsolved current problems still remain. An extension and intensification of past problems too.

Social problems significantly remain. The hands of the past on the future too.

Discerning local interests remain. Harmonizing initiatives too.

The need for imaginative and highly capable actions remain. Increased competency with information technology too.

Enormous strains on coordination remains. Responsibilities and resources too.

Long standing tensions among professional groups remain. Equal status of groups too.

The need for greater visibility with public health remains. Shortening lines of communications too.

Loss of potentially fruitful research remains. Duplicating research and services too.

Existing fragmentation of agencies remain. Business as usual too.

The urgency of problems affecting particular groups remain. Disruptive and limited responses too.

Struggles for allocations remain. Visibility and authorizations of those allocations too.

And so the continuing problems of the past remain. In the midst of new problems too.

Limited understanding of the persistence of these problems remain. So too our inability to solve them still (whether in 1968 or 2021).

Dr. Morris Schaefer address on current problems and issues with public health.

Go close to lions, even if afraid, at least you’ll be close to lions. Reach above the stars, even if you fall, at least you’ll land on stars. Run fast with wild deers. Even if you loose, at least you ran with deers. Fly high with eagles, even if you tire, at least you flew with eagles.

These are the life lessons i’m learning these days. A reminder to myself to always stay close to lions. Ooh yes that me, my early research days, being close to the king of the jungle himself.

Henrietta Lacks is like all of us to the scientific landscape. Nameless, faceless, voiceless, with no power to make decisions with how we are viewed to the field. She didn’t have a say with her own unique cells. No wonder people distrust a paradigm that continues to treat people as if they have no name, no face, no voice, not even power. Until now. The past week has been surreal.

To give a quick background and this is from Yasmin Amer for NPR news: ‘In 1951, a Black woman named Henrietta Lacks walked into Johns Hopkins Hospital in agonizing pain. Doctors diagnosed her with cervical cancer. She died just months later. But what this mother of five never knew was that her cells would outlive her and be used to develop new drugs and vaccines…Her cells were the first known immortal cells. Whereas other cells died in the lab, hers thrived. They multiplied. They gave doctors the ability to do new, innovative research. Names and fortunes were built on them, nicknamed HeLa cells for Henrietta Lacks.’

Watching the Lacks family do their part to put a name, a face, a voice to cells used without permission is soul gratifying. To see the highest health organization in the world, the World Health Organization acknowledge that some injustice occurred in a field that preys on people for what what just is and not for their overall being, is also soul gratifying. Henrietta Lacks is no longer nameless, or faceless or even without voice because some voices, came together to say in harmony together, enough is enough. Enough is enough with treating people as if they were commodities in science. Treating them as if they were indispensable. Enough is enough with being faceless in science too. Enough is also enough with being voices with science. She matters just as everyone else matters as well. Science can no longer pretend as if it’s not in the business of people who have names or faces or voice. They do.

Every single person that interacts with the field has power even beyond science. We in the field are not the only ones that get to decide what has impact or who counts. They public had a critical say to advancing the field. They have a critical say with dictating how we best use our tools to serve them. And if and when we deviate from what is permissible, the public has a say with putting us right back in order. That is what Henrietta Lacks Family did for her this past couple of days. She may be long gone, but forever and ever we will say her name, see her face and know her voice. She was powerful beyond her wildest dreams and will remain so for as long as time permits.

The immortal Henrietta Lacks

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.

Zora Neale Hurston described research as a ‘formalized curiosity.’ One that involves poking and prying with a purpose. I have been blessed to call research my job. To engage in this formalized curiosity full time is the best gift I have ever given to myself. Many take it for granted, but I know what I am capable of. Whether it is about remote ischemic conditioning or crowdsourcing youth interventions, if it requires poking and prying with a purpose, I’m all in. Which is why of late, I have been wondering what else can I use my research skills with. Clearly, it has taken me to the world of literature, black literary scholars to be precise, from the eyes according to Zora, to light according to Audre. There are some books on becoming dreamers, books on why my future depends on me remaining curious and of course books about tracks along dust roads or the fire in my head. I see this phase of my research as intentionally trying to uncover all that I can about the world in which I dwell in. Research now has taken me to places I never imagined, reading words, I never expected. In some instances, I have been carried away, whether is with a list focused on dreams that never end, or a list of why chasing butterflies matter. In other cases, I found myself writing things that seem harmonious in my head, to the point where I recite them to myself, as if on a stage for spoken words only. These dances in my head, unleashed through words in this blog is my attempt at surrendering to chance, surrendering to what I intend to do for me. To research things I want to for my own pleasure. To think I have been on this journey for 13 months seems surreal. The future also seems very uncertain. But for today, I’ll rather remain curious, remain compelled to do this formalized curiosity work Ms Hurston described as research.