Yesterday, I watched a movie about the life and times of a famous Yoruba musician, Ayinla. (No spoilers.) There was this scene where a Babalawo gave him an instruction. He said, “You are wearing white clothes. Do not go to the place where people are eating palm oil.” In other words, “You have been equipped for an important mission. Do not be derailed by distraction.” Coincidentally, that piece of wisdom came at a time when I was thinking about my work. 

For weeks, I hadn’t been sleeping well and was tired all the time. I couldn’t find joy in anything. My usual fuels – music, movies and books – weren’t satisfying. (My other go-to, travel had been marred by administrative snafu.) It seemed like the arts had entered a period of drought, either due to COVID-19 or a general lack of creative depth. I was spending more and more time shifting through mud to find gold, and the process was tiring.

I was also questioning why I was working so hard. Surely, it wasn’t for money. I’ve never focused on financials in my career. And, try as I might, there weren’t that many things I imagined buying. I wasn’t working for demanding customers. As a rule, you can never satisfy humans. Someone always wants more. I wasn’t even working for ambition either. I’ve never wanted to be the best or biggest anything. And, I’m not sure I was working for Jesus. His yoke & burden are indeed light and as he often provides what is needed, working for him doesn’t seem like work.

So, what on earth was I working for oh?

That was the question I ruminated on for days, as I searched for my mojo.

I finally settled on the fact that I’m working for an ideal. A mission, if you will. I want to prove a point. That Nigeria cannot kill my potential or dreams. That a black woman can do what I’m doing. An African. That honest & hardworking people are not dumb for being good. That righteousness can still thrive. That it all pays in the end. 

The reason I was feeling tired was because I had left my mission and was focusing on “palm oil”. I was so enmeshed in running a “business” and serving customers, that I forgot to link everything back to the cause. The mission would have reminded me not to start some business lines or court some customers. It would have driven me to prioritize some things and terminate others.

Distraction is so subtle.

It creeps up on you and if you are not sensitive, you won’t notice you’ve left your path for a very long time. It could be that shiny degree that makes sense at a point in your career. Bowing to culture when you have a relationship that’s unique. Expanding a business when you’ve not consolidated. Doing business the way it’s always been done. But, your heart will tell you something’s off. That there is no happiness in what you’re doing. Your original passion is not being fed and you are just marking time. 

Listen to your heart. Go back to your North Star. Are you heading towards your dream or are you being led away from it?

For more, please read Original Sin.

Distraction is subtle. It creeps up on you and if you are not sensitive, you won't notice you've left your path for a very long time. Click To Tweet

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