The term ‘Solitary confinement’ sounds like quite an earful doesn’t it? Well I learnt to say those words with trembling quite early in life. My mother was a genius at inventing new punishments for her erring offspring and who would blame her? I couldn’t have been more than 8 at the time but I was the bane of my mother’s existence. I’m sure there were times she believed Loki must have fathered me and being the first born, it was usual for me to be the ringleader dragging my siblings into all sorts of mayhem. I remember the endless minutes spent kneeling down with our eyes closed and our hands high up, tears streaming down our faces as our arms began to ache but soon mum would grow bored and fall asleep and one of us would keep watch while we cheated on our punishment getting some much needed respite. Can I ever forget that evil old woman that sold canes not too far from my house? Any time we’d been bad, mummy would drive straight to where mama sat on the side of the road selling the most horrendous canes you had ever seen. Long ones, fat ones, short ones, thin ones like a bunch of ashewos on Allen Avenue all begging you to have them. Mama always smiled her evil toothless grin when she got the 5 naira reward for dispensing her canes and she’d wave as mum drove off seemingly excited that one of us was gonna get a whipping and many a kid had nightmares about that evil, old woman and her never ending arsenal! But I digress, this post is about solitary confinement.
So what is solitary confinement? According to wikipedia it is a special form of imprisonment in which a prisoner is isolated from human contact. My mum was definitely the prison warden. If you asked me to define solitary confinement back in the days I’d say it was when mummy locked me up in the toilet for ojujucalabar to bite me. Now before y’all get too shocked, the toilet was a clean, well-lit convenience room without any kid hazards but like all toilets it was a small room and what is a kid to do within the four walls of a cubicle with the door firmly locked? Oh, the horror! I’d scream, cry, beg, promise, flush the toilet repeatedly till mummy threatened to come beat me up in there for wasting water and then just sit on the floor feeling sorry for myself. It always felt like I’d be all grown up before mummy opened the door and never had a jailbird so longed for freedom. Maybe this was the Nigerian version of getting grounded since locking me up in my room would be futile seeing as all my toys and story books and more importantly my bed, lived there with me. The toilet was a hideously boring place and in the marble floors I saw images of Chucky, Freddy, Willy Willy, Madam Koinkoin and of course the great ojuju calabar! Little wonder I grew up to be a writer, my over-active imagination had me having mini anxiety attacks. As far as my mind was concerned solitary confinement was the worst punishment ever.
As a grown up, sometimes I have longed for solitary confinement (oh, the irony!) not as punishment for a crime because if I did ever have to go to jail (heaven forbid), I’d prefer to have an inmate who left me tons of gold and imparted great knowledge to me like in the movie titled the Count of Monte Cristo! Anyway I dream of waking up on Egyptian sheets in a lovely house by the beach away from all the stress that being a working wife brings and just lazying about all day with a good book or some great movies, without a care in the world. Now wouldn’t that be a solitary confinement worth having but so much for dreams. The truth of the matter is that we all need to have people around us and not just anyone but people who actually care, even self-proclaimed sociopaths!
We live in a world with billions of people and sometimes being alone is a luxury but what do you do with your alone time? Sometimes I think of Isaac Newton, Galileo and those other great dudes that shaped the world into what it is today and I think: “Damn I don’t have enough free time.” How does anyone expect you to be totally awesome if you don’t even have enough free time to summon the super powers within you? How does anyone expect me to break out of mediocrity or to do something ground breaking when I’m at work from 8 to 6pm and tending a home till I crash wearily at night not even able to remember my dreams?
Yep, we all need solitary confinement. No doubt about that. We need some alone time to remember, to imagine, to create and to consult. You don’t have to wait till you are incarcerated or till you can take that blissful vacation to release the genius within. There are 24 hours in a day. Find 30 minutes in there somewhere and tag it ‘me time'(MT), if you can get out more than 30 minutes, awesome! During MT, put your gadgets and devices out of reach and on silent and make sure you are alone and then do these 4 things.
1) Remember- remember the lesson for the day. Each day brings with it a new lesson and if you don’t learn it then you’ll be tomorrow’s fool. So what or who made you happy, angry, sad or excited today? What event caused you to pause and think? What mistakes did you make or almost make? Remembering will make these experiences sink deep and you’ll be able to draw from them in future instead of living your life like someone is changing TV stations very fast.
2) Imagine- The day you stop imagining, you sign up for eternal mediocrity. The first step to greatness is to imagine yourself there. You’ve gotta visualize. Where do you wanna be today, this year, in 10 years? How do you wanna look? What do you wanna have achieved in a specific time? If you can see it, you can be it!
3) Create- Our words are our creating power. Not every body can pick up some glass and wires and invent a light bulb but we can create and re-create our world. You need to open your mouth and start creating. Positive words build, they create. They are unseen messengers that do exactly what you tell them to. Tell your world exactly how you want it to be. Get creating and really following the instructor’s manual is the best idea since He was the first creator and we all agree that He did a pretty awesome job!
4) Consult- read, talk, listen. You need to have a meeting with the guy upstairs if you ever wanna be great. Read His words, talk to Him- His words say He is never too busy, too angry or too uninterested to listen and then it’s your turn to listen. You may not hear a scary big voice that causes you to shit in your pants, you may not even hear a voice at all but you will hear something. Sometimes God speaks through our thoughts and all we need to do is pay attention. Many life changing ideas have been gotten from just listening. Write whatever you hear down. It may not make sense then but later on it will.
When you are done, take a nap. You’ll wake up refreshed and ready to face the world again. So here’s to solitary confinement, a little punishment does a world of good!
Cheers chutzpah fam. Off to get some me time! Xoxoxo 😉