By : Robert Ezikpe Okiyi
Picture by temsbaby on Instagram
Life here on Earth remains an experience earthlings would always struggle to have a full, total and comprehensive grasp on. This is because all of life's a mystery and a beautiful one at that. With the help of science, advanced knowledge of the deep inner workings of our planets have been revealed. Science, today, is still in the business of helping to uncover more truths and feeding more knowledge. Indeed there is so much to still learn everyday, even with the reasonable amount of knowledge gained over time on different levels of life.
Relativity as a word can be defined simply as "the absence of standards of absolute and universal application". This means that every occurrence is happening individually devoid of generality or universality.
When we reckon that life is relative, we do so because life is indeed happening to us INDIVIDUALLY and not as a group or as a whole. The beauty begins at the point where we learn this. Life is a personal experience, it has and will always be an individual journey for each and never a general one for all. ALL OF LIFE IS RELATIVE and is experienced as such. As humans who see the world from an individual point of view, it is always easy to confuse life as absolute or general, that is, happening to all of us. Possibly because we seek other explanations out of the ordinary, you know, in the way typical of humans. When, in fact, all of life is simply happening to just you. It begins and ends with you. Your life doesn't begin when the next person’s life begins or when another’s end. It begins and ends with you first and you alone.
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This knowledge saves us from a lot of trouble and stress because it opens up to a deep level of self-consciousness. When one knows that life is relative, they now understand that all of life’s experiences like pain, joy, sorrow or happiness are personal. What constitutes pain or suffering to one may well be joy and happiness to the next. Crazy, no?
Once, I had a conversation with a friend on a rainy day on the way out of where I live and joked that “this is the trenches!” We laughed heartily over it only to pause and have him say “But you know for some people this might be far from that.”
Seeing the truth in their logic, we go on to recount an experience that played out some days back on the popular social media space, Twitter, involving award winning singer and songwriter Tems. Although she got a shit-load of backlash for her comments, which is an expected occasional response from Twitter Nigeria, the whole saga served as a deep lesson on the beauty in life’s relativeness. The 27 years old singer and Afrobeats powerhouse put out a tweet that had a photo where she says she recorded her EP, ‘FOR BROKEN EARS’ and referred to the place as the trenches. A handful of Nigerians, who obviously were enraged by her use of the word “trenches'' made grandiose efforts to invalidate the tweet. A number of them go further to post a video of them recording in the actual ''trenches'' to further prove that the photo which she posted with a number of sophisticated recording equipment, a MacBook and notably a JBL Charge 4 is far from the “trenches”.
But we forget that, in this particular scenario only Tems alone can determine what their “trenches'' is. All of life happening in Tems’ world is happening to her. And to her alone. The same way all of life happening in your life is happening to just you. Remember, all of life is relative i.e. it is happening to just you in every moment and all your experiences are particular to you and you alone. Your “trenches” is your “trenches”. Same way, Tems’ “trenches” is Tems’ “trenches”. There isn’t any singular or general definition of any concept in life because life isn’t absolute or happening to all of us together. Instead, it is happening to just YOU in every moment. You and you alone. Life's relativeness teaches us that one’s definition of “trenches'' or any other concept at all cannot apply to anyone else except to them. Or maybe it was just the word she used and Nigerians literally never miss an opportunity to banter. You can ask the Ghanaians.
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However, understanding life’s relativity would certainly help in reducing the culture of competitiveness growing exponentially. This menace has stolen our contentment and sense of satisfaction because we now live in a world where we constantly look to others to interpret an occurrence that has been specifically tailored for us and not that other person. We constantly live out our days living in comparison with the next person forgetting that our experiences and life story is particular to just us. We define what our “trenches” is. It is supposed to be ours for a reason and sticking to it would help us live a relative life which increases contentment. Mind you, there isn't a more self-conscious person than one who is
continually content. One who is content understands that because life is relative, there isn't any wisdom in looking at the next person to give any definition at all to any occurrence in your life.
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Life presents you with situations because that situation has been preordained for you and as such that is your experience. Because it is your experience, it is yours and you can only experience your own experience. Your experience alone defines what suffering is, or happiness or joy or sorrow or whatever at all might be. not any other person’s.
Life has been tailored to specifically happen to you individually. The only scale in judging whatever experience one has will always be personal. This in no way negates the feelings of both empathy and sympathy for others' sufferings or excitement for others' happiness. We feel these things because of our human nature. Regardless of these feelings, we can never comprehend others' pain or happiness simply because it isn’t really our realities to live or even actually feel them. Our reality never goes beyond what happens to us personally and directly.
There really isn’t any general scale to measure anything happening in life. The only scale that exists is with just you and no one else. Everyone lives through this journey with individual burdens and pains as well as individual levels of joy, peace and love. Understanding life’s relativity makes you content regardless of whatever situation you might be in currently. Not wanting to be like anyone else or not wanting anything else that isn't you would drive you towards contentment. This may seem like an easy task on paper but putting it into practice may seem more difficult than it may appear. However its benefits are bountiful. All of what you know as life is for you alone to live. Make sure you don't mess that up because you failed to live for yourself.