As I leave a state I called home for the past 14 months, I have spent the past eight hours on the road contemplating life and all the twists and turns that it comes with. I left Northern Virginia two and a half years ago on terms I would never have wished on my most hated enemy. An exodus of sorts saw me travel from state to state for the better part of two years as I became a sojourner in search of meaning and purpose. This search initially turned up drier than the Sahara; a sandy and parched path shortly thereafter landed me in Northern Colorado in search of redemption.
I have learned a lot during this travel of mine; chief among them is that life is a mix of two paradigms. I spent most of my 20’s and 30’s thinking I could control all things and account for all outcomes only to realize that the more I tried to be the captain, the more I ended up stowed as luggage in emptiness. It is said that wisdom is gained through hardship; well two years of austerity loosened my need to always be in charge and give the future to a higher power. By this I am not saying that we are hapless by-standards, for faith without work is dead and null of meaning. We do our part as best we can and then leave the rest to God and have faith that all will work out in the end.
When I arrived in Colorado, the last thing I was clinging to was faith. Broken and in disrepair, I sought a farm in Wellington, Colorado to reboot my life even though I had little hope that things would turn around for me. Fourteen months of facing my fears and trying to figure out why I spend so much time trying to please others led me to this one revelation. Not even the best cook in the world will please all palettes and a fusion of Picasso and Michelangelo will not gratify the eyes of every human. This is why people pleasing is a prison unlike any other and the warden named guilt is a vicious keeper.
I learned over the past year to ease up on people pleasing and in the process to just do my level best to please God with my work instead of trying to gain acceptance of everybody. This was the key to my freedom from which I started to find my purpose. I picked up a pen one day and started writing and that is when magic started to happen (read From Dark Clouds to Soul Shine). You see, life is at times written for us but at other times we write our lives into existence. The power of words, my friends, is astounding. We can literally speak life and death into our souls and into our presence by the words we elect to use and release into the ether.
What mired me in hopeless despondency was the thought that both purpose and love were no longer possible for me going forward. If given the option of being a billionaire yet the catch was that I would have no purpose and love, I would reject all the cash in the world out of hand for treasure made of paper is nothing without the treasure that is found within our hearts. But where I gave up on love and thought purpose was drowned in contrails somewhere between DC and Colorado, fate and an awesome creator had other intentions. It’s ironic how love finds us when we stop looking for it. We plant seeds with our deeds and we never really know where and how they grow, but when the harvest comes the awesome power of faith and patience is enough to buckle knees and fall to the ground to thank God for the hardships we endured.
My journey did not end the way many, including myself, thought it would. From the abyss I emerge stronger than before renewed in love and found in purpose. The greatest blessing of them all is someone I keep referring to as birabiro. For now her name will be kept in my heart and our story will be kept between few parties. But I realize the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 4:10 even though I spent years saying that I was looking for my second without understanding the true power of the words I was speaking.
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?
I finally found my second and boy oh boy was she worth all of it. But in all honesty, the credit goes to God first, foremost and always. The words I write would be rendered cacophonous like a thousand clangs and the love I found would have just been a mirage without my father God blessing me throughout this journey. I traveled a road of fire and I come out the other end not scared but made the stronger, few will ever understand my travels but I am no longer concerned about making people see my perspective. Trying to win every battle is not worth it when we can do more being kind than we can ever accomplish being vindictive.
I am writing this article as I take a break at a coffee shop off 70 East somewhere in Kansas on my travel to go see about a princess named birabiro (means butterfly in Amharic). I’ve written a lot about life but if there is one thing I would implore and impart to all readers of Ghion Journal is this. Do not give up on love and do not give up on the goodness that love brings in our lives. I’m not talking about just romantic love for love is all about us if we seek it. The worse thing we can do is to let the cold ways of the world harden our hearts. Be kind when met with hatred, extend grace when confronted with animus, and be thankful when kissed by distress. Hard things to do I know, yet rebirth is hard but on the other side of the journey is a most wonderful butterfly that is as bright as the star over Bethlehem. Time for me to follow that star, I will catch you on the flip side. See you soon birabiro. #ToBirabiroMy2nd
“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
If you love the message behind this message of love, share this article on social media and use #ToBirabiroMy2nd
Check out the Ghion Cast below. This was a poem I wrote a few months before my world crumbled into the abyss. At times our journeys are written for us; other times we write our journeys into existence. the poem starts off in Amharic but the it switches up to English. Just an FYI in case you don’t speak Amharignia.
A hard journey, well, it led to a blessed ending. The ending is now the beginning, ain’t life poetic? Speaking of poems, check out the poem I wrote for Birabiro at the end of this video, actually enjoy the whole video, life is meant to be lived in its totality not in snippets. #Message
So what is love? Here is my take, the rest is up to you, you make the call 😉
A special shout out and a thank you to Steve Schmidt (read Schmidty’s story), he was the artist who painted the birabiro (butterfly) at the top of this article while both of us were in Wellington Colorado.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.