As I read the last sentence of My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, I took a deep breath, stepped outside, and with my hands in the air, eyes closed, face lifted to the pouring sky, I said the closing line of the book: “All life amazes me.”
Beyond how several sections of the story resonates with me emotionally, which prompted that reaction, reading that book made me become more conscious, more curious of the role a person’s childhood plays in their adulthood and how mindsets are subconsciously shaped. Arriving at a chapter that paints the the beauty of nature: the setting of the sun on the farmland, the sky becoming soft and pink, the view of the horizon, a person who encounters the book at that point would know nothing of the portrayal of childhood trauma, the protagonist’s journey of unlearning, and the old fears that stayed with her regardless of her efforts to outrun them.
I see this as how convenient it is to summarise a person’s life by their present, forgetting the past is always present. And like the gradual process of reading a book, taking into account what has been in considering what is being, aren’t we all living stories?
Family is primal: the people surrounding a child will, in many ways, determine how they are molded, well, until they grow up and begin the processes of learning and unlearning. I’m interested in the role conditioning plays in how people come into their various identities. How are social and cultural mentalities of being Nigerian shaped in individuals? How do the things ingrained in the past influence a person’s life in the present? Apart from what is carried from childhood, I’m also interested in how people are constantly evolving from daily encounters with other people, especially strangers.
By interacting with people of diverse cultures, ages and economic backgrounds, I hope to see the things absorbed when the soul is not aware. I hope also, that from the gift of infinite encounters the road offers, I will be more amazed by all lives, and much more by the mundane.