BY CHOICE

By Bamidele Salako

This dark place holds for me myriad memories
It was here I hoped buffeting storms would morph into triumphant stories
Today it brings joyful reminisces of days of temporal delight
With them, painful recollections of nights of woeful plight

In the dark of mournful night, bitterness sneaked in and became a constant friend
Oblivious was I that it was a self-serving life-sapping fiend
Sucking away vampirically at my soul’s residual positivity
Spirit and soul were soon cast into dark and tortuous captivity

I fought ever so hard to find the fountain of my failings outside
Blinded was I to my biggest adversary which I had enthroned inside
Bitterness chewed away at the fabric of my humanity like a destructive mouse
My soul harboured the notion that every wrong dealt it was cause for justifiable grouse

Running wild like an ogre out for a kill
The gall that engulfed my soul could not be halted by a pill
New heights in bitterness scaled, hate, its territory expanded
Hateful and resentful was I, so by everyone branded

Blame-laying and finger-pointing became my steward and armour bearer
To the abyss of self-loathing and self-destruction I drew nearer
Every conversation became occasion for relentless lamentation
It had started as a flame of bitter discontent, now a hellish conflagration

My circumstances were temporal crosses I was meant to bear with grace
Lessons in resilience and temperance I was meant to embrace
But I crumbled – not under the weight of my trials – for those, I could handle
It was bitterness at my divinely appointed travails that threatened to strangle

Happiness was soon a utopian aspiration
Gloominess, in my soul, found a welcoming accommodation
Until one day, in a daydream I saw a figure like a man
It was an ugly, blackened, battered, bloodied and brutalised spectre – Man!

Beside this mysterious figure stood a portrait of a fine young man brimming with promise
He stood, smiling excitedly in a garden of roses
As I drew closer, the rose petals turned into thorns and thistles
I marvelled at this strange occurrence and was scared out of my marbles

The thorns pierced the fine man’s skin until he bled profusely
Through his apparent pain and blood-loss he continued to smile abstrusely
I drew back in fear wondering aloud what manner of vision this was
Strangely, the farther I got from the portrait, the more the thorns turned again into roses

I recall his face now – Cornerstone who lives down the street
I was told by the Chaplain he was a perfect example of grit
He had lost all his earthly possessions in a night fire yet remains at peace
Unruffled by his great difficulty I wonder how he stays in one piece

Never broaching talk of his predicament, he guffawed at your feeling of pity
If you didn’t know him closely you’d think his life was pretty
He had somehow mastered the art of smiling and living through suffering
You could tell he was not faking it – he often had us wondering

As I pondered, the ugly apparition spoke and alas it was my own voice!
He said, “This is what you look like on the inside and you’re so by choice”
You have let bitterness in and it has duly consumed you
Soon everyone will stay away and you’ll wonder why – you’ll have no clue

Life’s storms will rise and ineluctably badger your ship
Stand steady in the midst of the gale and you shall not slip
Be assured, the journey to reckoning will be rough
Remember then that life’s victorious crown is reserved only for the tough

Keep fighting fearing not the size of your adversity
Great problems tend to lead to great prosperity
Do not allow bitterness fester in your soul against those who you, scornfully spite
For they shall presently witness your sweet respite

It matters not how rough the road or difficult the course you must run
Walk the road and make sure the journey is laced with fun
For the burden can only be borne with joyous hope or cannot be borne at all
The crushing weight of bitterness will surely run you into an unscalable wall

Cry about the problem, but make sure after crying you find a solution
For in the answer, not the tears, lies your elusive satisfaction
You must take responsibility for your personal motivation
The future you desire will only emerge through strong determination

Do not go through life bitter, waking up in old age to find you never really lived
Each day, you had spent in bitter lamentation and on your deathbed, peeved
Face each day with renewed belief hoping in a bright and flourishing future
Strengthened in your resolve to excel by tomorrow’s mental picture

Tomorrow will be better because you took charge of today
Think, speak and act positively everyday
All the while bearing in mind the words from the voice
You are bitter or better by choice.

(c) 2014

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