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In Uncategorized on May 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm

What if you left? What if you actually listened to that nagging voice in your head? What if you finally watered that seed in your belly and let it bloom in your mouth? What if you told the truth? 

I graduated for the University of Alberta in 2008 with a B.Sc in Civil Engineering. I still remember my father’s face. That kind of pride is addictive. When my family immigrated to Canada in 1998, I was a 13 year old girl who didn’t yet understand what it meant to straddle two worlds. It would take me years to figure out how to be many things to many people at the same time. At my best I am still a work in progress. What I did understand was the weight of sacrifice. I still remembered the 6 of us, the 11 suitcases and the cross-continental journey that brought me here. I still remembered what it meant to leave everything behind and take only what mattered most.  

My spoken word career started around the same time I entered the Civil Engineering world. Two weeks after my last exam, I was in an office, a Junior Engineer name tag on my front window and a stack of business cards. It was the adult thing to do. My two halves continued to work in tandem and I was content and proud to be both and engineer and a poet. 

Poetry has this way of taking over your life. At one point I was leaving work in the middle of the day to teach a poetry workshop in a school, or to perform at some event, at least twice a week. This did not include whole weekends dedicated to performing poetry. A large number of the poems I have written have happened at the same desk where I was working on an engineering cost estimate or report. I had perfected being two people at once.

In 2011 the opportunity to travel to Cape Town, South Africa presented itself to me. By then I had self-published my first collection of poetry and been rewarded with the Canadian Author’s Association emerging writer award, the open mic night I had created was in its second successful year, I had traveled across Canada performing my work, I had even performed in Lagos for the first time. I certainly had an understanding that this spoken word thing was not a passing phase for me. It had become a part of my identity. Cape Town was an opportunity to spend 3 months living and working in community with other women writers. It was the first time I would get a taste of living full-time as an artist. It was one of the quickest and easiest decisions I have ever made. Within a few weeks I was on a plane and on my way.

<p id=”yui_3_7_3_1_1367438892876_12328″>The trip was amazing. I wrote about it extensively at my http://www.escapetown.wordpress.com blog, aptly named by my sister. Something happened to me on that journey that changed the way I wanted to feel and be in the world. Telling the truth became an urgent necessity. When I returned to my desk about 3 months later, I knew something fundamental had changed. Some unknown door had swung open in my chest and I had to walk into it.

It would take me another 2 years to do anything about it. Fear is as powerful a master as you allow it to be. I had a great job where I was being fully supported in all of my endeavors, I was still working as an artist, everything seemed to be making sense, in theory. 

I didn’t want to disappoint my family, my friends or the entire village that raised me. Adults get jobs, start a career, buy a home, get married, have children. As every next step began to line up in front of me, I realized I was walking towards the antithesis of the life that I wanted to live. It took a lot of courage to admit that first to myself and to everyone around me.

So imagine you left a perfectly good engineering job to write and tell stories, imagine instead of a house you bought yourself a year of complete freedom, imagine you left your brand new office, imagine you left this home, imagine you retraced your steps, imagine you chose a new direction. It is terrifying, perhaps completely insane, but nothing has ever felt more right and urgent to me.

I’m going on an adventure, an act of surrender to the universe that has been conspiring on my behalf for all these years. For every mistake, for every right turn, for every detour, for ever hallelujah, for every chance to answer to something far greater than myself, I say, Amen.

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