The Finality of All Things

I wanted to be many things, like most children, I had endless dreams. I saw a race car and I wanted to move as swiftly, I glimpsed at a tall building and I wanted to scale it. I gazed at something complete and wanted to deconstruct it to see what it was made of. I admired my father and mother, even though the 5-year-old me did not understand which professions they belonged. Whenever we accompanied my parents to the airport, I got excited.  As we drove into the gates, my eyes beamed at the sight of an aeroplane. I wondered how it felt to control an aeroplane as it glided through nothingness in the blue distant sky, up above? I marveled at how this big piece of aluminum floated with ease, went forward imperiously and showed no fear in the face of nothing. I collected thoughts about the person that stood behind all of that. Did he feel the same? I thought about how accomplished, pilots must have felt as they lifted off into the clouds.

Today, when I consider the incalculable risks one faces as a passenger in an aeroplane, the likelihood that the pilot’s navigation may be inconsequential to a fatal crash, I am forced to reexamine my childhood aspirations (and admirations). More so, now in the advent of Corona- virus, I have had to post pone some travel plans. What has changed? Have I grown? Or, have I become fearful, as a result of the Boeing 737 MAX crashes? Has the knowledge of the high fatality rate of aeroplane accidents pricked my fairytale bubble?  Whatever it may be, change is recognized  as an eternal part of life. As human beings, our preferences may change. We leave places like the floating hyacinth, we let go of people, and our views evolve. We delight in the company of friends, spouses and loved ones, but sometimes, and sadly, this may be only for a while. Our loved ones pass away, as my father did when I was 10. Sometimes those we have opened up to about the most intimate parts of ourselves, betray and consequently hurt us, so, we inevitably have to let them go.  This can be painful.  How does this leave us? Why can’t things remain the same? I often ask myself? I hope this blog can provide some answers, or at the very least help us understand this.

Backtracking to my last day in Oxford, a somber but calming mood prevailed over me. I had spent most of the previous night packing my bags and boxes. I prepared to move to London. I packed and sealed two cardboard boxes of about one meters length and width. That morning, my host parents helped me load my stuff onto their car, and graciously drove me to the Gloucester Green Bus Station, Oxford. As we reached the station, it began drizzling. Although it was not raining heavily, the droplets permeated everything and chilled me to the bone. I loaded my luggage at the back of the bus and took my seat.  A few minutes later, I felt a force pull me back into chair, the bus had started to move.
I looked outside the window. I saw the raindrops slide down my glass window. I leaned upon it, I saw the Ede and Ravenscroft shop on the High Street. Its name stood out as it was in a golden colour against a green background.  I bought my sub fusc (university gown) and white bow tie for the matriculation ceremony at that shop. That was probably the most nostalgic moment, I felt on the bus as I left. I looked back on what had been a wonderful journey it had been to study at Jesus College, Oxford University. I remember waking up in the morning and being met by tourists, outside my residence on Ship Street. The tourists were often told about the grandeur history of the building in which I had just spent most of my time – cooking, sleeping and reading. It felt special. As the bus drove out further, I turned back. I could see the ever-visible spires shrinking as we went further out. I knew I would miss this place.  Did I have to go? Did circumstances have to change?
I had attended as many events as possible. From formals to debates at the Union and events at the Oxford Africa Society. In class, my ideas were subjected to the deepest introspection I had ever experienced. Most times, my opinion changed from the view I had before the tutorials. I remembered one of my first tutorials. I entered my professor’s office.  Almost every inch of the room was filled with books. Some were open with brown pages while others were closed with countless sticky notes. Although there was a shelf that covered the left wall of the office, there were heaps of books on her table, which I imagine she had been reading. This set the mood for what to expect for the next two hours.
Jesus College 2nd quad

Trish Hall writes that people tend to cling, to their ideas and beliefs – they often resist other perspectives because there are fundamental psychological reasons for protecting our positions. She argues that generally, we pay more attention to evidence that supports our beliefs, and we ignore evidence that goes against them – what is termed as a confirmation bias. Ultimately, this is used to explain why people enjoy keeping around those that share similar opinions. People are hostile to change. The tutorials presented a different experience and in so doing helped us develop new ideas. During the tutorial one was required to defend their ideas in the essay and critique other students’ essays. It provided a good opportunity for one to reflect on what they had written, and also gave one the opportunity to get feedback on what one had written. Perhaps it was meant to guide us to a more informed truth and often that meant changing one’s view. Reminding us that even in an academically rigorous setting nothing was ever absolute and we had to be open enough to engage with different views.

On my graduation, our Vice Chancellor   mentioned to us, that the degrees we were awarded, reflected Oxford’s intention to promote certain qualities of mind such as intellectual self-reliance and honesty. She emphasized, “The crucial and most difficult qualities are understanding and the ability to distinguish the truth from the seemingly true.” The rigor of discourse which we were subjected to in the tutorials was meant to guide us to separate the truth from what was seemingly true. (what Yanis Varoufakis sometimes calls “motivated error”).  Moreover, we learnt that what was true could always change (theory of relativism), depending on one’s interests, but ultimately one had to examine all claims. It is crucial for one to always be open to changing one’s views. Change is inevitable and recognizing so, may make one more adaptable.

This week, I asked my mother how it felt like to see your own child, who was entirely dependent on you and, that constantly sought validation from her – how it felt like to see them fly away on their own? I continued on, “How does it feel to not have them ask for your opinion and sometimes not listen to you.” She touched her chin and took a deep breath and said, “We give birth to bodies not souls.” But this was not in the literal dimension. It came from a realization that as a child when I made my boat out of paper and put it in a pond. I had let go and it went sailing on its own. I knew from her eyes that I had learned to sail and that was the mark of growth. Although, I’m sure she isn’t pleased when sometimes we disagree on so many things, like the length of my hair and beard.
The inevitability of leaving places, letting go of loved ones, and changing of opinions in tutorials – demonstrate that change is a salient part of life. Even as I change my address, I remain grateful for the opportunity I had, particularly learning that, my views are not absolute. I should be open to change even if it means altering my perspectives. It is life, ever changing like the night and day, like a baby that grows into a woman who eventually holds her own baby – and to think that Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr thought otherwise when he coined the phrase. “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” (the more it changes, the more it stays the same) is absurd.
  • Unknown
    Posted at 20:50h, 13 March Reply

    If Nokia had adhered to the change that was first introduced by the iPhone, may be they would still be relevant as a brand till date.

    Change is inevitable, sometimes we have to leave good memories behind, beliefs that we have held onto for the longest time of our lives and even those we love,we have to let go at some point.

    Are you ready for change?

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 22:19h, 13 March Reply

    Indeed, one needs to be adaptable to the different times. Change is inevitable.

    Thank you for taking to read and commenting.

  • Unknown
    Posted at 22:24h, 13 March Reply

    Masterfully written, Joel! Hard truths.

  • ckay
    Posted at 22:26h, 13 March Reply

    Incredible, incredibleeee!!!! This has been such a mirror of what has always secretly been at the core of my being.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 22:41h, 13 March Reply

    Thank you for these very kind words.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 22:43h, 13 March Reply

    I am glad to hear that this prose reflects what has been at the core of your being.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and for the feedback, Charlotte.

  • Tuhaise Beatrice
    Posted at 04:27h, 14 March Reply

    This is incredible and amazing. For sure when you're growing things go on changing vividly in your life journey I can assure careers change over & again so you find yourself in something else as we don't always realize the impact. Joel like this it's really fitting.

  • Epodoi
    Posted at 05:32h, 14 March Reply

    Beautiful, beautiful truths Joel! My favorite part is the conversation with your mother (may or may not be out of confirmation bias). I have had it countless times with my own in silence.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 05:45h, 14 March Reply

    Thank you, Beatrice. Yes, as we grow, almost everything keeps on changing.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 05:47h, 14 March Reply

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 05:49h, 14 March Reply

    Thank you Paul, for these very kind words. Exactly, what I thought when I heard her answers. They were deep and gave me a lot to think about. Thank you for taking the time to read and for this feedback,

  • Unknown
    Posted at 06:10h, 14 March Reply

    The more it changes…so true!!!!

  • Shaban Kitimbo
    Posted at 10:38h, 14 March Reply

    Its such a great story line, I guess we consider making a film out it. Thanks for the post Joel

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 10:46h, 14 March Reply

    Yes it is true.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 10:47h, 14 March Reply

    Thank you for these very kind words. Hopefully at some time, we can do that. You are welcome.

  • Nora
    Posted at 14:26h, 14 March Reply

    Sometimes the hardest part about life is accepting change.!!!! Thank you Joel. I relate to this in every way.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 17:14h, 14 March Reply

    I agree. You are welcome, and thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • Issa Kaduyu
    Posted at 18:07h, 14 March Reply

    Incredible ?

  • Unknown
    Posted at 18:20h, 14 March Reply

    This is a beautifully crafted piece of art. Well thought out. You are gifted as a writer, Joel. I very much relate to this especially at my age. On the part where you refer to your mother, you feel like you are grown-up enough to be self-reliant in your decisions. But the fact that you have to always get your close relative's or parent's validation on any significant decision in your life such as marriage, career, place of work, lifestyle etc holds you back. But as you grow, change is inevitable.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 18:56h, 14 March Reply

    Thank you, Issa.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 19:11h, 14 March Reply

    Thank you for these very kind words. I am glad that you could relate with the blog post. Most of it was written reflecting on some choices I have made. I agree, validation from parents on necessary in most circumstances and, change is inevitable.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 19:12h, 14 March Reply

    is* necessary*

  • Unknown
    Posted at 07:05h, 15 March Reply

    A brilliant piece that many can relate to. Thx Joel.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 08:23h, 15 March Reply

    Thank you. You are welcome.

  • Patrick
    Posted at 13:24h, 15 March Reply

    Very visual and well written Joel. Very relatable, thank you Joel. New experiences new perspectives in an unchanging world. Good luck on the next chapter my friend.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 19:56h, 15 March Reply

    Thank you, Patrick. I agree, new experiences broaden ones knowledge base. You are welcome.

  • Joseph
    Posted at 22:15h, 15 March Reply

    This is well thought message Joel, I am glad your your childhood memories have continued to influence your adult life stories' construction. As we grow from one stage to another, we are in constant contradictions and these determine our daily lives. Whatever you were thinking about as we all did at a young age was an idealist thought reflected in material facts that we ought to achieve or see. This abstraction has turned real to some people but not to others. Our parents did their part such as nurturing but as we grow there are several social expectations that we are meant to accomplish independent of parents but it does not mean we are undermining them. Society expects bigger achievements that may compromise parents's desires and wishes for their children. I am glad that you have been able to recognise this contradiction and you will be well guided as you look forward to the future.

  • Tabitha Malaika
    Posted at 05:47h, 16 March Reply

    Mitchell Obama once said; "Sometimes life is like stepping onstage at your first piano recital and realizing that you'd never played anything but an instrument with broken keys. Your world shifts, but you're asked to adjust and overcome, to play your music the same as everyone else"

    Nice post Joel! Your writing never disappoints.
    Your creativity just keeps getting summary let's say; you keep going onwards and upwards in this field!
    Keep it up!

  • Unknown
    Posted at 07:41h, 16 March Reply

    Interesting post Joel and congratulations upon completing your masters. I am very proud of you and happy that you are inspiring people through your blog. Wish you all the best my friend and God bless you.

  • Esther Pennie
    Posted at 10:00h, 16 March Reply

    Beautiful piece

  • Esther Pennie
    Posted at 10:01h, 16 March Reply


  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 12:50h, 16 March Reply

    Thank Joseph, for these very kind words. Also, for the detailed metaphysical insight into the narrative.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 12:53h, 16 March Reply

    Thank you Tabitha for these very kind words. I agree with Michelle Obama, especially on adjusting. We have to adapt to the patterns. Onwards and upwards.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 12:54h, 16 March Reply

    Thank you, Martha. That's kind of you to say. God bless you too.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 12:55h, 16 March Reply

    Thank you Esther.

  • Ivan Koreta
    Posted at 09:23h, 17 March Reply

    I marvel at where you've come from and where you're heading dear brother. Godspeed and may we wake up to the reality that we only get better when we acknowledge the need for change in our lives.

  • Tabitha Malaika
    Posted at 16:25h, 17 March Reply

    You are welcome Joel!

    Thankyou Pennie

  • Tabitha Malaika
    Posted at 16:25h, 17 March Reply

    You are welcome Joel!

    Thankyou Pennie

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 20:23h, 17 March Reply

    Thank you Ivan. Amen. We should link up soon.

  • Christine Kirabo
    Posted at 12:04h, 18 March Reply

    Very Impressive writing Joel! I almost could feel every word you wrote, our experiences differ but the notion never does.
    I got really emotional reading this particular article .
    Thank you for putting many thoughts to words.
    What a good read!!

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 12:47h, 19 March Reply

    Thank you Christine. I am glad that this was a good read and that there were similar notions.

  • Vusi Magagula
    Posted at 20:03h, 22 March Reply

    This is a great article Joel. Many life lessons here. God bless you and continue writing. Creative writing is in your veins

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 20:18h, 22 March Reply

    Thank you for these kind words. I will continue to write. Amen.

  • WeMix
    Posted at 09:09h, 23 March Reply

    Wow. Life is more like air, fire and liquid water.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 07:36h, 25 March Reply

    Thank you, Sam. I agree.

  • Harvy
    Posted at 10:03h, 27 March Reply

    You know i have read this article multiples times, and the more i read it the more i get to confirm my original belief, like the saying i no dislike to use the most "I know so and so"in retrospect of this article do you really know that so and so not exactly its an ever changing person in character and the best you can do is learn to accept the changes that come with time. great article @Joel Basoga

  • Unknown
    Posted at 05:10h, 28 March Reply

    Wonderful post Joel. Great blessings for the new life you have started

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 11:31h, 04 April Reply

    Thank you, Harvey.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 11:33h, 04 April Reply

    Thank you and amen.

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