Life Contradictions: Grandpa’s Advice

The Catholic priests at my church encouraged us to find beauty and happiness in the life we lived. He believed there was a “God” in control of history and that our lives would be mended one day. Alternatively, my grandpa always advised me to keep my expectations in check. “Life is hard and exhausting,” he’d say, constantly reminding me that, for people in our circumstances, us steeped in the ugliness of poverty, fear, and violence, finding beauty in life is easier said than done. So I grew up navigating the grey area between two versions of life, one defined by faith in the Almighty, the all-loving Father, and the other by an equally absurd “smiling despair”, a trauma hardening in the cracks of my being that I struggled each day to glaze over and hide from the world. My takeaway was that life could mean many things, dependent on where you find yourself in the world. It certainly isn’t perfect: Refugees learn this the hard way, and it becomes necessary for them to internalize these truths of the imperfection of life. The realities of life hit us each differently, and opportunities arise in many different forms. Someday life will get better, I would comfort myself.

Published by Gabriel Ndayishimiye

Gabriel Ndayishimiye lives in London, Ontario. He is a writer with a passion to contribute to Black history and literature; and the author of “Run Elvin” (forthcoming), a memoir written for youth from marginalized backgrounds. This book tells Gabriel’s academic/life experiences from refugee camps in East and Southern Africa and now from the metropolis of the western world. The story aims to inspire and motivate such demographic of youth to take up given opportunities to be creative, achieve success, and develop resilience to fight the challenges of life.

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