Smiling Through The Pain!

"Every man has his secret sorrow which the world knows not ..." 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

It was the first time I contemplated on the concept of talent as a subject, sitting in front of our black and white box TV (the ones with the brown wooden sliding doors). I was completely enthralled by the spectacle unfolding before me. I had experienced talents before; the king of pop Michael Jackson, actors likes Chuck Norris and Eddie Murphy in coming to America , athletes like Diego Maradona, Ben Johnson and a world of others (if you are under 30years, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about). In my mind, with all the wisdom of a teenager, I assumed these people were God’s gift to the world, to keep everyone entertained. It never occurred to me that there might be that much effort and hard work required in exercising talent, until that faithful day that I sat on the bare floor, less than 50 inches away from the TV screen, body sporadically convulsing with joyous laughter, that I realised that even though it did look very easy, to have acted both man and woman must require some effort especially in the case of Mrs Doubfire .

Till this day I don’t think my friend who broke the news of his death to me understood my reaction to the cause of his death. After a while, she looked at me and said “you are taking this Robin Williams news pretty hard aren’t you?”  It hit me square in the chest like one of Mike Tyson’s 60kg punches how ironic life can be, and how cruel indeed. I don’t know about you, but to hear that a man who merchant’s joy and laughter for a living, whose calling and purpose in life was to make people laugh would die of depression is a little ironic, don’t you think? 

The bulk of my pain comes from understanding the feeling that goes with not being able to access the same value you so easily distribute to others, like a cashier in the bank who doles out millions in cash to the bank customers all day, and then goes home hungry to an empty house because she is broke. It is a devastating feeling that nothing can describe. As an artist of some sort myself, I can empathise with Mr Williams and the struggle he must have gone through making everyone laugh and then crying himself to sleep night after night. The worst part is the frustration that comes with people expecting you to always be ok because you are Mr Funny guy. I was talking with a young lady going through some challenges once, and when she was done with her tales of woe I told her I understood perfectly how she felt, to which she replied “of course you don’t, you are Kani, and you don’t have issues”. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or lean over the table and smack her across the face. Doctors are more prone to illnesses (ask Ebola infestation chat), athletes to muscle tear and wounds, construction workers to injuries and, yes, Funny people and those that motivate others to depression.

There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds 
Laurell K. Hamilton. 

What we need to understand is that it is not a given that you automatically enjoy the value you offer to others. My preacher friend would say that “the truck carrying petrol is also in need of petrol itself”. You don’t simply access value because you operate in it, you must seek it out. A pastor does not automatically have a healthy life and home, an architect does not wake up and find a building in his front lawn or auto mechanics have sound, never breaking down cars.  You are required to access the value you carry, the same way those you peddle to, do. A doctor must take medicine, a performer must sit and be entertained, and a preacher must listen to messages. You must find a way to apply the principles you teach to others to yourself, or a way to reach yourself with the same message that heals others.
Robin Williams as Mrs Doubtfire 

As we celebrate the life of Robin Williams and mourn his tragic death, let us realise the sacrifice made by those who add value one way or another to our lives. Let’s realise that not every smiling face means a joyful heart, neither does all laughter come from pleasure. Let’s never assume that because someone smiles or laughs they are ok. Let us try to show some extra care even to the ones we believe have everything working for them. They may need it the most.     

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a Nigerian born and based minister, public speaker, entrepreneur and life coach. His keen and unique perspective to life issues makes him a refreshing voice to listen to. He currently serves as the Executive Coordinator of House on the Rock - Word House and sits on the board of a number of companies.


  1. Kani, as a voice artiste for the more popular Nigerian short cartoons (see Our Own Area on YouTube), the truth often demarkets the value of what we give out. No one cares if you're battling with credibility in the media industry or if you're a struggling single father trying to connect with the child you love the most in the world while working at being more viable and more valuable in your profession.

    Please, do not get me wrong. I take joy in what I do, but sometimes you need someone to step in or step up and say "Thank you, I enjoyed what you've done with your talent or God bless you."

    The demons we face in our struggle for relevance in a society that celebrates wealth without scrutinising the source...they can be fearful. One must have love in their life or at least someone who will genuinely ask, "How are you doing? You can tell me, I won't judge you for being honest."

    Robin Williams is one of the reasons why I chose this vocation. People see and hear the jokes. They don't see the challenge of interpretation, or the battle to sound authentic. It's not the place of the audience to see that, if I am to be plain with you. It is the place of the audience to figure out how they can keep us going better, aiming higher, and doing more.

    Robin's problem was not money. Robin's problem was distracting everyone else from their issues and not having someone apply balm on his own. No one in this world can make it without help. No one.

    Thank you for this post. You may have written it with Robin Williams in mind, but its relevance goes beyond that single individual. So again, thank you.

    1. I don't get what this guy is saying? Did you even understand what you read?