(Glory Edozien 2010).
I am not much of a card player. As a matter of fact, I can hardly shuffle a deck of cards without the whole pack collapsing and falling to the floor. But I think there is something to be said about card games and the way they mirror life. The way each player comes to the table and are randomly given a set of cards they didn’t pick themselves and have no way of knowing which card they’ll be dealt next. The skillful players are able to turn the most insignificant card hands into a winning game while unskilled players like myself remain clueless even with the best of hands!
This is very much like life itself. We really have no way of knowing what will happen tomorrow, yet alone within the next 3 seconds! But like card players we must learn to play with the cards life has dealt us and move on. Of course this is much easier said than done. How do you tell someone who has just lost their only means of livelihood that they should “deal with it on move on”! But in realistic terms this is the only way to keep living.
I recently had a chat with a lady who frequently visits my office. She is in her mid to late fifties and has never been married, has no child and is currently undergoing menopause. She has no formal education but was a secretary for an oil servicing company a few years ago but sadly lost her job and has been unable to reenter the job market since. She told me of how people who live in her compound carry rumors about her, calling her a witch and how she feels like life has dealt her an unfair package. Aside from her redundancy package which she had wisely put in the bank, she really had nothing more. She also confided in me that she dreads leaving her house most days and prefers to spend her days locked indoors.
I sat and listened to her tale and my heart sank. Looking at her, anyone could see she was broken inside. She was afraid to carry on living because to her she had nothing left to live for. No husband, no child, no job…nothing! Her shoulders were slumped and her eyes told of a deep sadness that even money could not brighten. For several minutes ,I looked at her not knowing what to say. What could I possibly tell this woman that would give her some hope of a better tomorrow? For me it made absolutely no sense to just give her cash. She needed something more than a hand out. After what seemed like several minutes, I finally asked her “aunty, what do you really want to do with your life now”? She looked at me with an uncertain eye. So I asked her again, “Aunty if you could do anything with your life now what would it be”? She finally said she loved kids and she would love to be involved with children. So I told her why don’t you look for a job in a motherless babies’ home? Or set up a small day care centre with the money you have saved and start your life over again? She shook her head, “my dear, I am too old to start again”. My answer was a tad bit harsh but necessary. “Aunty, do you want to spend the rest of the years God will give you in your house feeling sorry for yourself or do you want to do something with your life”. The direct nature of my words stunned her but I didn’t think joining her pity party was going to be of any benefit to her. She needed someone to gear her spirit up and not someone to tell her “Eyahh, it is well” and dash her one thousand Naira! Unfortunately, Aunty is yet to take my advice, and instead prefers to come and sit around our office looking sad.
Now, please don’t get me wrong guys, far from me to be judgmental. But the truth is very few people walk into their dreams without fighting for it first. Sometimes life just has a way of taking the joy out of living but as long as you can still breathe you must be willing to get up and go the distance. I have learnt this harsh reality first hand. Years ago, I went through a really rough patch. I literally felt that my life had been turned upside down. I was so depressed I actually thought I had very little left to live for. But slowly and prayerfully, I started to think about the kind of life I wanted to live. That was when I discovered writing. I would wake up in the middle of the night and write for hours. For me writing became my tonic, it helped me to reconstruct my life and realign my priorities and goals. While I cannot categorically say that I am now living the life I want to live, I know without a shadow of doubt that I am well on my way there.
So this is the philosophy I have developed for facing life’s challenges. You must not only dream of the kind of life you want but you must get up and go get it. From personal experience and from the experience of those around me I have seen that in life there are two situations. The ones you cannot change and those that you can change. For those you cannot change, you must slowly and prayerfully come to terms with the situation and learn how to live around it. For those you can change, you must dig your feet in and fight tooth and nail to turn that situation around because nobody will do it for you. This to me is the trick to overcoming life’s challenges. May God grant us all the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the courage to change the things we can….and the wisdom to know the difference.
Photo Credit: Black Youth Project