As we crossed over into the year 2011, I made a resolution to myself that I have made every year and failed at woefully- I vowed I would loose a significant amount of weight. Throughout January, I toyed with the idea of joining a gym, as I continued gulping down huge amounts of ice cream, cake, chocolates and enough food to save a small village of starving children. It was not until I saw a picture of myself on the Future Awards Red Carpet that I put on my now cobweb-ridden trainers and hired myself a personal trainer. Till today, I am unsure if that picture is an accurate representation of me or a wake-up call from God to send me straight to the treadmill. Either way, it suffices to say that that picture, which is now posted on various Google search pages, will be a constant reminder of my near resemblance to Yokozuna.
Going to the gym has brought with it various benefits. Obviously, combined with a decrease in food inundated with high content of saturated fats, it is likely to produce, hopefully, a visible difference in my weight, but it also gives me the space and time to unclutter my mind. Living in a City, where there are constant demands on your time has a way of preventing you from giving thought to a particular topic for more than 5 minutes, as you continue to make knee jerk decisions for lack of time to complete particular tasks. But when you are on treadmill, pounding on its rotating surface, alone with your thoughts and the songs coming from your Ipod earphones, there is nothing left to do but think.
It was during this music-induced fat burning session that I started to ponder about life. It seems for every stage of life, there is always something we want to attain – some future goal we are striving toward. Right from birth, subconsciously as a toddler, you are filled with an unconscious desire to rise up from your Pampers-covered bottom and place one foot in front of the other. Your family watches with glee and absolute delight as they see you manage to achieve this feat, and it is from here that the quest to achieve life-induced goals begin. The desire to excel in primary school, then secondary school, then JAMB, then university, then to get a job. Even within these tasks there are other subconscious quests that preoccupy our minds – the desire to fit in, the desire to be the best, the desire to be liked. Then after graduation, we women become suffused to the point of combustion, with the desire to get married and to have children. If we haven’t achieved this by 30, this desire takes over our lives and saturates every conversation and prayer point until the desire is completely manifested. For the men, it is the desire to make money. This craving has turned every man into a self-born hustler, striving to turn one kobo into billions of Naira overnight, with some breaking their backs in the process and others turning to alcohol and other substances or devious activity when this desire cannot be adequately fulfilled. Then comes the quest to gather enough financial resources to cater for these children and ourselves. The desire to build our own house, pay off the car loan, pay the children’s school fees and ensure they have all the trappings of life we didn’t enjoy. The next stage is to continue to wish your children well, stand beside them as proud parents at their graduation, and wear the best lace money can buy at their weddings, and naming ceremonies of your grandchildren. After all of this, the inevitable happens, life on earth ends and life in the afterlife begins.
It is sad that the beginning and end of anyone’s life can be summed up in one paragraph, filled with a quest to attain something greater than the last achievement. At the end, the accolades themselves are written in colourfully published obituary programmes and still left on earth after we have exited. So the question becomes: what then is the point of life? Is it to keep striving for something greater, worrying that you haven’t achieved the same levels of accolade as the next person?
I’m 35 and unmarried!
I’m 40 and I don’t own my own home!
I am 25 and I dont have my dream job!
I am 60 and I don’t have a grand child!
It is not that these accolades are not in themselves important, but I dare say that it is what happens between these eventful times that are of even more importance – the trips we went on, the friends we made, the new types of food we tried, the books we read, the plays we watched, the places we visited, the stories we heard, the times we smiled, the times we cried, the times we laughed, the people we shared all those moments with, and the lessons life taught us along the way. These are the times that make our life more colourful. These are the times when we are alive to life, not when we are robotically pursuing one achievement or the other.
So before you get dragged down by your inability to climb one more step on life’s ladder, how about you celebrate where you are now? Take time to enjoy yourself, make new friends, find simple things that make you happy even when the world tells you there is nothing to be happy about. If you are single, instead of waiting for that man to buy you flowers, go ahead and buy yourself a bouquet of roses! If you are waiting on God to bless you with a child, continue to pray but make time out to visit with your friends’ children and enjoy the marriage God has blessed you with. If you can’t wait to make your first One Million Naira, go ahead and enjoy the one hundred thousand you currently earn. We spend so much time fussing about the next big achievement that we totally forget to enjoy the little blessings God has already given us. You may not have a grandchild but your children are alive and healthy. You may not have that dream job, but somehow you manage to pay the bills and feed yourself every month. You may not have a husband but you have wonderful friends and family that love and care for you. There are little achievements and blessings around us which we ought to celebrate everyday. Truth is: every good thing will come, but it is what you do in between those times that will count. It’s time to start living like you are alive!