I am the Problem

Are we still feeling hopeful for Nigeria? I don’t know! I seem to be at my wits’ end, but then that’s the thing, I am the problem!

Our children… Public servants, our leaders, those we voted and those who bought their seats (can’t seem to recognize the difference anymore)… they didn’t fall from the sky nor rise from the abyss. They were conceived, born and nurtured by mothers. They were taught the difference between good and evil (I use that very deliberately because we‘ve gone past bad), they were taught to live right, to be fair and just, sent to school to whatever level (now all and sundry have doctorate degrees). Teachers went on from where parents stopped, at intervals, neighbours and well-wishers, even bystanders dropped a teaching or two when wrong was done on the street. Back in the day, there was no minding anyone’s business, everyone minded it! A child was brought up by all, and parents were thankful for it!!

Our parents… Now, these individuals are our parents, and I say that with the deepest sense of regret, the ones who taught us about honesty, truth, integrity, sacrifice, love and loyalty. Is this a cruel joke life is playing on us? Has God finally decided to leave us to our wiles and allow us to destroy each other? At least there’ll be fewer people for Him to worry about!

Our workplace… In the work place these our parents are wolves, scroungers, thieves to make it plain… they will kill a project in a heartbeat without a thought to the merit it possessed to the ministry and the nation at large if their individual numbers are unclear. They want a morsel from your every project, they need to be factored in to your daily profits, they believe they’ve earned the right to reap where they did not sow, and they’ll do a hell of a damn lot to ensure they get it. God help you if you have more than one venture under their jurisdiction, they’ll push for the entire profits of one if not more. The landlord who’d rather his tenant couldn’t send his kids to school as long as he paid his rent and some.

Our fate… Alas, this is where we are as a country, our landlords, our governments, our lawmakers have sentenced us to live out the rest of our lives in their shackles without the possibility of parole. To be totally honest, when I’m not imagining their downfall, my heart bleeds for them , because you get to a point where you lose all self-respect for the acquisition of someone else’s wealth, where though you may get it, you become truly pitiful.

Our business… If you have the opportunity to leave Nigeria and you don’t, it better be because you are working smart and employing people to work hard in the private sector – the Private sector; oh the challenge of all sorts of incidental percentages in your financial model to make available a little “something something” for the EDs who get your huge facilities approved. Amazingly, these things are not even “thank-yous” anymore, they are now a right, with MOUs and MOAs on the side to govern the expectations. Does one truly go into arbitration over a “bribery” MOU? We have become that utterly shameless!!! The provisions are such that we can use English grammar to create an ideal transaction, and you better believe a judge or an arbitrator will preside over the nonsense, again using the tax payers’ money! What a colossal waste of time!

Our compromise… Business in this country is not for the faint hearted, and it is certainly not on the merit of your financial model nor your passion for infrastructural development and or sustainability. As it stands today, compromise is almost inevitable, after all, integrity does not add up on the ROI and certainly does not take anything out of your capitalized interest on bank facilities.

Our Nigeria… The Arab spring didn’t begin because some people just woke up one day, thought it a great idea and made it happen. It was birthed by long periods of frustration, and if you like, you can say the North African nations got tired and decided to spurt out some of their inherent nonsense even if it meant their own people! Maybe Nigeria will spit us out and start over when she has had enough! For some, we’ve been managing, we’ve been enduring, and someday soon, there’ll be an uprising!

Our ambition… Today, youths don’t talk about being millionaires, everyone’s desires are to be in the hundreds of millions and higher, and as many a preachers will say, if you want to be it, start living it!  We don’t wear Rolexes anymore, everyone’s watches, bags, shoes, price from the second half of a hundred thousand naira, for some greater than 50% of their monthly net take home. Toyotas are ordinary, everyone wants a Lexus, a Range Rover, luxury cars, and people convoy in private jets lest they need to quickly dash to another continent to grab a quick meal or catch a game, yet poverty deepens. Our reasons being that we are ambitious, we are determined, we are willing to work hard for our earnings, we are dreamers and doers, I hate to be the mean clown and burst the balloons (no, not really) but how sustainable are these expectations? Clearly, our remuneration and profits can’t suffice if we don’t pace ourselves! We are setting ourselves up for compromise to sweep through, and when it passes, there’ll be no character left!!

Our everyday… In our beloved nation, every day presents us with who we can be, what we have on our insides determines how we react to the circumstances that come our way and inevitably determines who we eventually become!!

Our people… I don’t believe we’re inherently bad! We don’t wake up every morning saying “Thank God for keeping me, today I’m going to swindle 4 people and make N10M on each”. I think generally we are better than that. If we’re ambitious, we wake up with hope that we’ll succeed, we’ll find favour, we’ll be lucky, that God’ll bless our hustle, then we go about our plans which ultimately aren’t meant to cheat anyone, but then the day commences in all its glory with all of its challenges and brings us smack before compromise after compromise with different levels of exposure, and we are faced with the choice of what next to do? Where else to go? How else to make it work? When we are strong we can let go of our best opportunities as a result of integrity, when we are not and faced with the fear of losing our dreams, we give in and become the vermin we blame for where our nation is and so it begins.

The circle… A new lifestyle is born; we have our children and teach them to do the things we don’t and to avoid those which we do. It seems smart to tell them to do as we say and not as we do, but these things seep out, they find a way, you can’t hide darkness in the open. And so our children learn to face the challenges of us, the workplace, fate, business, compromise, our Nigeria, our ambitions, our everyday and themselves, and if we’re not careful, they’ll react to these the exact way we did and we’ll all miserably come full circle of our selves.

Our dear Nigeria, you are what we make you to be because you cannot be better than your people, and we are a total mess…but if we lose hope in us, then all is truly lost!

 

Gratitude is Happiness

Happiness!

A feeling…

…of euphoria defined by perfection?

…that defines the complete wellness of your existence?

…meant to scream your greatness to the world?

…meant to elicit envy from your peers?

…of mental, physical, emotional, and least I add spiritual stability?

What is Happiness?

What defines your happiness? What defines mine?

As a special friend recently told me whilst I whined about the changes I needed… “Gratitude is happiness”

I am usually quick to respond with a smart retort on just about anything that can be thrown my way, but I paused… Needless to say, I still came up with something in my defence, which we all usually have by the way “Of course, I am grateful”. However, we say that without truly incorporating the meaning. I mean, we are on a scale of 1-10 probably generally not ingrates, but it takes true understanding of gratitude to know to be thankful for the little and albeit sometimes taken-for-granted mercies and gifts.

Still, it was worth more than a few thoughts at those few sane moments before being taken into the lethargy of sleep… Was that all it really took to be happy?

We spend our lives in pursuit of happiness; trading our passions and individualities for false securities we convince ourselves will take away our pains, alleviate our worries, complete and make us whole, and generally are the key to our being happy!

Once I get this, once I get that, and we go on in a circle of acquisition and personal challenges, competing with and challenging everyone but ourselves as to what we really and truly need… “Will these make me happy”, I asked myself at that moment before I drifted off.

I woke up to the same nagging thought, and continued to ponder, but this time I took a more profound look at gratitude and less at happiness. What does gratitude stand to give that these things wouldn’t?  At that moment, it hit me straight between the eyes and I wondered why I hadn’t really seen it before! Focus is the key! If I remain thankful long enough, it means I look more on the things that I do have, and certainly if that’s what I see when I look into myself, happiness can’t be too  far away from my way of life!!

One of my greatest quotes on gratitude;

“Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture” ~ Kak Sri

That was it; I had figured it out… It didn’t mean everything had to be great per time, it just meant I had to make the most of it per time or I’d be miserable!!

It didn’t mean I couldn’t be ambitious or pursue the things that satisfy my yearnings as an individual; but through the race of life, all the acquisition that comes from thought, ideas, building, being,  through the entire rat race we call life, I wouldn’t have to abandon my hobbies, passions, individuality, nor trade who it is I hope to be. This is because intricately, every step of the way I am truly elated by a happiness that is a State of mind, born by an inner gratitude of all that already is even while I look forward to all that will be.

So, Gratitude indeed is Happiness; if we pay attention to the little things we already have, we will indeed find ourselves in a state of calm that allows us to purse those we don’t with a peace that makes the wait truly worthwhile.