By Prince Charles Dickson Ph.D.
I don’t have enough time to live my own life!
I reached this conclusion after trying to follow all the advice given on a morning news show one week in January. It seemed like a smart way to start my day. I figured I’d tune in, get the forecast, learn the headlines, and maybe hear a celebrity interview. I wasn’t expecting all the show segments telling me how to live my life better because it is the beginning of the new year and all those rituals that we often engage in the dance of new beginnings.
Most of these segments offered the promise of deliverance: “Financial Freedom Is Closer than You Think” or “Four Secrets to Better Communication.” Others, I decided, were designed to scare the socks off of me: “Food that you should not eat this year” “Six Health Risks Every Person Faces” or “Thieves You Cannot See — Avoiding Identity Theft.” Motivated by this combination of hope and fear, I compiled a to-do list of ways to improve my life and its management according to the experts. The more I listened, learned, and listed, the more behind schedule I felt.
The topics on my list ranged from health maintenance to home maintenance to car maintenance. I was informed I need to eat certain foods every day: four veggies, three fruits, two proteins (preferably chicken or fish), and I think a partridge in a pear tree. I also need to get enough fiber, calcium, Vitamin D, B, C, and Beta-something-or-other. This is Nigeria, if you have the time, you won’t see the fruit, fiber, veggie, and if you find anything at all, you won’t have the money.
I need thirty minutes of cardio a day (but apparently with the right exercise product this can be done in ten), fifteen minutes of strength training, and ten minutes of stretching. Plus, some extended time for meditation so that my body and mind could align. I’m told a germ-resistant mat is needed for that. I need to bust my stress, nurture my creativity, and improve my posture. And I am getting old!
I need to pay attention to my finances. Save and invest. Spend frugally — yet somehow also buy the cool gadgets they review on the show. I need to check my credit report regularly. Shred important documents. Back up my computer. Meet with my financial planner. And read the information that comes with our kid’s (underfunded) college fund as we pursue scholarships. That, by the way, depending on the school, comes in pages of legal and financial mumbo jumbo in eight-point font, single-spaced. I suppose I need to meet with my attorney to understand it. And that creates two prerequisite tasks to add to the list: find an attorney and find a financial planner. In Nigeria all I mentioned is a luxury, only the rich, high and powerful and in some cases sensible dudes may have this, not every Sule, Emeka or Abiodun has a CFP, a CPA, and a JD on speed dial. I am myself running a few debts neck deep and Nigeria is!
The list continues…
Change my oil every 3,000 miles and my transmission fluid every 30,000. Test my smoke detector batteries biannually. Change my air filters every other month. Replace my toothbrush every three months. Flip my mattress every six. Buy new pillows every three years — I think this is for my posture, but it could be to get rid of dust mites. Check my skin for irregular moles. Check my yard for moles too. Weed and feed the lawn each spring. Grow houseplants to cleanse the air. Save last night’s roasted chicken bones to make my own chicken stock for the pups at home from the last yuletide. I may buy undervalued international stocks. Sell some before it drops. And prepare for the next possible Nigeria made, facilitated disaster.
Fertilize, amortize, floodrize, maximize, scrutinize, ethnicize, religionize, politicize. Suddenly I realized: I don’t have time to live my life!
Looking at the list of things I was supposed to do to live my life right, or well, or whatever all this was going to do for me, I felt defeated. The list that was going to improve my life left me overwhelmed. In my moment of defeat all I wanted to do was go surf. ’Course the list said I should put on a high-SPF sunscreen and take along a BPA-free water bottle to keep me well hydrated. Filled with filtered spring water, of course.
This is the story of Nigeria, sadly we are not likely to do any, from the simplest such as changing toothbrush every other three months would be a herculean task, because we have made a meal of even conducting the next general elections over a few weeks, Automated Cash Cards would get to the remotest part and is made available in a day, and polling stations would be at every nook and corner but franchise legitimacy taken away from Nigerians by all sort of bulabalo.
In search of a new beginning, Nigeria has no time, the country is not even committed to one small change at a time, especially if we are to pay N77trillion and with an election year, in which seemingly every advertisement, social media post, or well-meaning loved one is quick to remind you how your PVC is the only way to refresh, a restart, a rebrand for Nigeria. We are simply suffering a “fresh start effect.” When the slate is wiped clean in any capacity, people feel more compelled to conquer a challenge. The Obi effect, the Tinubu blues or the Atiku union, whichever one, our Nigeria has a bad rap for being notoriously unattainable to get it right, you recall the no-shoes effect, or the body language syndrome. What challenge do we desire to conquer, do we have time?
Who will help Nigeria navigate a people that aren’t great at sticking to changing anything, not because we don’t want to but because we failed to understand that the process we take in reaching the goal holds more weight than simply making a choice to change.
We have very little time to make meaningful, value-driven resolve that we want to change direction, Nigeria has no time and in a twist of irony we have time, it is a case of when—Only time will tell