Music. Dance. Culture. Rifts. Love. War. Football. All the bits and pieces that make up our existence. The fragments, the wholes, our interests and the stuff we really do not give a hoot about all have a lesson to teach us. I choose to see life as a lesson. In everything I do, however mundane, I am always mindful that there’s something to learn. Beyond the four walls of the classroom formal education offers or the deliberate training and development efforts our employers put in place to improve our work skills, there’s something to take away from the seemingly pedestrian activities we are involved in.
I’ll give you an example – there’s the widespread belief that watching TV is a waste of time. I remember having a classmate whose parents were averse to TV and consequently did not allow her or any of her siblings watch it. It was not only a complete waste of the precious time that could have been spent on far more life-enriching activities such as reading, it had little to offer beyond promoting social vices, they reckoned. The result – she could only stare while the rest of us discussed the movies or even the educative programmes we had seen.
As a child, I spent plenty of time watching TV, and I even often stayed up late because I loved the screen. But I also spent a considerable amount of time reading. I loved my books and would not trade them for anything in the world. I also enjoyed outdoor games and was no slacker when it came to Tenten, hopscotch (we called it Suwe then) and track and field activities.
Maybe I was just one of those kids who knew how to balance things early enough, but I find it difficult to wrap my mind around it when people say TV isn’t good for kids. I learned a lot via that medium. There were educational programmes like Children’s Variety, Tales by Moonlight, and Jets competition that entertained and informed apart from the usual cartoons and animations. As a kid, I improved my grammar, diction and spelling through the words I heard and saw on TV.
A more recent and familiar example would be the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals currently going on. Now, while Nigeria is undoubtedly a footballing nation, not everyone actually loves football. As a matter fact, quite a number of people are groaning and enduring their way through the tournament and the buzz surrounding it. These people just do not see the sense in 22 grown men chasing and panting after a round leather object. But what if they chose to see things differently? What if they (even if grudgingly) sat through the Portugal vs Spain match and saw Cristiano Ronaldo perform his magic. What if Ronaldo’s hat-trick inspired them to be more dedicated and resilient in their daily pursuit of success? Do you see where I am going with this?
Life is short. One moment, we are here, the next, we are gone. It’s why every minute must count. There’s a lesson in everything. If you get into an altercation with another person, in the harsh words that are spoken, there’s a lesson to learn. If you can look beyond your anger at the time or in the process of reflecting on what happened afterwards, you would be able to pinpoint the source of the squabble, but more importantly, identify what you can do to prevent a recurrence.
No two jobs should be the same for you. The mistakes you made in your first job should serve as a lesson in the second. The errors in judgement you made while raising your first two children should have you well-equipped and knowledgeable enough to deal with the third who came several years later. If you are a divorcee who intends to get married a second time, it would hardly make sense to say those sacred vows to someone else if your infidelity was responsible for the end of your first marriage and you haven’t sorted out what to do to prevent a re-enactment.
When we attend funeral ceremonies, we shouldn’t be too quick to leave even though saying a final goodbye to a loved one is often difficult. Rather, the reality that someone who was once a part of us is no more, and has left empty handed should make us reflect on how we are living our lives. Burials provide the perfect atmosphere for self-reflection. And birthdays, however happy they are, are subtle reminders that we are closer to our graves.
The birth of a child teaches a lesson on new beginnings and fresh starts. The end of a tumultuous relationship schools us on what to do (or at least what not to do) in the next one. Combat sports like boxing and wrestling teach us strategy and help us understand that brain trumps brawn.
If you love dancing, you may find that the Pangolo music that is so heavily criticised helps you exercise better. As a lady, listening to a group of guys discuss cars and the pros and cons of different models can help you make a better-informed decision on what brand to go for when you are ready to buy yours. Obnoxious people on social media show us those character traits we would rather not be associated with. You’ll know to avoid the pitfalls that can lead to a broken marriage because your brother’s marriage failed as a result of the same things.
Having to babysit a spoilt child helps us resolve to raise ours better. Beyonce’s stamina and perfection during her performances encourage us to do better with ours. Our neighbour’s magnanimity challenges us to be better givers. The ubiquitous beggars on our streets teach us a lesson in gratitude. A day spent at the feet of the elderly goes a long way to help us navigate an often confusing world better. Loneliness in a foreign land keeps us appreciative of the warmth and companionship of family and friends.
I could go on and on, but I am sure that by now, you understand my point perfectly. There’s a lesson in everything. Look more closely, pay more attention and you’ll find it.