He was on board a plane when turbulence hit. It wasn’t the more common moments of instability that last a few minutes. The aircraft bopped around for too long; long enough for passengers to get jittery. Soon enough, the forced calm, frantic gazes and whispered prayers mutated progressed to stifled shrieks and vocal prayers to higher powers. It was a local flight, which made things worse. No matter how often one flew and arrived safely, they still boarded flights with some measure of trepidation. For many, the heart-shattering images from the ruins of aircraft crashes remain etched in their memory.
He was still engrossed in his book when his co-passenger, a young lady seated beside him spoke up.
“Aren’t you bothered about the turbulence?” She asked.
He looked up from his read. Her nails dug into the cushion of the seat before her in an attempt to steady herself against the swaying of the aircraft.
“Beg your pardon?” He responded.
“Are you not scared that we’re going to crash?”
“If I panic, will it change anything?”
It was his turn to stare back.
The Lagos-bound plane made it through the tumultuous clouds and the rest of the flight progressed without incident.
When he narrated this incident to a few of us, I couldn’t help but admire his ability to remain calm in the face of what could have been a tragedy. It was instructive as it was a confirmation of my thoughts on what the human response should be in a big, crazy, complex universe.
That the year 2020 has been on a mission to outdo itself when it comes to dreadful news is stating the obvious. From Covid-19 to the ceaseless deaths to the escalation of crime, it’s been a rollercoaster of unfortunate events.
Because of the preponderance of negative news, many have resorted to deflecting attention from their woes at this time. It’s a cheap cop-out—revelling in the ill-fortune of others—whilst ignoring one’s own.
And that’s what we see when folks go into a frenzy sharing screenshots of allegedly adulterous women and dodgy evangelists.
It is evident in the glee with which they dissect every trending topic, taking sides and apportioning blames on issues they have scant knowledge of.
The back and forths, cyber fights, jibes and trolling are outward representations of deep-seated insecurities.
People who are ultra-focused on their vocation do not have the mental or physical energy to form an opinion on every matter. Even when they are certain where they stand on issues, sometimes, they let it pass because they know the amount of effort it would take to explain their stand to an average irrational social media user.
An ability to remain unfazed is a requirement for staying one step ahead of the numerous unsavoury news and internet mischief that dot the landscape daily.
You cannot afford to react to everything that shows up on your timeline. At some point, you should have built the fortitude to remain unperturbed, especially in cases where it’s almost obvious the actors are only playing a role.
There’s so much happening at the moment. If it is not an A-list celebrity walking the path of imminent shame, it’s yet another rape of a minor. While politicians are doing their perennial naked dance in the public space, some racist is cooking up a lie to get yet another black man arrested.
If a mother isn’t sexualising her five-year-old daughter, yet another couple is sliting each other’s throats.
You can’t keep up with the madness of the world. Know this and know peace.
At the risk of coming across as unfeeling, you’ll be swept in the direction of every wind of meaninglessness that blows.
Train yourself to be inured to narratives that have no bearing on your progress as an individual.
Your calmness and refusal to be pulled into controversies and the endless mischief that has become a staple of the social media space, in particular, will determine how much you can retain your inner peace.
The unfazed are in control of their emotions even when it looks like the world is burning to the ground. It’s because they know what most of us don’t know—things are (probably) not going to get better.
There’ll never come a time when the earth is in a state of tranquillity or devoid of trouble.
While you can share light and love in and around you and encourage others to do the same, you can’t fix the world.
It’s more probable that you’ll be unable to stop the killing, betrayal or derision of others. Maybe you have tried; shouted yourself hoarse in a bid to be the voice of reason.
But now, you need to know you can adopt the strategy of being unbothered.
It’s a coping mechanism that’ll do you a lot of good.