I have been writing birthday notes since 2011 when I turned 25. However, this is only the 4th in the series (didn’t get to write some). My birthday notes seek to share glimpses from the years past. This year, I will be sharing two of the principles that have helped guide my life in these past 30 years and hoping that it benefits someone.
1. No regret
If you know me, then you will realize that the word regret doesn’t feature in my dictionary. Thinking back on the 30 years of my sojourn on planet earth, I honestly can’t think of a single regret in my life. It’s not that I have had the best of life, or that I have lived in the best way possible. Rather, it is that I realized that having regrets over what is past is a pure waste of time. As someone rightly put it, regret is the past crippling you in the present.
Regret and worry are two children of the same mother. While worry has been said to be the interest on a loan you never take, I say regret is interest you’re paying on a loan you’ve long paid off. Both are fraud on your asset – time. Absolutely worthless and unnecessary!
I practise what you may call conscious living – careful with my words, thoughts and actions so that they don’t wreck havoc. But mistakes do happen and when that occurs, I make effort to correct it today. I am an ardent believer in ‘today.’ I believe that today provides me with an opportunity to correct my error, rewrite my story and re-live my past. I don’t dwell on things that are in the past because mistakes made in the past are meant to stay there and they can’t be changed – except by correcting them through my deeds today.
One of the great lessons I learnt from the life of Alfred Nobel is that I can make my past irrelevant by what I do today, and going forward. And that’s the consciousness with which I live. Regrets don’t fix nothing, but today can fix everything – hurt, pain, loss etc.
2. No competition
It’s possible that like me you’ve come across one of those rickety buses with an inscription at the back screen – no competition in destiny. Some hard truth you have there.
Another thing I learnt early in my journey in life is that success can not be measured in absolute terms. Put in familiar language, success is a journey not a destination. Contrary to popular belief in this part of the world where people thought to be successful are said to have arrived, when it comes to success you don’t ever arrive.
Let me share a personal story to buttress this. In 2003, in between writing WAEC and NECO I sat for the UME. I obtained a high score that qualified me for admission to the university. Sitting for JAMB and hitting it once, now that is some success and it could have gotten to my head but it didn’t. I told myself that getting admission ahead of many of my classmates didn’t mean I was more successful than them – and true, OAU didn’t resume until 2004, I was in school for a 5-year course, and still had to go to law school. You see, some of my friends who still had JAMB as prayer point 1 when I had crossed that mark had started working before I went for NYSC.
One of the means used to mount pressure on people in this part of the world is by comparing you with your mates. Sounds familiar, right? Your mates have finished school, your mates have started working, your mates are married, your mates have built their own houses blah blah blah. You know what I tell myself? I don’t have mates! Mine is a unique life and I won’t run my race with another person’s stop watch.
Don’t get me wrong. I review my life periodically. I have goals and targets for my life. I am a big dreamer. As a nine year old boy I began having dreams of what I wanted to be in life. Upon reaching milestones, such as clocking 30 today, I call up that nine year old boy who dreamed without restraints and show him my life report. I ask him if I have lived up to his expectation or if I have failed him. That nine year old boy may not be too impressed but he isn’t disappointed. I am on the right track, maybe just some few steps behind but I’m sure I will catch up. Like I say, the best life wasn’t handed down to me, but this one life that I have got, I will make the best out of it.
I’m absolutely grateful for the last 30 years, and immensely hopeful about the days ahead. Truth is, I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I know who holds tomorrow and in this I am confident that my tomorrow is secured, insured and guaranteed.
I am ‘Seun Alade