I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw:
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest —
And poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.
— Solomon (Proverbs 24:30–34)
As I get older, I have learned empathy by just reflecting on my life. I term it “Wisdom By Observation”. That is why the line from Solomon strikes me. Solomon was taking a walk and he noticed that some things in an estate were in a state of desolation. By seeing the daily activities that occurred in that place, he was able to make a deduction. He noticed that things deteriorated because of procrastination and indecisiveness. He called it “a little sleep and a little slumber”.
The empathy I talked about emanates from a place of care and personal growth — why some are not on the path of personal growth and development. It is because it has not dawned on them that, they can grow and develop. Though sincere and great folks, their mentality about life is too simple. It does not take into cognizance the various nuances and obstacles that come while living.
Sometimes the folks you are dealing with may not understand your perspective and background. As such, when working with new people, I tend to be pedantic, explaining in detail and giving reasons. The thing is, until some truth dawn on you, you will be happy to live oblivious of the truth.
Let me share with you, some not-so-great moments in my life that makes me cringe from time to time. I did what I did because, I knew what I knew then. Thankfully today, light has come and we can say, we are not where we used to be.
As I child I hated bathing. It was just a big inconvenience (Tech Bros, can I get an “Amen”?). I understood I had to bathe to get to school but after that what should I shower again? I usually wash my legs and presented myself to my mum. She will plead with me to just shower. Thinking about it now, the real reason was that I would have preferred warm water but I have to live in an alternate reality to boil water for a bath. My parents were having none of that.
For those who know and for almost every Nigerian kid of my generation, the only fun thing to do as a boy was to play football. During holidays, as soon as my dad leaves the house for work, off I go to “work” anywhere football was being played. I would play from morning till evening. The only thing that would drag me home was the sound of my dad’s Honda bike. This was usually in the evening. It was then expected that I will clean up. That is when the battle of opinion arises in my heart. “It is too cold, you may get ill if you bath”, “why waste water, when you will bath tomorrow morning?”, “washing my legs is good enough”. Many thoughts and no action.
Brethren, I am in a cringing state of recoil as I write. I hope you are not 😎🤣. Anyway, I would always find a way to convince myself not to shower. Can you imagine, the sweet-smelling savour that whosoever shared a bed with me would go through?
In primary school, brushing my teeth before school was a chore, I had no interest in. My solution to that feeling you get when you wake up and your mouth feels woozy, was to eat. Being raised in Calabar household meant there was always food. It may not be what you like but there would always be food. Worst case scenario, there were fruits. Well, I solved my teeth hygiene problems by eating early and feeling comfortable with myself.
The only day I brushed my teeth without being asked by my mum to do so, was when the teacher told us that people from the Ministry of Health were coming for a personal hygiene inspection. I can remember that day vividly. Even my mum was surprised. Being who she is, she asked and I told her. As usual, my mum gave me that laughter filled with gusto that made me feel very foolish.
How my teeth did not rot, was by the special and omniscience grace of God. He practically kept those teeth despite my unfaithfulness in keeping my own teeth. Foolishness is bad.
A dear senior friend casually told me that when I am done with my university education, I can come to Lagos to stay with him while job hunting. I took his words to heart. 2 years after I took him on the offer. Except that I did not inform him that I was coming to his place. I just showed up. He was surprised to see me. He took me in, receive me properly, and asked “what’s up”. I told him he promised two years ago. He just chuckled and moved on.
Again, I cringe when I remember this incident. My senior friend did not respond. I stayed with him as long as I wanted until my circumstance changed. It took me a while to see the foolish thing that I did. He also did not bother to explain it to me. I think he did not want me to feel bad. But alas; foolishness abounds in the heart of a child.
I did not bother to check up with him before I proceeded. I just went there. I came all the way from Calabar to Lagos. So many things would have gone wrong, how about if he moved houses or he was not in the country or …..
While job hunting, I was desperate to get a job. I needed to be on my feet as soon as possible. One of my senior friends worked with a VIP and high network individual. I told my friend to make an intro. He refused. I piled pressure on the matter but he said, “you are not ready to meet with this person”. I told him I was ready. Thankfully he stood his ground. I am grateful today that he did what he did. Because my meeting with that person would have been disastrous. Truly I was not ready. I had nothing to offer as at that point in my life…but for my mind, I was the next best thing after sliced bread.
I put up these four scenarios to show you what lack of understanding does to a man. He feels wise in his eyes and cannot see the horror he is walking into. Lack of understanding and bereft of foresight leads to destruction.
I work with teenagers and I see them struggle with life lessons and instructions that are for their betterment. I have learned to be merciful. It has not yet dawned on them. Their eyes of understanding have not yet been enlightened. These days I am more patient and pray that whatsoever I am trying to teach “dawns on them”. With understanding, they will do better.
When wisdom does dawn on a soul, you will be able to see why you need to do some things differently. That those who plead with you, do not want you to make their mistakes. They want you to dodge some treacherous paths in life.
Bathe when you have to. Brush your teeth daily. Inform folks before you visit them. Do not call when you have nothing to offer (literally and figuratively). These are my lessons. When it dawned on me, I understood why I was told to do those things.
Receive knowledge with gladness.
Go and look for understanding with all you have.
Then wisdom will smile on you.
Here are my other articles Possibilities & The Law Of Recognition, Possibility II: The Curious Case of Bassey & Word Problems, Possibilities III: “I Have A Dream” , Possibilities IV: Driving and Possibilities 5: Life In Reverse. You can check out my other works on personal development Asking, Managing Access In Relationships How To Ask, Authenticity, Life Skill: The Power of Saying “No”, Start Off; Look Up & Pedal Hard, 12 Unforgettable Leadership Lessons From The Lion King, InBuilt, Now I Arise, Life Hack: Accountability, Life Hack: Simplicity, Life Hack: Making Impact, Built In Failure, The Beautiful Art of Small Talk , The Nameless Brand and “R” For Resilience. I also reviewed The Lion King and wrote about Movies That Shaped.
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