Just One Chance

I get a lot of articles for publishing on this site (who knew, right?) and I don’t get to put up every one of them for some obvious reasons but the seemingly few I post from guest writers are the ones I feel will rasonate with my audience. I don’t know the author of this one personally, it was sent in by proxy, but all the same, it is a very good read. Enjoy…..

It was the eighth day of May, 2015. I had just gotten out of a pretty dreary class and I felt, and looked, like the literal definition of fatigue. With exams barely a month away, classes were coming thick and fast, and the stress of school was telling on everyone. I wondered, if only I could sleep and wake up the day after the very last of my exams, with all written and graded as “A”s. Oh well, if wishes were horses, even I would ride (by the way, for some strangely inexplicable reason, I dislike horses). That was the state of my thoughts when I ran into an old friend of mine, who is also a classmate, Maria. She and I actually go way back in time.

During my secondary school days, we both represented our respective schools at an inter-schools championship. About a year later, while awaiting the release of the admission list (I had applied for Chemical Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt), I ran into Maria at the Silver-bird Galleria. While I was slow recognizing her, she waved airily, asking excitedly, “You’re Chidozie, right?” to which I answered in the affirmative, still anxiously searching the contours of my memory, slightly unsure of what to say next. Luckily, she at once put me out of my misery, saying “You might not remember me. I am Maria. We met last year, at the inter-schools championship”. It turned out that, by some weird stroke of coincidence, she had put in for the same course and University as I did. Thus, we parted ways amicably, in hope of seeing again when we kicked-off our time in UNIPORT.

It was against this back-drop that on seeing her, on that unremarkable May morning, we broke into a long and winding conversation spanning different topics. At some point, I inquired about new developments in her life and in the course of responding, she mentioned a mutual friend of ours, Zach, who had shown interest in her, and her ambivalence to his entreaties. With my curiousity piqued, I solicited for more details, which she duly declined to give (okay, I know I should have played the “gentleman” card and acted all disinterested, but who doesn’t like juicy gist?). All she was willing to divulge was that she had acceded to his reasonably persistent demands for what seemed like a date, with the mild admonishment, “You have just this one chance. Don’t blow it.”

This statement struck me, on a couple of levels. Firstly, I was convinced at the time that Zach was definitely not going to blow his only shot. Secondly, and much more importantly, I was amazed at the semblance this little soap-opera bore to our everyday lives. It requires little effort to imagine just what life would look like if we were just as persistent in pursuing goals and dreams dear to us, as Zach had been in pursuing Maria. Do we ever stop to wonder how life would be if we all treated it with the same seriousness that guys treat their appearances, when preparing to go on a first date with a lady they have persistently pursued? Most guys would “dress to kill”, act all gentlemanly (I admit this does not apply to all guys) and show-case what is essentially their A-game. The case gets more curious where football is concerned. Often, Nigerian youth debate an Arsenal vs Chelsea match with much more passion and detail than they ever do, when their lives and futures are concerned.

It is at once bewildering and understandable. Perhaps, it is much easier to look outside, analyse and comment on these peripheral issues than it is to stop, amidst the never ending demands on our attention, and reflect on our lives: how far we’ve come and to where exactly we are headed. As Warren Bennis once pointed out, “we generally move forward while looking backwards”. Not until we truly see the past, truly understand it, can we truly move forward, and upward. It takes courage of a higher order to actually give ourselves a long, hard look and recognize areas of weakness, and decide to work on those. Why then do we not do this more often, when it is so important?

I am not quite sure. If forced to make a hypothesis, I would suggest that it is primarily because we have this innate feeling that there is time. There is always time to get our lives back on track, time to start making those straight A’s that would heal our ailing CGPAs, time to do those little chores and exercises that have been pending for weeks or time to prepare for that interview. There is always time, we think. Is there, really?

I am reminded of a verse from the Holy Bible, James 4:14, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away”. If indeed life is a vapour, why then do we let our insecurities force us into inaction? Life would vanish away, all the same. Why do we not let go of all our doubts and fears and just live life, just go for it full-throttle and see where it takes us? We fear to fall, not realizing that it is in falling and getting back up that our characters are strengthened, and our purposes are defined. It behooves on us to not shirk our responsibilities to ourselves and the world, to give our very best shot and make the universe say “Wow! That’s impressive”. In reality, our lives are very much like first dates. We all have just one chance at living. It would be nice if we made the most of it.

Disclaimer: All names, except that of the author, have been duly changed on privacy grounds.

Article Credit: Chidozie Akakuru

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