First Gentleman with Wilson Orhiunu
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Everyday mountaintop experience? Ko le werk!
No one has intense feelings daily. That is why we photograph those special moments and hang up the pictures where they can be seen daily. A visual reminder that great things have happened in the past is a tonic of hope for the flagging soul. Even Halley’s Comet will eventually return. In the ‘good old days,’ you actually needed to be an invited guest to view the pictures people hung on their walls. After greetings have been exchanged one’s eyes drifted to the framed pictures and once your host follows your eyes to the wedding pictures, you get the long version of ‘how I met my wife’. Interesting stories coupled with nice food can provide inspiration. Even if the achievements on display in some of the pictures intimidate, the fact that questions can be asked helps guest to mentally visualise a path to the attainment of the victories and milestones on display. Since invitations don’t come too often to anyone, seeing the inside of peoples’ houses was not commonplace.
Today it is different. The family framed photographs have left the home and migrated to the walls on social media where everyone puts their best smiles forward. Two enviable pictures taken 10 years apart are scrolled over in seconds giving the observer the illusion that the one being viewed lives an exciting mountaintop kind of life which is in sharp contrast to everybody else’s drab lives. In five quick minutes, it is possible to view 20 people putting their best smiles forward. So many images but no opportunity to ask questions. Gaps in knowledge are filled up with assumptions; everyone else has it easy and lives the fabulous life.
Looking at the many hours in the life of professional athletes, one observes that most of their time is spent in training. A very small amount of time is spent in competition and the amount of time spent on the winner’s podium is infinitesimal. But it is that image of a star holding the winner’s medal that gets the most coverage. The highs of life make exciting viewing but these images should come with a surgeon general’s warning. Dangerous to mental health!
Life is not that exciting. A team lifting the World Cup might never win it again (Ask English football fans). That is exactly why photographs were invented. That picture of Bobby Moore being held shoulder high while he clutched the World Cup in his right hand was taken on 30-7-1966. There are so many countries that have never won that cup before. Only eight countries on the whole planet have ever won the World Cup, yet every country attempts to win it. For many in life, all they can do is try to qualify and enjoy the journey. It is equally hard for everyone.
That is why university graduates enjoy their graduation. Dressed up elegantly, they smile for the camera looking forward with head held high as an uncertain future beckons. For some, that might be the last time they smile for a few months because the period of unemployment that follows is enough to zap away all joy. The ups and downs are part of life. Insisting on living a life of highs can push one into drug addiction. While it is tempting to blank out the hard and mundane reality of life for that sweet trip to happier altitudes with a bit of smoke and drugs, there is a high price to pay. The brain gets punched repeatedly with molecules having the ability to lift the mind a thousand metres up only to return that same mind lower from whence it started; a few feet below sea (and satisfaction) level. Up and down it goes till the body is dead and buried.
There are so many great experiences to savour in life but sometimes good things that happen to everyone are not celebrated. People wait for the rare and unique things before they can get happy. A beating heart is a big deal; bigger than a million pounds in the bank. No one gives a second thought about this as there are billions of beating human hearts on the planet. Should that heart stop for a few seconds, the owner of the heart, if they can be revived, soon develops a different perspective on things. They come to realise that no matter how many billion hearts are beating around you, it is your own heartbeats that keep you on the planet and a pulse is worth celebrating.