First Gentleman with Wilson Orhiunu
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In retrospect, the recognition of wasted opportunities is easy. Everyone above a certain age can tell a story or two about how they wrestled failure out of the jaws of certain victory with the aid of bad luck and an even worse timing. It all boils down to that Rolex on the wrist. Tic tok and the minutes fade away never to return. One must strike while the iron is still hot and the clock has not announced the end of the lifespan of the opportunity or the individual.
“The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized within the lifetime of the opportunity,” said Leonard Ravenhill.
How do you console the songwriter who hears the song in his heart on the radio recorded by someone else because the tune went off to find a willing hustler after spending five years in the procrastinating heart of its first choice? With great difficulty especially if the first choice is broke and the second choice is covered in the riches previously addressed to someone else.
It is important that these things are painful as the nasty experiences are the most memorable. Next time anything with the semblance of an opportunity appears it is grabbed aggressively with both hands and feet. (‘She Used to be My Girl’ by the O’Jays springs to mind).
Certain sets of circumstances make it possible to achieve something at any given time; that is what we would call an opportunity. Some opportunities seem to be everywhere and are not given a second thought even though they are important. In a country with free education some choose to drop out of school having deemed education a waste of time. Good and safe roads that people have for their daily strolls or runs have very few sweaty pedestrians using them in the evenings.
People will be people. Giving up after two attempts, stopping at the first sign of adversity and not taking opportunities laid on a plate for them. The ubiquitous nature of an opportunity can sometimes give an illusion that it will last forever.
Why run today when the roads are not going anywhere? There is always the first of January next year to start afresh.
We also behave like time is our best friend and we will all live forever. Unfortunately, everyone has a lifespan and like they say in post-football match interviews, 2we need to take our chances”.
Rare opportunities like the Halley’s Comet are at most twice in a lifetime opportunities. (Last seen in 1986 and due the next showing in 2061). It is almost impossible to plan for these episodes unless one is told what to do by a wise old mentor who understands the ‘times and seasons’.
Tell a man he would die in two weeks and you have in one sweep eliminated the tranquilising drug of I have more time.
The ignorance of what to do is suddenly reversed and all the important people are rang or visited and told the most important things. All opportunities for peace, love, getting close to God are all taken. Time is always valued more when supply is understood to be limited (same as goods and services).
For everything, there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven
I have read and heard that there are natural seasons in life that are generally universal. In the book The Human Odyssey: Navigating the twelve stages of Life, Dr Thomas Armstrong divided life into age groups with their own particular characteristics.
Pre-birth/Infancy/ Childhood – Birth to 12 years old. This is a period of rapid growth, vitality, playfulness and imagination.
Adolescence – 12-20 years. A period of passion, puberty and self-discovery. The tools for future achievement are picked up here.
Early Adulthood- 20-35 years. Enterprise. Finding a job, mate, starting a family and developing a circle of friends. This is where people find themselves at the peak of their physical and mental powers.
Midlife 35-50 years contemplation. Having worked for 20 to 30 years, people look back at life in contemplation.
Mature Adulthood 50-80 years Benevolence. This is the ‘giving back’ phase.
Late Adulthood 80+ Wisdom. Older and wiser now, one is sought out for counsel.
Some people miss the natural tide and have boats stuck in the mud of life. There is hope, for man can subdue the laws of nature and forge out a second chance. While nature has its own means of making sure that plants produce offspring thus ensuring the next generation of fruits, man has a greater need for fruits and develops plantations (albeit in tune with natural seasons). Nature can disperse seed for germination but man does it better
A fool at sixty who lost out on the opportunities to gain wisdom and knowledge in his younger years need not be a fool forever. With the right books and company, he can create new opportunities to learn.
The older one gets, the greater is the creativity needed to recover lost ground. The dried up areas without a water supply need to be irrigated. Sub-prime areas might need a fertiliser. Like a farmer, our lives can be cultivated well once all those weeds accumulated through the years have been killed off.
Just in case your life has been long and busy and your land is full of plants and you are not quite sure if this is an achievement, look for fruit. If there is nothing useful to others you just might have been growing weeds on your farm.