ABOUT THE CITY
Of course, Lagos is in many ways supreme. Any day, any time, it could boast of the most exciting mix of people from all over the world when compared to any other city in the country.
It is the main and principal financial hub in spite of having no major natural resources to rely on, and though it is set upon a tiny piece of land on God’s green earth, it is undisputedly the largest city in Africa.
However, regardless of all that good, Lagos is also the seat of the most intense and debilitating stress. Stress, the kind that is chiefly and determinedly mental with its accompanying physical effects. Yes, Lagos is that place where you age quickly if you are really in a hurry to get it over with.
In fact, it is the place where the universally daily-accepted 5 minutes madness displayed by normal people is taken to a whole new unbreakable record level of 24/7. For want of proof, a typical Lagos traffic, on a typical day, whether on the island or the mainland, will readily reveal these distinguishing facts.
How do I know? Well, I live in the heart of Lagos and I’ve got about six strands of grey hair already in my beard and am only in my early thirties. Even worse, is the occasional memory lapse my mind experiences due to being overstretched by the daily grind and hustle in a broken system that does very little to inspire you to go on.
For example, and I say this with all seriousness, I haven’t blogged in a while now, only because I almost completely forgot I had a blog, and yeah, your guess is as good as mine: my Lagos life is definitely to blame.
Besides, for the benefit of those who might think all these an exaggeration, The Economist Intelligence Unit, through reputable and reliable research in 2015 placed Lagos in the same category with the 5 least liveable cities in the world. Putting into consideration things like the state of our environment and infrastructure it is impossible to argue against such an assessment.
A LITTLE DAYDREAMING
Even so, the consensus among us lagosians is that remedy lies only in the attainment of financial freedom. “Wealth will protect you from these frustrations” and so the plan is to be like Aliko Dangote, the richest African, and have big multiple generators that would work round the clock, taking turns to ensure your electric bulbs and all comfort appliances stay working forever – indeed, for the pleasure and enjoyment you deserve.
And of course, joined with that and much more comes the ability to avoid the persistent and annoying traffic jams with a fleet of helicopters at your disposal. Yeah, that’s what loads of money would do for you in keeping at bay the tensions of this crazy city.
Okay, I must stop here and clarify that the above views are not necessarily mine. And though it seems am the one saying all these things, don’t be misled or deceived, but hold my very impatient former self responsible for such a dark and critical picture.
Personally, I would say Lagos isn’t that bad, and however small the progress, I believe things are already changing for good. We only need patience as we continue working together at making things better.
A very weird disclaimer I know, but, we could draw a lesson or two from what my supposed alter ego has expressed. For I do agree that your environment could have an adverse effect on your well being and psyche, but only if you let it. For the power really is yours, and you exert your authority nowhere else but in your mind, for that’s where you bring to bear the reality of your choosing.
Borrowing from the principle within the books of Proverbs 4 (about guarding your heart diligently, for out of it spring the issues of life), I am in essence proposing that we can, by choice, actually enjoy peace of mind in the midst of all the trials and challenges of the world around us. For that reason, we can’t afford to let overbearing circumstances get the best of us.
HOW FORMER SELF CAME ABOUT
I remember how my expectations of improvement over the power supply in my area was brutally crushed, months after the appointment of our able and result oriented former governor, Babatunde Fashola, as the Minister of Power, Works and Housing. I lost my peace not necessary for the lack of melioration but for the fact that things became even worse to the point of nothing worthwhile.
Moreover, I was driven more to the extremes of my dissatisfaction by the paradoxically outrageous increase in my monthly electrical bill. Oh how I lost it. Almost everything in my life was affected, most especially my pastry business. Having adjusted to the increase in market prices due to the tyranny of the Dollar over the Naira and the sporadic availability of fuel, which resulted in transportation becoming more difficult, I now faced the loss of the essential buffer that power supply would have provided. And, of course, compounding the matter is the fact that I had to pay bills for nonexistent services.
THE WAY OUT
So yeah, keeping a positive outlook in spite of the odds is important but how do we achieve that, realistically? I do agree that good money does bring a measure of peace, for with financial power you can make unsavory conditions disappear. Yet, in light of the fact that our sanity is not exactly depended on our outward possessions or accomplishments but on the health of our minds, it is imperative to look beyond just riches and seek enduring rest and serenity in no other but God.
For me, I got out of the mental rut I was in when I realized how much I had forsaken my relationship with God due to the concerns I had allowed to possess me. I gave more attention to my problems than I did to the One infinitely bigger than whatever I faced. And as Grace would have it, it took only just the remembrance of the enabling words in Philippians 4:6-7 to get me back to awesomeness. For in my relationship with God was everything I needed to be on top of the game.
“Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”– Philippians 4:6-7 (AMP)
Basically, it was faith that cured me, and the root of my problem was only a matter of perception due to my abandonment of God’s presence and truth. I initially saw life from a distorted glass that made me so negative and bitter, which is indicative of how the majority reacts to things. But now, seeing things as God’s sees them and believing in that reality was how the peace that transcends all understanding settled on my senses.
Think about it, if I were to truly trust God with all my cares and concerns, would there have been any sense in losing my mind over anything? No, for in faith I should be burden free knowing Jesus has got everything under control. And I think when we constantly immerse ourselves in the Truth of who God is, and filling our hearts with substantial understanding of His Love towards us, we will understand why we’ve got no reason to kill ourselves over anything.
I only acted like a man who forgot he had super powers simply because I was far from my God. I got carried away and forget who I was and whence I came. But now I fret over nothing because I serve a God of great immensity, and for that same reason Lagos or mental stress has got nothing on me. Why, God’s got my back, and with my eyes firmly fixed on Him I see no reason why I shouldn’t age as gracefully, as properly and as gallantry as possible..