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Saturday, December 2, 2023

A man ain’t worth it, dear Marie (Part 9)

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In the grand scheme of things, our stories may not be etched in stone, but the imprint we leave on the world is immeasurable.

Dear Marie,

I trust this letter reaches you amid the whirlwind of life’s chaos. You’re no stranger to my tales of cheeky humor and witty comebacks, always yearning for the last word. Heaven forbid anyone daring to challenge me for that minuscule pleasure. Yet, as I stared into the mirror last week, a profound epiphany struck me like a tidal wave. We are all on borrowed time, mere passengers passing through the corridors of existence. The struggles and concerns dominating our present will soon fade into irrelevance, a reality that hit me with stark clarity.

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You know my penchant for writing about ideas that simplify the intricacies of life, constructing narratives that ponder, “Did I give it my all in the best way I knew how?” Today’s letter is born from that spirit. As these words flow from pen to paper, I’m engulfed by a whirlwind of emotions—urgency, a craving for depth, and a longing to grasp the essence of our transient journey.

Allow me to share a poignant anecdote from my past. Peter Ochere, a brilliant engineering mind and former classmate at the Regional Maritime University, engaged me in a heated debate on the concept of predestination, at my apartment in Accra one day. It lasted for days, and even though two decades have passed since 2003, the echoes of that debate resonate within me. Now, 20 years on, I find myself striving to distill my experiences into a meaningful brew, seeking a warm, satisfied feeling that whispers, “I did my best with the cards I was dealt.”

“What if?”

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Life often presents us with “What if?” moments. The first struck me at a tender age. It was borne out of self-pity and genuine questioning about my very own existence. I yearned for a nuclear family and missed my mum every day. No one would compare with her. I carried a sense of righteous anger and isolated myself from everyone, feeling life had unjustly denied me what was a given for most people. Yet, with the wisdom that comes with age and the responsibilities of parenthood, I’ve come to realize the futility of dwelling on what could have been. Every twist and turn, every disappointment and triumph, has shaped me into who I am today. At some point in my mid-thirties, I realized that the anger I harbored was unnecessary, a self-inflicted burden…so I walked past it and never looked back.

Another “What if?” moment emerged during my Grade 12 WASSCE. Consumed by the desire to complete my schooling, I neglected the arts and crafts practice work. Despite scoring 99% in the theory exams, I passed with a B-. The sting of that failure haunted me for many years. It prompted an inexplicable sense of remorse; I could not overcome in my teenage years. Every day was begun with a reflection of what could have been. This lesson taught me to prepare diligently, even if it meant the last day of exam. The discipline instilled as a result of my missed opportunity paved the way for numerous academic achievements, including being named the best student in my university in Ghana later on in life.

The final “What if?” moment unfolded during my pursuit of a Master’s Degree at the World Maritime University in Sweden. Despite being on a fully paid scholarship with generous allowances from the university supplemented by my workplace stipend, my fear of poverty and thrifty nature led me to save every penny I could. While my colleagues enjoyed buffet meals and campus amenities once in a while, I scoured afternoon markets for discounted fruits and vegetables, penny-pinching every step of the way. I even bought a bicycle so I couldn’t ride the bus to uni!

The consequences of this frugality became apparent when I completed my studies. Unaware of certain bank protocols, I couldn’t access all my savings, the bank in Malmö only keeping limited amounts of money on site. I had to endure a considerable loss due to unfavorable exchange rates and transaction costs because of interbank transfer from Europe to Africa. I was so angry with myself upon this realization, I never penny-pinched after that.

Now, each “What if?” moment, whether rooted in resentment, regret, or financial losses, served as a stepping stone in the journey of my self-discovery. For indeed, life’s experiences, both bitter and sweet, contribute to the rich tapestry of our existence.

Predestination or a particular destination for mankind?

Reflecting on the concept of predestination, a notion reinforced by soothsayers and clairvoyants using cowrie shells to peer into the future, I find solace in the calm acceptance of life’s curve balls. Soothsayers and clairvoyants serve as reminders of our inability to control unfolding events guided by a force greater than ourselves. They offer a glimpse into the future, a light-years-ahead preview that leaves me in awe of the masterful authorship of Allah.

One dream in another dream

In the grand scheme of life, I often think of my maternal grandparents, as well as other relatives and friends who have departed from this world. Their lives, like fleeting moments on a stage, highlight the transient nature of our existence. I wonder sometimes if had really existed or if it was one dream in another dream?

The pursuit of immortality

Turning my gaze to the 360-degree mirror on my dressing table, I am confronted with the inevitability of time. The reflection prompts a sense of hopelessness as I consider the possibility that, in fifty years, I may no longer be a part of this world. The question then arises – how do I remain relevant in the face of such transience?

The answer, I believe, lies in the way we navigate the journey of life. Embracing the present moment, finding joy in simplicity, and appreciating the beauty of a life well-lived. Our legacies are not solely determined by monumental achievements but by the genuine connections we forge, the kindness we extend, and the joy we bring to those around us.

In this pursuit of relevance, it becomes essential to cultivate a mindset that transcends the fear of impermanence. Instead of dwelling on the uncertainties of the future, we can focus on the impact we can make in the present. It involves embracing every opportunity to create positive change, fostering connections that withstand the test of time, and leaving behind a legacy of compassion and understanding.

Moreover, the concept of remaining relevant extends beyond individual aspirations to contributing meaningfully to the collective well-being of humanity. It involves actively engaging with the challenges and opportunities of our time, working towards solutions that address the needs of the present and pave the way for a more sustainable and compassionate future.

As I grapple with the awareness of my mortality, I am compelled to seek significance in the small, meaningful moments of everyday life. It involves appreciating the laughter of my loved ones – especially my kids, and deriving joy from the simple pleasures that surround us. In doing so, we create a ripple effect that extends far beyond our immediate circumstances.

Thus, as we navigate the complexities of life, may we find solace in the awareness that our journey, though transient, can be imbued with profound meaning. Let us strive to leave behind a legacy of love, kindness, and positive impact, knowing that, in doing so, we become part of a timeless narrative that transcends the limitations of individual lifetimes.

With heartfelt sincerity,

Your sister-in-law.

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