In the rare moment that I wasn’t looking for inspiration, inspiration found me.
Sometimes, I don’t get enough air. And on the evening of new year’s eve, I wasn’t getting enough air. So I stepped out of my house and found an abandoned table in the compound to perch on. The evening breeze was cool and a welcome relief from the hellish heat inside. To avoid looking idle, I brought out my phone and began watching stand up comedy videos of Trevor Noah. Soon, I was lost in his funny jokes and smart dimples.
I was so busy laughing that I didn’t notice when a group of children gathered untop another table next to mine. Something lightly scratched my arm and I paused my video to take a look. Then I saw them.
There were 3 children and they appeared to be around 7 years old. The 4th was a teenager of about 14 who looked completely uninterested in their affairs but stayed with them as if to prevent them from hurting themselves. They had a bag of legos beside them and they appeared to be building something.
One untop of another, untop of another. That’s how you do it.
I smiled at them.
They looked at me, the way a person would look at a stone.
I said hi
They kept on building
I soon lost interest in their affairs and continued my rendezvous with Trevor. 10 minutes later, after Trevor had bowed off the stage, I unplugged my earphones and turned to give the children my full attention.
Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Or does it?
They had built about 5 blocks of something. I say something because I have no idea what it was. It looked pretty cool, like an amateur architectural design. I picked up one block and took a picture, admiring the blend of colors.
In 10 minutes, they had used up all their legos and formed about 8 pieces of the block pictured above. Now, they were just staring. I stared too. Not at them but at their pieces. I reached out to take yet another picture but one of them got really protective and snatched the block from me.
Understanding that I had overstayed my welcome, I stood up to leave.
It was the best lesson I could take into the new year and if you haven’t figured out the lesson yet, here it is.
It’s not always about making a mighty ocean. Small pools of water can be just as beautiful
Very often, we fall into the temptation of assuming that our lives should always lead up to one masterpiece. For example, a person’s masterpiece could be to be a doctor and live in a beautiful home with a wife and 3 children. This is a beautiful dream and there’s nothing wrong with working hard towards achieving this dream. But before building up that masterpiece, how about other pieces that could be just as beautiful… For example, learning skills such as learning to play the piano, starting a small business, joining a charity etcetera.
Every child wants to build a masterpiece. Even at the beach, they attempt to build the most beautiful sand castle anyone has ever seen. They attempt to build Legos into monsters or cars so they can squeal in sheer delight and show off to their friends. But let’s face it, masterpieces don’t happen overnight and you can’t have a masterpiece without a piece.
I’m almost done studying my dream course which is physiotherapy and ideally my masterpiece involves being a world class physiotherapist. I get a lot of advice saying “just focus on your school work so you can graduate and start earning good money” but I refuse to take that advice. I refuse to just remain “focused on my masterpiece” and here’s why
1. Our masterpiece most times won’t provide us with all the knowledge and experience we wish to posess.
At the age of 14, I joined my secondary school debate club and started mastering the art of public speaking. It was a great experience and led me to become the best speaker at the national debate competition for all secondary schools held in Abuja. By 16, I gained admission into the University of Ibadan and joined the literary and debating society; it’s been an intense journey where I’m still learning about the art of public speaking, conversations, interviews etcetera. Here’s one thing you should know; Physiotherapy would have never taught me that.
2. “Other pieces”, sometimes help us realize what we really want out of life.
Lily Singh is an Indian Canadian YouTube star. She studied psychology in the University and in her final year, she uploaded a video on YouTube to “try things out”. She eventually realized that that was what she wanted to do with her life. Fast forward to today, she was named the highest paid Youtuber by Vogue magazine in 2016, currently has over 13 million subscribers on YouTube and is a UNICEF global ambassador. Point taken.
3. Building “other pieces” build character that would be useful in handling our masterpiece.
I don’t know how to explain this. But taking a cue from the little children, if you can’t build a small block of Legos, there’s no way you can build a giant block.
I recently started learning the Italian language and by recently I mean two years ago.. Its another “piece” that seems far off the physiotherapy profession but imagine there’s a ground breaking physiotherapy skill that is being developed and the only place to learn it is in the faraway country of Italy…. Far stretch? Okay.
I passed by the table on my way out on the 2nd of January, 2019 and the little children were back at the table. This time they had broken down their little blocks.
Sometimes our pieces fail and that’s okay
Once upon a time, I bought a sewing machine and was convinced I was going to be a successful tailor. I was wrong and that’s okay.
They appeared to be building bigger blocks with the Legos. I couldn’t wait to see how it would turn out but I knew that whatever they built would be worth their time.
As I passed by, I smiled at them.
They smiled back.