During my early years of my life, I read a handful of books. Some were interesting. Others presented complex vocabulary you had to use a dictionary (oftentimes borrowed). These books were not easy to come by. And they were definitely not new – mostly hand-me-downs full of yellowing pages, some clearly ripped out in the process of being shared from one generation to the next. Those days, your parent(s) would have to make a critical decision of either buying you a story book or dinner, or patching your torn uniform, or paying for your exams and (or) activity fee. Activity fee – was this not a direct way of getting ‘pocket money’ for the headmaster? I mean, each parent contributes a sizeable amount of their wages to the school only for you to be given a handful of glucose powder upon completing the 21km marathon. No bottled water, no shoes, no food. Only glucose – and strictly for those who completed the race. Most of us kept off such activities and stuck with reciting poems and dancing.
Back to the books. I enjoyed reading Hardy Boys and their theatrics during my Primary schooling – mostly to pick up lines and expressions to include in my compositions and impress the teacher(s). I was very much disappointed when I learnt in high school that such expressions were cliché and should never be used by a serious person who was keen to attain grade A in English. Of all the stories which I read back then, two have stuck in my memory since then – Pinocchio (because it is about a puppet made of wood, and am always propelled towards woody things) and Rip Van Winkle (which we shall discuss shortly). Others like Adventures of Tom Sawyer remain vague in my mind because the book I had then was incomplete and some pages were either defaced or missing making the story line not to flow well in my mind/memory.
Rip Van Winkle is a short story by Washington Irvin which is about this man who is friendly to all the folk and children in the village because he likes telling stories to all who care to listen. One day he takes his gun and walks into the forest together with his dog. Probably to hunt. He falls into deep sleep (there is some cause to this sleep if you read the whole story). When he wakes up eventually, he finds a strange landscape. His dog is not by his side. He tries to call it but his voice is now very hoarse – like an old man’s. His gun is rusty. He touches his chin only to be met with a long beard. He takes a walk back to the village but discovers that he cannot walk as fast as before. At the village, none recognizes him. He also discovers that his wife had left their home. The fellow had slept for twenty years.
Twenty years of sleep. Let that sink first.
Well, this looks like fiction but some of us sleep for even longer periods in our life. How now? We always postpone some tasks. Waiting for the right time, or to get the right amount of money or a combination of both. We wake up every day of our prime years to go do what we don’t like and for close to thirty years, we sleep on our passions only to actualize these at our sunset years when we retire from our eight-to-five jobs. See now how we beat Rip Van Winkle hands down in sleeping? Some refer to this as procrastination. Why do we do this? Is it because of fear of the unknown? Or we lie to ourselves that we still have lots and lots of time ahead of us. So we sit pretty until last-minute when we start running up and down like a headless chicken (cliché) trying to fulfill something even if we do not complete the task(s). And because of this rush, we don’t do a fulfilling job or time catches up with us, we end up not completing the task at all. We all have that task we ought to have completed like five years ago but we keep on postponing year in year out. No?
This reminds me that I have to complete this story here which I have been looking forward to finish writing the next two parts for all those years. And every time I try to do part two, all the creativity evaporates from my mind. I figure out that maybe the next day something may come in my dream but all what I dream is nothing to write home about. This is the year ladies and gentlemen. The two parts must be out.
What does the good book, the Bible say about this postponing business? We read in Proverbs 24: 33-34 that “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man”.
Poverty comes to us when we don’t do our jobs in good time. We end up missing great opportunities because of our unreliability to deliver. We pay penalties because we didn’t fulfill our end of the bargain. We are fined for not meeting the set deadline(s). We fail to secure a bigger contract because we are still occupied with some small jobs which we have been postponing and hoping to finish with them the next day. We wake up on Monday morning hang-overed (my spelling) and take a sick-off, and thereby prove that we cannot be trusted with critical tasks on Mondays, which dents heavily our outlook to the management. And if you cannot be trusted with Monday, who will trust you with Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, or for that matter trust that you can lead any group – therefore promotion becomes a pipe dream. We therefore propel ourselves towards the below-the-poverty line whichever way it is drawn.
This year of our Lord, better wake up from your (my) slumber and at the very least show up.
Happy 2018 folks.