By Francis Ewherido
It is a New Year and a new decade. It is good to see 2020. When you think of the frailty of life, close shaves with death and people who passed on even in the final weeks of 2019, you cannot but be grateful to God for seeing 2020. At the beginning of every year, I set targets for myself. I achieve some of the targets while I am way off in others. But that has not discouraged me from setting targets every year. My New Year resolutions are like compass that guide me during the year. They are also deterrents in some cases.
I have spent the last few days of 2019 reviewing it. The presentation of my first major literary work, Life Lessons from Mudipapa, gave and still gives me enormous satisfaction. The reception of the book has been enormous and it gave and still gives me the kind of joy and satisfaction that is indescribable. I wish I can start something new in 2020, but writing is much easier and enjoyable when you are inspired. For now, there is no inspiration for a second book, so I am content with my weekly articles, but starting a new book is still among my New Year resolutions.
Two, I want to improve on my prose this year, I also want more enriching content for readers. These days, with thousands of information screaming for attention across print, electronic and the new media, it is a privilege to be read and I want to make it worthwhile for the reader.
Three, it has been a while I read a whole book. Yet I read at least two hours every day. Much of the two hours is spent reading online. There is unbelievable information out there on line. But I also need to read from my collection of books. I will do some balancing act in 2020.
Four, I started 2019 well with personal health matters and exercise, but floundered along the line. I started pulling myself back into line last December so that I could start the 2020 on a firm and disciplined note. As I observed last week, exercising becomes more physically and mentally tasking as you grow older, but there are no alternatives. Actually there are alternatives: falling apart and dying painfully and miserably. Nobody wants that, so exercise you must. In 2020, I also want to explore more natural ways of tackling ailments. The first time I remember malaria rubbishing me was in 1970. Five decades later it is flooring me. Someone just gave a natural therapy for malaria. I intend to try it and if it works over time, I will share it here. Anytime I come down with malaria, it takes at least a week of my precious time. It is not funny and I want to battle malaria to a standstill in 2020.
In 2020, I will like to explore natural ways (food, fruits and herbs) that I can use to control blood pressure and get off orthodox drugs. Already, I apply the mind game and intend to master it more in 2020. Sometimes, anxiety is inevitable, but I will reduce potential situations and react better to situations. Instead of aspirin, I now use onions as blood thinner. I will continue to put in my best and leave the rest to God. I also want to use more natural means to control blood sugar. I was using a local seed called abere in Yoruba for a while, but floundered along the way. I intend to use it more diligently in 2020 and explore other natural therapies. Wherever there are natural therapies, I will jettison orthodox medicines.
Five, some years ago, I decided to devote more time to my domestic church, as more of my children grew into their teenage years. It is internationally acknowledged that the first 10 years of a child’s life are the most important in character formation. But I have also found out that a child’s teenage years are also very important. So I made a deliberate effort to be in the lives of my teenage children. What I have found out is that if you get it right with your children from ages one to 16, subsequent years are like auto pilot. I intend to continue being in the life of my children. Your domestic church is just as important as the bigger church. If you get it right at the domestic level, you give the larger church and society good products. I have always believed that Nigeria’s problems started from the family unit and the family unit will also be part of the solution. You cannot spend the whole time in the church or mosque when your household is in shambles. That is Afghanistanism, misplacement of priorities. At home there is only one father and one mother, but you have substitutes who can play your role in God’s vineyard. Do not behave as if you are irreplaceable. Bringing up your children well is part of service to God. At the end of the day, the children are God’s and earthly parents are mere custodians. I will continue to be active in my domestic church without neglecting the bigger church.
Six, one area where I have failed woefully over the years is my behaviour on Nigerian roads. I obey traffic rules and expect same from other road users. Consequently, I always want to enforce my rights. But I have since realised that it is good to be right, but better to be kind. I have struggled over the years to live it, especially on Lagos roads. Last year I improved to about 50 per cent. I do not trust myself to achieve 100 per cent compliance in 2020, but I intend to do better. I must confess that some of the most horrible drivers on planet earth ply Lagos roads. I wonder if it is humanly possible to tolerate them 100 per cent, but I pray I always remember that being kind is better than being good. After all, “love and compassion are necessities not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive – Dalai Lama.”
Seven, I want to be closer to God in 2020. I believe we should get closer to God as we grow older. Our holiness will continue to be filthy rags before God, but I just want to grow in my relationship with God and my fellow human beings. I am not talking about pleasing people. It is a futile road I abandoned long ago. I just want to do the right thing always and not deliberately be the source of anyone’s grief; that is, if it also grieves God. Hating people is futile and harmful to your health. I have no more space for hate, but I will be more ruthless shutting toxic and lukewarm people out of my life. I have found out that over time that you simply forget they exist.
The Nigerian business environment continues to test the will, skills and staying power of business people. Running a business in Nigeria is like surfing. Beyond good surfing skills, you need luck with the elements (weather conditions) to succeed. In 2020, I will continue to put in my best, learn new and better ways of doing business to increase my chances of success. There are immediate needs to take care of and retirement to prepare for, so no retreat, no surrender.
I can do with more patience, tolerance and less distraction, but these two resolutions are paramount to me in 2020: staying closer to God and maintaining a good health regime.