“The forest rewards those who walk through it.” – Zambian proverb
Our age has become accustomed to living life by pressing buttons. We expect solutions at a touch, and we want to exclude anything that resembles waiting. We have become an ‘instant’ oriented people, to the point where we cannot even wait for tomorrow to come. We want to savour the moments; and we believe we can have everything instantaneously. We do not want to, and so we cannot, hold anything in abeyance any longer. “Now and right here” has become a trending culture. We are moving at a pace that’s a shade faster than the hands of time. Is it thus strange that even religious persons want to access heaven with a clap of their hands?
The irony is that we live in an imperfect society, with fragmented attitudes that colour everything we come into contact with; yet we dare hope for life to be harmonious, prosperous joyous and – above all – instant. We demand life to be beautiful and brilliant; to be delightful and charming; and to top it all, we want to get the preparation aspect over and done with so we can live the celebration phase.
These are the aspirations thought about in our homes, whispered around our workplaces, chatted about in social circles and spoken of on daises and pulpits. There is no science that can reconcile these opposing realities, yet we want to translate this optimism into the moments of life.
We have become very optimistic, and it is good. But the speed of our optimism is quite dangerous. We no longer have the patience to wait for a slow roast. We want everything at the speed of light. We want instant and microwaved responses, and we want it faster than we can even think. We are in so much hurry that we do not even realise that we have cut down almost all the trees in our cities. There are no shady areas to relax, no parks and nothing to save us from the midday heat, except our air-conditioned offices and cars.
We do not realise that the sound of the cock crowing is becoming a thing of the past, and we need alarms to wake us up in the mornings. Even the birds no longer sing in the mornings. It is getting so bad that a surprising many among us walk past flowers and never notice their glistening colours. We know they are there, but we do not remember what they look like. We are more interested in the label of our clothing, but not the texture of the fabric it was made from.
Modernity has carved in us a belief of the possible. It is an optimism that cannot be waited for. It is a longing found in the expectation of and desire for receiving anything and everything we require when we want it. This has nurtured a concept of entitlement in us. We now believe we are entitled to anything and everything, as and when we desire them. There is nothing privileged about anything any longer. We are entitled to an education, and then a job afterward. The job should come with perks, which entitle us to a spouse and then a comfortable life.
And we want all this instantly. We do not even want to strive for it, so we buy examination questions and sell our souls to get what we want. Challenges and difficulties are best seen as reserved for those in the slow lane. Is it therefore strange that people resort to miracle services and rituals to get instant results?
Being hopeful is the bane of living. But being hopeful without accepting that the stew has to cook only brings about stress. Any person who does not have patience for the ‘simmering’ process is bound to make many mistakes. Patience is not a virtue simply because it sounds good. It is what it is because it is good for our maturity.
“There is a time for everything,” the philosopher says. There is a time for planting and a time for harvesting. You cannot harvest in the same season that you sowed. The fast lane is stressful because it raises our anxiety levels. And when we are anxious, we are less effective at work and too emotional in our free time to enjoy whatever we have struggled so hard for.
To save ourselves from being run over by stress, it is proper that occasionally we take an honest look at the speed of our optimism. We need to find a balance. We need to start slowing down some of our aspirations. It is true that there is little time, but it is better to be late than sorry. Many of us need to slow down to the speed of life. After all, none of us can ever overtake life. At best, we can travel at the speed of life. What’s most important is ensuring that we maximise our experiences and give the best of ourselves in every experience to guarantee we live a meaningful life. We should let the moral of the race between the hare and tortoise shape our attitudes…
Kodwo Brumpon is a partner at Brumpon & Kobla Ltd., a forward-thinking Pan African management consultancy and social impact firm driven by data analytics – with a focus on understanding the extraordinary potential and needs of organisations and businesses to help them cultivate synergies which catapult them into strategic growth and certify their sustainability.
Comments, suggestions and requests for talks and training should be sent to him at kodwo@brumponand kobla.com