The more options there are, the easier it is to regret anything at all that is disappointing about the option that you chose – Barry Schwartz
I was going to ask what you would do with 3 wishes, but there’s always that one jerk “If I had three wishes, I’d use the last one to wish for 10 more wishes…bla…bla…bla…” they always ruin all the fun. So I’m going to keep this simple, not too simple I hope.
I was on my bed yesterday night lying down and wondering why sleep had refused to pay me its customary visit when I started thinking, wishful thinking as usual (I do that a lot). What would I do if I had a million dollars? Many people still live with the impression that they would become better persons if they had a more money, while that can’t be proven, it can’t be disproven either considering there isn’t any parallel life to compare it to.
I was going to ask you the question, but I know many of you will say things like ‘I’ll give some to charity” “I’ll pay my tithes” which are things easier to say when you do not have the money yet. Are you giving to charity or payi… I digress. That isn’t the essence of this article. I just came to ask you a simple question. Not too simple I hope
You have to read the succeeding scenario then you answer the question.
I imagine I’m a god, I’m looking down on this beautiful expanse called earth looking for whom to pick for this experiment. My eyes rest on Tolu, he is a brilliant 28 year old man with clear plans for his future. He comes from a humble, yet hardworking family who have struggled to put him through school. Now even though he earns N120,000 monthly, he doesn’t live it, because it’s his turn to carry his family. He has a beautiful girlfriend of course, her name is Teni. He has promised to make things more permanent as soon as things began to look up.
That’s a brief description of Tolu’s life as it is. I hope I’m not boring you yet.
One morning on his way to work, slightly late, he arrives at a motor park he arrives at every morning of the week except Sundays and the chilly wind hits him square in the face. He doesn’t have time to think about that as he starts after the conductor who still owes him N50. He joins the crowd of passengers waiting to collect their various changes.
“How mush be ya shange?” he hears the conductor bellow as a scantily clad female
“450” she hisses back, smacks her lips and continues her gum rudely.
“Take 500, give that brother 50naira”
He would protest, but it’s a normal occurrence. He looks around for a place to change the money; it’s still early so businesses aren’t in full swing yet. A woman selling locally made concoction, another frying shrimps and leaving them open to the elements, two men huddle under an umbrella frying and selling all sorts of food to people who left home too early to eat and to those who slept at the park and finally a lone man operating a single lottery machine. All of them couldn’t help, wouldn’t help.
He takes a quick glance at his Swatch chronograph, it cost him N19,000 his priciest possession. He was running late
“Oga wetin we go do, na because of 50naira you dey waka up and down with your suit” that lip smacking and gum chewing again.
Such insolence. He waves her away, she could have this one. It’s her lucky day. She walks away. He goes in the opposite direction and continues to work.
Now let us fast forward 50 years later.
Tolu’s sitting on the front porch, sipping tea with the love of his life. It has been a long and rewarding marriage, he cheated on her once and apologised. She had forgiven him and it never happened again. He is a happy man with a son and a daughter, both married with kids. A four bedroom bungalow built from his sweat and a car each for his wife and him. His pension cheques were steady and considering his background, it was more than he could wish for at this age. Living in relative comfort, with the love of his life always by his side.
With no other life to compare his to, he has no regrets. It is as good as it gets. All he had to do today was drink tea and expect his grandchildren, they were visiting. As they run towards him later in the day, he nods his head at all he has accomplished.
Now I ask you to indulge me as I take you back to a scene you may have glossed over but was a turning point. Bear with me.
We are back at the motor park now, replete with layabouts, pools of muddy water and the same chilly weather. He’s been paired with the same lip smacking scantily dressed lady and his change is still 50naira. The four sets of traders still wouldn’t help with the change, but something’s different with him. This time instead of waving away the insolent girl, he angrily decides go against his principle this one time and plays the lottery for 50naira.
He picks 6 numbers; 9, 17, 17, 24, 28, 30. They are his birthday, his parent’s and his 3 siblings. The lottery man prompts him that the same number was picked twice, he deletes one of the 17s (a date he shares with his father) and replaces it with a 6, Teni’s day.
Let us fast forward again, 50 years later.
Tolu enters his 8-bedroom villa, which also houses 2 maids, a cook and a laundry man but the house is still empty. He had just been in Abuja where he was conferred with a national honour. His family wasn’t by his side. He cheated on Teni but she didn’t forgive him in this life. He was rich and her advisers had talked up divorce, she listened to them and had made money of her own, off him. He still hoped she would get back to her senses; she was still the love of his life. All hope however faded when the news of her death got to him, she had died in a road accident on her way to New York to catch a flight to Nigeria. His daughter was also in that car, she didn’t survive either. That was years ago and he had come to terms. His son was currently married to a Brit who wasn’t ready for children. No one knew when she’d be ready.
So today, he sits on his porch, sipping tea. The love of his life isn’t with him. Flowers and a Macaw keep him company instead. He looks at the state of the art cars and swimming pool. He remembers this is just one of his many houses and nods his head at all he has accomplished. He may not have done well personally but a street had been named after him and publishers will beg for the right to his autobiography.
He thinks back at the day that started it all, the motor park. Then he thinks of how the favourite family soap had been interrupted for the lotto draws. How he made a beeline for the room in search of his suit when he saw the numbers he knew he knew but refused to believe until he saw them again. 160million naira. He had been paid in full after tax. It was the foundation for the success he now enjoyed.
He was proud of himself, and with no life to compare it to, he considered himself happy and a success.
In both pictures, Tolu is a happy man. If he had a choice however, with the gift of foresight, which would he choose?
You however have the gift of foresight for I have given it to you, I am a god.
So I implore you, use the gift I have given you, and choose one. Answer me this simple question, not too simple I hope
If you were Tolu, what would it be?